Enchanting Europe offers natural beauty by the bucketload, but while the crowds congest the coast this summer, why not cool down with a lakeside escape?
There’s nothing more romantic than the sight of a shimmering lake, reflecting some of the continent’s finest fairytale architecture by day and millions of glinting stars by night.
So, wash off your worries and let your troubles float away with these five stunning European lakes everyone must visit at least one!
1. Lake Annecy, France
If crystal clear water that sparkles turquoise in the sun is a top priority to you, Lake Annecy, located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, is the one for you.
Fed by mountain springs, the lake is renowned for its clean water, perfect for swimming and water sports. Rent a boat, cycle the perimeter or explore the charming medieval old town on the northern shore with its quaint bridges and picturesque canals.
2. Lake Orta, Italy
Visitors to Italy are spoiled for choice when it comes to majestic lakes, but why compete with the tourist hordes at Como when you could venture off the beaten track?
Lake Orta lies just a few miles west of another well-known lake, Maggiore, yet still manages to fly below the radar of many visitors.
This unspoiled jewel, surrounded by verdant hills, offers an ethereal ambiance emphasised by the tiny island in its centre, complete with its very own 14th-century basilica.
3. Lake Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia
Push the boat out with a lakeside villa stay beside one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes.
Lake Ohrid has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and a favourite holiday retreat for those in the Balkans, neatly nestled between the lush landscapes of Macedonia and Albania.
With its glassy waters and a smattering of beaches, rest and relaxation is the name of the game at Ohrid, though sights like the harbour, cliff-top Church of Saint Jovan and reconstructed prehistoric village are well worth a wander.
4. Lake Hallstatt, Austria
Reminiscent of the backdrop to Disney’s Frozen, the alpine architecture and glacial lake of Hallstatt is a captivating region to visit at any time of year.
The summer months see processions, festivals and markets take place in the picturesque square, while the colder months dust the landscape with snow, creating a winter picture-postcard scene.
This is Austria at its most idyllic – head up to the 350-metre high Skywalk to soak up views that stretch as far as Slovenia and admire the mighty Dachstein mountains that overlook all.
5. Lake Lugano, Switzerland
Switzerland never disappoints when it comes to delivering natural splendour, and Lake Lugano is no exception.
Stay in the dreamy village of Morcote, situated on the southern shores, where narrow streets and ancient buildings will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Pay a visit to the Scherrer botanical gardens, a mini Eden right on the waterside where fifty shades of blue and green combine to form a vista worth writing home about.
A stress-free, European lakeside holiday is only a short hop away don’t forget to book your travel insurance before you go.