Italy has its fair share of beautiful lakes, but the most popular area to relax along freshwater is the Northern Lakes District. Here, you'll find the big three: Lake Como, Lake Garda, and Lake Maggiore (amongst others). Of all the scenic pools, Como and Garda steal the show with their dramatic mountainous surroundings, posh grand villas, and elaborate garden terraces. You can explore impressive waterfront castles, charming cobbled streets in historic villages, and even the famed Amarone wine region.

Getting Oriented

The elaborate gardens of Lake Como.

You may know Italy's Northern Lakes District from the always-popular Lake Como and Lake Garda, two destinations perfect for a relaxing, active, or luxurious trip. Lake Garda has turquoise water that perfectly complements its impressive castle in Sirmione, plus endless mountain peaks in the distance. Lake Como invites you to experience all that's posh, with gorgeous lakeside villas owned by the rich and famous.

Both lakes offer plenty to see and do, but it's best to combine them into one trip. Enjoy scenic boat cruises in traditional Venetian limousines, hikes up into the surrounding hills, tours of the most extravagant villas and gardens, and strolls through the picturesque streets of famed villages like Varenna and Bellagio. Discover all that Italy's Northern Lakes Region has to offer

Exploring Lake Garda

Lake Garda offers a scenic drive around its perimeter, with sites such as Mount Baldo, the impressive castle on the Sirmione Peninsula, and the Amarone wine region.

East Lake Garda & Sirmione Boat Tour

Sirmione and the famed castle on Lake Garda.

Enjoy Lake Garda and discover why it's one of the most romantic lakes in the world. Embrace Italy's dolce vita (sweet life) and relax on a boat cruise to the scenic Sirmione Peninsula, known for its walled castle, shallow beaches, and unique villas with exquisite gardens. Next, head to the Punta San Vigilio, a verdant peninsula perfect for an afternoon Apertivo at its 16th-century restaurant. End the tour by cruising past the Golfo di Garda, from where you can see the magnificent pink-hued Villa Canossa. Read More

Sirmione Tour

Sirmione's incredible castle.

Visit the medieval hamlet of Sirmione and tour its grounds by foot and boat. First, stroll along the cobbled lanes and listen to interesting stories about the local culture and history. Meader through twisting lanes and peruse the artisan shops, known as botteghe. Then hop on a scenic boat cruise around the peninsula, followed by a moderate walk to the medieval 13th-century Scaligero Castle. You'll also visit Piazza Castello, Saint Anna Church, the Church of Saint Maria Maggiore, and the natural wonders of Lido of Blondes and Grotte di Catullo. Read More

Amarone Vineyards E-Bike Tour

Parish church of Marano di Valpolicella in the Amarone wine region.

The Amarone wine region sits near Lake Garda and Verona, offering idyllic scenery and delicious red wine. With the help of an e-bike, you'll cycle around the hilly and scenic Valpolicella countryside, passing rolling hills, medieval castles, and gentle streams. End at an authentic Amarone winery, where you’ll join a tasting in the wine cellar and learn the secrets behind the Amarone production process. Sip and try to taste the varietal's signature notes, including chocolate, tobacco, and black cherries. Read More

Exploring Lake Como

Lake Como needs little introduction, known for its grand villas, tall mountain peaks, charming villages, and elaborate gardens.

Lake Como in a Venetian Limousine

Cruise Lake Como in a classy Venetian limousine. 

Cruise along Lake Como in a stylish and classic Venetian limousine boat. Choose between the northern or southern route, passing picturesque lakeside towns and villas. On the northern route, enjoy viewing the villages of Bellagio, Tremezzo, and Varenna, plus a few natural sights and villas. The southern route is all about the grand mansions along Lake Como, passing the most popular villas, including Versace's former estate and the home of George Clooney. Along the way, savor the scenery as you glide across the water underneath the towering Alps. Read More

Bellagio & Varenna Tour

The picturesque lakeside town of Bellagio.

Dive into Lake Como's picturesque villages by touring two of its most charming towns, Varenna and Bellagio. Start in Bellagio, enjoying its grand estates, scenic coastline, and cobbled streets. Stop at the botanical gardens of Villa Serbelloni and the neoclassical Villa Melzi. Then take the ferry to Varenna and visit its charming Piazza San Giorgio and nearby Church of San Giorgio. Peruse the narrow streets lined with artisan shops, then explore some villas, such as Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. Read More

Slow Travel In Como, Brunate & Torno

Admire Lake Como from above.

Slow down, escape the crowds, and reach new heights in Lake Como by taking the cable car to Brunate, known as the "balcony of Lake Como." Hike in the hills and pass the mountains of Blevio, Sorto, and Cazzannoro, arriving in the ancient hamlet of Monte Piatto. After a peaceful picnic lunch, continue to Piazzaga, where you’ll discover the mysterious stone tombs of Massi Avelli. Read More

How to Craft the Perfect Italian Lakes Itinerary

Picturesque harbor in Lake Garda.

The popular Lakes District and shores of Lake Como and Lake Garda pair perfectly with a Northern Italy itinerary. Considering combining the lakes with a visit to Milan, Verona, Turin, and/or Venice. Other visitors opt to spend some time in Milan, the lakes, and Cinque Terre or the "Food Valley" encompassing Parma, Modena, and Bologna. Or, if you want to span countries, bring the Swiss Alps into the mix!

Regardless of what you choose, set aside at least 4-5 days to explore Lake Como and Lake Garda, plus more for visiting the surrounding regions. Discover how many days to spend in Northern Italy and the best time of year to visit the region.

Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following trips that include the Northern Lakes Region: