Luxury Villas in the Italian Lakes

The Italian Lakes will forever be luring tourists to their tranquil shores; there’s something effortlessly romantic and seductive about a holiday in this part of Italy. From architectural masterpieces to picture-perfect scenery, you can find yourself traversing the alps one moment and gliding along a serene lake the next. 

That isn’t to say the Italian Lakes aren’t thriving with cultural adventure and a vibrant lifestyle – theatre performances, open-air festivals, a diverse music scene and plethora of outdoor pursuits: walking, sailing and cycling… you can be sure when you stay in one of our expertly handpicked villas in the Italian Lakes, your holiday will be one to remember.


Why visit?

  • If you’re into your crafts and design, you’ll love the Italian Lakes. Handcrafted silk wear in Como, world-class design in Milan and various other handmade goods can be found in the artisan shops. 
  • Its impressive lake views, of course. No matter where you are on your Italian Lakes holiday, you’ll never be far from a jaw-dropping scene, or two.

Read the Italian Lakes Travel Guide

Why stay with us?

Style and character are everything at Oliver’s Travels, and our collection of handpicked villas in the Italian Lakes have this in spades.

We have destination experts who know the ins and outs of all our regions, picking villas that aren’t only unique, but also in the best locations. What's more, our villas are 100% family-friendly, and have the ‘wow’ factor.

Our helpful concierge team are on-hand to make your stay extra special. Whether you want a fully-stocked fridge, a local in-house chef to cook your meals, housekeeping or any other extra service – consider them your holiday genie, who will happily grant your wishes.

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Villas in the Italian Lakes: Our Top Picks

Why visit

Sat at the foot of the Alps and enjoying breath-taking mountain backdrops, the Italian Lakes is one of Italy’s most popular villa holiday destinations. With a fantastic climate year-round and some of the most picturesque towns and villages in the country, it also boasts excellent facilities for families and adventure sports enthusiasts.

Consisting of Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda, the Italian Lakes region benefits from a unique landscape that was formed during the most recent ice age and that has been thrilling holidaymakers since the Romans first started holidaying on its shores.

Each lake has something slightly different to offer, allowing you to tailor your holiday to your needs. 

  • Lake Maggiore is the most relaxed of the three lakes and is ideally suited to those who want to take it easy and perhaps do a little sightseeing. It also benefits from good travel links to Switzerland if a day trip across the border takes your fancy. 
  • Lake Como is perhaps the most picturesque of the three lakes and boasts many of the prettiest towns and villages
  • Lake Garda is the most family-friendly lake in the region. With theme parks, water sports, hiking, and mountain biking to enjoy, it’s the place to be if you’d like to be a little more adventurous.

Lake Como, Italian Lakes

Lake Como

If you want more information, check the full Italian Lakes Travel Guide in our blog. 

What Oliver loves

There are few places on earth where jaw-dropping natural landscapes are married to such elegant and attractive architecture.

Best time to go

  • Crowds and temperatures are at their most intense during the summer months of July and August, when Milan residents descend on the lakes to escape the city heat. Temperatures reach an average high of 29ºC and restaurants and roads are considerably busier.
  • Though spring is slightly cooler, it’s also the driest time of the year. Showers are more likely between September and November, but the heat of the summer lingers for much of the season.

Top tips

  • Local food: When searching for a place to eat in Trentino, keep an eye out for signs that read ‘Osteria Tipica Trentina.’ This means that the restaurant only serves seasonal cuisine featuring locally-sourced ingredients. 
  • Activities: It's not all water-sports and lakeside activities – there’s mountain biking, trekking, horse riding, canyoning and even paragliding to try in the surrounding mountains.

Where to go

Impressive lake views, delicious food, and luxury holiday villas in amazing locations. This handy guide to the top properties in each of the lakes should help you decide which one is the right for you. So take a closer look at what makes them so special, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with our concierge team if you want to learn more.


Lake Maggiore, Italy

Impressive castles and fortresses, nature reserves and a wealth of outdoor sports are just a few of the things that make up the stunning Lake Maggiore. With an air of opulence about it, Lake Maggiore is an ideal Italian retreat.

Lake Garda, Italy

Home to an array of lush gardens, a packed events calendar, ancient ruins, amusement parks and winding streets that are fun to get lost in – Lake Garda offers much more than just fun lakeside activities. 

Lake Como, Italy

Upmarket, neoclassical and well-known for its silk production, Lake Como is a playground for the rich and famous. Dotted with a variety of charming towns and villages, you can while away your days appreciating the scenery, taking up water-sports and poking around the boutique shops.

Lake Orta, Italy

The tourist hordes are slightly thinner here than in its counterparts, which is a great draw for the area. Then throw in the fact it’s home to an attractive medieval village, thick woodlands that are great for exploring, and an exquisite food scene, and you’ve got yourself an incredible spot.

Family friendly

While Lake Garda is the most family-friendly of the three major lakes, both Como and Maggiore also have plenty to offer. The waterfront location means that the kids can always hop in the lakes to cool off and many of our villas in the Italian Lakes are equipped with a private pool to keep them busy when you get back home.

Theme Parks in Lake Garda

Set back from the waterfront on the southern edge of Lake Garda, the Gardaland theme park is a popular draw for thrill-seeking families. With roller coasters, rides and plenty of attractions, it’s a great day out for kids of all ages. Alternatively, the Parco Natura Viva combines zoo, safari, and dinosaur exhibitions into a single, easy-to-reach adventure park.

Gardaland theme park

Take to the Water

At the Italian Lakes, the star of the show is, of course, the water. Whether you rent a boat from the Turati Centro Nautico Lario on Lake Como or learn to windsurf at one of the many schools on the shores of Lake Garda, the kids are bound to love splashing around in the water. 

Italian Lakes holiday

Discover more information about things to do with family in the Italian Lakes in our blog.

Why it's perfect for families

  • For babies:The Italian Lakes benefit from excellent ferry and hydrofoil-boat links, making it a pleasure to travel between towns and attractions with babies and toddlers. Forget sweltering, stressful car journeys – it’s all about the fresh breeze on deck. Check out our baby-friendly villas.
  • For kids: Any child that enjoys throwing themselves into water-based activities will love the Italian Lakes. Whether it’s swimming, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, or paddle boarding, there’s something for every sporting taste. See our list of child-friendly villas.
  • For teens: For the adrenaline-seeking teens in your holiday party, there is a wide range of adventurous activities to try your hand at. Canyoning is incredibly popular, while off-road cycling is also a great option.  Discover our list of teen-friendly villas.

Top Tips

  • Lake Garda is the place to go for outdoor activities – it boasts rock climbing, canyoning, and all the water-sports you could ever imagine, making it ideal for thrill-seeking kids and older children.
  • Lake Como is a good option for those who enjoy exploring the hills – there are great hiking and mountain biking opportunities throughout the area, as well as endless beaches to relax on at the end of the day.
  • If you’re on Lake Maggiore and looking to escape the lakeside for a day, take the kids to Milan, where you’ll find the country’s finest science museum, a historic castle, and canal cruises.

Beaches in the Italian Lakes

If you’re a fan of beach holidays and looking for something a little different, heading to the lakes is a good way of shaking things up. The Italian Lakes offer a beach holiday with a difference, with spectacular pebbled beaches and coves set against a breath-taking lakeside backdrop.

Diverse Lakeside Beaches

Due to the size of the lakes, both weather conditions and beaches can differ drastically from one end of a lake to the other. For instance, the northern reaches of Lake Garda are renowned for the reliability of their afternoon winds, which have transformed the region into a major pilgrimage site for windsurfers from all over the world. At the south end of the lake, the wind dies off but is replaced by the hustle and bustle of Sirmione, a popular town that also boasts several lovely beaches.

While some private beaches require you to pay for access, the vast majority are free and open to everyone, allowing you to pick and choose your favourites. In many areas, a grassy waterfront replaces the traditional sandy beach – the perfect solution for those who love to be by the water but can’t stand sand getting everywhere.

Our villas in the Italian lakes usually come with their own pool, and if what you really want is for the coast to be nearby, we suggest you check out these villas near the beach.

Oliver's Hidden Gem

Just a short distance from Riva del Garda, Spiaggia Sabbioni features pleasant grassy and pebbly spots.

Here, mornings are spent sunbathing and swimming. In the afternoon, when the town’s famous winds start to blow, it’s time for windsurfing and water-sports. 

Sabbioni, Italian Lakes

Spiaggia Tifu

A great choice for families, Spiaggia Tifu sits aside the town of Limone sul Garda. The water is safe and suitable for younger kids, while the town’s many restaurants ensure you can always grab a quick bite to eat.

Parco Baia delle Sirene

Only open from April through to September, the Parco Baia delle Sirene is a firm favourite amongst families due to its spectacularly still waters and green, open spaces. There’s even a kids’ club if you want a little peace and quiet! 

Spiaggia di Atrani

Situated in Faggeto Lario, this small beach can get quite busy in the summer but is relatively relaxed at other times of the year. Visitors can rent sunbeds and the beach is well served by bars, cafes and restaurants.

Spiaggia di Maiori

A popular beach amongst in-the-know locals, the Pognana beach boasts a substantial grassy shoreside space and spectacular views. The walk down to the beach is long and involves tackling a lot of steps, so it’s probably not one for young kids. 

Spiaggia di Erchie

If you want to escape it all and experience the wilder side of the Italian Lakes, Lake Maggiore’s Isolino beach ticks all the boxes. Unlike many other beaches, Isolino has been left to do its own thing, giving it a distinctly natural feel.

Amalfi Coast

One of only two beaches in Piemonte to have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag accreditation, the pebbly Cannero benefits from an excellent beach bar. Unlike other beaches in the vicinity, it’s largely protected from the local winds.

Things to do

Whether you’re a fan of sightseeing, a dedicated beach bum, or a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie, there’s an awful lot to keep you busy in the Italian Lakes region. The lakes have been a popular tourist destination for a long time and are well-equipped to meet all your holiday needs.

If you’re here to tour, there’s no better way to start your holiday than with a cruise on the lake. Take in the views, stop off at a few towns, grab a bite to eat, and soak up the lakeside ambience. The castle at Sirmione will give you a little historical context, and the villas and gardens of the Borromean Islands are certainly worth a visit.

While water-sports are an obvious focus for family holidays to the Italian Lakes, there’s also a great deal to keep you busy when you’re back onshore. Try your hand at mountain biking, hike through mountainous landscapes, or explore rugged canyons and discover a whole world of adventure activities.

Things to do in the Italian Lakes

  • Get your history fix at Sirmione Castle: There’s nothing quite like strolling through the main archway of the castle as you wander up to the town centre – the sense of history is palpable. The surroundings also make it an incredibly special site to visit, and the views from the watchtowers are phenomenal.

Sirmione Castle Italian Lakes

Sirmione Castle

  • Cruise the lakes on the local ferries or take a boat tour: Many of the cruises will take you past the homes of the Lakes’ more famous residents, and guides are quick to point out villas owned by Richard Branson and George Clooney, amongst others.
  • Check out Lake Orta: A smaller lake within easy reach of our luxury villas in Lake Maggiore. It’s a stunningly beautiful stretch of water with a captivating island in the centre with a UNESCO World Heritage Site on its shores.
  • Go Trekking in the rural reaches to the north Riva del Garda: With plenty of trails and perfect natural surroundings, it’s a great way to get away from the bustle of the lakeside and explore those landscapes you’ve been marvelling from the beaches.

    Check out these villas perfect for outdoor pursuits. And don’t forget to admire the views around you.  

Oliver's Hidden Gem

Lake Garda is something of a mecca for windsurfing enthusiasts. As decent winds can be expected most afternoons, both professionals and enthusiasts flock to the water from countries around the globe. Head to Nago-Torbole, Riva del Garda or Malcesine if you want to give it a go.

lake garda windsurfing

Towns and villages

From the small city vibes of Como through to the tranquil, cobbled streets of Varenna, hopping between lakeside towns and villages is one of the great joys of visiting the Italian Lakes.

While those towns that line the northern coast of Lake Maggiore have a distinctly Swiss feel, Lake Garda is far more traditionally Italian. It’s this diversity of experience that makes the lakes such a fantastic holiday destination.

Milan – Just a Hop Away 

While Lake Garda is a little further afield, both Lake Maggiore and Lake Como are within day-tripping distance of cosmopolitan Milan. Stylish, sophisticated and a hub for commerce, culture and art, the city is a joy to explore and far more family-friendly than it’s given credit for.

 If you want to be close to the main towns, discover these villas close to villages.

Oliver’s Hidden Gem

If you want to experience Lake Como as it once was, the closest you’ll come is the picture-perfect village of Varenna. With a small beach, colourful waterside buildings, and tiny cobbled lanes, it manages to remain relatively uncrowded.

Varenna italian lakes

Como, Italian Lakes

Sitting on the Italo-Swiss border and encircled by green, forested hills, Como is one of the most picturesque cities in all of north Italy. Its outdoor markets, bustling piazzas and imposing churches mean that it’s a joy to walk around, while visitors can also jump on the Como-Brunate cable car if they want to enjoy a jaw-dropping panorama of the city. 

Bellagio, Italian Lakes

Most famous for the breath-taking villas that line the hillsides overlooking the water, Bellagio is often referred to as ‘the Pearl of Lake Como,’ thanks to its remarkable beauty. While the town centre is packed full of shops, restaurants, and lovely local cafes, visitors can also enjoy the gardens at Villa Serbelloni or take a boat tour out on the lake.

Malcesine, Italian Lakes

Tucked into the shadow of Mount Baldo, Malcesine will capture your heart with its spectacular backdrop and picturesque streets. Home to some of Europe’s best windsurfing, the town is also the departure point for the Baldo cable car, which takes you up past the mountain’s famously diverse plant life, to a final height of 1760 metres.

Sirmione, Italian Lakes

There’s something a little bit special about Sirmione - perhaps it’s the town’s position atop a slender spit that thrusts out into the waters of Lake Garda, or the quaint, colourful houses. For those that like to fully relax, there’s also several spas that make use of the hot waters that run beneath the lake.

Stresa, Italian Lakes

Perched on the banks of Lake Maggiore, Stressa is a small, striking town with a gorgeous lakeside promenade and a well-respected annual music festival. It’s also the closest town to the Borromean Islands – three compact isles with impressive gardens, extravagant palaces, and historic churches. All three can be reached via one of the local ferry services.

Cannobio, Italian lakes

With a popular harbour and promenade, Cannobio’s waterfront is the perfect place to grab some lunch and watch the world go by. The old town boasts winding streets and plenty of shopping opportunities, with eye-catching piazzas to explore. Cannobio is also an adventure sports capital and a good place to rent any gear you need.

Getting Around

Public transport fans, rejoice – the Italian Lakes region is connected to an efficient network of ferries, buses and trains, making your car-free holiday dreams come true.

Flights

With a total of seven major airports spread across the Italian Lakes region, most international visitors can ensure they land relatively close to their accommodation, minimising transfer time. Milan Malpensa is most convenient for Lake Maggiore and also serves parts of Lake Como, too. Orio al Serio Airport is the landing site of choice for both Como and Garda, while Brescia and Verona airports can also be used to access Lake Garda.


Car rental

While car rental is a possibility when visiting the Lakes, it’s not a necessity. In fact, traffic in the busier months can make driving around the waterfront more hassle than it’s worth. Factor in the excellent water transport that links the villages and towns around the lakes, and you may find that this is one family holiday where car rental is not a priority.


Trains

There are some picturesque and memorable train journeys to enjoy in the Italian Lakes region. In particular, the Lago Maggiore Express allows you to move from the water to the mountains, taking in the striking landscapes as you go. The train can also be a good way to transfer from one of the Milan airports if you’re not renting a car.


Buses

Public transport in the region is incredibly well organised and visitors can realistically plan their entire holiday around the network. Buses are one of the preferred means of transferring from the airport to our villas on the Italian Lakes. Both traditional bus and minibus services operate from all major airports and will typically connect to either the lakes themselves or a nearby train station to complete your journey.


Ferries

Ferries and hydrofoil-boats are by far the most popular means of moving around all of the Italian Lakes. Relatively inexpensive and always reliable, the ferry services are an excellent way to explore your surroundings. Cruises and tour boats are also a great way to move from one town to the next, particularly if you’re in no rush to transfer and want to learn about the local area.


Bicycles

Bikes are a feasible option when moving along shorter stretches of lakefront, with cycleable areas at all three lakes, and most of the waterfront. Away from the more developed areas, you’re likely to encounter some steeper hills, so make sure to plan your journey in advance. 

Top tips

  • Ferry schedules are seasonal, so always to check that your boat service is running at the times you need it. Services can also slow down or stop during lunchtime, so factor this little break into your plans. 

  • Check out cable car services if you want to head up high and get a view of the surrounding area. 
  • If you enjoy travelling by train and want to make an excursion to the Swiss Alps, don’t miss the Bernina Express, one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. 

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