This blog post was updated on May 31, 2022.

What comes to mind when you think of Italy? Perhaps the simple but savory Italian cuisine, or maybe its rustic small towns and villages, or even the artistic elegance of big cities like Venice? Well, for us, it’s definitely all of the above, but we’d like to throw another amazing element into the mix: those gorgeous Italian lakes.

Italy’s lakes are no secret to many Europeans; they’ve been flocking to its waters for centuries in search of some much-needed serenity and an escape from the rat race. These beautiful bodies of water may just be Italy’s best-kept secret, and we’ve rounded up nine of the best lakes that are guaranteed to put your mind at ease and reinvigorate you with a whole new appreciation for la dolce vita.

Lago di Garda

Mediterranean park on Lago di Garda view, Sirmione, Veneto region of Italy

If you want to start with the largest and most visited lake, look no further than Lake Garda. You’ll find a diverse landscape of promenade beaches, rocky cliffs at the northern shore, and clear waters that are reminiscent of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. If you need just a little dose of activity, then the calm waters are perfect for activities like windsurfing, sailing, and diving. Keep cool off the shore by exploring the terrain on foot or on horseback. This is the first place you’ll fall in love with Italy in a whole new way!

Lake Maggiore

Beautiful lake Maggiore with the islands. Italy

Imagine a view so clear that you could spot another country from across the lake? If you’re visiting Italy’s second-largest lake, you get a panoramic view of the Swiss Alps. Bordering southern Switzerland, it’s enjoyed by both countries. The mild climate offers tourists year-round activities such as sailing and windsurfing. For a day outing on the shore, be sure to check out the Villa Pallavicino Park, which has large botanical and zoological gardens.

Ready for some peace and quiet in the beautiful Italian countryside? Check out these cheap tickets to get you there for less!

Lake Como

Famous luxury villa Monastero, stunning botanical garden decorated with mediterranean oleander flowers, lake Como, Varenna,

Although Paris may be the stereotypical city of love, Lake Como might be the Italian village of amore. The top attraction is Bellagio, where lovers can walk through narrow alleyways, enjoy panoramic lake views by the lakeside promenade, and share a gelato at sunset. You can gaze at one of the many attractive villas that date back to the 15th century, such as the Villa del Balbianello, which starred as a location in the movies Star Wars Episode II and Casino Royale. Go ahead — take in the clean air, close your eyes, and just imagine what it would be like to live in one of these beautiful lakeside retreats!

Lago di Lugano

View of Lugano lake from Italian side.

Step into what seems like a fairy tale when visiting Lake Lugano. The form of the natural waters allows wild landscapes of mountains, villages, and lush flora to welcome you to your vacation. It’s an extremely colorful town, from the brightly painted villas to the vibrant hues of the magnolias and trees. There’s an abundance of cherry trees lining the shores of the lake, and it’s an interesting fact that the town’s ancient name was “Ceresio” — the Latin word for cherry.

Lago di Bolsena

Scenic sight in Marta, on the Bolsena Lake, province of Viterbo, Lazio.

Proving once again the diversity of the Italian terrain is Lake Bolsena, which lies on the crater of an extinct volcano. Similar to the other lakes on this list, it offers a relaxing harbor and comfortable villas on its shores. What does set it apart is its well-intact medieval architecture; the city walls still remain with a castle at the top, which you can climb for a breathtaking view of the lake.

Lake Iseo

Situated in the Italian lake district at the foothills of the Alps, Lake Iseo is set between its larger neighbors of Como to the west and Garda to the east. At only 16 miles long and three miles wide, Lake Iseo is little known outside Italy and is considerably quieter and more charming than other well-known lakes. About halfway along the lake, you will find Monte Isola, a green mountain emerging from the middle of the lake. The town is a maze of intertwining backstreets that eventually lead you to the main square, surrounded by impressive porticoes.

Lake Orta

Surrounded by uncontaminated nature and suburbs with unique cultures and culinary traditions, Lake Orta is a jewel of unique beauty and one of the most romantic of all Italian lakes. San Giulio is a beautiful, charming, and enigmatic island in the middle of the lake. The lake’s romantic charm that previously lured poets and writers like Balzac and Browning now attracts visitors from all over the world seeking stunning views with a sense of calmness and spirituality. It is a natural wonderland, devoid of the people that other Italian lakes draw.

Lago di Ledro

A few kilometers from Lake Garda, approximately 2,000 feet above sea level, Lake Ledro is surrounded by the most enchanting landscape. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and cleanest lakes in Italy. The Lakeside Promenade is ideal for a stroll or a bike ride, and you can also engage in activities like windsurfing, sailing, and kayaking. Not only that, but the lake is home to one of Italy’s largest ancient sites. When visiting Italy, make it a point to explore lake Ledro; most definitely one of the most attractive Italian lakes.

Lake Trancimeno

Set in the lush core of Umbria, among reed beds and lovely white water lilies, Lake Trancimemo is truly a natural wonderland teeming with wild ducks, cormorants, kites, and kingfishers. Far beyond the downhill slope, occasional woodlands, sunflower and maize fields, vineyards, and olive groves provide the lake’s backdrop. One notable feature of this lake is that it has only water inlets but no outflows (similar to the Great Salt Lake in Utah). Swimming, sailing, windsurfing, and fishing are the most popular sporting activities within the lake, but so is bird watching. Alternatively, you can take a boat to Isola Maggiore, an island that contains a settlement with roughly 50 year-round residents.

Which Italian lake would you like to visit? Tell us why in the comments below!

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