Backed by a breath-taking scenery of snow-capped mountains 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. Lake Maggiore has a relaxed atmosphere and Lake Como is filled with chic lakeside cafés.
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.