Sure, everyone thinks of the Mediterranean Sea when they think of a watery vacation, but Europe's lakes are also quite compelling places to visit. I've always enjoyed the calm peacefulness of lakes. In these selected lakes, there are lakes around which prehistoric folks mined salt, lakes with monastic islands, and lakes for bird and opera watching. Here's our survey of some of the most interesting lakes in Europe.
If there's a lake you can spend a whole vacation around, Lake Constance is the one. You'll find flower and butterfly islands, medieval villages, castles, production of fine wine, and a monastic island known for its vegetables. Lake Constance borders Switzerland, Austria and Germany, so there is cultural diversity all over the place.
The town of Hallstatt on the shores of Lake Hallstatt is a very interesting place, with ancient salt mines (in which summer music concerts are held) reachable by foot or by funicular. You can reach the lake by train, then take a boat into the town of Hallstatt. It's a fun trip for kids, and if the weather is bad, you just hop the excursion boat when it's running. It'll take you around the lake, which is ringed by mountains. Idyllic.
The link takes you to a virtual tour of Hallstatt and the lake, to find out more, see: Hallstatt, Austria Travel Information.
Ok, you've heard of the big Italian lakes like Lake Como, or Lago Maggiore, or Lake Garda. But what's this Lake Massaciuccoli? Well, besides having a name that's fun to pronounce, this is the lake to come for the Puccini Festival in Summer. The rest of the time there's a fine "oasis" called Oasi di Massaciuccoli, a wetland park on the other side of the lake popular with photographers and bird watchers.
The link takes you to a virtual tour of Lake Massaciuccoli and Terre del Lago Puccini, to find out more, see: Torre del Lago Puccini Travel Guide.
The Lake District is England's most densely populated national park, but there are no cities,large towns or major roads to ruin the landscape, which includes over 50 lakes.
Here are the Italian Lakes you know: Como, Orta, and Garda. Click the link for maps and visitor information for Italy's most famous lakes.
Finland is called "The Land of the 1,000 lakes", but in fact the country has more than 188,000 lakes with 98,000 islands, according to 10 Fun Facts About Scandinavia. For my money, I'd head over to Finland's huge Taiga Forest, home to endangered species like the brown bear and the wolverine, as well as wild forest reindeer and moose. Have a ball with your Travel DSLR in April when the bears awaken. Lots of lakes and bogs in the Taiga Forest.
Out of all the possible candidates for lakes in Switzerland, I've chosen Lake Lugano. Why? Well, it's a darn scenic lake and it spans a couple of countries, Italy and Switzerland. In fact, you can stay on the Italian side of the lake at Ponte Tresa and walk
to Switzerland. Your friends will be impressed. A short train ride brings you to the scenic Swiss city of Lugano from there.
We think of lakes as the dominion of forests and wide open spaces. But lakes also form part of the urban fabric, and Berliners enjoy several lakes in and around Germany's capital.