Idyllic scenery, invigorating mountain air and refreshing pure melt waters are just a sample of what awaits those who choose a lakeside holiday. Whether you come to trek among the snow-capped peaks that ring these glorious lakes, cycle the lanes that wind along the roots of the mountain or recline on a vintage ferry, there is something for everyone on a lakeside holiday. Below is a hand-picked selection of some of our favourite and idyllic lakeside escapes.
1. Lake Como, Italy
In the foothills of the Rhaetian Alps, where the mountains meet the water, Lake Como awaits. One of the most desired of the Italian Lakes, Lake Como has been enjoyed as a resort since the days of the Romans and today, remains as popular as ever.
Closely situated to the fashion capital Milan, Lake Como cuts a striking figure with two forked ends and a shoreline scattered with picturesque villages, including the exquisite Bellagio and Como. A handsome and lively town, Como is a lovely spot for aimless wanderings and exploring the impressive Gothic-Renaissance cathedral. While Como is ideally placed for the funicular railway, leisurely walks and mountain trails, Bellagio is the port of call for excursions visiting the other pretty lakeside resorts.
2. Lake Garda, Italy
Lake Garda enjoys an esteemed reputation in Italy, owed not just to its prestige as the countries’ largest lake but also commands celebrity status among visitors to Italy. Writers and visionaries have sung the praises of this beguiling lake for centuries and to this day, still offers visitors truly exceptional beauty.
Delightfully mild, the seasons are long and temperate and lush hillsides can be seen bearing the fruit of orange trees and lemon groves. The comfortable temperatures of Lake Garda are particularly favourable for those who enjoy swimming, wind-surfing and sailing. Picturesque towns and lakeside villages can be easily discovered on cruises across the clean, clear waters and scenic drives around this delightful area.
3. Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Encircled by snow-peaked mountains, Lake Lucerne commands a scenic variety unique to Switzerland. If it were not the decidedly mild climate, it’s resemblance with the Scandinavian fjords will be complete.
Located deep in the heart of Switzerland, Lake Lucerne has been untouched by the passage of time and offers a magical confection of chocolate box houses, turreted chateaus, frescoed exteriors and a medieval timbered bridge. Antiquated paddle-steamers and motorised saloon vessels inhabit the waters of the promenade and ferries journey along the pretty villages that dot the lakeside, before meandering inland towards the roots of the nearby mountains.
Should you choose to visit Lake Lucerne you will be in fine company as Goethe, Wagner and even Queen Victoria have all fallen for the charms and beauty of the lake.
4. Lake Maggiore, Italy
While romance poets like Byron and Shelley proclaimed Lake Maggiore for lovers, it is probably more accurate to describe it as the playground of the rich and famous. Drawn by the spectacular views and the exceptional temperate climate, it was the 19th century aristocrats who first ventured to Lake Maggiore and erected their palatial summer villas along its shores. Among these luxury properties, thermal resorts and elegant villages vie for your attention. The main resort of Stresa is adorned with decadent properties and beautifully manicured botanical gardens, while three piazzas brim with fashionable bars, cafes, boutique shops and a host of cultural offerings. Along the shore, vintage boats and cruisers can be boarded and will whisk you away to the luxurious Borromeo Islands, found in the middle of Italy’s second-largest lake.
5. Salzkammergut, Austria
An area of outstanding natural beauty, Salzkammergut lies among the snow-capped peaks of the Austrian Alps, east of Salzburg. Blessed with enchanting landscapes, lush valleys and impressive mountains, Salzkammergut is a remote alpine wilderness bejewelled with nearly 70 crystal-clear lakes. Follow the hiking and cycling trails around the lake and watch as the landscape slowly begins to introduce itself and the heady scents of the alpine meadow flowers. The calm, glacial waters of the lakes provide limitless opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing or just a place to sit and contemplate on the shore, breathing in the nature.
Nick Munday is Managing Director at Classic Collection Holidays.