Italy is well-known for having a vast landscape that encompasses many different sites and anomalies. You can visit one region and see rolling green hills. Another region might have beaches. It’s stunning! As you plan your visit to Italy, think about the lakes in Italy as part of your experience and planning.
Italy has more than 1,000 lakes across the country. Many of them you will never hear of or know the names of, but there are some that are incredibly popular to tourists and travelers. In this guide, we will share with you some of the best and most popular Italian lakes to visit while you are here.
These stops have everything from gorgeous views to charming lakeside towns and many other details to offer. Read more about them below.
The Top 9 Italian Lakes to Experience
There are some really great Italian lake tours you can take to experience the top lakes of Italy. However, just know you most likely aren’t going to make it to every lake in Italy while you are there.
The sheer size of the country and the high number of lakes simply make it impossible.
However, you can narrow down the numbers to focus on the top lakes in Italy rather than how many lakes in Italy you can make it to. We’ve selected the top 9 most beautiful lakes. They are located in different places, have a variety of scenery, and are each unique to explore in different ways.
This is a sneak peek of our list of the top lakes in Italy:
- Lake Como
- Lake Garda
- Lake Maggiore
- Lake Lugano
- Lake Iseo
- Lake Orta
- Lake Varese
- Lake Bolsena
- Lake Bracciano
Find all the details about these famous lakes below.
1. Lake Como
Italy’s Lake Como is certainly impressive. It’s a top choice for the high society travelers and populace of Italy. This beautiful mountain lake is in North Italy, surrounded by mountains and hills that will take your breath away. The crystal clear waters are impressive, and the site is well worth a tour to experience.
Como Lake in Italy is one of the most stunning lakes you are going to find. The mountain scenery in the distance pairs perfectly with the stunning green and alluring Greece style of the area. Lake Como is home to a rich population, and it’s a top choice.
At Lake Como there are many things to experience too. Lake Como has a cathedral and several impressive historical and religious sites too. Lake Como has surrounding mountains where you can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
At Lake Como, you can also enjoy watersports. Take in the scenic beauty and simply enjoy the experience. If you get the opportunity, at least check out Villa Carlotta in the area.
2. Lake Garda
When you compare Lake Garda to Lake Como they will be vastly different. However, they are both insanely popular. Lake Garda is an Alpine lake that is another top choice in the Italian lake district.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. As the largest lake, it offers plenty of space and picturesque towns along the shores.
The largest lake Garda is home to little villages clear to the end of the lake, which you won’t see from any one spot. There is a ton to experience at Lake Garda, including Riva del Garda. You can go swimming if you dare, tour through the pretty villages along the shores, feast at famous restaurants, and explore the mountains around you.
Lake Garda is known for being family-friendly, with the Alps in the distance for those mountain views and more. You can go paddle boating, partake in winter sports, experience thrilling water sports on the lake, or enjoy peaceful boat trips on the water. The Riva del Garda is easy to tour with a lake tour too.
Did we mention Lake Garda is home to some top amusement parks in Italy?
3. Lake Maggiore
Up next on our favorite Italian lakes is Lake Maggiore. This is the second largest lake located closer to central Italy, but still on the banks of the north country. It’s elegant and sweet and one of the best Italian lakes for many reasons. As part of Northern Italy, you have an impressive view of the Alps around you.
The Alpine landscapes of Lake Maggiore create panoramic views from every part of the lake. Maggiore is one of Italy’s lakes, with dramatic scenery from every angle. The crystal clear water of Lake Maggiore makes it one of the most beautiful lakes to explore.
It’s famous for the many enchanting villages that are located on little islands spread throughout the lake, which are the Borromean Islands. There are a number of restaurants and elegant villas you can stay at. These villas have some awesome landscaped gardens you will want to see up close. You will want to look up Isola Bella for sure.
You can take a train, hop in a cable car, or even stay in one of the resorts in the region. Maggiore is set to impress. Don’t forget your bike and walking shoes to explore the splendor of Lake Maggiore while you’re here.
Maggiore is a beautiful lake that should be near the top of your list.
4. Lake Lugano
You simply can’t beat the Italian lakes of Northern Italy, which brings us to yet another find in that region. Lake Lugano is an Italian lake that straddles Italy and Switzerland. It’s a glacial lake with cold waters at the Northern end of the map. You can enjoy a quiet boat trip and just take in the scenes around you.
Lake Lugano is certainly a hidden gem. Be sure to experience Monte Bre while you are there. It’s one of the most visited spots from Lake Lugano. You can hike or bike up the mountain trails by the lake.
You can also find some quality locations for fine dining restaurants and just enjoy the surroundings. You’re just a stone’s throw away from Swiss Canton in Switzerland at Lake Lugano. Monte San Giorgio is a UNESCO world heritage site near this lake.
This lake area is also known for the medieval churches, and there are several other lakes that sport ruins and religious spots like these too.
5. Lake Iseo
Lake Iseo is another of the Italian lakes with epic scenery. But they have more than just scenery to offer. This lake is a top choice for enjoying the outdoors and just taking in the mountains around you. Monte Isola is a small mountain right on the center island of Lake Iseo.
You can easily access Lake Iseo by cable car, or you can travel there by other means too. They have several lakeside towns with stunning lush gardens and olive groves. There are ancient sites full of ruins to explore as well.
You won’t be remiss in things to do while you’re visiting this lake. Check out their tourist facilities to find some of the best tours and adventures close to you.
6. Lake Orta
Lake Orta is all too often missed as a great spot, which means you might be able to enjoy it with fewer crowds. They have all the same great things as many other lakes in Italy. You can participate in water sports, walk cobbled streets, and visit historic locations.
Lake Orta is home to the sacred mountain Sacro Monte di Orta. This is one of the Italian lakes that has so much history. The Monte Isola San Giulio has many ancient Basilica buildings to check out.
At Lake Orta, you can find another UNESCO world heritage site at the sacred mount we mentioned. You will experience the rich history, timeless art, and some of the oldest chapels in the country. Orta San Giulio and other sites like it are what make this lake in central Italy such a great find.
Lake Orta has a lot to offer and many fun activities too.
7. Lake Varese
Lake Varese isn’t known for a flurry of water sports, a huge variety of activities, scuba diving prospects, or anything like that. But those details don’t make this Western shore Italian lake any less desirable. It’s a beautiful location, and it’s incredibly peaceful too.
Lake Varese will be your choice if you just want a quiet or romantic getaway without the hustle and bustle of heavy tourism. The lakeside villas are incredible, and the scenery is just as elegant. You have mountains to view in the distance, and you are surrounded by scenic beauty everywhere you turn.
This choice isn’t for the fast boats or the scenic villages to tromp through. It’s for the holiday retreat, stunning views, and a luxurious but peaceful experience. You can ride your bicycle or spend some time hiking. It’s simply a whole different experience than places like Lake Como.
8. Lake Bolsena
Move away from the boats and glaciers of Northern Italy and Lake Como, and check out this stunning scenic overview. Lake Bolsena has several surrounding islands, most of them packed with historic churches and ancient ruins.
Lake Bolsena is unique in that it is the largest volcanic lake and volcanic crater in Italy. You can enjoy the waters with boats, swimming, fishing, and more. There are plenty of things to do in the water and out of the water too.
The beaches of Lake Bolsena have black volcanic sand, which is really stunning to see in person. It’s a unique experience thanks to the volcanic aspects of the lake. This is a top choice if you’re looking for a stopover between Tuscany and Rome.
You can also experience some iconic fishing as well as interesting bird watching while you’re here.
9. Lake Bracciano
Last but not least, check out Lake Bracciano. This lake is primarily known for water sports, but most of those sports are things like swimming, surfing, canoeing, scuba diving, and other activities. There are some rules to boats on the water, but that won’t leave you short on things to do.
Right off the eastern shore, you can enjoy a spacious outdoor park that allows you to engage in loving the outdoors. This is close to Rome, so it makes for a really great day trip. This is another lake that comes from volcanic activity in Italy.
If you make it here, be sure to explore the old castle in Bracciano.
Italy’s Lakes Comparison
|Lake Como||Lombardy||56 sq mi (146 km²)|
|Lake Garda||Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige & Veneto||142 sq mi (369 km²)|
|Lake Maggiore||Lombardy & Piedmont||82 sq mi (212 km²)
|Lake Lugano||Lombardy||18 sq mi (48 km²)|
|Lake Iseo||Lombardy||25 sq mi (65 km²)|
|Lake Orta||Piedmont||7 sq mi (18 km²)|
|Lake Varese||Lombardy||5 sq mi (14 km²)|
|Lake Bolsena||Lazio||43 sq mi (113 km²)
|Lake Bracciano||Lazio||21 sq (56 km²)|
Bonus Lakes to Consider
There are a few more top names we just couldn’t leave off the list.
If you get the time, also check out these Italy’s lakes:
- Lake Trasimeno
- Lake Ledro
- Lake Braies
- Lake Reschen
Lake Trasimeno, Lake Ledro, and Lake Braies are all pretty amazing too. Lake Reschen is an artificial lake built in the 1940s in South Tyrol. It’s so hard to choose!
Lakes of Italy for Every Preference
No matter what type of things you want to experience in Italy, there are lakes in Italy that will fit the bill. Take in sites like Lago di, Orta San Giulio, Isola Bella, Lago Blu, Villa Monastero, and other gems throughout the country.
These lakes provide stunning views, impressive surroundings, and an array of things to do while you’re there.
What lakes are on your must-see list in Italy?
Italian Lakes Map
What are the 3 Main Lakes in Italy?
There are several popular choices, but perhaps the most visited lakes are Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Como.
What is the Most Beautiful Lake in Italy?
It’s impossible to label one lake as the most beautiful. They all really have their own beauty to take in. That being said, Lake Como is definitely a top choice for the Greek villages, crystal waters, and stunning mountainscapes.
What is Italy’s Largest Lake?
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It is also the third deepest in the country.
Why Does Italy Have So Many Lakes?
The country of Italy has a lot of glacier surroundings and origins. This has contributed to the sheer number of lakes in many ways.
Can You Swim in the Lakes in Italy?
Most of the lakes in Italy are swimming-friendly. You will need to be sure you check for any rules or restrictions for the lakes you visit.