Top 5 of Italy's most beautiful lakes

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Italy has more than 1,500 lakes, mainly in the northern Alpine regions. Among the most famous are Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, renowned for their beauty and the many outdoor activities they offer.

Northern Italy is a paradise for lake lovers. You'll find plenty of turquoise lakes set against the backdrop of the Alps. To guide you on your next trip, we've put together our top 5 of the most beautiful lakes in Italy! Each one has its own strengths, so if you can, we recommend you try them all! This could also be the subject of a themed trip dedicated to visiting the best lakes in Italy.

What's more, these lakes are perfect places for all kinds of activities: land-based activities allow you to circumnavigate the lake, water-based activities allow you to explore it and air-based activities allow you to admire it from the sky!

1. Lake Como, the best-known lake

Varenna, on Lake Como

Lake Como is located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. It is one of Italy's largest and most famous lakes. In geographical terms, Lake Como has a surface area of around 146 km², making it the third largest lake in the country after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. Lake Como has a distinct inverted "Y" shape, with three main branches: Colico to the north, Lecco to the south-east and Como to the south-west. Finally, Lake Como is renowned for its sublime villas and is bordered by picturesque little villages such as Como, Bellagio and Varenna. If you're heading to Lake Como, there's no shortage of options for memorable outdoor experiences! If you like water-based activities, there are plenty to choose from! Depending on your preferences, you can choose from quiet, peaceful activities to enjoy a rejuvenating moment in the sublime Alpine scenery of Northern Italy, or more sensational activities. If you're looking for a peaceful activity, kayaking or stand-up paddling (SUP) on Lake Como is a must! On the other hand, if you're looking for an adrenalin rush, we invite you to try rafting on the Adda river, which runs through Lake Como! Not tempted by any of these suggestions? Then take a look at our article on the best water sports on Lake Como.

If you're looking for a land-based activity, we highly recommend hiring an electric bike or mountain bike and exploring the Lake Como area on your own! It's a great way to discover the many different views of one of Italy's most beautiful lakes.

To round off your stay in Lombardy in style, take to the skies and go paragliding over Lake Como! After exploring the surrounding area on foot, by bike or in a kayak, a paragliding flight will give you the chance to discover the lake in a whole new way!

2. Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake

Lake Garda

As Italy's largest lake, Lake Garda is a popular tourist destination for its natural beauty, varied activities and rich historical heritage. Covering an area of around 370 km², Lake Garda stretches across 3 different regions: Lombardy to the west, Veneto to the east and Trentino-Alto Adige to the north. Around the lake, you can wander through the streets of a number of picturesque villages, including Sirmione, Riva del Garda and Desenzano del Garda. Sirmione is famous for the ruins of the Roman villa of Grotte di Catullo and the medieval castle of Rocca Scaligera.

When it comes to land-based activities at Lake Garda, we recommend you try via ferrata and rock climbing! Via ferrata is a sport that combines climbing and hiking, giving you the chance to gain height and challenge yourself at the same time. We suggest you try the via ferrata at Cima Capi above Lake Garda, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake and take a break to nibble on a snack. As for theclimbing activitynear Lake Garda, it offers a private experience perfectly suited to groups and families!

As with the other lakes, you can SUP or canoe at sunset from Garda. However, if you're looking for something a little more original, why not try a hoverboard session at Tignale? Accessible to those aged 18 and over, this activity will take you over Lake Garda on a hoverboard with the guidance of a professional instructor. For a more peaceful experience, you can also explore Lake Garda by boat and discover the island of Garda. This tourist island on the lake is located on its west coast, near the town of San Felice del Benaco. Choose a private boat trip to Isola del Garda and treat yourself to a relaxing experience, departing from Sirmione or Desenzano! If you think you won't find what you're looking for with these activities, check out our ranking of the best water sports on Lake Garda!

For aerial activities, paragliding remains the star attraction! To the west of Lake Garda, the Pizzocolo mountain is the ideal starting point for flying over the region. During your paragliding flight at Lake Garda, you'll be accompanied by an experienced professional who will help you get kitted out, take off and pilot the paraglider. No experience is necessary for this activity, so don't hesitate to go paragliding from Mount Pizzocolo and admire Lake Garda from the air!

3. Lake Maggiore, between Italy and Switzerland

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy after Lake Garda. Located between the regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, it extends partly into Switzerland. Its total surface area is around 212km², of which 170km² is Italian territory. Lake Maggiore is famous for its 3 main islands, the Borromean Islands: Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Madre. Each of these islands offers lush gardens, historic palaces and picturesque villages. Around the lake, numerous gardens, villas and charming villages dot the shores.

You can try your hand at a number of water sports around Lake Maggiore. To the west of the lake, the Sesia river gorges offer an exceptional natural setting for discovering two fun water activities: water trekking and canyoning. More accessible and less technical than canyoning, water trekking does not require the use of a rope. If you decide to go water-walking in the Sesia river gorges, you'll not only be hiking, but also sliding over wet surfaces and swimming in the river. Then, if you want to try your hand at canyoning, you can head off to the Rio Sibbiola canyon and discover the canyoning obstacles: abseiling, slides, etc. Back on land, you can go hiking and explore one of the region's not-to-be-missed trails: the climb up Monte Mottarone. This mountain lies near the town of Stresa, at an altitude of 1,491 metres, between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta. It's a popular place for hiking, but also for mountain biking. And if you're more of a road cyclist, the Verbania cycle path is one of the most popular ways to cycle around Lake Maggiore. Of course, climbing and via ferrata are also practised, notably on Monte Morissolo. Near Lake Maggiore, Monte Mottarone is THE popular starting point for paragliding. It offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains! Other options for flying over Lake Maggiore include helicopter flights, hot-air ballooning and even hang-gliding!

4. Lake Braies, the most beautiful lake in the Dolomites

Lake Braies

Lake Braies is a small but famous lake in the Dolomites in South Tyrol. It is one of the most photographed and visited lakes in the Dolomites. Its turquoise waters and picturesque mountain setting make it a breathtaking natural setting! The lake lies at an altitude of 1,496 metres in the Fanes-Sennes-Braies nature park, in the Braies valley. The lake covers around 31 hectares, with a maximum length of 1.2 kilometres and a maximum width of 300 metres. It is a lake of glacial origin, formed by natural dams created by rockfalls.

As the Braies lake is smaller than its predecessors, there are fewer activities to choose from. As far as water-based activities are concerned, only one is available in summer: traditional wooden boat hire. Accessible and simple, this outdoor activity allows everyone to enjoy a moment of tranquillity in this magnificent, unspoilt setting.

In winter, it becomes possible to skate on Lac de Braies when the ice covering its surface is solid enough. You can also explore the area around the lake on snowshoes or skis! And if you visit Lac de Braies in summer, the hike around the lake is accessible and offers sublime views of the water and the surrounding mountains.

Finally, while there are no purely aerial activities at Lac de Braies, you can still get some height by climbing near the lake. The mountains around the lake offer plenty of opportunities, with walls to suit all levels! Climbing at Lago di Braies is a great way to get a unique view of this key Dolomite site!

5. Lake Resia, a mystical and unusual site

Lake Resia

Lake Resia is a reservoir in the South Tyrol region, close to the Austrian border. The lake lies near the Resia pass in the Adige valley, at an altitude of 1,498 metres. It is around 6 kilometres long and 1 kilometre wide, with a total surface area of 6.6 km². Lake Resia is an artificial lake created in 1950 by merging the natural lakes of Resia and Curon, following the construction of a dam to generate hydroelectric power. The lake is known for an unusual feature: the bell tower of the church of the ancient village of Curon Venosta, which emerges from the water. The village was submerged when the lake was created, and today only the bell tower remains visible.

Several water sports are popular at Lake Resia: windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing in particular! In fact, the windy conditions on this lake are ideal for all these sailing sports. Windsurfing on Lake Resia is an opportunity to enjoy this activity in a unique setting with an unusual atmosphere!

When the lake freezes over in winter, you can even get up close to the famous bell tower! At this time of year, Lake Resia becomes the perfect place for skating or cross-country skiing. You can also choose to go snowshoeing around the lake. As with all the best lakes in Italy, Lake Resia is equipped with hiking and cycling trails. In summer, walking or cycling around the lake is a must. Finally, for the more sporty types, Lake Resia is famous for its popular marathon held every summer!

And now you know which are the most beautiful lakes in Italy! While the country's 3 best-known lakes are of course a must, discovering smaller lakes such as Lake Braies or Lake Resia will round off your exploration of Italy's best lakes perfectly. You can now plan your road trip through the Italian Alps and discover the beauty of its lakes. Depending on your preferences, you'll find outdoor activities in Italy for all levels. Try them out with family or friends and enjoy unforgettable experiences near Italy's magnificent lakes!