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22 February, 20222 minute read

Discover Italy’s great lakes: A whistle-stop tour

The Italian Lakes are famed for their mesmerising beauty. Calm blue waters lap shorelines dotted with impressive villas and towering Cypress trees; colourful towns frame snowy mountain peaks; while the colours of the Mediterranean come alive in gardens laden with lemon trees, palms and bright red camellias.

You’ll wander bustling lakeside promenades. Watch fishing boats bob up and down in quaint harbours. Eat wonderful cuisine including seafood pasta and risottos in waterfront trattorias. Wander cobblestone streets and discover hidden piazzas.

And on our Italian Lakes holidays, you’ll get to experience all of the above and more. From the dreamy landscapes of the Italian Lakes including Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, we also head to the vibrant streets of Verona, the canals of Venice, and even timber-framed villages in the Swiss Alps.

Our Italy tours combine captivating scenery at every turn, the chance to step back in time and discover historic tales, experience boat rides, rail journeys, and taste local food and wine. There’s also time to relax, to explore on your own, and to really immerse yourselves in the wonder of this truly exquisite Italian destination.

There are thousands of lakes in Italy, but the largest and most popular are in the north. On our Italy escorted tours we go to three of the best – and you can find out more about them below.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian lakes and can be found midway between Milan and Venice. Stretching some 90 miles and covering three regions there is much to explore in arguably the area’s most popular resort. On our Italian Lakes holiday, we base ourselves in the chocolate-box town of Sirmione – where there is much to see including the hot springs and tumbling ruins of Grotto Catullus, northern Italy’s largest Roman villa.

While it would be tempting to stay put, we also get to explore some of Lake Garda’s other fine villages from the medieval hamlet of Lazise, with its captivating squares and winding alleys to the impossibly pretty Malcesine and its 13th-century castle. We’ll even spend some time in the lakeside town of Limone, famous for its historic lemon groves. 

The Italian Lakes exceed all expectations, as you can look out across the rippling blue waters and watch the lake steamers scurry between the pretty jetties, but if you lift your gaze you have jagged mountain peaks topped with snow to create the perfect backdrop.

Lake Maggiore

Close to Switzerland, Lake Maggiore may not be as glitzy as Como, but it holds its own in the wow-factor stakes. Peaceful and idyllic, the lakeside towns of Stresa and Verbania are a must, as are the star attractions – the Borromean Islands that are nestled in between.

We’ll set sail along wind-ruffled waters to explore all three. On Isola Bella we’ll wander wide-eyed around the Baroque Borromeo palace and its magnificent gardens; then onto Isola Madre where the myriad of colours from the botanical gardens will mesmerise. Lastly, we’ll mingle with the locals in the charming fishing village of Isola dei Perscatori.

Lake Orta

Although one of the smaller and lesser-known of the northern lakes, Lake Orta’s glistening waters and the ancient town of Orta San Giulio nestled in the green hills, are truly captivating. The views across the lake and the tiny island of San Giulio will never cease to amaze.

We’ll have some time to relax and explore the lakeside, sip coffee, and indulge in delicious Italian fayre. We’ll also get to sail across the jewel-like lake to the Romanesque Basilica di San Giuli, which has stood there since the 4th century.

If you'd like to find out more about our holidays to the Italian Lakes, contact one of our expert travel advisors today.


Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.

Ting | About the author

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