Small hotels on the shores of the Northern Italian lakes provide a serene retreat. With opportunities to swim, hike and explore dramatic shorelines, the addition of a small hotel offers an even more intimate getaway with 5-star facilities and breathtaking lake views you’ll never forget. Romantic escapes to the lakes of Northern Italy also put the culture-rich cities of Lugano and Como right on your doorstep – with the beauty of Swiss Alps just across the border.
Small Hotels around the Northern Italian Lakes: Our Picks for an Intimate and Romantic Escape in Italy
Lake Maggiore: Landscaped Gardens and Blissful Surroundings
With vistas boasting the snow-capped Alps, still blue water and rolling green hills, Lake Maggiore is the perfect first stop on a tour of Italy’s gorgeous Northern Italian lakes. Small hotels are the perfect way to discover the natural wonders of Lake Maggiore, with intriguing UNESCO World Heritage Sites, charming towns and Switzerland all within easy reach. The highlight of the lake is the three Borromean Islands, named after the noble Borromean family who acquired the islands in the 16th century. They built sprawling gardens and palazzos dominated by 17th century mansions on formally barren rocks, located just across the water from Stresa and Baveno. Today the islands are a paradise and popular tourist attraction – with Isola Madre and Isola Bella housing a variety of rare plants, an English Garden and shell-covered grottoes all surrounded by the lapping waters of the lake. Bisected by Lombardy and Piedmont, Lake Maggiore boasts a multifaceted charm, showcasing the best of both regions with wine, fresh Italian fare and Swiss treats influencing menus either side of the lake. Unlike the other Northern Italian lakes, small hotels along Maggiore straddle the border between Italy and Switzerland, with the dramatic Swiss Alps only a stone’s throw away for summer hiking in the mountains or winter’s enjoying world-class winter sports.
Lugano: Gorgeous Escapes in Switzerland and Northern Italy
East of Maggiore, Lake Lugano beckons. Significantly smaller than its neighbors, Lugano also crosses the border into Southern Switzerland. Once again, this makes small hotels by the Northern Italian lakes a brilliantly diverse destination for a getaway. The romantic Swiss city of Lugano – for which the lake is named – tempts day trippers with a maze of cobbled streets lined with luxury boutique stores, cafes and bars all leading to a flower-lined promenade jutting against the glory of the lake. In town, cultural hotspots such as the LAC cultural center house the Museo d’Arte della Svizzera Italiana, offering art aficionados a wealth of contemporary and experimental works in regularly rotating exhibitions. For high-flyers looking to splash a little cash, Casinò Campione d’Italia is Europe’s largest casino, located on a patch of Italian territory on the Swiss side of the lake. It lies across the water from Monte San Salvatore, a stunning viewpoint from which to admire the majesty of Lugano with easy marked hiking trails and a funicular railway.
Lake Como: Mingle with the Stars
Lake Como is most well-known for its 5-star hotels, awe-inspiring vistas and celebrity visitors. It is arguably the most picturesque of all the Northern Italian lakes, so a small hotel located along Como’s shores is an idyllic location for couples seeking peace, romance and tranquility among ancient villages and tumbling cliff sides. The region is breathtaking and best appreciated on foot, taking the time to admire nature’s work. Hiking routes climb to the dazzling heights of Como’s surrounding mountains and wooded hills, offering unparalleled views over the water and beyond. Vast villas dominate the shoreline; with Villa Erba, Villa del Balbianello and Villa Melzi d’Eril showcasing the best of 18th century neoclassical architecture, now located alongside stylish celebrity vacation homes and charming boutique hotels. These properties are best admired from the lake itself, with opportunities to sail, kayak and even paraglide from the shores of Bellagio and various other points along the lake. Furthermore, gastronomy in Como is exceptional. The region is known for its olive oil and fresh produce – especially asparagus – as well as freshly caught fish straight from Como’s depths. A vacation with a small hotel by the Northern Italian lakes is the trip of a lifetime, with some of the world’s most awe-inspiring locations right outside your window.