Ultimate Italian Lakes bucket list

Ultimate Italian Lakes bucket list

We make no effort to hide the fact that a holiday in the Italian Lakes is one of our favourite holidays in Italy. We don’t think you can beat a stay in an Italian Lakes villa. After all, what more could you want….? The picturesque, crystal-clear lake waters at the base of a spectacular backdrop of spectacular hills and mountains is a landscape you could never tire of. This bucket list will definitely make sure that you can squeeze the very most out of your stay in your Italian Lakes villa, whether that’s on Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda, Lake Como or Lake Orta.

Just FYI… we could easily have doubled the number of things on this list but have limited it (with considerable difficulty!) to just 30. However, if you are looking for more detailed inspiration on what to see and do in the Italian Lakes region, do take a look at our 60 things to do guide to Lake Maggiore and our Lake Como guide.

  1. Explore the Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore. Admire the famous white peacocks of Isola Bella and the incredible gardens of Isola Madre before sampling the wonderful fish restaurants on Isola dei Pescatori.
  2. Ride the tourist train to the heart of the picturesque historic centre of the village of Orta San Giuglio
  3. Travel over 1850 metres in just 90 seconds on the Lago Maggiore zipline or soar on a zipwire over the mountain valley in the Orobie National Park above Lake Como
  4. Enjoy a passeggiata in some of our favourite lakeside towns – Cannobio, Cannero, Ascona, Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna (amongst others!)
  5. Burn off some of that pasta by spending an afternoon enjoying water sports – the Italian Lakes region is famous for its sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and other water sports activities.
  6. Take a flight on a sea plane above Lake Como
  7. Take a ride on the Lago Maggiore Express, a trip on a narrow gauge railway line from Stresa to Domodossola before making its way through the Centovalli to Locarno from where you catch a boat back to Stresa. Get ready to cross 83 bridges and hurtle through 31 tunnels during your trip, enjoying the most incredibly spectacular scenery en route.
  8. Hurtle down the mountainside on an all-year-round toboggan (an activity available on both Monte Tamaro and on the Mottarone on Lake Maggiore and at the Alpe di Paglio above Lake Como).
  9. Enjoy a day spent skiing in the mountains around the lake (Lake Maggiore can boast a range of ski slopes including 21 runs on the Mottarone as well as pistes above Locarno and at Passo Forcora. Lake Como has 4 km of slopes at Monte Sighignola above Argegno and over 35 km of pistes at Piani di Bobbio.)
  10. Cycle the 140km of cycle tracks around Lake Garda. The track between Limone and Riva is particularly spectacular. (Try out the mountain biking and e-bike options on the other lakes too!)
  11. Head to Arona on Lake Maggiore to climb up the 23 metre tall statue of San Carlo Borromeo to look through his eyes at the view beyond.
  12. Get an adrenalin kick on the rides at Gardaland before marvelling at more than 5000 creatures within their acquarium.
  13. Take in the views of all seven lakes from the summit of the Mottarone above Stresa on Lake Maggiore.
  14. Take a boat from Orta san Giulio to San Giulio Island where you can walk la voie du silence (trail of silence) and admire the frescoes in the Basilica di San Giulio.
  15. Admire the beautiful gardens of Villa Taranto on Lake Maggiore. Visit in the Spring if you can to coincide with the tulip festival.
  16. Hike to the Orrido di Bellano waterfall on Lake Como… in fact, enjoy the time to explore the countryside around each of the lakes on foot. There are numerous trails and pathways to explore.
  17. Visit the monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso on Lake Maggiore.
  18. Browse the market stalls at Europe’s biggest weekly market in Luino on Lake Maggiore.
  19. Find the spot in Mezzegra on Lake Como where the fascist dictator Mussolini was shot dead by Italian resistance fighters in April 1945.
  20. Play a round of golf on one of the many courses in the Italian Lakes region including arguably the most famous Menaggio and Cadenabbia golf course on Lake Como.
  21. Shop for silk in Como. The city is famous for its silk production. Aim to visit ‘A Picci’, a company set up over a century ago by silk expert Luigi Picci and which is now run by the third generation of the family.
  22. Take in the views from the Castello Scaligero on Lake Garda.
  23. Take a cable car ride to the hills and mountains above the lake (an experience which is available on any of the lakes). Head up Monte Baldo on Lake Garda, take the cable car from Argegno to the pretty village of Pigra on Lake Como or try the infamous Laveno bucket lifts on Lake Maggiore.
  24. Relax at the lakeside lidos and beaches. Each lake has a plethora of lakeside lidos and beaches. Our favourite has to be the Locarno lido and spa on Lake Maggiore though.
  25. Hire a boat and take to the water yourself. Boat hire is possible on all the lakes and we thoroughly recommend hiring you own boat and taking to the water. At the very least, opt for a pedalo with a slide!!
  26. Go wine tasting in the vineyards around Lake Garda to sample some of the finest Italian wines from Amarone to Valpolicella. Lake Como can even boast a handful of vineyards to sample too.
  27. Marvel at the ornate villas and gardens of Lake Como – Villa Carlotta, Villa del Balbianello and Villa Melzi.
  28. Climb the Volta lighthouse in Brunate on Lake Como to enjoy the spectacular view from the top
  29. Coincide your visit with one of the many festivals that take place in the Italian Lakes region Our favourite is definitely the annual Moon & Stars music festival in Locarno. However, those with more classical tastes may prefer the Stresa Music Festival held each Summer.
  30. Use your stay in the Italian Lakes to explore the principal cities of this region. Lake Como, Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore are great bases from which to explore Milan whilst those staying on Lake Garda can easily explore Verona and even Venice.

Inspired to start ticking off that bucket list and enjoy a holiday in the Italian Lakes? Then take a look at the Italian Lakes villas and apartments available to rent from Italian Lakes villa rental specialists, Bookings For You.