Forget Lake Como. Lake Orta Is Italy's Affordable Hidden Gem
Photo Credit: Photo credit: Fabio Fistarol

Photo Credit: Photo credit: Fabio Fistarol

Forget Lake Como. Lake Orta Is Italy's Affordable Hidden Gem

Europe , hidden gem , Italy , lake como , italy
Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Nov 17, 2023

Lake Como is one of Italy’s most beautiful bodies of water. Its dramatic scenery against the foothills of The Bergamo Alps is otherworldly. Located in Italy’s Lombardy region, the enchanting landscape found on Lake Como has inspired artists and conjured the wealthy and celebrities into the surrounding towns’ clutches. A-listers such as George Clooney, Madonna, Gianni Versace, and many others have purchased homes along Lake Como’s shores.

The picturesque lake welcomes more than 1.7 million visitors annually and is growing in popularity. As the number of visitors increases, the destination is becoming a talker among social media forums as a place to avoid during peak travel seasons.

While one secret is to visit during the spring and summer when there are fewer people, a better alternative is to skip Lake Como for another hidden gem: Lake Orta.

Where Is Lake Orta and How To Get There?

Lake Orta is in Italy’s Piedmont Region or Piemonte, as Italians say. It’s the second largest region after Sicily. Located in the north, Piedmont borders France to its west, Switzerland to the north, and Lombardy to the east.

Orta San Giulio, Pettenasco, Gozzano, San Maurizio d’Opaglio, Miasino, Novara, and Pella are all cities that surround the lake. The quickest and most efficient way to visit Lake Orta is by flying into Milan Malpensa Airport, renting a car, and driving into Orta San Giulio. The drive will take a little less than 1.5 hours.

If renting a car is not an option, Trenitalia and Trenitalia Intercity operate a train from Milano Centrale and Orta-Miasino stations.

What To Eat While Visiting Lake Orta

Ranked as Italy’s most romantic Italian lake, Lake Orta is the perfect destination for couples. It’s also an excellent place for solo travelers who want to reconnect with nature and for families who love outdoor adventure.

A top experience around the lake is, of course, the beaches. The towns surrounding Lake Orta offer various beaches to choose from. Lido di Gozzano Beach, near Gozzano, is a sandy beach surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops. Riviera Beach and the Beaches of San Maurizio Opaglio are closest to Orta San Giulio, where there’s no shortage of fun or food when exploring these beaches.

For people who want to relax and eat on the beach, the best restaurant to explore is Restaurant Lido di Gozzano. You can leave your beach chair for food and drinks. Restaurant Pizzeria il Cormorano is where your dreams of eating pizza while enjoying beautiful views will be fulfilled.  The restaurant offers the perfect views of the lake accented by beautiful and lush greenery. Verum restaurant is a creative space where nature is the centerpiece. It’s a whimsical venue that uses the charms from surrounding towns as inspiration. L’Imbarcadero Restaurant is an excellent option with incredible views for travelers who want to sample the lake fish.

What To Do and See While Visiting Lake Orta

Lake Orta is full of outdoor activities across the four seasons. There are winter sports to enjoy at the beautiful peaks to ski and snowboard. Alagna Monterosa, Macugnaga, San Domenico, Riale, and Domo Bianca are some of the popular ski resorts.

Outside the ski resorts are dozens of bike and hiking trails. One fun hike is Indigo Ring where hikers will be surrounded by hills and a tranquil landscape of nature, Pella-Egri-Ronco is an excellent hike for people who don’t mind a little bit of a challenge. The hike uphill is not the easiest but offers fantastic lake views once hikers reach the top.

The Basilica of the island of San Giulio, the painted village known as Legro, and the Tower of Buccione are all cultural attractions. For a quirky museum experience, The Gignese Museum is the only one in the world devoted to umbrellas and parasols.

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