Backed by a breath-taking scenery of snow-capped mountains and edged with grand villas and laid-back towns, it’s easy to understand why Italy’s lakes are so popular.
Lake Garda is the largest, stretching from the countryside of the south the Dolomites in the north and perfect for sightseeing. Lake Maggiore has a relaxed atmosphere and Lake Como is filled with chic lakeside cafés. Lakes Ledro and Lavarone are perfect for adventurers, with excellent access to hiking trails and wild swimming spots. Finally, Lakes Levico and Orta offer unmatched tranquillity, with beautifully clear waters and a slower pace of life.
Lake Garda Holidays
Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian Lakes, stretching out from the edge of the Dolomites in the north to the sunny vineyards of Bardolino in the south. The south shore is a popular summer pilgrimage for families. Gardaland hands out high-speed theme park rides. And scenic Sirmione balances a 13th-century castle with gelato parlours and pizzerias.
The crowds start to evaporate as you drive – or sail – north. You can catch a cable car up to Monte Baldo from the castle town of Malcesine. Limone lies on the opposite bank, flanked by steep lemon groves. Or you could retreat to peaceful Riva, on the very northern tip of Lake Garda.
Lake Como Holidays
Lake Como has long been the haunt of aristocrats and wealthy artists. Its three arms stretch out into the Alps to the north and down towards Milan in the south. Bellagio – “the Pearl of Lake Como” – sits pride of place. Cobbled streets lead down to lakeside promenades that wind past gelato parlours and a pebble beach. Como places an impressive Romanesque cathedral on the southern shore. And to the west, there’s mountain-backed Menaggio.
Find out more about holidays on Lake Como
Lake Maggiore Holidays
Lake Maggiore is a northern lake with an easy-going nature. The Borromean Islands are its centrepiece, including the garden isles of Isola Bella and Isola Madre. They’re easily reached from Stresa, on the west bank. Hemingway once stayed in this regal town, along with a slew of European monarchs. Make sure to visit Villa Pallavicino and its sweep of parkland, avenues, rhododendron gardens and wandering peacocks.
Best of all, Lake Maggiore is cupped by mountains that stretch from the Swiss border before levelling out at the peaceful bike trails and lakeside paths of the Gulf of Quassa Park.
Lake Iseo Holidays
Lake Iseo is the fourth largest lake in Northern Italy. The main town of Iseo is on the south shore, its medieval origins evident in the street patterns, arcaded shopping areas and peaceful squares. Lake Iseo’s most striking feature is Monte Isola island, the largest inhabited lake island in Europe. This is home to 11 small communities, traffic-free and easily reached by boat from the lakeside towns of Iseo and Sulzano – the perfect spot for a peaceful stroll. There is gentle walking, too, around the Torbiere del Sebino adjacent to Iseo Town. It’s a lakeside wetland nature reserve, a mecca for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The Franciacorta area to the South has a more rolling landscape and is famous for its sparkling wines. Your hotels in Lake Iseo give you a great choice of accommodation.
Lake Ledro Holidays
Lake Ledro sits in the mountains just above Lake Garda and it’s the ideal holiday destination for walkers, cyclists and nature lovers. Stay in the quiet lakeside villages of Pieve or Mezzolago – all good starting points for the woodland trails that surround the lake and others that lead up into the mountains or through the valley. Our favourites are the ones where you can stop off at mountain refugios along the way.
The lake’s known for its clean, sparkling waters so it’s great for those who enjoy a wild swim – especially in the summer months when the water temperature can reach 24 degrees.
Lake Levico Holidays
Find your very own tranquil oasis hidden between the pine forested hills of Lake Levico. The lake’s renowned for its beautifully clear water - it’s Blue Flag accredited, so it’s hard to resist going straight in for a dip as soon as you arrive.
The main town Levico Terme is a short stroll from the lake shore – it’s a historic thermal spa town filled with flower lined, pedestrianised streets. The mountains and lush woodland make it a popular destination for hiking and cycling. There’s gentle shaded routes around the lake or you can take more adventurous trails into the mountains.
Lake Lavarone Holidays
During the summer the Alpe Cimbra is a hotspot for outdoor sporting activities. Folgaria & Lavarone are great starting points for walkers and mountain bikers. The scenery rivals the Dolomites, but the lower altitude and smaller peaks mean there’s very accessible and well-marked trails for all abilities. Several of the ski lifts are open in the summer too, so reaching the peaks couldn’t be easier.
Make the most of nearby Lake Lavarone, where you can wild swim in the clear waters. One of our favourite ways to explore it is to hire a kayak - you’ll find hidden spots only reachable from the water!
Lake Orta Holidays
Join the likes of Lord Byron and the countless writers and poets who’ve come to Lake Orta to enjoy its peace and tranquillity in the foothills of the Alps. The poet, Robert Browning, described Orta as being where ‘the Alps meet heaven’ and we’d have to agree. Hazy horizons and shady shores make it the best place for a relaxing retreat, where you can enjoy a slower pace of life.
The main town, Orta San Giulio, is built on the slopes of a peninsula that juts out into the lake, opposite the idyllic Isola San Gulio – catch a boat across to see it for yourself.