Shopping and food
A stay at Lake Garda, Lake Como or Lake Maggiore will appeal to shoppers, with a mix of fashionable boutiques selling famous Italian brands such as Armani. Plus there are tiny one-off shops with unusual souvenirs and traditional Italian crafts.
Italy is also the ideal location for foodies and holidays in the Italian Lakes put you in an outstanding area for cuisine. From family-friendly pizzerias and rustic restaurants with checked tablecloths, to gourmet hotels and fine dining restaurants, you'll not be short of choices while eating out in the Italian Lakes. The region is home to many famous edible delights, including Grana Padano cheese, Gorgonzola and polenta from Bergamo.
Activities galore at Lake Garda
Lake Garda is around 50 kilometres long and offers history and culture aplenty. It's surrounded by towns packed with traditional villas, stylish waterfront hotels, restaurants and bars.
The northern side of the lake is ideal for an active holiday, with steep hills for hiking and cycling from towns such as the lemon-scented Limone and Riva del Garda. Boats can be hired for the hour or day, and there's a watersports centre at Riva del Garda, with windsurfing and paragliding, plus a kids' sailing school.
The southern side of the lake offers a more gentle landscape, with views of sprawling countryside, olive groves and vineyards. This part is home to lots of family-friendly campsites and farm houses.
Sirmione is one of Lake Garda's most popular towns, with the ruins of a Roman villa and a 13th-century castle, complete with a moat. Lake Garda is also where you'll find Gardaland – Italy's largest theme park which, intriguingly, includes the Kung Fu Panda Academy, as well as rides and attractions to suit all ages.
Discover the glamour and charm of Lake Como
Lake Como has long been the destination of choice for the glamorous and well-heeled, and has more recently become known as the holiday home of the Hollywood elite, including Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
Charming towns such as Bellagio are the main attraction, with cobbled streets and elegant boutiques that are perfect for an afternoon's browsing. Here, you can take a walking tour and simply soak up the romance of the town.
Como itself has a rather impressive Duomo, or cathedral, that mixes Gothic and Renaissance styles. Just half an hour from Milan by train, Como is a bustling town with a popular cable car offering panoramic views of the lake. Varenna is a good option if you're looking for something a little more peaceful, and less high-end, with a more traditional fishing village atmosphere.
Revel in the blue views and greenery of Lake Maggiore
The climate at Lake Maggiore means the surroundings are beautifully green, creating a striking contrast with the blue of the water. Pretty towns overlook the lake, and Stresa is one of the most popular. Make the most of the views by taking a cable car from Stresa up to Mount Mottarone.
You might want to opt for staying on one of Lake Maggiore's Borromean islands – named after the Borromeo family – which feature landscaped gardens and, of course, stunning views.
Adventurous types, or families with teenagers, shouldn't miss the Lago Maggiore Adventure Park, where visitors can try a bungee jump or a nerve-wracking obstacle course.