Italian lakes are diverse – from the purest mountain to shallow lagoon reservoirs. In total there are about 1.5 thousand lakes in Italy. Holidays at the Italian lake shores, you can enjoy the magnificent natural scenery, conquer the mountains, do water sports, sunbathing, swimming in the clear waters and admire the countless monuments.
In northern Italy, not far from Verona and Milan, there are the largest and most beautiful lakes of prealpine. The mountains, the clear water, the variety of flora and fauna and the excellent tourist infrastructure draws tourists from all over the world to the lakes.
Lake Garda (Lago di Garda) is the biggest lake in Italy with an area of 370 km². It is located between Venice and Milan and covers three regions: Lombardia, Trentino and Veneto.
The Dolomites protect the lake from winds, its climate is warm and mild. There is a wonderful phenomenon on the lake – seiche, standing waves which can occur even in calm weather and can last from a few minutes to two hours. The shores of Lake Garda are full of resort towns and villages with preserved monuments of art and architecture of ancient Rome.
Rest on Lake Garda will appeal to lovers of water sports, hiking in the mountains, riding or biking. Those who are enticed by the nightlife will find pubs, bars, clubs, discos and night fireworks. For family vacations on the lake are equipped with amusement parks, zoo and water parks, diving centers and other tourist infrastructure. The area around the lake is famous for its olive groves, vineyards and orchards – you can taste and buy wine from the best wineries, natural olive oil, cheeses and other delicacies.
On the lake you can visit the town of Sirmione, famous for its Castello dei Scaligeri, a fortress built in the XIII century to protect the city from the lake, one of the towers of which is an observation deck for tourists, 47 meters high. There is also the thermal spring Boiola (Fonte Boiola) and Grotte di Catullo, the ruins of a once huge luxury villa of the Roman poet, dated I century BC.
Other popular places around the lake – the town of Limone sul Garda (Limone sul Garda), famous for its lemon and olive groves, and the World Cup for windsurfing professionals.
On Isola di Garda you will find the Villa Ferrari, a splendid example of Venetian neo-Gothic style, in Malcesine excellent conditions for windsurfing, skydiving and sailing.
Gardaland amusement park in Castelnuovo del Garda, in the province of Verona, is a great place for holidays with children. It is the third largest amusement park in Europe with dozens of attractions for children and adults.
Lake Como (Lago di Como) – one of the Alpine lakes, 40 minutes from Milan International Airport. The lake has three branches – the northern one is called Colico, the southeastern one is called Lecco and the southwestern one is called Como.
Along the coasts are chic villas from different centuries, which now house museums and hotels with luxurious gardens and parks. There are olive trees, vineyards, pomegranate trees and cypresses everywhere. There are festivals on the lake, including an annual festival of exclusive cars, and Lake Como is also the birthplace of Italian silk. The poet Virgil and Leonardo da Vinci once lived and vacationed here. Now there are villas of world celebrities on the shores of the lake. The local scenery can be seen in the movies “Ocean’s Twelve”, “Casino Royale”, “Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones.
In the city of Como, wool and silk were produced in the Middle Ages. One of the attractions is the Cathedral of Como (Duomo di Como), a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture with Gothic elements, which was built from the XIV to the XVII century. In the same town there is the Basilica di Sant’Abbondio with its rustic facings and Romanesque bas-reliefs. For five centuries the church served as the residence of the highest church dignitaries and the burial place of the bishops. It is worth visiting the medieval Castel Baradello, where from a height of 400 meters you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the city and the lake scenery.
North of the lake is the Madesimo ski resort. The tourists are offered 48 kilometers of tracks, the highest point at an altitude of 2948 meters, an ice rink, a sports center and a hiking trail along the border with Switzerland.
The town of Lecco is located on the shore of the southeastern arm of the lake. Here you will enjoy a holiday resort, attractions such as the Basilica di San Nicolò (Basilica di San Nicolò-a-Lecco) of the XVIII century with a bell tower about 100 meters, palaces and bridges. From the town you can take the funicular to the mountains for skiing, rock climbing or other winter attractions.
At the junction of the three arms of the lake is the resort of Bellagio. The local mild climate and vivid landscapes once inspired Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, George Gordon Byron, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini and other talented people. The city is dotted with rich aristocratic estates and magnificent gardens. Experience the luxury of Villa Serbelloni, now a 5-star hotel.
The island of Comacina is the only one on Lake Como and the asteroid (489) Comacina is named after it. From 1919 to 1920, the island was an enclave of Belgium and was returned to Italy under the condition that a community of artists be established there. On June 24, the island celebrates John the Baptist Day – the lake is illuminated with lights and a mass is held on the ruins of the church in honor of the saint.
- Read an article about the best hotels on the shores of Lake Como with incredible views.
Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) is the second largest lake in Italy, located 90 km from Milan International Airport. The lake is decorated with high shores and island archipelagos. The tourist season lasts from early May to late October, although in the spring and fall there are periods of rain. Holidays at the lake will be remembered for its crystal clear water, natural parks and gardens, monuments of architecture and art from different eras, ancient castles and picturesque landscapes.
Fans of active recreation can take part in winter sports, windsurfing, riding bicycles or horses, sailing or go on excursions to historical sites.
The most popular resorts around the lake are Verbania, Stresa, Intra, Baveno, Arona.
On the islands of the archipelago Borromeo (Isole Borromee) you will be greeted by beautiful palaces and gardens. At an altitude of 800 meters above Stresa stretches the Alpine Botanic Garden (Giardino Botanico Alpino), from which you can climb to the summit of Mount Mottarone.
On the eastern shore of the lake is the 13th-century rock monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso (Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso).
Lago d’Iseo is between the provinces of Brescia and Bergamo and is the smallest of the great Italian lakes.
It is a lovely place to spend a summer holiday if you can’t stand the heat and the lake has a mild climate. The scenery around the lake is very diverse – from the cliffs rising out of the water to small bays with olive and chestnut groves.
There are many resort villages and towns along the shores, all of which have churches, castles or villas to boast. The island-mountain Monte Isola (Monte isola) rises to 600 meters above the lake and is striking for its beauty. Unfortunately, the island is privately owned and closed to tourists. You can relax on the island of Loreto (Isola di Loreto), in the towns of Lovere, Pisogne, Marone, Sulzano, Iseo.
Lake Orta (Lago d’Orta) of about 18 km² is located in the north-east of Piedmont. At the center is the island of San Giulio (Isola di San Giulio), according to legend once inhabited by snakes and dragons, which were driven away by St. Julius. Almost the entire island is occupied by a convent where the reclusive women, who have taken a vow of silence, restore ancient works of art. The island is very quiet and peaceful, an ideal place for walks and meditations. The town of Horta looks like a picture postcard, with its quiet, peaceful streets and fairytale-like houses that encourage you to take a romantic walk.
Lake Braies is located 97 km from Bolzano in the Dolomite Alps of South Tyrol at an altitude of 1,496 meters. The clear emerald-colored water and breathtaking views of mountains and forests are the ideal scenery for a boat trip. Along the banks there are special places for picnics and games with children, equipped with trails for hiking.
The Lago di Lugano, shared between Italy and Switzerland, was formed around a glacier about 100 centuries ago. Around the lake there are a lot of viewing platforms, which can be reached by cable cars and funiculars, and see all the lake surroundings. In the summer season, the water temperature reaches +22-24 ° C, which makes it possible to engage in water sports. There are many bike paths along the shores so that you can explore the lakescapes and attractions in detail.
Volcanic lakes in Italy were formed in the calderas of extinct volcanoes. Most of these bodies of water are located near the capital city on the Apennine Peninsula.
Lake Albano is formed by two merging craters of an extinct volcano, and is located 40 minutes from Rome. Among the quiet mountain scenery on the shore is the residence of the Pope – the town of Castel Gandolfo (Castel Gandolfo). To the lake come to ride mountain bikes, catamarans and canoes.
The volcanic lake of Bracciano is located 32 km from Rome and is connected to the Vatican by the Aqueduct of Trajan. The lake is of great interest to archaeologists, as traces of Bronze and Iron Age settlements have been found at the bottom.
Motorized watercraft and waste dumping are forbidden on the lake – it is a source of drinking water for cities, including Rome.
Here you can go sailing, relax on the black volcanic beaches, swim in the clearest water, fish or drive along the coast, observing nature. On the lake stands the town of Bracciano, where the medieval Castle of Orsini Odescalchi (Castello Odescalchi di Bracciano) has been preserved. Also on the shores of the lake is developed agriturismo, where tourists are invited to taste and buy the local wines, meats and gifts of the lake.
- We suggest you to visit: a tour from Rome to Lake Bracciano
Lake Bolsena (Lago di Bolsena) is the largest volcanic lake in Europe, located between Rome and Tuscany. On the lake’s shore stands the eponymous town of Bolsena with ancient mansions, fountains, forts and churches. You can visit the islands of Isola Bisentina and Martana, Montefiascone, Capodimonte or Gradoli, each with its own history, architecture and beautiful nature.
In addition to all the fun things you can do on the lake, the waters of the Bolsena are excellent for fishing. There are pikes, carps, tench and eels, and on 2 July in the town of Bolsena there is a fish festival for those wishing to compete in fishing. The lake resorts are equipped with everything you need for a good rest, and there are also many species of birds.
Lake Nemi (Lago di Nemi) is another volcanic lake, separated from the Albanian by Mount Cavo (Monte Cavo). On the shore of the lake stood the villa of Caligula, and according to legends, at the bottom were found the ships of the famous emperor – the floating temple of Diana of Arricia and the floating palace. However, there is no exact information about the ownership of the ships, and their last remains were burned during the Second World War. On the eastern shore are the ruins of the temple of Diana, goddess of flora and fauna, and the lake itself in ancient times was called “Diana’s Mirror”. The coastal town of Nemi – small, quiet and cozy, will delight you with delicious strawberries.
- Categorically recommend: wine and gastronomic tour in Nemi from Rome
Lagoon lakes are usually shallow and separated from the sea by reefs or sandy spits. Around such lakes there is always a rich flora and fauna and rare species of birds, fish and animals are often found.
Lake Lesina (Lago di Lesina) is in the northern part of Puglia, separated by a sand dune from the Adriatic Sea. The edge of this salt lake has little precipitation, with temperatures ranging from +28°C to +38°C in summer and from 6-16°C above zero in winter.
Along the shores there are ancient forests with valuable wildlife, especially a lot of rare birds, and in the lake itself there are eels, crayfish, seabass and mullet. The eastern part of the lake is a reserve and is part of the Parco Nazionale del Gargano (National Park of Gargano). In the lakeside town of Lesina it is worth seeing the Bishop’s Palace (Palazzo vescovile), the Abbazia di S. Maria di Ripalta and the volcanic rocks of the Triassic age. The town of Apricena attracts tourists with its marble caves and in the towns of Serracapriola and Poggio Imperiale there are various monasteries and sanctuaries.
Italy’s most beautiful lakes: where to visit
On the territory of sunny Italy there are almost 1.5 thousand lakes. Here you can find mountain reservoirs, characterized by crystal clear water, lakes, nestled in the funnels of dormant volcanoes, and picturesque lagoons. Each year, lakeside territories attract thousands of tourists from all over the world. A comfortable climate, amazing nature, Italian cuisine and unique attractions will not leave indifferent any traveler.
On coastal recreation centers with developed infrastructure everyone can find an activity to his liking: to admire the peaceful scenery, take water and sunbathing, do sports on the water, climb the mountain peaks and get acquainted with the rare monuments of architecture.
Excursions to the lakes near Rome
The most picturesque and deep-water lakes are located in the northern part of the Apennine Peninsula at the foot of the Alpine Ranges. The mountain peaks protect the reservoirs from the cold and wind, creating a favorable climate, so they can be visited at any time of year. The lakeshores are decorated with exotic plants and trees. The fresh air, the splendor of nature, ancient castles and modern hotels dispose to comfortable rest.
Garda is the lake with the largest surface of 370 square kilometers. Its length is about 52 km and maximum width is 16 km. The lake is nestled on the territory of three Italian provinces: the economically developed Lombardy, wine-making Trentino and charming Veneto. Only one and a half hour drive separates Garda from the fashion capital of Milan. At different times the lake was visited by Byron and Goethe, Dickens and Kafka, Wilde and many other famous travelers.
Garda attracts guests with its medieval monuments, varied landscapes, comfortable hotels and plenty of entertainment. The lake is a perfect place for lovers of water sports: diving, windsurfing and yachting. Golfers, tennis fans, cyclists and equestrians will find here excellent sites and trails. The bright lights and fireworks of nightclubs, bars and restaurants attract many visitors. There are 3 zoos, a thermal park and several water parks, one of the largest entertainment centers in Europe – Gardaland – and a huge disco club on the vast coast.
This incredibly beautiful place attracts art and culture lovers, lovers of active recreation and quiet walks, young people and couples with children. Every tourist can find in the resort area something to their liking.
The coastal areas are covered with numerous gardens, vineyards, groves and citrus trees.
Along the coast there are numerous resort towns and villages with unique architectural complexes, buried in the green blooming gardens.
On the Sirmione Peninsula there is the most popular fortress town, famous for the ruins of the ancient Roman poet Catullo’s villa, cathedrals, and the spring with thermal waters of Boiola.
The town of Garda, which gave its name to the reservoir, is situated 30 km from Verona. This is a great place for family holidays with children, because there is an amusement park with many attractions and a large oceanarium in the vicinity.
The resorts of Torbole and Riva are located in the northern part of the lake. They attract extreme athletes who are not afraid to fight the winds raging in the area. Here you can do not only windsurfing, but also increasingly popular riding on the waves with a kite – kitesurfing.
On the slopes of Monte Baldo is located the town of Malcesine, one of the most popular resorts with an ideal climate and developed infrastructure. The mountain is famous for its rich flora, recreation centers and cableway connecting the peak with the city. The main attraction of Malcesine is the Scaliger fortress. Everyone can climb to the observation deck of one of the towers of the castle and admire the views from a height of 47 meters.
On the lake there are many islands, both small and large. The largest is the island of Garda. Here is an ancient monastery, founded by Francis of Assisi, and a luxurious villa, built in Venetian-neo-Gothic style.
Excursions in Milan, Venice and Florence
This lake is a prestigious vacation spot on the outskirts of the high Alps. It is located in the northern part of the country, 55 kilometers from Milan. Como is the third largest lake with an unusual shape, resembling a star with three branches. Each branch has a unique name: Colico is famous for its wildlife and clear water, Lecco attracts tourists with its precious architectural masterpieces, the branch Como with its elegant hotels and villas.
Lake Como has always been considered a great vacation spot for famous people. The coast is literally stuffed with luxurious palaces, castles and villas of all eras, surrounded by chestnuts, vineyards, olive groves and cypress trees.
The lake hosts annual festivals and international exhibitions, including a festival of luxury cars. The unique show features the rarest and most unusual models brought in from around the world.
The unique local scenery has repeatedly attracted famous filmmakers. Here was filmed an episode of Star Wars, the famous movie Ocean’s Twelve and many others. Como is the birthplace of Italian silk fabric, so visitors always buy here the products of this valuable fabric.
The largest city, located on the shores of the reservoir, has the same name. Como attracts tourists with the Cathedral of the Duomo, made in the form of a Latin cross with a Gothic facade. There is also the basilica of Sant’Abbondio with a double bell tower, built in honor of the city’s patron saint. The temple for five centuries was the seat of the bishops. It was also the burial place of the higher dignitaries. Tourists do not miss the medieval castle Baradello with its open observation deck at an altitude of 400 m. Every year in September, shows and jousting tournaments are held in the square adjoining the castle.
At the northern border with Switzerland, lies the ski resort of Madesimo, a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. Tourists are offered tracks of varying difficulty, an ice rink and hiking.
The picturesque town of Lecco is full of sights. Lovers of antiquity can not take their eyes off the palaces located in the old center. Among the Orthodox shrines is a cathedral built in the XVIII century in honor of the patron saint of Lecco – St. Nicholas. The townspeople call the 100-meter bell tower of the temple Matitone, which means “pencil”. From the town you can take the funicular up to Piani d’Erna Peak and get into a real mountain fairy tale.
In the city of Bellagio, located in the center of the three branches of the lake, travelers come to see the many villas. Many famous poets and composers have taken inspiration from this amazing place with unforgettable views and a comfortable climate. For the tourists who dream to feel like royalty, you can find luxurious rooms in the 5-star hotel, the Villa Serbelloni.
The city of Tremezzo, on the western coast of Como, is also famous for its villas. The most famous villa is the Carlotta. Sights include the churches of San Lorenzo and Santa Maria, which houses an unusual statue of the Virgin Mary with a dark face, and the city’s Teresio Olivelli Park.
One of the most notable tourist centers on the lake is the town of Varenna, with colorful houses clinging to the coastal cliffs, luxury villas and the ancient castle of Vecio.
The only piece of land in the middle of Lake Como is the island of Comacina with a rich history. There are several churches and temples on the island, and in the summer there is a festival in honor of St. John the Baptist with a costume procession and fireworks.
Maggiore is Italy’s second largest lake. To reach it from Milan airport, you have to travel a distance of 90 kilometers.
The unique lake is located on the territory of two states, Switzerland and Italy. The most famous towns are in the province of Piedmont, on the western bank of Lake Maggiore. Among them stand out the following resorts: Verbania, offering an unforgettable vacation in the silence of numerous gardens and parks; Stresa, striking the imagination with its long picturesque embankment; Intra, one of the main attractions is a monument to the first King of Italy – Emmanuel II .
The lake is surrounded by natural park areas, botanical gardens, mountains and archipelagos, creating a harmony of beauty and nature. The largest European territory of untouched nature is the Val Grande Valley. Breathtaking landscapes, steep cliffs, canyons, mountains and valleys will impress any traveler.
The Borromean archipelago has several islands, the largest of which is Isola Madre with beautiful buildings and monuments.
On the eastern shore of the lake is the monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso, rare in its beauty. In the XVIII century it was inhabited by hermits, and today the shrine is actively visited by tourists.
For the guests of the island, who prefer active rest, on the shores of the reservoir there are all conditions. Here you can do both winter and summer sports, make hiking and horseback riding, ride a bike and yacht. Tourists are also offered memorable excursions on the lake and its surroundings.
Iseo, unlike the three great lakes, can not boast its size, but it is no less attractive to tourists. The lake is located between the famous Italian provinces of Bergamo and Brescia.
Iseo is chosen because of the lack of summer scorching heat. Numerous mountain bodies of water entice with cool and clear water. The lake is a great vacation spot both in summer and winter. The resort is attractive to fans of water sports and skiers. And at Christmas there are noisy fairs.
On the high shores of the lake are hotels and temples, castles and villas surrounded by chestnut and olive groves. Around the lake are many mountains, one of which protrudes directly from the water depths to a height of 600 meters. But to relax on the unusual island of Monte Isola is not possible, because this piece of land is in private ownership.
Tourists enjoy visiting another lake island – Loreto, as well as the coastal resort towns and villages of Lovere, Pizonje, Sulzano and many others.
The Alpine lake Orta is located in Piedmont near Maggiore and covers an area of 18 sq. km. Many legends were written about the mysterious island in ancient times, some have survived until today. For example, the locals say that the inhabitants of the island were saved from the invasion of poisonous snakes and terrible dragons by St. Julius.
In the center of the reservoir is the triangular island of San Giulio with the famous ancient convent. Today, the temple is home to reclusive nuns who are engaged in the restoration of ancient icons. The nuns keep a vow of silence, so there is peace and quiet on the island.
The lake shore invites to romantic walks and meditation. The small town of the same name attracts with its fabulous view. The central square is surrounded by unusual houses with painted frescoes, shutters and carved balconies. In the center is the 16th century building, Palazzo del Comune.
The most beautiful lake of the Dolomites – Lake Briese – is located at an altitude of about 1500 m above sea level. It was formed in one of the mountain valleys of South Tyrol in the reserve Fanes-Banes-Bryes. The reservoir is called the “Emerald of Italy” because of the dark green color of its water.
The most popular local entertainment is boating on the water. Walking the equipped hiking trail around the lake to enjoy the stunning views is no less interesting.
Lake Lugano, like Maggiore, is located on Swiss and Italian territory. The body of water was formed about 100 centuries ago on the site of a melted glacier. You can see the beauty of the lake and coastal areas from numerous viewing platforms, which are easily accessible by cable car or funicular. Active recreation lovers can do water sports on the lake and ride a bike on landscaped paths.
Picturesque volcanic lakes are located in the craters of inactive volcanoes. They are mostly located near the Italian capital. Frozen lava and volcanic tuff have created natural depressions that have filled with water and turned into beautiful bodies of water.
The most interesting excursions to the volcanic lakes in the Roman Castles
Lake Alban has a characteristic rounded shape that gives away its volcanic origin. From Rome to the lake is only 25 km, which is why here for centuries rested important people, including emperors. The picturesque hills of Alban are home to the cozy town of Castel Gandolfo, a summer residence of the Pope.
The lake attracts lovers of water trips by canoe and catamaran. The local hills have long been beloved by cyclists.
The lake was formed in ancient times. It is about 45 minutes from Rome and is the cleanest source of water for the capital and the surrounding towns. It is connected to the Vatican by the Trajan’s Canal. The bottom of the lake is a treasure trove for archaeologists, who have discovered prehistoric artefacts and traces of different eras here.
Motorized vehicles are forbidden on the reservoir, but you can go sailing. And here you can enjoy exotic Mediterranean cuisine.
Bolsena is the largest volcanic lake in Europe, on one of the banks of which the town of the same name is built. The settlement is famous for its ancient houses and fortresses, temples and architectural monuments.
On the lake are the islands of Martana and Bicentina, and on the coast there are several towns, each with its own unique history and magnificent scenery.
The coastal resorts invite guests to comfortable hotels, cozy cafes and restaurants.
Lake Nemi is located near Mount Cavo. Once on one of its banks was built a villa for the famous Roman emperor Caligula. On the eastern shore was a temple of the Greek goddess Diana. Unfortunately, all that is left of it today are ruins.
In the small town of Nemi, surrounded by fields, forests and meadows, you can enjoy fragrant strawberries, delicious raspberries and fragrant strawberries.