Photo by Jason Thomas
Photo by Jason Thomas

European Getaways: Dazzling lakes

by Mary Del Rosario
Stripes Europe

Now that the days of defrosting your windshields and hibernating for the winter are thankfully a thing of the past, it’s time to fill your travel plans with being surrounded by pristine travel destinations. From beautiful nature, much-welcomed sunshine and a vast amount of history — Europe is the best place to spring into adventure. For a chance to get away from everyday life, literally test the waters and escape to Europe’s most dazzling lakes. 

Lake Bled 

The Slovenian resort town, Bled, possesses a prized treasure — Lake Bled. Gorgeous views of the Julian Alps and the Karavanke serve as the backdrop when you step foot into this stunning blue-green, glacial lake. Active pastimes include taking a pletna, a traditional wooden boat around the lake, cycling, walking along the 6-kilometer paved trail, hiking and swimming. A good way to get your steps in is by climbing 99 steps up the Baroque Stairway to the Church of Assumption, a picturesque church in the middle of the lake. Once you’ve had your day’s worth of exercise, relax in the northeastern part of the lake’s thermal springs. 

For notable sights, take a look at Bled Castle, the oldest castle in Slovenia. This castle is thought to produce the most romantic view, hence why many weddings take place here. Be sure to also ring the wishing bell in the castle before you leave as it is said to make your wish come true! The Bled cream cake is also something you should get your hands on because its golden crust, whipped cream and butter dough makes this treat unique to Slovenia. 

Lake Como 

Situated in Italy’s Lombardy region, Lake Como is the perfect getaway for those who enjoy luxury. This chic resort town is filled with activities such as swimming, sailing, shopping and eating all the pasta to your heart’s content. Like many Italian cities straddling water, its views are breathtaking with its lush green mountains and iconic villas. 

Since Lake Como is close to the Swiss border, hopping village to village is a must-do activity. The best way for town-hopping is by ferry. While making your rounds to these lakeside towns, be sure to visit Como, the regional capital, Bellagio, Menaggio, Varenna and Tremezzo. Of course, to live up to its luxuriousness, visiting Villa del Balbianello is a must as it was featured in Casino Royale! 

Lake Constance 

Lake Constance, or the Bodensee, is Central Europe’s third largest lake that straddles three countries: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In this convenient, strategic location, this clear-blue lake is teeming with nature and clouds of white sails from the sailboats passing by. Activities in Lake Constance include various types of water sports and activities such as swimming, sailing, stand up paddling (SUP), wind sailing, canoeing and more. 

Aside from the marine pastimes, highlights include strolling the island of Mainau, touring the Zeppelin Museum, traveling to Liechtenstein, taking the children to Affenberg Salem where they can feed monkeys, hiking and visiting beautiful sites such as the Abbey of St. Gall and Reichenau. 

For the foodies, have a gourmet experience at the San Martino Gourmet, an elegant Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s best to book in advance as this restaurant only accepts 16 people at a time for its gourmet menu! For the wine aficionados, try the Müller-Thurgau and Blauburgunder – Pinot noir which is produced in Lake Constance. 

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