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Lake Iseo, Italy

Hidden Lakes of Northern Italy

11-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,775 pp incl. flights


Short description

Experience the picturesque beauty of the Italian Lakes without the tourist rush


  • Discover four of Italy's hidden gems – Iseo, Lugano, Orta & Varese
  • Stop in at Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore on your scenic driving route
  • Stay in unique lakeside accommodation
  • Discover a blend of Swiss and Italian culture in border-straddling towns

In Brief

  • 3 Nights Lake Iseo
  • 2 Nights Lake Lugano
  • 3 Nights Lake Orta
  • 2 Nights Lake Varese


Recommended for:
Food & wine | History & culture | Natural world | Relaxation | Self-drive

The Italian lakes are a hotspot for tourists, but stepping a little off the beaten track will see you discover some of Europe's most beautiful scenery without the crowds. This self-drive itinerary includes visits to the big-hitters Como and Maggiore, but you'll stay at four of the lesser known lakes – Iseo, Lugano, Orta and Varese. Their sparkling waters and mountainous backdrops are just as appealing, and with stays at lakeside properties or historic villas you'll find yourself immersed in Italian – and Swiss – culture. 

Day by day itinerary

Days 1-3
UK to Verona & Lake Iseo

Enjoy complimentary airport lounge access before boarding your flight to Verona, where you'll pick up your hire car. You're headed today for Lake Iseo, but along the way, stop at the southern tip of Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian Lakes. Charming towns surround its tranquil mirrored waters; you might want to pause at Peschiera del Garda for lunch on the harbour or sit on the beach at Rivoltella del Garda for a while. Then, continue onwards to Lake Iseo, an unspoilt gem near the wine region of Franciacorta. It's also home to the biggest inhabited lake island in southern Europe. 

Stay: Lake Hotel La Pieve, Pisogne, Lake Iseo (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 4-5
Lake Iseo to Lake Lugano

Today you'll leave the picturesque shores of Lake Iseo and drive past the southern tip of Lake Como, bypassing Milan. Stop in Como's town centre in the foothills of the Alps, where you can take a boat trip on the lake and visit the Gothic Como Cathedral before continuing your journey north. En-route to Lake Lugano, follow the beautiful western coast of Lake Como as far as Menaggio, perhaps take a break to explore the historic lakeside Villa Carlotta, or take a ferry across to Bellagio. Then cross the mountains to Porlezza at the northern point of Lake Lugano. Enjoy the spectacular waterfront, charming old towns and regional markets over the next two days. You'll hop in and out of Switzerland, as the lake straddles both countries.

Stay: Parco San Marco Resort, Porlezza, Lake Lugano (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 6-8
Lake Lugano to Lake Orta

This morning you'll take the scenic drive to the northern point of Lake Maggiore, also bordering both Italy and Switzerland – if you wish to extend your stay here, we recommend a couple of nights at the Grand Majestic. Then, you'll head down Lake Maggiore's western banks and branch off to Lake Orta for your final three nights. This sparkling gem is such a well kept secret that many Italians don't know about it, so it has an authentic, untouched feel, with less crowds than the bigger lakes. And, in the centre of the lake is the Isola San Giulio, reachable by boat from the town square and well worth the trip.

Stay: Hotel San Rocco, Orta San Giulo, Lake Orta (Superior) 

Meals: B

Days 9-10
Lake Orta to Lake Varese

This morning head south from Lake Orta and travel around the southern tip of Lake Maggiore crossing the border between Lombardy and Piedmont Region. The recommended route will take you between two of the Italy's smallest lakes - Lake Comabbio and Lake Monate. Your final stop is the the city of Varese, also known as the “Garden City” for its beautiful villas that the aristocracy of the time had built there between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries with their gardens stretching down to the shores of Lake Varese. Explore the Villa Panza surrounded by a perfect example of an Italian garden.

Next day visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sacro Monte, in the Campo dei Fiori Regional Natural Park. Go up the Via Sacra, famous for its 14 Chapels, until you reach the village of Santa Maria del Monte, with its Sanctuary, the Pogliaghi Museum, the Baroffio Museum, the Romite Ambrosiane Monastery and its picturesque bars and restaurants overlooking the Valley.

Stay: Palace Grand Hotel Varese, Lake Varese (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 11
Return to the UK

This morning, drive to Milan to drop your hire car and head back to the UK. Alternatively, extend your stay with a couple of nights in cosmopolitan Milan, Italy's fashion and design capital.



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

11-day tailor-made self-drive
from £1,775 pp incl. flights


May / September

from £1,775 pp. incl. flights

June - August

from £2,140 pp. incl. flights


  • Complimentary access to airport departure lounge
  • Return flights from UK to Verona and returning from Milan
  • 11 days car hire in an Economy vehicle including one way drop fee
  • 3 nights accommodation Lake Iseo on a BB basis
  • 2 nights accommodation Lake Lugano on a BB basis
  • 3 nights accommodation Lake Orta on a BB basis
  • 2 nights accommodation Lake Varese on a BB basis

Selected accommodation is subject to availability

This itinerary focuses on Italy's smaller lakes, however the route takes you along the shores of Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, and stays at our preferred properties on these lakes can be added.

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0796 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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