9 best lakes in Europe

Embrace the great outdoors at Europe's best lakes

Looking to dip your toes into a walking holiday by one of Europe’s stunning lakes? Walk this way to explore the crystal clear waters of Europe's most stunning lakes and soak in breathtaking views that will leave you in awe.

lakes in Europe

These lakeside holiday destinations offer the ultimate escape. Get ready to explore the enchanting beauty of the Italian lakes and unspoiled, stunning waters in France, Switzerland, and Slovenia. Whether you’re a stroller, brisk pacer or a sit-back and relaxer, there’s a lakeside holiday just for you. Pack your bags, put your shades on, and get ready to dive into the stunning shorelines and exciting outdoor adventures that await you.


1. Lake Garda, Italy

Lake Garda

Europe’s best-kept walking trails are found around its most beautiful lakes. And in Lake Garda, you’ll find everything from quaint villages to quiet outdoor adventures to delicious meals and drinks in scenic settings. 

Nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Lake Garda boasts a picture-perfect setting with colourful portside towns, rolling vineyards, and towering peaks. If you’re seeking more challenging paths, then more rugged and mountainous terrain can be found in the northern parts of the lake.

When to go

The best months to visit Lake Garda are throughout summer from May to September. You can expect warm summer temperatures that allow for a wide range of activities. The lake has some stunning beaches, perfect for swimming and sunbathing in the Italian summer sunshine. It’s also one of the best places for paragliding, windsurfing, and hang-gliding -  perfect for water sport enthusiasts.

Whether you’re traversing the beautiful lakeside trails, mountain biking, or sailing the crystal blue waters, Lake Garda has plenty of outdoor adventure.

Lake Garda walking highlights:

  • Beautiful tranquil settings
  • Endless trails that cater for all abilities
  • More challenging trails for high level walkers
View Lake Garda holidays


2. Lake Bled, Slovenia

lake bled lakes europe

Lake Bled is a jewel in the crown of Slovenia's stunning landscapes and is one of the most romantic spots in the country. Renowned for its fairytale castle and stunning mountain vistas, it offers an enchanting setting that is sure to captivate and inspire.

Plenty of outdoor adventure

For those who seek adventure and renewal, few things can compare to exploring the exciting surroundings of Lake Bled. In the summer months, there is no end to the activities on offer. Whether you’re seeking a challenging hike, a relaxing paddle in  the water, or simply some quiet time exploring its beautiful lakeside trails, Lake Bled offers something for every traveller.

Feel like lacing those boots? Walking around the lake will take about 1-2 hours. There will be plenty of opportunities to stop, take photos and take in the stunning lakeside scenery. This is one stunning location, so you’ll want to capture those postcard-worthy sights.

Lake Bled walking highlights:

  • Good base for walking in the Julian Alps
  • Great for easy and moderate walks
  • The historic Bled Castle which sits 130m above the lake

View Lake Bled holidays


3. Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

lake lucerne

Explore Lake Lucerne, a peaceful haven of emerald waters surrounded by breathtaking mountains and stunning Swiss architecture. Traverse gentle lakeside paths near Lucerne or challenge yourself with high-altitude walks on Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus. With years of history and traditions waiting to be discovered, Lake Lucerne is a must-visit for anyone seeking a slice of outdoor paradise.

Explore historic sights

Lucerne is famous for its charming Chapel Bridge, and the historic city walls that once protected the city. You’ll see lots of spellbinding buildings with beautiful architecture, including enchanting timber frame houses with Baroque and Renaissance style designs.

For those seeking to explore at a leisurely pace, the city is very much walkable and mostly flat. Put on some comfy shoes and you’ll be good to rock n’ stroll the city’s cobblestone streets.

Lots of water activities

A visit to Lake Lucerne wouldn’t be complete without lapping up its serene waters. There are many ways to experience the lake, including swimming,  paddle-boarding, and relaxing boat trips. The warm summer months are perfect for taking a dip whilst taking in the stunning views of the surrounding Swiss mountains.

Lake Lucerne walking highlights:

  • Relaxing boat cruises to charming lakeside villages
  • A good selection of walks for all abilities
  • Lifts up Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus for the best views and higher altitude walking

View Lake Lucerne holidays


4. Lake Annecy, France

Lake annecy europe lakes

Lake Annecy, one of France’s largest lakes, in Haute-Savoie at the foot of the Alps, offers adventure seekers ample outdoor activities and mountainous areas, while culture enthusiasts can explore the nearby museums and the mighty Annecy Castle.

The venice of the alps

Known as ‘the Venice of the Alps’, Annecy is one of the most beautiful towns in France with its flower-decked canals, historic medieval town and snow-capped peaks. Famous for its fairy-tale castles and lakeshore villages such as Tallories, it’s every walker's dream destination. You can enjoy guided walks through the beautiful Old Town, with its cobbled streets, wooden bridges and canalside paths.

Thrilling water based sports

Lake Annecy is the perfect aquatic playground for water lovers, offering sailing, paddle boarding, canoeing, pedal boats, water skiing and more. It’s also ideal for swimming, with beautiful clean waters and warm temperatures.

Did you know?

Lake Annecy isn’t just one, but two magnificent bodies of water. The Grand Lac (great lake) and the Petit Luc (small lake) are connected at the strait of Duingt, located between the Ruphy Castle and the steep hill of Roc de Chère near Talloires.

Lake Annecy walking highlights:

  • A good selection of walks for all abilities
  • Excellent water activities on the lake
  • Self-guided walks around the waterways and historic buildings of Old Annecy
View Lake Annecy holidays


5. Lake Iseo, Italy

lake iseo italy

This beautiful and lesser-known lake nestled between the famous Lake Garda and Lake Como. Its allure lies in its stunning landscape and Monte Isola - a charming wooded mountain dotted with quaint villages along its slopes. 

This lake in Northern Italy is a hidden gem of rare beauty. There are many opportunities for outdoor activities and walkers will have their choice of many paths that lead from quaint lakeside villages to the majestic mountains.

Visit Montisola Island

This romantic little island inside Lake Iseo is a sight to behold. You will feel like you’ve stepped into a vintage Italian film, with sparkling lights reflecting on its waters,  nature entwined with charming buildings and little boats parked on a colourful coast.

For active travellers, you can hike to the top of the island’s mountain where you will find a beautiful sanctuary and enjoy a panoramic view of the lake. You’ll have the option to take a bus downhill and take a pitstop at one of its delightful restaurants, offering delicious dining with views.

Lake Iseo walking highlights:

  • A good selection of walks for all abilities
  • Beautiful mountain-side vineyards 
  • A medieval town with open-air squares, stylish cafes and bars
View Lake Iseo holidays


6. Lake Ledro, Italy

lake ledro europes best lakes

Lake Ledro offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers. Explore scenic trails through dense woodland and mountainous terrain, or opt for gentle valley paths. Visit local mountain huts and savour the delicious Ledro Valley cheese.

It is known to be one of the cleanest lakes in Trentino and during the summer, it can reach a comfortable 24 degrees. Located in the heart of Ledro Valley, between Lake Garda and Lake Idro, it is famous for its quiet and serene atmosphere. 

Its  gentle shores boast four beaches, (Molina, di Ledro, in Pieve di Ledro, in Mezzolago and Pur), perfect for swimming, canoeing and fishing.

Visit Torbiere del Sebino Nature Reserve

This spectacular national park is surrounded by water, wildlife and nature. If you are visiting Ledro, then this is not to be missed. Due to its variety of habitats and species, It’s considered an area of priority for biodiversity in the Lombardy Po Valley. 

Lake Ledro walking highlights:

  • Lots of woodland trails and mountain paths to explore
  • Pebble beaches with grassy sunbathing spots 
  • Plenty of sailing boats, kayaks, and paddle boards for hire
View Lake Ledro holidays



7. Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

europes best lakes lake bohinj

A true walker’s paradise nestled in the Julian Alps. Explore enchanting forests, lush meadows, cascading waterfalls, and mysterious caves. It’s the perfect setting for unwinding whilst taking in the untouched beauty of the Triglav National Park.

Discover the thrills of Slovenia’s outdoor playground

With plenty of opportunities to go hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming, Lake Bohinj is the ultimate playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re cruising its sparkling waters, or riding the Vogel cable car for amazing views of Triglav National Park, you’ll be mesmerised by the natural, beauty of the region.

Walkers can enjoy the picturesque trails around the lake, offering flat and easy terrain. There will be plenty of chances to take a rest and sunbathe by the waters edge.

Lake Bohinj walking highlights:

  • The breath-taking views from Mount Vogel 
  • Lots of walking trails - 16 marked hiking routes to explore.
  • Kayak, swim or paddle board

View Lake Bohinj holidays


8. Lake Como, Italy

lake como

Nestled amidst picturesque mountains, elegant villas, colourful villages, and peaceful gardens, this glamorous resort offers the perfect retreat. Sip on an aperitif by the water and soak up the beautiful lakeside views, feeling like a true VIP.

Getting around Lake Como is easy. You can walk, travel by boat, take the bus and take lifts up into the hills. Ferries also frequently stop in both directions of Bellagio.

Making waves in Lake Como

The lake is home to a wide range of water sports. You can water-ski, sail and windsurf on its stunning blue waters. And even in the height of summer, when the Italian sun is at its peak, Lake Como stays relatively cool thanks to its surrounding mountains.

The town of Como is an excellent gateway to other towns. There’s lots of classic Italian restaurants and shops to discover, along with a beautiful 15th century cathedral and stunning lakeside promenade. Its medieval town centre gives it more of a city feel when compared to other neighbouring towns within Lake Como.

When to go

March and October are considered to be the shoulder months for visiting Lake Como, as the weather is cooler and the crowds are thinner. However, during the summer months, the towns around Lake Como burst into the colour as beautiful blooms paint the streets in soft pastels.

Lake Como walking highlights:

  • Lots of hill, mountain and lakeside walks
  • Sports on the lake: Kayaking, water skiing, swimming and sailing
  • Explore the stunning Balbianello and Carlotta villas

View Lake Como holidays


9. Lake Maggiore, Italy

Lake maggiore europes best lakes

With its stunning alpine backdrop, leisurely strolls, sightseeing opportunities, and abundant sunshine and palm trees, this destination is truly remarkable. Don’t miss a boat trip to one of the islands and a stroll through the beautiful gardens of the lakeside villas.

The eden of Italy

Lake Maggiore is known for its beautiful botanical gardens and stunning villas. It’s a treasure trove of blooms thanks to its favoured climate and residents with a passion for horticulture. Nature lovers will enjoy visiting the luscious lawns embroidered with pots of colour. We recommend visiting the beautiful gardens of Villa Taranto

Lake Maggiore walking highlights:

  • Excellent transport links making it easy to reach some of the most beautiful scenery in the region
  • The Chestnut Route (Sentiero dei Castagni) up Mount Mottarone from Stresa
  • Flower lined, lakefront promenades
View Lake Maggiore holidays


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