What makes a destination romantic? A place with uncanny natural beauty? A place where you can escape the hustle of life and slow down? A place where you can find isolation from crowds? A place where you can savor a delicious meal under the moonlight?
These three European lakes may not have the reputation for romance like the famous cities of Paris and Venice, but it’s impossible to visit any of these destinations without falling in love.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Slovenia is certainly not at the top of most tourists’ European bucket lists, but those who do dream of Slovenia often imagine the gorgeous Lake Bled. Lake Bled sits in the Northwest region of the country. The lake is characterized by crystal-clear emerald-green waters and a backdrop of the snow-capped Julian Alps. Top that off with a picture-perfect church on an island and a medieval castle perched on the rocky cliffs above. It’s like a scene from a postcard.
Take a stroll along the 3.7-mile loop around the lake to soak in the scenery. You can also kayak, hike, visit the castle and church, or just enjoy lakeside meals with your loved ones.
Lake Bled is only a 45-minute drive from the capital city of Ljubljana and one hour from the Vipava wine region, so it's easy to see it all in one trip.
Lake Annecy, France
Imagine the turquoise canals of Venice amplified with a backdrop of the Alps. Annecy is a less crowded version of Venice situated in southeastern France. You can kayak in the pristine and calm waters of Lake Annecy, hike in the mountains above for an unparalleled view over the lake and city, or walk through canal-lined cobblestone streets and admire the pastel houses and bright flowers. If you’re a history buff, visit the 12th century Palais de l’Isle or one of the many churches. And if relaxation is your only goal, nothing beats sitting outside eating Raclette (a delectable melted Swiss cheese served by scraping the gooey cheese off a large cheese block as it oozes onto your plate) and soaking in the views.
The easiest way to get to Annecy is by flying into Geneva and driving 40 minutes across the border. Add on a couple of days in Geneva and you’ll get a taste of two cultures!
Lake Iseo, Italy
Northern Italy near the border with Switzerland is famous for its lakes. Most tourists flock to the world renowned vacation home of George Clooney, Lake Como. However, to both the east and west of Lake Como lie less touristy lakes that are just as beautiful, yet a little more tranquil and romantic. Lake Iseo is one of these gems. It’s speckled with a few small lakeside villages full of cobblestone streets and the unique island of Monte Isola, the largest inhabited lake island in southern Europe. Monte Isola is only three kilometers across and is inhabited by just 2,000 residents. With no cars, it’s the perfect place to take a stroll and explore the well-preserved medieval castle, Rocca Martinengo and many churches from the 15th-17th centuries.
Venture beyond the lake and you’ll find a charming countryside full of medieval architecture and the spectacular vineyards of Franciacorta.
Easily accessible, the area is only about an hour train ride from Milan. It’s affordable too. For about $50 a night you can stay at a lovely Airbnb with a balcony overlooking the lake or even on the island of Monte Isola. For that price, why not go?!
Rest assured, visit any of these three lakes and you will be smitten.
Are there any other European lake towns that have stolen your heart?