You don’t have to trek to the ocean to enjoy a day at the beach. Lakes are a great destination for relaxing, canoeing, or just taking a dip. Plus, lakes are usually composed of freshwater, meaning you won’t emerge covered in crusty salt like you might after swimming in a saline sea. And while beach towns are cute, lakeside towns can offer a more sophisticated, quirky charm. Keep reading to learn about the most beautiful lakeside towns to visit.
This UNESCO heritage site in Austria is Europe’s oldest inhabited settlement. On a still day, the glassy lake is like a mirror, reflecting the colorful Alps and the charming houses built directly into the cliffs. Don’t expect too much hustle or bustle in this sleepy lake town–it’s the place to visit if you want to forget about the rush of the real world.
If you really want solace, consider avoiding the more popular European destinations, and discover the elegant calm of Lake Ohrid. This oldest and deepest body of water in Europe straddles the mountainous border between Macedonia and Albania. Spend a day in the peaceful town of Ohrid, Macedonia for a perfect antidote to your everyday worries.
Not far from the busy metropolis of Lyon is the quaint town of Talloires, home to Lake Annecy, one of France’s great hidden treasures. This picturesque town is mostly occupied by locals, and is an ideal place to indulge in a Michelin-star meal, laze on the shore or jump into the crystal blue waters.
Lake Como, Italy
Want to vacation like the stars do? Head to Lake Como, a favorite getaway for some of the world’s wealthiest celebrities. Don’t be surprised if you run into George Clooney on your tour of Il Giardino Della Valle, a small garden next to the lake in the Lombardi region of Italy.
Lake Bled, Slovenia is one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in the entire world. The turquoise waters are like something out of a storybook, and they surround an equally-picturesque island that hosts a stunning 17th century church. You can reach the island by rowboat, or via pletna, a €12 water taxi that carries about 20 travelers at once. High above the lake, you’ll find the amazingly-preserved Bled Castle, a relic of the Middle Ages. Visit at sunrise or sunset for the best views.