Top 9 attractions in the Italian Lakes

There's no shortage of highlights in the Italian Lakes – here, at a glance, are the region’s top attractions including extraordinary buildings, from the strange Vittoriale to Sirmione's dramatic castle; grand opera in the Verona Arena; and of course, stunning scenery
The beautifully landscaped garden island of Isola Bella
The beautifully landscaped garden island of Isola Bella. Photo: Shutterstock

Insight Guides can help with the planning, organising and booking of your trip to Italy. Simply contact our local expert with details of the length of your trip, budget and places you would like to visit and they will plan your personalised itinerary. For inspiration browse Insight Guides ready-made Italy trips, which are fully customisable. 

1. Villa Carlotta

Famed for its sumptuous gardens, the elegant Villa Carlotta sits on Lake Como’s western shore. Its 5.6 hectares (14 acres) of gardens are famous for their numerous varieties and huge species of azaleas and rhododendrons. You can visit Villa Carlotta as part of Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes holiday.

2. Bellagio

Tree-lined walkways and grand hotels line Bellagio’s waterfront on Lake Como, an imposing sight best viewed from the deck of a private yacht. Explore on foot or from the waters on Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes holiday.

3. Quadrilatero d’Oro 

Whether it’s black-sequinned underwear or a diamond-encrusted watch, the place to spend your money is in the aptly named Quadrilatero d’Oro (Golden Square) – Milan’s fashion district, a network of narrow streets from Via della Spiga to the Piazza Duomo filled with high fashion from the fabulous to the ridiculous. Discover Milan in all its glory with Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes holiday.

Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, Milan.

Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, Milan. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Sirmione

With a dramatic 13th-century castle, Sirmione is one of Lake Garda’s most visited resorts. It occupies an enticing setting on a narrow peninsula that juts 4km into the lake. Travelling with children? Check out our Italian lakes for kids blog.

5. Isola Bella

Sculpted to look like a ship, named after a countess and planted with towering terraces, there is nothing natural about Isola Bella, but it is still a magnificent island garden. Day 7 of Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes holiday includes a guided tour of this magnificent site.  

6. Monte Mottarone 

Between lakes Maggiore and Orta, the Mottarone peak is a natural balcony commanding a wonderful panorama of the lakes and the Alps; on one of those rare clear days you are said to be able to see seven lakes. Add a stop to Monte Mottarone to Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes holiday. 

Sirmione's Castle, Lake Garda.

Sirmione's Castle, Lake Garda. Photo: Shutterstock

7. Verona's Arena Festival

Where lions once roared, sopranos now soar as Verona’s Arena Festival brings grand opera to the ancient Roman arena. Unmissable, spectacular and with glorious music in one of Italy’s most imposing monuments – a perfect package. Time your trip to coincide with the festivities with the help of Insight Guides' local experts. Submit a trip request today to plan your holiday from scratch. 

8. Il Vittoriale

The warrior poet and Fascist supporter, Gabriele D’Annunzio, was an Italian hero and probably barking mad. Il Vittoriale, the fantasy villa he built for himself on Lake Garda, is a place of strong emotion and strange decor. Decide for yourself with Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes holiday

9. Orta San Giulio

A legendary island, brightly painted fishing boats, and frescoes painted on the walls of a medieval piazza, make the village of Orta San Giulio

 on the shores of little Lake Orta almost impossibly romantic. Visit Orta San Giulio with Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes holiday. 

This post was originally published on April 14, 2016.

Planning your trip to the Italian Lakes

Speak to a local expert about arranging the trip of a lifetime to the Italian Lakes here, or browse our fully customisable Enchanting Italian Lakes itinerary here. If you'd like to read more, visit our online guide or check out our top attractions. We also have a guide to exploring Lake Garda by ferry, boat or dinghy, the Italian Lakes for kids, the most romantic locations, and a guide to the region's finest wines, and the Lakes on a budget...

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Get lost in a guidebook: Insight Guides: Italian lakes