Lake Orta, located in the north of Italy in the region of Piemonte, is a hidden gem that many international tourists haven't yet discovered. It is one of the most beautiful Italian lakes that is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como. 

As an avid traveller and explorer of lesser-known places, I am fortunate to have a special advantage when it comes to North Italy. You see, Bruno, my husband, is a local from the region, allowing us to delve into the off-the-beaten-path destinations, and Lake Orta is undoubtedly one of them.

Lake Orta holds a unique charm that captivates those who venture to its shores. With its serene waters, charming villages, and breathtaking scenery, Lake Orta offers a tranquil escape and a romantic holiday.

In this article, I am excited to share all you need to know about visiting Lake Orta, including where to stay and things to do in Lake Orta. 

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How to get to Lake Orta 

The best way to get to Lake Orta is to fly either to Milan or Turin airports and then drive. Both airports are well-connected and have frequent flights from London and other major international destinations.

To make the most of your trip, renting a car is highly recommended. It gives you the freedom to explore the surrounding areas at your own pace and convenience.

To find the best deal and compare prices, a reliable platform like can be incredibly helpful. This online service allows you to easily compare car rental prices from various providers, ensuring you get the most competitive rates for your journey.

If you're arriving at Milan Malpensa Airport, you'll be delighted to know that it's only about a 50-minute drive to reach Lake Orta. Similarly, if you're flying into Turin Airport, you'll have the pleasure of a slightly longer but equally picturesque drive to Lake Orta. The journey from Turin Airport to Lake Orta typically takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

For those who prefer not to drive, there are alternative transportation options available. Train services operate from both Milan and Turin to nearby stations such as Orta-Miasino or Pettenasco. From there, you can arrange for a taxi or a local bus to take you to your accommodation. 

When is the best time to visit Lake Orta

When it comes to visiting Lake Orta, spring and summer are considered the best seasons, offering warm temperatures and the opportunity to even take a refreshing swim in the lake. However, it's important to note that August might not be the most ideal time to visit not only Lake Orta but Italy in general. This is due to the fact that August is a holiday time in Italy, and many local shops and businesses may be closed during this period. Italians take their holidays seriously, and it's common for locals to go on trips during this month. 

If you prefer a quieter and more serene experience, autumn and winter are excellent options to explore Lake Orta. During these seasons, the atmosphere becomes more tranquil, with fewer tourists. Keep in mind that in winter temperatures can drop to 0°C and it can rain or snow. 

Where to stay in Lake Orta

Lake Orta offers a range of accommodation options, catering to various preferences and budgets. However, it's important to note that during the high season, from mid-May to early September, the area can be busy, and accommodations tend to fill up quickly. Therefore, it's advisable to book your stay in advance to secure your preferred choice.

If you prefer a peaceful retreat away from the towns, there are several fantastic options available around Lake Orta. However, if you don't have a car, it may be more convenient to stay in one of the towns around the lake. The towns offer a wider range of amenities, including restaurants, shops, and public transportation options. Popular towns such as Orta San Giulio and Omegna are known for their historical charm and stunning lake views. Staying in these towns allows for easy access to the lake's attractions, as well as the opportunity to explore the local culture and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.

Best places to stay in Lake Orta

Giardinetto: Nestled right on the shores of Lake Orta, Giardinetto is a delightful 4-star hotel offering a memorable stay in a picturesque setting. Just 2 km from the medieval village of Orta San Giulio, this family-run hotel offers elegant rooms with parquet flooring. Some rooms feature balconies with stunning views of the lake. Guests can enjoy the hotel's excellent amenities, including a great restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and a lovely rooftop bar, perfect for evening drinks. 


Casa Fantini - Lake Time is a luxurious 5-star boutique hotel nestled on the shores of Lake Orta in Pella. This peaceful retreat offers breathtaking lake views and a serene atmosphere. Indulge in the culinary delights at the on-site restaurant, led by renowned chef Diego Bertona, where you can savour traditional quality cuisine. The rooms and suites at Casa Fantini seamlessly blend contemporary design with natural materials, featuring exquisite wooden floors and elegant textiles. Experience the utmost in luxury and hospitality with world-class service, ensuring a truly memorable stay at Casa Fantini - Lake Time.


Relais & Chateaux Villa Crespi: Experience the epitome of luxury and world-class service at Relais & Chateaux Villa Crespi. Set in a stunning 19th-century building, this luxurious hotel is surrounded by private gardens that lead to a picturesque lake. The spacious and comfortable guest rooms and suites exude elegance, adorned with antique furniture and equipped with modern conveniences. Unwind in the hotel's wellness area, where you can enjoy a selection of massages and treatments for ultimate relaxation. The breathtaking beauty of Villa Crespi makes you feel like you're residing in your own private castle, creating a truly unforgettable stay.


Hotel & Residence La Sibilla Cusiana is a welcoming family-run hotel located in Pettenasco, directly on the shores of Lake Orta. This 3-star hotel offers a tranquil setting with a beautiful lake-side garden and convenient free parking. The comfortable and spacious rooms offer beautiful views, with some featuring balconies overlooking the lake or surrounding mountains. . The hotel's prime location also provides easy access to the ferry stop of Orta lake, situated right in front of the hotel.


Hotel La Bussola is a charming 3-star hotel situated in a tranquil setting on the promontory of Orta San Giulio, offering breathtaking views of the lake and San Giulio Island. The hotel boasts an inviting outdoor swimming pool. Its location is ideal, as it is just a 15-minute walk from the religious complex of Sacro Monte di Orta, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel is conveniently situated only 600 meters from the dock, where guests can embark on boat trips to explore the captivating San Giulio Island. 


Things to do in Lake Orta

Stroll around Orta San Giulio

Orta San Giulio, the main town in Lake Orta, is a picturesque destination that looks like a film set. Strolling around this charming town is an absolute must-do. Every corner offers a delightful spot for taking Instagramable photos. The buildings, adorned in Italy's traditional salmon and ochre hues, feature stone balconies and quaint peeling shutters, adding to the town's enchanting ambience.

The heart of Orta San Giulio is the bustling Piazza Motta, where a small harbour awaits with boats shuttling to and from the nearby island. The square is also home to delightful ice cream parlours, restaurants, and cafes, inviting visitors to savour local flavours and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. It comes as no surprise that Orta San Giulio is often regarded as one of the most romantic towns in Italy, with its captivating beauty and idyllic surroundings.

Take a ferry to Isola San Giulio

One of the best things to do in Lake Orta is take a ferry to Isola San Giulio. The island is only 400 meters from the Orta San Giulio’s waterfront. There are frequent ferries which cost only 3 euros 50 for a return trip to the island. 

Legend has it that Isola San Giulio was once inhabited by snakes, dragons, and mysterious creatures until the arrival of San Giulio in the late 4th century. The saint established a church on the island, which became his final resting place. Today, both the church and the island bear his name, serving as a testament to his legacy.

A highlight of Isola San Giulio is the enchanting narrow street that encircles the island, known as "via del Silenzio e della Meditazione" or the "way of silence and meditation." Walking along this serene path offers a peaceful and reflective experience amidst the island's serene surroundings.

Walk up to Sacro Monte di Orta 

One of the best things to do in Lake Orta is to visit Sacro Monte di Orta, a revered UNESCO World Heritage site. Translating to "the sacred mountain of Orta," this Roman Catholic complex is perched atop a hill, offering breathtaking stunning views of the lake and its island. 

Starting from Piazza Mario Motta, the journey begins along Salita della Motta, a charming cobbled hill lined with centuries-old houses. Continuing on, the path curves to the right, leading you towards the cemetery and eventually up the sacred mountain itself. 

As you wander from chapel to chapel along the sacred mountain, you'll discover a sense of serenity and tranquillity. Each chapel tells its own unique story and offers a space for quiet contemplation. 

Go to Omegna

Nestled in the northern part of Lake Orta, Omegna is a captivating village known for its idyllic beauty and rich cultural heritage. With a population of approximately 15,000 residents, it stands as one of the most beautiful villages in northern Italy

A highlight of Omegna is its connection to the renowned Italian writer, Gianni Rodari, who was born here. His deep connection to the village led to the establishment of Parco della Fantasia in his honour. 

Omegna offers a range of hiking trails suitable for every level of fitness, allowing you to explore the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. If you prefer a leisurely and picturesque walk, the Lungolago Bagnella loop trail is an excellent choice. This trail takes you along the lakefront, providing serene views and a tranquil ambience.

For those seeking a more challenging adventure, I recommend hiking up to Mottarone, which stands at an impressive altitude of 1491 meters. As you ascend, you'll be rewarded with awe-inspiring panoramic vistas of Lake Orta and its surrounding majesty. The breathtaking views from the summit make the journey well worth the effort.

Watch the sunset on a boat

One of the best things to do in Lake Orta is to watch the sunset from a boat.  It adds an extra touch of romance and creates a truly memorable moment. The good news is that you can actually take a private romantic sunset cruise on Lake Orta. Imagine yourself on a boat, sipping wine and enjoying the tranquillity of the surroundings as you witness the sun gently descends behind the majestic mountains. The breathtaking views and tranquil atmosphere create the perfect ambience for a romantic escape.

For those seeking a more active adventure, consider a guided kayak tour at sunset. Paddle along the shimmering lake, surrounded by 360° panoramic views. This immersive experience allows you to connect with nature while enjoying the captivating colours of the sky as the sun sets over the horizon.