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The Italian Lakes vs a beach holiday

Italy offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of Europe, which varies hugely from north to south, and the coast to the mountains. It can be difficult to choose between a beach holiday or a lake holiday but here's our rundown of whether to go for the serenity and charm of the Italian Lakes or the beauty and rugged landscape of Italy's beaches.

Exploring the lakes

The Italian Lakes are quite special, and despite the spectacular landscape, there's a lot more to discover than just the scenery.

You can find yourself a lakeside cafe and contemplate the wonderful views, as many writers such as D H Lawrence did before you. But one of the most enjoyable pastimes when in the Italian Lakes is jumping on a boat and exploring the different areas.

Which lake to choose?

Lake Garda is the largest of all the Italian Lakes. In the south near Sirmione and Bardolino the landscape is lush with woodland areas and vineyards. Or Riva del Garda in the far north will leave you in awe as you're suddenly faced with a rugged mountainous landscape and watersports enthusiasts propelled by the winds across the lake.

Meanwhile Lake Como is most famous for its majestic villas. Some are private residences and others, with their stunning landscaped gardens, are open to the public. Boats will drop you off for tours around Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta, and Villa Serbelloni, all in the fantastic town of Bellagio.

Lake Maggiore is located on the south side of the Alps so it's part Swiss, while the Italian side will take your breath away. To really appreciate Lake Maggiore you can take the cable car from the town of Stresa to the summit of Mottarone Mountain. This gives you unparalleled views across the Alps and to the surrounding shimmering lakes – including Maggiore and Lake Orta.

Lakeside beaches

You don't necessarily have to choose between lakes and beaches as Riva del Garda boasts immaculate beaches surrounded by meadows. And actually swimming in a lake can be much more relaxing than taking a dip in the sea, plus you won't get salt in your eyes.

Some of the pebble and sandy beaches along the lakes belong to the hotels, while others are public with restaurants, bars and open spaces. Along the Passeggio della Pua in Bardolino there are beaches and park areas with picnic tables and benches.

Beside the seaside

But of course there's also nothing quite like a beach holiday – that feeling that you've really escaped from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life with nothing but the open sea to gaze at.

Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in Italy, from small coves, to vast expanses of sandy beaches. Costa Smeralda in Sardinia, stretching for 20 kilometres, is a fantastic example of a diversity of beaches and bays, while also boasting some of the whitest sands and clearest sea in Italy. Stop by Porto Cervo to see some of the largest luxury yachts in the world at the harbour.

A piece of history

One of the most remarkable ways to enjoy an Italian coastal area is by opting for a beach holiday beside an ancient town. Here you get the best of both worlds – the sea and a remarkable backdrop, making it an unmatched experience. On a rocky headland in Sicily sits Cefalu. It has an eight kilometre sandy beach that lines the shoreline amid the medieval houses of this charming area.

Meanwhile, in the Neapolitan Riviera, Sorrento overlooks the Bay of Naples and is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. It boasts popular beaches, rocky outcrops and man-made docks where you can get a tan or enjoy a swim in the crystalline water.

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