Lakes & Mountains: Must-see destinations for summer 2021
Authentic, colourful and bursting with flavour – nothing compares to a Lakes & Mountains holiday. You can spend your days walking mountaintop trails, ferry-hopping between lakeside towns and joining the celebrations at local festivals. So get ready to add somewhere new to your travel wish list as we share some of our best places to go in 2021.
Lake Garda is Italy’s largest and most popular lake. Over a dozen towns and villages dot the shoreline, each with its own look and feel – and with boats and ferries criss-crossing the water, it’s easy to hop between them.
Riva’s a lively medieval town backed by the Italian Alps, on the northern shore of Lake Garda. While you’re here, you can take in the views from the top of the Torre Apponale clock tower and swing by the museum to learn about the history of the town. Afterwards, enjoy people-watching while you sip a limoncello at a harbour-side café. Or if you prefer a little more action, make the most of the excellent wind conditions and try windsurfing or sailing.
Where to stay: Hotel Villa Nicolli
Romantic and peaceful, this family-run pick is perfect for a relaxing couple’s getaway. Spend time unwinding in the excellent hotel spa and enjoy a candlelit dinner in the à la carte restaurant.
Tucked between the rocky cliffs and the lake, Limone is famous for its citrus groves and colourful shuttered houses. Climb the steps to the terraced lemon garden and look out over the terracotta-roofed town, or just find a seat in the shade and enjoy the sweet smell of the fruit. You can find some beautiful shingle beaches here too. Cool off with a refreshing dip then lie back and admire the views of the Monte Baldo mountain range across the water.
Where to stay: Hotel Le Palme
Full of character, Limone’s oldest hotel was originally a 17th-century Venetian villa. After dinner, you can unwind on the sun terrace in the old lemon house and bob along to live music.
With its cobbled streets and pastel-coloured buildings, Malcesine’s one of Lake Garda’s most scenic spots. It’s famous for the Scaliger castle that’s perched on a rocky outcrop in the centre of town – head inside to explore the centuries-old rooms before climbing the tower for panoramic lake views. And don’t miss taking a ride on the rotating cable car to the peak of Monte Baldo. You can sit back and enjoy the changing scenery on the way up, then wander the gentle walking trails at the top or stop for a drink at the summit café.
Where to stay: Hotel Vega
This lakefront hotel has one of the best locations in Malcesine, just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town. When you’re not out and about, you can soak up lake views from the waterside whirlpool.
There’s lots going on in Garda, one of the largest and most popular towns on the lake. The lakeside promenade is the main hub of activity. Also known as the Lungolago di Garda, it stretches for over a mile and is filled with bustling bars and family-run restaurants. Or if you feel like a change of pace, walk along the shoreline to the little village of Punta San Viglio, with its quiet harbour, church and Renaissance-style Villa Guarienti.
Where to stay: Hotel Eden
With its up-to-date décor, the Hotel Eden feels fresh and modern throughout. It’s in a great position overlooking the town, and it even has a rooftop terrace where you can get a drink from the bar and take in far-reaching views.
Dating back to Roman times, this popular pick on the lake’s southern shore is packed with history and culture. You can tour the centuries-old vineyards that surround the town and learn about the winemaking industry, before sampling some of the local vintages. In the evenings, the waterside promenade is the place to be. Enjoy the buzz as locals and visitors mingle to watch buskers and street entertainers, then find a bar where you can watch the sunset with an ice-cold spritz.
Where to stay: Hotel Caesius Thermae & Spa
Surrounded by lush gardens, this hotel has everything you need for a relaxing stay. Take a dip in one of the five pools, sip a refreshing cocktail on a sun lounger or enjoy some pampering in the luxurious spa.
With peaks, meadows and glistening lakes, Austria’s packed full of natural beauty. Add in the excellent hospitality and hearty cuisine, and it’s easy to see why so many people return here year after year.
Cosmopolitan Kitzbühel is known for its upmarket shops and cafés, as well as the medieval church and frescoed buildings that still give it that authentic Austrian feel. Hop on the Hornbahn cable car to wander through the colourful wildflower gardens on the Kitzbühlerhorn mountain above the town. Or spend the day at nearby Lake Schwarzsee, where you can hire a rowing boat to get out onto the water. Back in town, you’ll have no problem finding somewhere for lunch, with everything from fine-dining to home-cooked favourites like dumplings and stew on offer.
Where to stay: Hotel Edelweiss
You won’t have far to go to enjoy hiking trails here – this traditional Tyrolean hotel is just three minutes’ walk from the Hahnenkamm gondola. And it’s run by knowledgeable locals who are keen to share expert tips and help you plan your days out.
St Johann in Tyrol
A laid-back market town, St Johann’s filled with colourfully painted buildings and friendly locals. At its heart, watched over by the twin church spires, is the main square where you can enjoy traditional music and dancing at the weekly open-air concert. The tower of the Huber Bräu brewery is another well-known landmark, and also the best viewpoint in town. Pop in to admire the scenery from the top before visiting the brewery’s restaurant for schnitzel and beer. Afterwards, you can stretch your legs with a leisurely stroll through meadows and woods to one of Austria’s lesser-known spots, the Eifersbach waterfall.
Where to stay: Hotel Park
This hotel is all about the authentic Austrian experience, from the family-run service to the delicious local cuisine. Spend your time here relaxing in the peaceful gardens, or hop on a hotel bike to explore the local area.
Zell am See
This bustling town is set between the Hohe Tauern mountains and Lake Zell. Wander around the car-free streets of the cosmopolitan centre to discover boutiques and pavement cafés, where you can stop to enjoy a slice of strudel as you watch the world go by. Or potter down to the esplanade to set sail on a boat trip around the lake. Cruises leave every hour during the summer, and the boats have open-topped decks where you can enjoy 360° views of meadows and peaks reflected in the clear blue water.
Where to stay: Seehotel Sissi
Set in lush gardens, this hotel has picture-perfect alpine looks, from the bright green shutters to the flower-filled balconies. The location’s great too – lots of the rooms have lake views and you’re just moments from the waterfront and CityExpress gondola.
When it comes to mountain walks, Mayrhofen is hard to beat. Just hop on the Ahornbahn gondola to explore 1,700km of hiking trails that wind among the beautiful peaks of the Zillertal Nature Park. When it’s time for lunch, you can stop off at one of the huts that dot the hillside and fill up on tasty dishes like Zillertaler Krapfen – a savoury cheese-filled doughnut. Staying with the foodie theme, there’s even a walk that takes in the local dairy, where you’ll learn all about the cheese-making process.
Where to stay: Hotel Sport & Spa Strass
Just moments from the centre of Mayrhofen, this is just the place to unwind after a full days walking. Sit back and relax on the sun terraces, find a shaded spot in the gardens or enjoy some pampering in the impressive spa.
Shaped like a wishbone, Lake Como is known for its calm, sophisticated vibe. Europe’s rich and famous have flocked here for centuries, and you can spend your days touring the historical villas and gardens that still dot the shoreline.
This elegant hamlet has hosted some famous visitors over the years, like the writer Mary Shelly and even Queen Victoria. Nowadays, you can enjoy its peaceful atmosphere with a leisurely stroll along the promenade. Then visit the 18th-century Villa Carlotta to admire the beautiful art collection, before exploring the colourful hillside gardens. You could also follow the Greenway del Lago di Como path to the ancient town of Menaggio for an afternoon browsing its small craft boutiques.
Where to stay: Hotel Britannia Excelsior
Stylish and understated, this hotel has a unique claim to fame – it’s got the biggest floating pool in Europe. It sits right on the water of Lake Como, so you can go for a dip then sit back on a sun lounger to enjoy views towards Bellagio on the opposite shore.
Set at the tip of a peninsular, Bellagio is known as the Pearl of Lake Como. And with its pastel-hued buildings and winding cobbled stairways, it’s the kind of place that’ll have you constantly reaching for your camera. Fill your days browsing shops selling silk, glass and olive wood carvings and taking leisurely lunches in waterside trattorias, where lake fish and crisp wines are top of the menu. Passenger ferries head out in all directions from the harbour, so it’s a great base for visiting other spots around the lake too.
Where to stay: Hotel Excelsior Splendide
Locations don’t come much better than this – the hotel’s right in the heart of Bellagio and just metres from the lakefront. Enjoy delicious Italian cuisine in the terrace restaurant and definitely try the homemade ice cream from the hotel’s own gelateria.
Stretching up into Switzerland, this is the most northerly of all the Italian lakes. The shoreline’s scattered with sleepy fishing villages and Belle Époque towns. And out the on the lake, the trio of islands are the jewels of Maggiore’s crown.
Stresa oozes style, from the classical villas to the palm-lined promenade. Enjoy a morning coffee in one of the bustling piazzas, then venture down the maze-like side streets to discover shops selling crafts and local produce. For some of the best views of Lake Maggiore, ride the cable car up to Mount Mottarone. And a boat trip to the Borromean Islands is a must, to see their over-the-top palaces and exotic gardens.
Where to stay: Hotel Grand Bristol
Originally home to an 18th-century nobleman, this grand old hotel is perfectly placed for exploring Stresa and the lake. When you’re not out and about, you can relax in the well-kept gardens or take a dip in the outdoor pool.
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