The Italian Lake District offers stunning beauty and a relaxed atmosphere, so if you’re looking for a new region of Italy to explore once you’ve traveled to Rome, Florence, and Venice, add this one to your list. Located in the northern section of the country, here you will find historic villas, water sports, manicured gardens, and plenty of al fresco restaurants. The main lakes in Italy are Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Lugano. Each lake features its own long list of charming little towns, hotels, and restaurants. Be sure to visit more than one, as a ferry ride between two shorefront villages is one of the most special things to do in the lake district.
Repeat Italy travelers will all have their own favorite places in the Italian Lake District. Some travelers love the towns of Lake Como, from famous Como and Bellagio to lesser-known but still lovely Menaggio, Varenna, and Lecco. These towns offer a variety of activities, from exploring historic villas and churches to hitting the mountains for hiking and climbing. If you’re wondering about transportation to the lakes in Italy, it is easy to reach this region from Milan. Many visitors arrive at the Milan Airport, and connect to the lake district via train or bus. Once you arrive at the lakes, ferry and hydrofoil are a great way to travel between towns.
For a first visit to the Italian lake district, Lake Como is highly recommended. If you’re returning to soak up more of the local atmosphere, you might want to move on to one of the other options: Lake Maggiore or Lake Lugano. Lake Maggiore is the longest of the Italian lakes, with the northern tip of the lake in Switzerland. There are many picturesque villages to explore here, including Canobbio, Maccagno, Luino, and Verbania. Another stunning feature of Lake Maggiore can be found in the Borromean Bay. Here visitors can explore the Borromean Islands, including Isola Bella, Isola Pescatori, and Isola Madre.
The smallest of the lakes in Italy is Lake Lugano. Since it is smaller than Lake Como or Lake Maggiore, it also experiences fewer crowds. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in the Italian Lake District, check out Lake Lugano. The summer is of course a popular time to visit, but the blooming months of spring or the colorful autumnal months are gorgeous times to plan a trip as well. While most of Lake Lugano is in Switzerland, part of it remains in Italy. This lake is also notable for having a bridge over it. Pretty towns to visit include Lugano and Porlezza.
The lake district has a reputation for glamour and luxury. While there is definitely this side of the region—you can stay in lakefront 5-star hotels during your whole trip if you wish—there is also a more modest side to the lakes. Many visitors choose vacation rentals as their accommodation choice, and get to know the lakes slowly. There are also many modest guesthouses and bed and breakfasts if you’re looking to explore the lake district on a budget. As far as activities go, you can enjoy everything from water skiing to sailing during a trip to this part of Italy. These water activities make the lake district especially attractive to families who want to keep kids entertained.