The most beautiful lakes in Italy
July, 24 2017 | Update: 27/01/2022
The Italian countryside is known, among other things, for its many beautiful lakes. The surroundings of these Italian lakes are popular camping and glamping destinations for many families. The watery fun combined with the pleasant climate, the best Italian restaurants and the fun amusement parks around the lakes mean there’s everything anyone could want from a holiday.
There are more than 1000 lakes to choose from in Italy, so there’s definitely one for you! Will you choose a campsite by a small lake or a big lake? To help you make this choice, we have listed the most beautiful Italian lakes. We also give some tips for fun trips during your camping holiday with children in the vicinity of these lakes in northern Italy.
Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake
Lake Garda is probably the most famous lake in Italy. It is especially suitable for holidaying with the whole family. It is also the largest and cleanest lake in the country, making it a great lake for splashing around in with the kids.
Although Lake Garda is a tourist destination, its authentic Italian character has been preserved. It is still a place where you can see, and taste, the real Italy. The charming pavement cafés serve tasty, traditional dishes and Italian ice cream. If you want to know exactly where to go for the best food, read our article that lists the six best restaurants on Lake Garda. In the idyllic and almost car-free villages you can stroll peacefully with your children, without constantly having to pay attention to traffic.
The picturesque setting of green forests, stunning waterfalls, pebble beaches and the many lemon trees provides the perfect backdrop for a wonderful holiday. A holiday that will be mainly devoted to beach fun and water fun; bobbing in the water, windsurfing, boating, sailing and diving.
In addition to the extensive water sports opportunities, there are many fun outings possible to splashing water parks, such as Caneva Aquapark. In this large water park near Lazise you can slide down spectacular slides and enjoy several pools, exciting water rides and a Caribbean-style white sandy beach. This aqua park is part of CanevaWorld Complex, which also includes two theme parks. Of course, there are many family campsites near Lake Garda with their own aqua park where your children will have the time of their lives.
A visit to Parco Natura Viva in Bussolengo is also recommended. This nature park offers safaris during which you can admire remarkable animals up close. Go on a safari with the whole family and spot animals such as the red panda and the snow leopard. There is also a dinosaur park, where you can see life-size replica dinosaurs.
2. Lago Maggiore, the cross-border lake
The beautiful Lake Maggiore is located in the border area between Italy and Switzerland and is the second most popular lake in Italy after Lake Garda. The clear water and the impressive countryside and charming villages on the banks mean it is a great place for a holiday.
The blue waters of the lake stand out brilliantly against the surrounding tall greyish mountains, which all seem to have different colours due to the special light. This produces a fairy-tale like image.
Lake Maggiore has gently sloping beaches and clear waters where children can swim safely. Get the children to stay very still in the water for a while and they will see little fish swimming below. A lovely experience! The clear waters of the lake are also very popular among divers and snorkelers.
In the middle of Lake Maggiore are the Borromean Islands, visible from the shore. These islets are definitely worth visiting. From the Port of Stresa, several boats go to the islands of Isola Madre, Isola Pescatori and Isola Bella.
Isola Bella, as its name suggests, is one of the most beautiful Borromean Islands. Stroll through the narrow, steep streets, past souvenir shops and welcoming bars, and visit the Palazzo Borromeo. This beautifully decorated palace showcases the splendour of the Italian nobility. A fun outing for parents, but also for children.
Little ones will be impressed by the palace and the boat ride. Some campsites even offer excursions to the island. But there is much more to experience in the area around Lake Maggiore. How about some climbing and ziplining in Gordola Adventure Park? Or visit Villa Pallavicini in Stresa. This park with its centuries-old trees, roses, azaleas and magnolias also has a small zoo with deer, llamas, peacocks, and more.
A day at Safari Park Pombia, where you can drive your car among the wild animals, is also a must. Go on an adventure with the whole family and come face to face with hippos, giraffes and monkeys. In addition to the safari area, there is also an aquarium, reptile centre and dinosaur park that you should definitely check out.
If you enjoy spotting international stars, you can take a day trip from your campsite near Lake Maggiore to the world-famous Lake Como. This lake in northern Italy, with its grand holiday villas and luxurious hotels and restaurants, has been a popular holiday destination among celebrities for centuries. Put on a big pair of sunglasses and join the jet-setting crowd.
3. Lake Idro, small and charming
For lovers of peace and quiet, the small Lake Idro a good option. Lake Idro (Lago d’Idro), which is about 11 km long, is just under an hour’s drive from Lake Garda and is surrounded by high mountains and vast forests.
The blue-green and pure lake has not yet been discovered by mass tourism and is a well-kept secret for many water sports and nature lovers. You’ll feel as if you are in an oasis of calm among the green wooded mountains. You can take a dip with your children in peace in the lake, which reaches a temperature of 24°C in high season. Thanks to the constant wind, the lake is also ideal for lovers of sailing and surfing. The lovely breeze also ensures that it never gets too hot. But don’t worry, it is always warm enough for sunbathing!
Had enough of the beach? Then pay a visit to nearby Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. Introduce your children to the romantic story of Romeo and Juliet during a visit to Juliet’s house, which is now a museum. You can stand on the world-famous balcony and take a picture.
While visiting Verona, a visit to the Arena is a must! This Roman amphitheatre is used for opera performances from June to August. Viewing the arena is possible outside the opera season. Your kids will love walking around this impressive amphitheatre. Climb the stairs all the way to the top and enjoy the beautiful view. Alternate sightseeing and walking through the city with outdoor cafes and delicious Italian ice cream, and the kids will have a great time.
After a day of culture in Verona, it’s the kids’ turn again, so take them to Gardaland, Italy’s largest amusement park. From Idro, it’s an hour’s drive to this spectacular park where there are daily shows, such as a dolphin show and a knight’s tournament. Little ones will have fun in the separate themed village and older children can let their adrenaline flow in exciting rides and attractions. A fun day out for all ages!
Of course, bigger is not always better. Small lakes can be special, too. And a lake with a modest surface area of water lends itself more readily to a lap around it, on foot or by bicycle. This way you can see the water from all sides. If you’re not looking for fast jet skis, banana boats and mega beaches, then these two relatively unknown but special lakes may be for you!
- Lake Misurina: a healing place at high altitude
Misurina is a natural lake located at almost 1800 metres above sea level. With an area of about one hundred square metres, it is not very big, but it is remarkable nonetheless. The climatic characteristics of the area where this lake is located are very beneficial for people with asthma. Not coincidentally, an asthma centre is located right next to the lake. This lake also offers excellent pedal boating. A fun activity for the whole family. With dozens of hotels on the lake, there is plenty of choice. But you will also find some excellent campsites nearby, for example Camping Caravan Park Sexten.
- Lago di Vagli: ghost town under water
Covering an area of just over half a square kilometre, this is the largest water reservoir in Tuscany. This artificial lake – and its accompanying dam – were constructed in 1946 by an Italian energy company. As a result, the village of Fabbriche di Careggine disappeared. The inhabitants were moved to a new village: Vagli di Sotto. At low tide, all you can see is the church tower sticking out above the water. Every ten to twenty years the lake is drained for repairs and maintenance, meaning you can just walk around the old village and see the remains. The last time was in 1994. Another round of repairs is planned in 2023, don’t miss this spectacle!