I believe the lakes in Italy are some of the best in the world. I have visited Italy many times and each time I make sure I take time to spend time at one of the Italian lakes.
In the article I’ll walk you through some of my favorite and the prettiest Italian lakes. I’ve included some well known ones like Lake Como and Lake Braies and some less well known ones like Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta.
From lakes in the Italian mountains to lakes in Italy near Switzerland to lakes that are just the absolute best background to any photo I’ve covered them all. It can be overwhelming deciding which to visit so my hope is this article makes choosing a little bit easier.
If like me you love to get away from the cities, towns and tourist areas you are going to love these Italian lakes . They all offer something different while keeping that quintessential Italian feel which is intoxicating.
If this is the first time in Italy here are 9 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Italian Trip.
11 Beautiful Lakes In Italy (+ Towns To Visit!)
Lake Bolsena (Lago di Bolsena)
Located in central Italy in the Tuscia area. I adore this lake because it never seems to be that busy. Even though it is one of the biggest lakes in Italy it seems to have escaped the throngs of tourists.
It’s a volcanic lake formed by a volcano and is actually the largest volcanic lake in Europe. This lake has a history which is evident in the small towns dotted around it’s bank, which I highly recommend a visit too.
Other than its size it’s not a dramatic lake instead its surround by a crown of hills and miles of shore. It’s very gentle and I found it rather a comforting place to be.
Main activities include swimming and boating, kiteboarding / kitesurfing and hiking.
Highlights to see in the area:
- The Lake Bolsena Territorial Museum and Aquarium.
- The Basilica of Santa Cristina in Bolsena.
- The nature park of Turona.
- The Rocca Farnese of Capodimonte.
This is one of the best lakes in Italy if you want a little bit of everything.
Lake Braies Lago di Braies
In my opinion if you are after one of this most picturesque natural lakes in Italy you can’t get much better than Lake Braies. Located in South Tyrol up in the northeast part of Italy, Lakes Braies is the epitome of scenic, instragrammable lakes in Italy.
This lake was on my bucket list for ages and when I went it didn’t disappoint. Any picture you have seen of the Dolomites with a lake it would have been this one.
The lake is surrounded by towering peaks that reflect in the lake creating a vista that will take your breath away. I’ve seen many mountain lakes and this one is in my top three.
It is a little out the way and public transportation is a bit patch so you will need a car. The drive will take anywhere between 2-4 hours depending on which major city you are coming from.
Things to do when you are here include:
- Taking a boat out on the lake – you can rent one from June to September and if you do want one get there early as they are often all gone by mid morning. Yes this place gets busy.
- The Lakeside Chapel – on the west side of the lake is well worth a visit and if you have the time hiking around the lake is fabulous and gives your different vistas.
We also have a full Northern Italy itinerary if you are interested in exploring this region in more detail. We highly suggest it as it is one of the most beautiful spots in Italy!
This is one of the most beautiful Italian lakes.
Here are some Dolomites Hiking Trails that you can do in a day.
Lake Carezza – Lago di Carezza
Lake Carezza is simply stunning and sits about 2 hours from Lake Braies on the western side of the Dolomites. It’s less popular than some of the other lakes in the area but honestly I think one of the best lakes in the dolomites.
It’s an alpine lake surrounded by extremely tall coniferous trees all year round and the lake has a clear, shimmery emerald green hue to it. It’s often referred to as “Rainbow Lake” or “Fairytale Lake” and believe me this name suits it so well.
It is a relatively small lake and does get very busy during summer months. I advise going in the shoulder season if you can or go early or later. Sunset and sunrise are incredible here.
The hiking around this area is amazing so put on your boots and explore the area on foot.
This is one of the mountain lakes in Italy you won’t want to miss.
Lake Como – Lago di Como
My guess is that this is the lakes in the Italian mountains that you will have heard of. It is one of the most famous lake in Italy and as you would expect a top tourist destination.
There are so many things to do in Lake Como it is an idyllic paradise for anyone wanting to live the high life. Yes its expensive, yes celebrities holiday here and yes one of the James Bond movies was filmed here.
I mean there is no getting away for it its stunning. The lake sits at the bottom of the Alps with buildings seemingly clinging to the hillside. It’s picture perfect in every way.
Getting around Lake Como is pretty easy, I couldn’t believe how many ferry boats there were and a lot of spots that are walkable.
Now it does get busy and in summer, it was unbearable for me. If you can go during the shoulder season then I advise you do. A weekend in Lake Como in the shoulder season is my idea of perfection.
There are so many things to do here but my top tips are:
- The town of Brunate the architecture is amazing .
- Villa Carlotta has incredible gardens.
- Basilica di Sant’Abbondio is incredible inside.
This is the most beautiful lake in Italy and therefore one of the most popular. It is one of the lakes in northern Italy and one of the best best lake towns in Italy.
Also check out these other Fairytale Villages & Small Towns In Italy.
Lake Garda – Lago Di Garda
Located in Trentino Italy Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and therefore one of northern Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.
This lake is so large it covers three regions and has many islands shattered throughout it. Due its size the towns and villages shattered around are all different and each have their own vibe.
Lake Garda is one of the best places to travel with kids in Italy because of all of the fun and relaxing things to do. It is very family-friendly so if that is what you are looking for go here.
I have to say while it’s beautiful here I also find it a little too busy for my liking. If I go I tend to stick to the eastern shore as it seems to attract less tourists. I also love the northern part where you will find the historic towns of Torri del Benaco and Malcesine, that both have castles.
Places to see in the area include:
- Sirmione an old town with a port a fortress and roan ruins.
- Limone sul Garda where you will find the traditional lemon growing buildings.
- Garda Town which has a views of olive groves and vineyards is one of my favorite places in this region. It is one of the best towns on a lake in Italy.
If you after big lakes in Italy then this is the one for you.
Lake Maggiore – Lago Maggiore
Part of what is consider the “lakes district” this beautiful lake straddles both Italy and Switzerland which makes it quite unique.
It is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland but tends to be less busier than some of the other lakes mentioned here. It’s one of the lakes in Italy near Switzerland
It’s a very peaceful lake and I have to say I love it here. You get all the amenities but with less of the touristy things. It’s also a place known for it’s gardens mainly down to the mild weather and everywhere you look there is something eye catching.
There is so much to do if you visit Lake Maggiore and it offers everything you want with a more low key attitude. I particularly liked island hoping in the Borromean Islands. Ferries run every hour between the island. Isola Bella and Isola Madre have some incredible gardens and you know I love a good garden.
I find this area delightful it has a much more laid back feel and while I find some of Italy quite stressful here I felt really at peace. This is one of the cleanest lakes in Italy and I really love it here.
Lake Orta-Lago d’Orta
In my opinion this is one of Italy’s most underrated lakes. It has a little bit of everything and little bit of something different.
It has mountains and trees and breathtaking views and it also also a medieval village right in the middle on an island Isola di San Giulio. This island is known as the ‘island of silence’ as it has a still functioning monastery on. You can even take a walk of silence around the island. Put this in your must do list I loved it.
Lake Orta is a short day trip away from Lake Maggio so if you want to combine both and see the differences between the two lakes, you can totally do so. I visited at different times but I imagine the contrast would be quite impressive.
Things worth exploring here are:
- The Gardens of Villa Motta – book a visit online before you go.
- Omegna – a quintessential Italian town and birth place of birthplace of Italian writer Gianni Rodari.
- Sacro Monte di Orta – part of the nine Sacred Alpine Mountains and on old pilgrimage site.
Lake Dobbiaco – Lago Di Dobbiaco
Another one of the beautiful mountain lakes in Italy , yes you really can’t go wrong in this area. This lake has an enviable position between Three Peaks and the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Parks.
It’s another stunning alpine lake with light green water and a mountain backdrop. It’s also pretty easy to get to and the walk around is very family friendly or so I am told.
You can enjoy the view of the lake form one of the restaurant or cafes, a viewing platform on the right hand shore or from anywhere around the shoreline.
If you are here with children they will love the nature trail or the pedal boats and nothing beats a picnic on the lakeside.
Lake Lugano-Lago Di Lugano
Situated on the border between Italy and Switzerland there are parts of this lake which feel very magical giving Lord of the Ring vibes. Huge mountains seem to rise out the lake as if to beckon you to explore deeper.
Most of the lake resides on the Swiss side and the Italian side is considered to be non-territorial so any products and services are duty-free from the EU VAT tax. This is great news for the shoppers among you.
The best way to discover this lake is by boat tour and there are lots available so choose which suits your need. It’s a stunning area and I just urge you to get out and explore.
Lake Trasimeno -Lago Trasimeno
Unlike the other lakes I’ve enlisted here this is not an alpine lake its a shallow lake set in the heart of Umbria. Umbria is known as the green heart of Italy so you know this area will be beautiful.
It’s an area which is wildlife, medieval towns and many myths and legends. There are also lots of islands here that I suggest you take time to visit.
Places to see include:
- Polvese Island, the largest and part of the Trasimeno Regional Park.
- Isola Maggiore, the only inhabited island and contains a castle and church that I loved visiting.
- Passignano sul Trasimeno is an impressive village on the northern shore.
- Castiglione del Lago is a town surrounded by medieval walls.
And if you are here in September they have an incredible food festival.
Lake Iseo, Lago d’Iseo
I feel like Lake Iseo is a smaller more relaxed version of Lake Como. It is the the fourth largest lake in Lombardy, Italy and is one of the quieter ones you will visit.
You will find fishing villages tucked into bays, large snow capped mountings and terraced hills with colorful buildings. It’s one of those hidden gems that no one really wants you to know about.
Surrounded by vineyards and forest, Lake Iseo is just as pretty as its bigger sisters, lakes Como and Garda. It has a charm all to itself certainly added to by the surrounding vineyards and olive groves.
One thing you must do if you come here is a boat ride to Monte Isola. It is the largest lake island in Italy it is referred to as the ‘peaceful pearl of the lake.’ I loved this island there are no cars and lovely old squares with cafes and shops. It was a real delight.
Some of the other places to visit in the area include:
- Lovere named as one of the most The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy
- Iseo Sarnico and Pisogne are the main towns and well worth a visit.
- The Big Benches there are seven in the area. The children will love these.
This is one of the best lakes in Italy.
Whether you are looking for lakes in the Italian mountains, the best lakes in the dolomites or towns on a lake in Italy I hope this article has helped. I adore Italy, It’s one of my favorite countries to write about.
These are what I feel are the most beautiful Italian lakes but of course there are so many more. Whichever you visit I know you will have a great time. I can’t wait for you to come back and tell me all about it.