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The Best & Worst Times to Visit the Italian Lakes in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit the Italian Lakes in 2024

What's the best time to visit the Italian Lakes?

For swimming and water sports, summer is the best time to visit the Italian Lakes, with July and August providing warm temperatures in the low 80s Fahrenheit. However, this period also attracts peak crowds. To enjoy scenic views and explore towns with fewer tourists, late spring, particularly April to May, is ideal, offering mild weather, blooming landscapes, and cultural events like the Colnago Cycling Festival.

The Italian Lakes region is one of the most scenic in the world, so it’s no wonder that it’s also one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Lake Como is famous for its glamorous villas and towns like Bellagio, where you can experience a taste of the high life and spot a celebrity or two.

Lake Garda is a favorite with local families, while Lake Maggiore is for athletic types. The region also has many other beautiful, smaller lakes, perfect for a relaxing getaway in stunning Alpine scenery.

The Italian Lakes are very popular, which means that it’s important that you pick the right time to go so you can have a good time and still enjoy good weather. Keep reading for tips on when to go, including tips on when to beat the crowds.

Overall Best Time to Visit the Italian Lakes

View of Lake Como pictured during the best time to visit Italian Lakes in the late spring, with flowers blooming and boats on the water


The best time to visit the Italian Lakes if you were hoping to go for a swim is during the summer, while if you were just hoping to enjoy the scenery, late spring is the best time to go.

The Italian Lakes are located in the northern Italian region of Lombardy and surrounded by the Alps, which means that the climate is a bit cooler than the Italian coast or other regions such as Sicily.

In April and May, average high temperatures are in the mid to high 60s, although the nights can get chilly. Things warm up by the summer. In July and August, the average daily high temperatures are in the low 80s on the Fahrenheit scale.

The water temperature in the lakes is at its warmest, making this the best time of the year for swimming, kayaking, water skiing, and a whole host of other sports that you can try out on the lakes.

Many businesses around the Italian Lakes operate seasonally, so you’ll have the most things to do in the summer. Most companies that rent water sports equipment or offer lessons only work during the summer.

Kid-friendly attractions, such as the famous Gardaland water park, are only open from late May until mid-September. However, the downside of visiting in the summer is that many other people agree that this is the best time to visit the Italian Lakes. The crowds are at an all-time high, as are most prices.

If you didn’t want to go swimming and just wanted to explore the picturesque towns around the lakes, then the best time to visit is in late spring, after Easter. The weather is mild, perfect for going for a stroll or even a hike.

After Easter, the tourist season officially kicks off, which means that by May even most seasonal businesses are open. The Italian Lakes are particularly beautiful in the spring, when the wildflowers on the Alpine hills and the trees in the towns are in bloom.

If you want to get the best pictures — without crowds of tourists in your way — visit in late April or May. There are also great events around the Italian Lakes in the spring, mostly celebrating sports as well as local culture.

Popular events include:

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Italy & The Best Time to Visit Lake Como

Cheapest Time to Visit the Italian Lakes

Gorgeous gardens alonside Riva del Garda in Trentino pictured during the best time to visit Italian Lakes


The cheapest time to visit the Italian Lakes is in the early fall when you can get discounts on hotels, thanks to the off-season. Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses when traveling to the Italian Lakes, so to save money, travel when hotels offer discounts.

Fall is the most affordable time to visit in terms of accommodation. Hotels in towns such as Stresa offer discounts of 20% to 30% on rates, and even more when compared to peak season prices.

Some travelers think that the winter is the best time to go to the Italian Lakes to save money, but that’s not true. Many hotels close for the off-season, which means that you have far fewer choices for accommodation.

In terms of transportation, most international visitors to the Italian Lakes fly into Milan Malpensa airport. The cheapest flights from North America are in January and February, but you can also save lots of money on flights in early spring and late fall, especially from Europe.

Least Busy Time to Visit the Italian Lakes

Old town and port of Mandello del Lario pictured during the least busy time to visit the Italian Lakes, the fall


The least busy time to visit the Italian Lakes is during the winter, but you can also beat the crowds in the fall. Some say that fall is even the most beautiful time to visit the Italian Lakes.

The warm weather lasts into September, although the crowds tend to go home by late August. By late September, the weather is chillier and the leaves start to turn.

It is a beautiful time to go hiking in the hills above the Italian Lakes and truly enjoy the solitude of nature. Autumn is wine season in Italy, and the hills around the Italian Lakes are covered with wineries.

Visit during this time and you’ll get to take in amazing wine festivals like the Bardolino Grape and Wine Festival, in late September and early October, and taste the first of the season’s vintages.

For the absolute least busy time to visit the Italian Lakes, come during the winter. In January and February, there are very few tourists in the area. Keep in mind that many tourist-related businesses also close during this time.

However, it’s a great time to take in the moody landscapes of the lakes in the winter and maybe do a local homestay or agrotourism, where you stay on a local farm.

Worst Time to Visit the Italian Lakes

Public diving board on Lake Orta pictured with fog on the horizon for a piece on the best time to visit the Italian Lakes

Steve Pez/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit the Italian Lakes is in the winter, when most activities are closed and the weather is dreary, but now many visitors are complaining that summer is the worst due to the crowds.

Winter in the Italian Lakes is quite cold and wet. For example, average January temperatures in Bardolino are in the low 40s, with the highest percentage of cloud coverage. It can get quite rainy during the off-season.

That’s not the best weather for going on a hike or even strolling around the town. You may think that you’ll just spend more time indoors, but that’s not the case in the region.

Most towns are resort towns and live just for the tourist season. Smaller places turn into complete ghost towns in the off-season, even without restaurants that operate all year round.

However, many people are now complaining that summer in the Italian Lakes is becoming unbearable. Day trippers from Milan flood popular lakes such as Lake Como, making it impossible to get a café table, restaurant reservation, or even walk through towns.

Overnight visitors are also plentiful, driving up the price of hotel rooms. If you get a bit creative, you can still enjoy the Italian Lakes during the summer.

Visiting the popular towns earlier in the day allows you to avoid the crowds of day trippers. Choose to base yourself near a less popular lake, like Lake Orta, to get all the best of the Italian Lakes without the crowds.

Things to Consider

Neat aerial shot of Isolo Bella, a town on a lake in Italy


Here are some additional tips to help you pick the best time to visit the Italian Lakes:

  • Book summer trips well in advance. The crowds mean that hotel rooms fill up and raise their prices for last-minute bookings.
  • Bring waterproof gear outside of summer. The landscape is so lush because it rains frequently. Winter is the rainiest season, but spring and fall also see frequent showers.
  • Bring an extra layer. Even in the summer, evenings can get chilly. Keep in mind that you are close to the Alps!

Frequently Asked Questions

Wooden walking path with railings pictured at dusk with the sun setting over still water with mountains in the background for a piece on the least busy time to visit Italian Lakes

Edoardo B/Shutterstock

It’s always good to have more information when planning a trip, so here are some other commonly asked questions about finding the best time to visit the Italian Lakes:

When should I visit the Italian Lakes?

To go swimming, the best time to visit is during the summer. If you mostly want to hike or explore the towns, the best time to visit is in the spring.

What is the best time to visit Lake Como?

The best time to visit Lake Como is in May or June. This is the most popular of the Italian Lakes and gets far too crowded in the summer.

How long do you need in the Italian Lakes?

If you are hoping to explore the entire region, you need at least seven days. If you just want to get a taste of the Italian Lakes, you only need three days.

What is the best time to visit Lake Maggiore?

The best time to visit Lake Maggiore is from May to September. This lake is popular mostly for water sports, which are at their best in the summer.

Which is nicer, Lake Como or Lake Garda?

Lake Como is prettier and has more glamorous towns, while Lake Garda is more family-friendly. The answer ultimately depends on what you’re looking for.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit the Italian Lakes?

When to visit the Italian Lakes depends a lot on what you’re looking for. For the best scenic vistas and strolls, spring is the new best time to visit due to the lack of crowds. If you want to lounge on the beach and don’t mind people, then summer is the best time to visit.

So, with so much to see and do and no bad time to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that the Italian Lakes have to offer. Happy travels!