With more than 1000 stunning lakes, Italy is home to some of the most picture-perfect lakes in Europe. You probably have seen photos of Italian lakes on postcards, paintings and on your Instagram feed.
The entire country is brimming with lakes to explore, especially in Northern Italy. The Italian lakes in the north with their charming towns and elegant lakeside villas attract locals and international tourists all year round, offering spectacular scenery, fascinating historical sights and fun outdoor activities. Each lake has something unique to offer, and while you can’t visit all of the lakes, you can definitely add one of the prettiest lakes to your trip to Italy.
These 10 most beautiful lakes are all located in Northern Italy and may just be the perfect addition to your itinerary.
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1. Lake Como
Glamorous Lake Como is probably the most popular lake in Italy and it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe at 410 meters.
Lake Como looks like the letter “Y” inverted with majestic mountain backdrops to complete the scene, it is a dreamy holiday destination.
At the foot of the lake, you will find the town of Como, a former Roman city. Como can be a great day trip from Milan. Here you’ll find leisurely cruises that can whisk you around. But if you’re inclined toward greater adventures, choose kayaking or paddling. Since there are beach clubs and several free beaches, many families enjoy spending the day here playing in the water and on the shore.
From Como, you can also hop on a ferry and travel to other cute towns like Bellagio, and Tremezzo.
The best time to visit lake Como would be from April to October, but it is good to avoid going there in August since it gets very crowded.
Luxury accommodation in Lake Como
MUSA Lago di Como with an outdoor swimming pool is one of the most romantic hotels in Lake Como, offering celebrity treatment with world-class service.
Casa Vita is a lovely apartment offering stunning views across Como. This luxury apartment is an ideal place for couples.
Lakeside villa with private garden and pool is a 3-bedroom property located just a 10-minute walk from a supermarket. This accommodation is perfect for a family of 6 or a group of friends.
2. Lake Garda
When travelling through Northern Italy with family, Lake Garda is a perfect stop. It’s the biggest lake in Italy and is one of the most popular holiday destinations, especially in the spring and summer.
Lake Garda is located between Veneto, Lombardy, and Trentino Alto Adige, so if you’re visiting these areas, it’s easy to access.
The beaches here are a relaxing place to be, though the lake ferries give you a wonderful way to see the surrounding scenery. On the shore, you can go cycling or hiking on the paths, some of which lead you to incredible mountain trails that afford you the best views.
Children will love the Gardaland theme park, outdoor play areas, and an abundance of camping opportunities. But if you’re on your own adventure among adults, the lake is close to where prosecco is produced, making it a great stop for those who love wine.
Where to Stay in Lake Garda
Villa Cappellina located on the shore of Lake Garda is a great place to relax and unwind. This luxury hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub and sun terrace.
Villa Cortine Palace Hotel is one of the most unique places to stay in Lake Garda, located in the heart of Sirmione.
Sunset Residence is a luxury hotel in Brenzone Sul Garda, offering an infinity swimming pool and stunning views across the lake.
3. Lake Maggiore
Nestled in the Northwest between Lombardy and Piedmont, you’ll find Lake Maggiore, one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy. Lake Maggiore is where celebrities flock for an upscale holiday retreat on the water. Towering mountains beckon around the shores, dotted with expansive villas that boast exceptional architecture.
At this lake, the Borromean Islands should not be missed. These lake islands feature their own dramatic villas with impeccably manicured gardens. Isola Madre is the island where Isola Dei Pescatori resides, a special stop to enjoy lunch on the lakeside.
You may also want to see Isola Bella, which is the most famous of these lake islands. Boat tours make it easy to explore each one at your leisure. To keep the kids entertained, you can visit the adventure park too, which features a thrilling zip-line and treetop ropes course.
Best Places to Stay in Lake Maggiore
La Villa di Elena has a private garden and a private beach, offering amazing lake views.
Park Hotel Italia located right on the shores of Lake Maggiore, offers an outdoor pool and a fully furnished garden with sun loungers.
Villa Flora is a luxury property with 4 bedrooms, offering a private outdoor swimming pool and breathtaking views over Lake Maggiore. Villa Flora is great for big families or a big group of friends.
4. Lake Orta
While it’s smaller than Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta in Piedmont is one of the prettiest lakes in northern Italy and a great destination for a relaxing holiday.
Lake Orta is not known to many international travellers and it is more off the beaten path. That makes it the perfect stop for couples to explore the romantic vibes from the villages and elegant mountain views.
The lake also boasts Orta San Giulio, a legendary island that is said to have been infested with snakes and dragons ages ago.
While the tales the locals tell may seem a bit tall, the island in this lake certainly has a mystical vibe. Visit the church and monastery which will give you a reverent view of the lake. In any season, it offers a poetic experience for all who visit. I have already written a comprehensive travel guide to Lake Orta, make sure to check it out.
Best Places to Stay in Lake Orta
Hotel L'Approdo is situated right next to the lake, offering a private beach and beautiful views of Lake Orta. The hotel serves regional and international cuisine.
Villa Bonola is a beautiful well-decorated property with a private garden. Each apartment has its own unique style and some offer amazing views over the lake.
Casa Fantini is a luxury property located in a peaceful area around Lake Orta. This boutique hotel sits right on the shores of Pella.
5. Lake Iseo
Want to avoid other tourists? Lake Iseo might be small, but it is another gorgeous lake in Northern Italy. Romance blooms here where the villages all offer a quaint way to explore the charm of the area.
There is a little island inside Lake Iseo called Montisola, which is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Northern Italy. Montisola is also the largest lake island in Europe with an area of 4.9 square miles. The best way to explore this cute Italian town is to rent a bike and cycle around.
Strolling by the water, browsing the shops, and interacting with the locals will all give you cherished memories for years to come.
Best Place to Stay in Lake Iseo
Hotel Rivalago is a luxury hotel with an outdoor swimming pool, offering great views across Lake Iseo. All rooms are spacious and air-conditioned.
Family Friendly House Iseo Lake is a one-bedroom property with a private seasonal outdoor swimming pool. This is a great accommodation for couples or small families.
Cocca Hotel Royal Thai Spa is a 4-star hotel located on the shores of Lake Iseo offering spacious rooms with panoramic views.
6. Lake Lugano
While Lake Lugano is considered a Northern Italian lake, it does partially fall into Switzerland. Known for its unusual shape, jaw-dropping mountains and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte San Giorgio surround it.
For the adventurous, this is the place to discover caves as well as paleontological sites that unlock the keys to prehistoric times. Boat rides here are surely worth the visit, though by land, you can follow the narrow road winding to Morcote and behold more impressive sites.
Staying around Lake Lugano gives you the opportunity to visit two countries: Italy and Switzerland, in one trip.
Where to Stay in Lake Lugano
Hotel Ristorante Stampa sets on the Italian side of the lake close to the border, offering an outdoor swimming pool and modern rooms. Guests can enjoy the lake views and see Switzerland in the distance.
Hotel Stella D'Italia is located on the shore of the gorgeous lake Lugano. All rooms offer balconies with lake views.
Villa Isola Verde is a 5-bedroom luxury property with a private pool. This unique villa is a great place for luxury weekend breaks and tempting holidays with family and friends.
7. Lake Braies
As one of the lakes most prominently featured in photography of Northern Italy, Lake Braies might be small, but its beauty beckons travellers near and far. It’s a favourite backdrop for professional and amateur photographers alike for its clear, reflective waters that mirror the mountain peaks.
Lake Braies is one of Italy’s most beautiful lakes, located in the Prags Dolomites in South Tyrol at an altitude of 1,496 m.
If you’re searching for a lake in Northern Italy to serve as your holiday base, this one is better for a day trip to hike around the area and may be worth your while when visiting the Dolomites. Probably the most popular activity here is to rent a wooden rowing boat and cruise around the lake.
Best Places to Stay around lake Braies
Hotel Lago di Braies is the only hotel located right next to the lake, offering stunning views of the most beautiful lake in the Dolomites. This elegant building is protected by the Fine Arts Foundation.
Berggasthaus Agritur Moserhof is a gorgeous mountain hotel near Lake Braies, offering breathtaking views across the Prags Dolomites.
8. Lake Varese
Tucked amid rolling hills and steep mountain ridges, the journey to Lake Varese is sure to restore your peace in a perfect setting fit for relaxation.
This protected area is home to 14 different chapels, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Prehistoric Museum is the place to stop and see evidence of the ancestors that once dwelled here with items ranging from tools to jewellery.
Step into nature and you’ll find a nature reserve perfect for spotting a variety of birds and beautiful flowers. Among the reed beds, you may get lucky and spot an array of wildlife splashing in the shallows.
Best Places to Stay in Lake Varese
Equirelais is a pet-friendly accommodation near Varese Lake. You can rent a bike from the hotel and explore the area.
Hotel Capolago is another beautiful hotel near Lake Varese. This hotel is a great place for those who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.
9. Lake Misurina
Lake Misurina is another beautiful lake in the north of Italy and the largest lake in the Cadore region. It is located at an altitude of 1,754 m.
It resides immediately underneath Mount Cristallo’s impressive peak. Some say this is the best spot in the Dolomites, one that has plenty to busy all types of visitors, even the youngest ones.
The lakeside walk is ideal for families or those that need a more accessible adventure when exploring the inland lakes of Northern Italy.
Best Places to Stay in Lake Misurina
Chalet Alpenrose is an exceptional property in Misurina. Guests love staying in this place during summers and winters.
Hotel Lavaredo sits on the shore of Lake Misurina, offering free bike hire and a wellness centre. Guests can also enjoy the hot tub, sauna and Turkish bath.
10. Lake Dobbiaco
The small Alpine Lake Dobbiaco is another gorgeous lake in Italy. It is a great holiday destination all year round. Tourists love to come to Lake Dobbiaco which is easy to access when visiting the Dolomites.
It’s beautiful with all those mountain peaks through the pedal boats, campsites, and spots for hiking that are easy enough for all abilities making this a treasured lake to enjoy while travelling through the region.
The popular trail here is only 4.5 km which goes all around the lake and it takes less than an hour.
Where to Stay in Lake Dobbiaco
Skyview Chalets am Camping Toblacher See is a great place for those who are looking for a unique stay. It is located in a beautiful natural setting, offering lake and mountain views.
Natura Boutique Chalet Wellness SPA is a boutique hotel not far from the lake, offering ski-to-door access. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a continental breakfast.
Romantik Hotel Santer is a luxury hotel offering fantastic views across the Alta Pusteria Valley. The restaurant serves Italian and International food.