Savvy travelers have long known that seeing the best travel destinations in Northern Italy requires that one leaves the confines of Milan or Venice to make the quick journey to the Italian Lakes, the most popular of which are Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda. And with plenty of affordable holidays around the lakes available from Neilson, there’s no reason not to visit the lakes and see what all the fuss is about.
Lake Garda is just outside of the city of Verona and is known for its bustling resorts. Medieval-era villages line its mountainous shore, and when visitors aren’t exploring the lake via leisure cruise, they can enjoy some of the region’s famous wines at any of the many charming trattorias. The village of Sirmione is a big draw, as visitors come to see its castle and traipse along its cobbled lanes.
Reading Suggestion: Europe Travel Freak Out, a great blog, takes a closer look at Lake Garda’s awesome attractions.
Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, on the other hand, are both about an hour’s drive north of Milan, near the border with Switzerland. The lakes share an Alpine landscape that is stunning, to say the least, but there are some subtle differences between the two.
Lake Como is incredibly posh, and is well known for its luxury villas that line its coast. George Clooney is one famous homeowner, as is Richard Branson. The lake has a long shoreline, 120 kilometers, that’s divided into three regions: the southern shore, eastern shore and western shore. The southern shore is the most visited, as it’s home to the picture-perfect village of Bellagio. The eastern shore, meanwhile, offers a quieter alternative for travelers who prefer to avoid other tourists.
Reading Suggestion: This blog talks all about Bellagio on Lake Como and has some great photos of its attractions.
Lake Maggiore is about 1.5 hours west of Lake Como, with the Swiss town of Lugano standing in between the two, and has a more laid-back feel than Lake Como. The main town on the lake’s Italian side is Stresa, which is known for its villas and the stunning Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees. This hotel once hosted Ernest Hemingway, and part of his epic novel A Farewell to Arms was actually set at the hotel.
Reading Suggestion: Take a look at this blog post on the Grand Hotel des Illes Borromees to see the hotel through the eyes of a big Hemingway fan.
Travelers who just can’t get enough of mountain scenery and lakes would be wise to extend their trip north into Switzerland where there are even more, almost impossibly, beautiful lakes to discover.