Choosing a holiday destination around a lake is ideal for those who enjoy hiking, bird spotting, painting or photography. Scenic lake destinations with islands can provide even more interest with flower and butterfly gardens, boat trips, festivals, castles, wineries and even remote monasteries. Here is our pick of the best lakes to visit in Europe.
1: Lake Constance
Lake Constance sits on the border between Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Also known as Bodensee, this large lake is surrounded by mediaeval towns such as Meersburg and Rorschach. The Lake Dwelling Museum at the resort town of Luberlingen reflects the lake’s long history, first settled by stone age pile dwellers that built houses on stilts in the marshes. Spend the day on Mainau Island, one of Lake Constance’s top attractions with its ducal palace. The vast flower gardens are best seen in October when 20,000 dahlias are in full bloom.
2: Lake Massaciuccoli, Italy
Italy is well known for its scenic lakes such as Lake Garda and Lake Como but the less well known Lake Massaciuccoli in Tuscany is just as lovely. This peaceful lake has an old watchtower on the shore and an outdoor theatre for outdoor events. It is 25km from Pisa and 5km from the seaside resort of Viareggio. The lake has a wetland park for birds and wildlife called “Oasi di Massaciuccoli” and is the home of the summer Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago.
3: Lake District. UK
If you really want to OD on lakes, take a trip to the beautiful Lake District National Park in northwest England. There are over 50 lakes in an area that is unspoilt by large towns. The lakes and fells have been the inspiration for writers, poets and artists such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Beatrix Potter for centuries. The largest lake is Windermere at 10.5 miles long and a mile wide. The deepest lake is Wastwater which is 250 feet deep.
4: Lake Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatter See is a large lake in Upper Austria and has been linked to salt production since prehistoric times. These ancient salt mines on the shores of Lake Hallstatt can be reached on foot or by funicular. Each summer, concerts are held right inside the mines which have excellent acoustics. Take a boat trip around the lake on the excursion boat or visit the archaeological museum in Hallstadt to learn more about this beautiful lakeland region.
5: Lake Lugano, Switzerland
Switzerland has many beautiful lakes and Lake Lugano is considered one of the prettiest. Located on the border with Italy, the cathedral city of Lugano makes a great base for exploring the lake on foot, bicycle or by boat. The lakeside Parco Ciano is a delightful place to wander and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
6: Gross-Glienicker See, Germany
Berlin is surrounded by lakes which are great for swimming and sunbathing during the summer. Gross-Glienicker See is one of the best with sandy beaches and clear deep water. This large lake is particularly popular with sailing enthusiasts and is located between Berlin and Potsdam.
There are simply thousands of lakes in Europe that are well worth visiting. We’d love you to share your own favourite lake with us all below.