A lot of wonderful lakes are ready to be discovered all around Italy's geography. Discover these enchanting places and be ready for your next trip!
Are you wishing for a new and unusual travel experience? A visit to one of the many lakes in Italy is what you need now.
Nowadays travellers are increasingly discovering the appeal of lakes and related activities. Statistics confirm this tendency among international tourists, especially those who love environmental or experiential travel adventures.
The reasons to this success are lots of activities featuring sports, food and wine experiences or nature trails.
Visit Italy will guide you through four essential aspects to consider when planning your lake tour in Italy.
4. Discover the most enchanting Italian lakes
Which Italian lakes stand out for their charm and uniqueness?
Every region of Italy has got many interesting lakes differing by shapes, colors and sizes. Sometimes even the smallest and hidden ones hold surprises worth visiting.
Here we have selected for you the most famous and popular lakes, taking a short trip along the Italian geography.
Lakes of northern Italy
Northern Italy is known as the area of the big lakes. Lombardy is the region with the largest number of lakes, sharing the main ones with Veneto, Piedmont and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy with its 370 kilometers. Human settlements date back to Roman times and it has been the scene of numerous historical events over the centuries. It houses 5 islands within it: San Biagio, Trimelone, Isola dell'Olivo, Isola di Sogno, and Isola del Garda.
Lake Como has been honored as the most beautiful in the world by a prestigious American magazine. It is one of the most sought-after locations among Hollywood stars for enchanting scenery, as well as having been a film set for a lot of movies.
Lake Maggiore marks the border between Piedmont and Lombardy and possesses natural and historical riches of extreme value. The Borromean islands within it are decorated in Baroque style and English-style gardens. Along the shores, medieval towers tell of a past that is still alive and tangible.
Lake Braies, in Trentino-Alto Adige, is an emerald wonder among the peaks of the Dolomites. It’s a tourist destination that has become popular thanks to a popular television series. It hides in the mountains at 1,500 meters above sea level, attracting mountaineers, cyclists and hiking experts.
Lakes of central Italy
Lake Trasimeno is the largest lake in extension in Italy. It marks the border between Umbria and the provinces of Siena and Arezzo in Tuscany. Among the three islands within, Isola Polvese is known for the practicing of orienteering. The avian and fish fauna is particularly rich, and the area lends itself well to birdwatching.
Lake Bolsena in Lazio is characterized by an unspoiled natural landscape, with all around numerous characteristic towns. The old fishermen's huts are now popular trattorias. The waters are swimmable and the coves of Bisentina Island enchant thousands of tourists.
In Abruzzo, lake Scanno is a much sought-after environmental tourism attraction. Its flora with surrounding vegetation give it a totally distinctive green color. The legend of its origins tells stories of duels, wizards and fairies. Along the shores bathers practice paddleboats, surfing or canoeing.
Lake Bracciano is located in a protected natural park. Its pleasant beaches and bathing waters are among the cleanest in Italy. It’s a popular place for water sports enthusiasts, and boating is limited to very few boats. The village of Bracciano is worth a visit to the castle and to the many historic buildings.
Lakes of southern Italy
The lakes of Lesina and Varano in Apulia are two coastal lakes a short distance apart, separated from the sea by a series of dunes. Tourism here is both traditional with the surrounding beaches and naturalistic due to its proximity to the Gargano National Park. Walks along the lakefront are not to be missed thanks to dedicated boardwalks.
Lake Campolattaro in Campania is a wildlife oasis protected by the WWF. Here visitors can enjoy educational trails and environmental workshops to admire the richness of the surrounding flora and fauna. The neighbouring area is rich in churches and historic buildings, as well as busy and charming town centers.
Lake Mulargia in Sardinia is an artificial lake that offers various activities for sports and nature enthusiasts. The boat ride is an unmissable experience to absolutely try. Not far away, you can visit examples of the ancient Nuragic civilization. It is part of a nature reserve with amazing views that deserve a thorough visit.
The lake Venus’s Mirror in Pantelleria, Sicily, is a spectacle of nature hidden among the arid hills near the sea. Its colours are a thousand shades of green and blue. Its hot, sulfur-rich waters are suitable for thermal baths, along with mud to rub on the skin. Its volcanic origins make it a surreal place with few equals.
3. Outdoor sports and activities on the Italian lakes
People who choose a lake holiday usually desire a different experience close to nature.
Depending on the destination you choose, you can enjoy a large number of sports and recreational activities on the lakes to make the most of your stay. Which of these ones do you prefer?
Leisure: bicycle touring is ideal where the lake shores have been made almost entirely bikeable, which are also very suitable to walking. Those who enjoy nature walks can opt for guided forest hikes or horseback tours. In some locations modern facilities provide traditional sports such as tennis, golf, and archery. And those who want to experience the lake more closely can choose sport fishing, fishing tourism with fresh fish tasting, or book a sunset boat cruise.
Water sports: in addition to simple swimming in shallow coves, there are dozens of sports to choose from on the lakes, such as sailing, water skiing or wakeboard, windsurfing or kitesurfing. Canoeing, rowing and stand-up paddling can also be practiced in groups. Where there are streams near lakes, more experienced sportspeople can practice kayaking, rafting and canyoning.
Mountain sports: during winter time, next to some northern Italian lakes - especially lake Garda and lake Como - the surrounding snowy areas allow for skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing in the snow. Mountaineering enthusiasts can choose climbing or trekking, while those who want strong thrills will be ready for paragliding or ziplining - that is free flight on a cable suspended in the void.
2. The beauty of the villages by the lakeside
All along Italy, lake areas are dotted with quaint villages and small towns that keep their culture and traditions intact, while offering tourists services of ever-increasing quality. That’s another excellent reason to plan a tour to an Italian lake. The extreme wealth of life teeming on their shores will leave your absolutely thrilled.
Many of these villages have their center in the boat landing area, then branching off into small, narrow, winding streets that offer breathtaking views. In other places you will also find wonderful lakeside promenades, suitable for both pedestrians and cyclists.
From Sirmione to Castiglione del Lago, from Bellano to Orta San Giulio, beside the Italian lakes there is a world to come across that has always attracted writers, poets and painters.
1. Each lake is a universe to discover
Did you know there are more than 1,500 lakes in Italy? Italy's geography is extraordinarily rich in valuable features - not just art, architecture, gastronomy or lifestyle - that even nature has given us a range of options of immense variety.
Let's find out what types of lakes exist in Italy.
· Alpine lakes of glacial origin: created by the movement of glaciers, with an elongated shape. They are the most widespread and concentrated in northern Italy. Examples: lake Garda, lake Maggiore, lake Como, lake Iseo, lake Orta
· Volcanic lakes: circular in shape, they have filled the crater of an extinct volcano. Examples: lakes of Bracciano, Bolsena, Vico, Albano in Lazio; Alcantara gurne in Sicily (made of ancient lava flows)
· Lakes of tectonic origin: shaped by the movement and lowering of the earth's crust. Example: Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, unique in Italy
We at Visit Italy recommend you to explore our portal to consciously choose the best destination for your trip to the Italian lakes.