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Italian Lakes Travel Information

Whilst sharing the same dramatic backdrops of mountains reflected in crystal clear waters, each of these beautiful lakes has its own identity and atmosphere.

Stretching north into Switzerland where the mountains plunge directly into the lake, Maggiore has a wild, natural beauty with breathtaking panoramic views that stretch for miles.

Lake Como
Lake Como

Romantic Lake Como is smaller and spectacularly encircled by mountains whilst Lake Garda offers a dramatic contrasting landscape dominated by the breathtaking Dolomites in the North and more gentle plains in the South.

Italian Lakes Travel and Flight Information

Getting Around
The most enjoyable way to explore the lakes is by using the efficient ferry and hydrofoil networks that operate on them. The larger lakeside towns are also served by regular public buses.

Must See
Lake Como - Visit Como town's historic centre and magnificent cathedral.
Bellagio - Arguably the prettiest lakeside town on the lake.
Lake Maggiore - Visit the Borromeon Islands, in particular the famous Isola Bella.
Lake Garda - Stroll along the narrow, winding streets of the old town of pretty Malcesine, dominated by the 13th century Scaligeri castle.

Visit the picturesque lakeside town of Bardolino, with cafes, restaurants and shops scattered throughout the narrow streets.

Lake Garda
Lake Garda

Must Do
Visit the English gardens of Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, Lake Como.
Visit the beautiful gardens at the Rockefeller foundation in Bellagio, lake Como for fantastic views of the 3 'legs' of the lake.
Visit the Roman spa town of Sirmione at Lake Garda, with winding streets and 13th century fortress.

To Relax
Hill walking and boating is available on all lakes. Enjoy the many bars and restaurants of the Lakes offering a wide variety of cuisine.
Many of the small lakeside towns offer a range of shops and boutiques.

Daily average temperatures (in Milan Approx) 'C

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Resort Information

Now one of the most popular resorts on the lake, this former medieval fishing village has been of strategic importance over the centuries, under the control of a series of conquerors including the Romans, Goths and Venetians (its name comes from "warda guardia", meaning sentry). This long history is still apparent in the delightful old buildings, archways and alleys, small squares and maze of narrow streets, although they are now full of boutiques, cafes and souvenir shops. The pedestrianised, tree-lined lakeside promenade also has a vast selection of cafes and restaurants, with a sideshow of street entertainers and small art exhibitions. As a result of the resort's popularity, tourist accommodation has spread to the small village of Costermano, located in the hills behind Garda and once a favoured holiday location of the Italian nobility.


Famous for the locally produced "Bardolino" red wine, with around 70 vineyards in the vicinity, this charming town boasts a lively, pedestrianised old town, well-preserved buildings and a well-maintained yachting marina. A lakeside promenade stretches the length of town and can get very busy during high season and on Sundays.

A fairly large resort, Livigno was originally 3 separate villages – Santa Maria, San Antonio and San Rocco – which have now formed into a single entity. It has been a duty-free zone for since Napoleonic times and is therefore very commercialised, with a good range of shops, hotels and restaurants. Despite this, the resort manages to retain its remote feel, living up to its nickname of "Little Tibet".

A charming town with narrow, steep, cobbled streets clustered around the almost complete 13th-century Castle Scaligero, which perches on a sheer rock face overlooking the lake. At the heart of the resort is a busy little harbour where cafes and restaurants line the water's edge. The rest of the lakefront is filled with villas and hotels, unless you go ¾ ml out of town in either direction. The main road runs above the town and only limited traffic is allowed into certain streets, which nevertheless get very crowded with sightseers during peak season.

Although tourism didn't take off until the 1950s, the first spa opened here as early as 1900, on the site now occupied by the Grand Hotel Terme; nowadays, Sirmione is well established as a spa resort with several hotels and therapy centres offering health and beauty treatments. Stretching along a peninsula for 2½ mls and only 100 yds wide at its narrowest point, Sirmione can be loosely divided into the more work-a-day, largely low-rise residential area (Colombare), situated at the southern "mainland" end of the peninsula, and the N end (shown in our resort map), where most of tourist and historic interest is located. This includes a picturesque, compact old town dominated by a spectacular 14th-century castle, scattered villas and hotels in luxuriant gardens, and the atmospheric remains of a vast Roman villa at the most northerly tip. The old town – with its narrow streets, small piazzas, arched stone doorways, galleries, cafes, restaurants and ice-cream parlours – is popular with day-trippers arriving on regular ferries, but it still manages to maintain a relaxed ambience. Except for a modern marina, building work has tended towards renovation rather than construction, and motor traffic is strictly controlled on the promontory (visitors need a hotel reservation to bring in their cars) so strolling through the quiet, shady lanes is still a delight.

Limone sul Garda
A very attractive, compact former fishing village that has managed to retain much of its old-world charm, in some part due to the fact that it was only connected to its neighbours by road and tunnels in 1932. It is famous for its olive oil and lemons, although its name actually comes from the Latin for "border" (limen) rather than the citrus fruit. The main, older part of town – with its narrow, twisting, cobbled streets lined with shops – stretches from the tiny old port (Porto Vecchio) in the N to the new port (Porto Nuovo) in the S, with a pedestrianised lakeside promenade running between the two. From this main hub, development spreads mainly S-wards into the hills, with much of the accommodation situated in this area rather than around the old town.

Desenzano del Garda
The most important commercial centre and largest town on the lake, Desenzano stretches around a wide bay for around 2 mls, with an attractive, tree-lined promenade lining the lake front for much of that distance. The town was founded by the Romans and the remains of a 2nd-century Roman villa bear witness to its antiquity. In the 15th to 18th centuries, the town benefited from prosperous Venetian rule, the influence of which can still be seen today around the picturesque Venetian-style old port (Porto Vecchio), full of fishing craft. The upper part of the centre is dominated by a 14th-century castle while most of the shops and cafes are situated in 2 extensive arcaded 19th-century piazzas. The general atmosphere is more like that of a prosperous market town than a holiday resort, with fountains and statues of local heroes dotted around, swans and ducks on the lake, and a bustling weekly market day. Many of the narrow residential streets have been closed to traffic and it suffers less intrusion by day-trippers than most lake resorts.

An upmarket watering hole since the mid-19th century, Stresa is a pleasant, colourful little town owing much of its fashionable reputation to its beautiful setting: facing the famous Isola Bella, it is surrounded by lush vegetation with snow-capped mountains in the background. Hugging the lake shore for around 1 ml, the town is compact with some interesting old buildings, shops and cafes, with the lively, wharf-side Piazza Marconi at its hub. It is unfortunate that a relatively busy main road runs along the lakefront.

A fascinating, quiet little resort of cobbled alleys, flights of steep steps and attractive pastel-shaded, red-roofed buildings, with an 11th-century church rising above the rooftops. There is no main road through the village – so very little traffic – and the long, flat lakefront is ideal for a lazy stroll with plenty of cafes scattered along its length. For a full appreciation of the town's beauty, it's best viewed from a boat on the lake.

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