The Most Beautiful Lakes in Italy

Isola San Giulio in Lake Orta is dominated by an ancient basilica popular with tourists
Isola San Giulio in Lake Orta is dominated by an ancient basilica popular with tourists
Photo of Luca Pinelli
6 September 2021

The gorgeous lakes of Italy must grapple with the history of Rome, beauty of Cinque Terre and romance of Venice for the attention of tourists. However, these bodies of water can more than hold their own. Lakes Garda and Como are among the better known, but there are plenty of beautiful lakes in Italy. Here are the most picturesque.

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Lake Iseo

Natural Feature
Lake Iseo Italy. Lago d'Iseo or Sebino with the village Peschiera Maraglio behind. Lombardy region. Northern Italy.
© Perry van Munster / Alamy

A somewhat smaller lake in Lombardy, Lake Iseo is the little sister of Lake Garda – both being in the Brescia province. With wonderful bicycle routes, fabulous shops in the town of Iseo, and daily ferries across the waters, this lake will charm any visitor. It also has an island mountain in its midst – Monte Isola – the largest of its kind in Europe.

Lake Garda

Natural Feature
Toscolano Maderno, Lake Garda, Italy
© Cultura Creative RF / Alamy

In the north of Italy, between the Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino regions, Lake Garda is one of the most beloved destinations in the country. Whatever you’re looking for on your trip, Lake Garda will have you covered: on the beach (as well as in the several towns scattered along its coast) there are students celebrating, families camping and tourists exploring the hills. The area is also sure to impress with luxury hotels, wonderful apartments, top-notch restaurants, an incredible natural backdrop and several open beaches.

Lake Como

Natural Feature
Varenna, Lake Como - Holidays in Italy view of the most beautiful lake in Italy, Lago di Como.
© Alpineguide / Alamy

In the industrial region of Lombardy, Lake Como is generally regarded as the favourite holiday destination of the Milanese. There’s plenty to do along the shores with an array of wonderful vistas, cultural events and activities. A guided bike or boat tour of the lake is one of the top-rated things to do here. While Isola Comacina – the only island on the lake – is a beautiful oasis for wildlife.

Lake Maggiore

Natural Feature
Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen?s Island) on Lake Maggiore, Stresa village, Piedmont region, Italy
© Luca Antonio Lorenzelli / Alamy

At the foot of the Italian Alps, Maggiore is the second-largest lake in Italy and is shared by Switzerland and the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. It has islands and villas, but what’s special about Maggiore is the presence of a few castles, adding a dash of architectural grandeur. And with many museums and natural reserves to explore, a holiday here is something to really look forward to.

Lake Ledro

Natural Feature
Lake Ledro in the Italian alps.
© Alan Keith Beastall / Alamy

In the mountainous region of Trentino, this rather small lake – at just 3km (1.9mi) long and 1.5km (0.9mi) wide – is the ideal destination for those who do not want to compromise on highland scenery. With perfect, temperate breezes throughout the summer, Lake Ledro is great for swimming, hiking and biking. There are four beaches around the lake and one of them is dog-friendly, making this a good stopover for a family trip.

Lake Bolsena

Natural Feature
The Rocca Farnese in Capodimonte dominates the promontory that extends over Lake Bolsena. Capodimonte, Viterbo, Lazio, Italy
© Guido Paradisi / Alamy

Lake Bolsena is the largest lake of volcanic origin in Europe and is situated in High Latium, near the border with Tuscany and Umbria. It was generated when the Vulsini volcano crater collapsed and it now features two islands, Bisentina and Martana. It is also home to many restaurants and osteria, where it is possible to taste the local fish in delicious dishes.

Lake Orta

Natural Feature
SONY DSCSt. Julius Island on Lake Orta in Piedmont Italy.
© Lamax / Alamy

Situated west of Lake Maggiore, in the region of Piedmont, this smaller lake used to be called Lake of Saint Julius, the patron saint after which an island on the lake is still named – San Giulio. Surrounded by green mountains that offer incredible views of the area, Lake Orta will strike any tourist as being picturesque and quaint. The island of San Giulio, occupied in its near entirety by an abbey, is the main attraction and combines culture and nature in surprising and thought-provoking ways.

These recommendations were updated on September 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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