Lake Maggiore, Italy
There are few travel experiences as rewarding as a road trip, especially when done on a grander scale. Personally, I love an adventure, and try to get out there and see as much of the world as possible whenever I can. With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, it takes just 35 minutes to cross the Channel, which means that Europe really is your oyster. So why not take advantage of this amazing continent and set off on a longer road trip, and really open Europe up. I have recently returned from an amazing road trip holiday around the Italian lakes, and to help get you inspired, I've decided to share some of the highlights of my journey with you.
The main town on Lake Maggiore is Stresa, which is conveniently located on the western side of the lake making it an easy destination to drive to from France. This pretty little town is perfectly situated for watching the sunrise come up over the lake, which is worth getting up for even if you're not naturally an early bird.
Stresa and Lake Maggiore were popular with Nobel Prize-winning author, Ernest Hemingway, who enjoyed the elegance and tranquillity of the area. To experience life at the slower pace of a bygone era, take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town. Or to revel in its grandeur, hop on one of the boats ferrying people across to the charming Borromean Islands, particularly the landscaped gardens on Isola Bella.
Lake Como is probably the most popular lake destination in Italy and for good reason. It is absolutely stunning. With its dramatic backdrop of the Rhaetian Alps, still capped in snow, Lake Como makes an idyllic setting for a romantic retreat with a loved one. So why not hire a boat for the day, pack a little picnic, and head out on the water to explore.
Lake Como, Italy
Como is the lake's main town, where you can enjoy an afternoon of shopping in the centre, or even catch a fast train down to Milan if you fancy more of a spree! For a truly romantic setting, though, head a little further up to Bellagio. Get tickets to one of the fascinating guided tours of Villa Serbelloni, or simply stroll hand in hand along the lakeshore.
The biggest, and one of the most popular lakes in Italy, Lake Garda makes for the perfect family retreat. If you're travelling with kids during the summer months, make sure you plan a day out to Gardaland. One of the most popular theme parks in Europe, Gardaland knows how to draw in the crowds, with over 3 million visitors trying out its 32 rides.
Lake Garda, Italy
For those of you looking for something a little slower paced, then base yourself in the delightful little village of Sirmione. Spend some time wandering around the higgledy-piggledy streets dipping in and out of curious shops. To really relax, claim yourself a little patch of beach on which to sunbathe near the castle, or visit the incredible natural thermal spa, and take a dip in the delightful 37°C waters.
Driving to the Italian lakes with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
Although it's a long drive to the Italian lakes, it happens to be really straightforward and really beautiful. From Calais, join up with the European Route E17, which will take you down the length of the country as far as Dijon, where you then diverge. Pick up the A39 and at Junction 7 exit onto the A391, which will take you to the N83 that in turn leads to the N5. You will then need to drive via the smaller country roads towards the border with Switzerland, where you can pick up the European Route E23 as far as Lausanne. From here, it's an easy drive along the European Route E62, which will take you over the Italian border all the way to Stresa on Lake Maggiore. You're then free to explore the rest of the beautiful Italian lakes at your leisure - buone vacanze!
Lake Maggiore, Italy © Yaniv Ben-Arie
Lake Como, Italy © Lorenzo
Lake Garda, Italy © Son of Groucho