This summer I spent almost a month exploring Italy – one of my favourite countries in the world and definitely one of the most beautiful. Before arriving, I had mono idea there were so many gorgeous lakes in Northern Italy to be visited – each one more magical than the last.
While I had heard of Lake Garda many times, the largest and one of the most popular lake in Italy, I didn’t know the names of any other lakes – and has a so much fun road tripping around discovering new places to visit.
Ranging from deep turquoise lagoons and crystal clear alpine lakes, to popular resorts, dreamy photo spots and lakes that look like they’ve been plucked straight from a fairytale – you could spend weeks road tripping the far north of the country in search of the world’s dreamiest lake.
Here’s my pick of the top 7 lakes in Northern Italy to visit, all located in the northern part of the country in the Veneto, Trentino, Venezia and Lombardy regions.
VIDEO: Lakes To Visit in Northern Italy
Top 7 Lakes in Northern Italy
1. Lago di Sorapis / Lake Sorapis
I want to start with Lago di Sorapis, as it was the hardest lake to reach but the views from the top were by far the most rewarding and probably the most mesmerizing.
You have to be willing to hike for 3 -4 hours round trip to reach this stunning blue-to-green turquoise lake, nestled at the foot of the imposing Sorapis mountain. It’s not an easy hike and involves hiking along a Vie Ferrata – a narrow cliff path with steel cables to hold onto for safety.
After 2 to 3 hours of hiking, you’re jaw will drop to the ground at the sight of this spectacular mountain lake and if you’re feeling brave you can even jump in for a swim in one of the coldest lakes in Italy.
How to get there: 20 minutes drive from Cortina D’Ampezzo and then hike to the top.
2. Lago di Braies // Braies Lake
Located a 30 minute drive from Cortina d’ampezzo, the perfect base for hiking to Lake Sorapis, is Lago do Braies – probably one of the most photographed lakes in Italy and adored by bloggers, photographers and fashionistas.
There are some beautiful hikes around the lake but most people try get here just after sunrise to get perfect reflection shots of the tiny, wooden row boats that will be rented out to excited tourists later in the day. You’ve probably seen this lake on Instagram and while popular, it really did take my breath away.
How to get there: Drive around 40 minutes from Cortina d’Ampezzo and park at the hotel – warning parking is expensive even for short stays!
3. Lake Carezza // Lake Carezza
Lake Carezza is another magical lake not to far from Lago di Braies and Lake Sorapis – although it takes no effort to get to as it’s situated right at the side of the road, half surrounded by a forrest, Many people confuse this lake with LakeLouise and other lakes in Canada as it looks incredible similar.
It’s a fun photo spot but very crowded thanks to its location next to a busy road! There’s lots of parking in the area, a small cafe and souvenir shop – and many bus loads of happy tourists!
How to get there: It’s right on the side of the road when driving from Trentino region to Cortina.
4. Lago di Landro // Lake Landro
Also in the area, is Lago di Landro – a lake with some of the greenest water I’ve ever seen in my life. So green in fact that my friend and I just stood there staring at it, wondering how it could be real. There was hardly anyone else at the lake, but to be fair there’s not a lot to see or do here and no defined walks around the lake so it’s just another fun photo spot.
We jumped out of our car, turned on the drone has had lots of fun flying it around to get videos for my Youtube and Instagram! The lake is crazy green – but the water on one side is weirdly cloudy while at the other side of the road it’s crazy clear and shimmery.
How to get there: 15 minutes drive from Cortina D’Ampezzo.
5. Lago do Levico // Lake Levico
Back down to the Trentino region and located just 40 minutes drive from the city of Trento is Lake Levico, a popular resort town with many family-oriented hotels, safe swimming spots, lakeside bars and restaurants and even a winery or two. One winery in particular actually stores their wine 20 meters deep inside the lake and is one of the only wineries in the world that does this practice.
There’s a brilliant hiking trail the entire way around the lake, which takes 2 to 3 hours, and there are lots of fun swings hanging off of trees and hidden swimming spots to cool down and enjoy the scenery. Popular with families and of owners – this is an easy to access lake and great swimming spot.
How to get there: 30 minutes drive from Trento, and walking distance from the small town of Levico Terme.
6. Lago di Tenno // Lake Tenno
Very close to Lake Garda, which is the last lake on my list, is a small turquoise lagoon called Lago di Tenno – and again this is a lake with incredibly green water.
It’s unique as there’s a magical, medieval town nearby called Tenno and a tiny island in the middle of the lake that you can swim to or access by stand up paddle board, kayak or paddle boat – all of which can be rented at the lake. This is must-stop for anyone going to Riva Del Grada, a gorgeous resort town on the north end of Lake Garda. See my video below for a quick guide to travelling to this part of Lake Garda.
How to get there: 15 minutes drive or maybe a one hour cycle from Riva Del Garda. You can also drive about 45 minutes from Trento to get here en route to Lake Garda in Trentino.
7. Lake Garda
The final lake on my list of gorgeous lakes in Northern Italy to visit is the famous Lake Garda, a lake most people will already have heard of but a lake that definitely deserves a spot on this list.
What makes Lake Garda so popular, besides being the largest lake in Italy, is that each small part of it has a different vibe – with some places perfect for sailing and boating, other spots ideally for wind surfing and kite boarding, and other areas more sheltered and ideal for family-friendly resorts, hiking and hidden beaches.
There tonnes of picturesque towns all the way around the lake, and you’ll be shocked to see the difference between towns on the north end in Trentino and lakeside towns on the south end in Lombardia – both beautiful but with different attractions and things to do. From an evening in Sirmione, exploring the castle and watching the sunset, to a day hiking near Rive Del Garda or Arco – it’s no wonder so many people choose Lake Garda as their destination of choice.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this video about some of the top lakes to visit in Italy. There are of course LOADS more stunning places to visit, and I think I visited at least 5 more lakes which all took my breath away.
Be sure to watch my tougher Italy travel guides on YouTube and check out my Puglia and Lombardy blog posts for more Italy travel inspiration!
Hi! I’m Janet Newenham, an Irish-born digital nomad and blogger. My blog, Journalist On The Run, is a journal of my travels and career hurdles, as well as a “bucket list for life.” In my youth, reading inspired me to create and achieve goals for my future.
My long list of goals took me to places I could never have dreamed of, each one inspiring me toward the next. Along the way, I picked up a few awards like “Digital Media Travel Journalist Of The Year” in both 2017 and 2019 while simply doing what I love.
Now, well into my 30s, I’ve seen so many of the world’s alcoves that it would be wrong not to share my experiences with you. This blog is my way of taking you around the world with me, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
My goal was to visit 50 countries before I hit 30. I never imagined that at 37, I could proudly say I’ve seen 101 of the world’s beautiful countries. Of course, no matter how much you think you’ve traveled, there is still so much left to see, and I look forward to going on the run with you.