When you think of sailing, the image of a sailboat gliding across the calm waters of a lake might not be the first thing that comes to mind. While the thrill of the open ocean is alluring, a lake can offer a different kind of experience. If you want a more peaceful trip out on the water, look no further than a European lake holiday. Without the unpredictability of strong tides and waves, even novice sailors can find their sea legs on these peaceful inland waters.
If you’re eager to take the helm without a skipper, confirm with the boat owner that your boating license matches the boat you’re renting. Discover some of the best lakes in Europe for a unique sailing adventure that the whole family can enjoy with Click&Boat.
Lake Annecy, France
Annecy feels like it’s been plucked from the pages of a fairy tale. The quaint town and its surrounding Haute-Savoie region are adorned with colourful houses, flower-filled window boxes, medieval chateaus, and charming squares. This creates a surreal and dreamlike ambience, intriguing travellers from all around the world. At the heart of this enchanting region lies Lake Annecy, one of Europe’s cleanest lakes.
Although Lake Annecy is relatively small at just 27.59 square kilometres, its beauty is nothing short of majestic. It sits at the foothills of the French Alps and is fed by mountain springs. The freshwater lake’s striking turquoise and sapphire tones are made even more beautiful by the backdrop of lush, pine-clad mountaintops. Regardless of the season, Lake Annecy is a sought-after sailing destination with so much to see and do.
Why is Lake Annecy so popular?
In the summer, you can sail on the lake and swim in the warm water, which hovers at around 20 degrees. You’ll also be able to practice watersports like paddleboarding and wakeboarding. With its reputation as the cleanest freshwater lake in Europe, Lake Annecy is a prime spot for freshwater snorkelling. You can spot various types of fish like blenny, tench and crayfish. When you’re done, picnic in the Gardens of Europe with a basket of local cheeses and chocolate.
In the winter, Lake Annecy transforms into a silver-hued wonderland with views of the snow-capped Tournette Mountain. Sail along the chilly water and see the Pont des Amours, known as Lover’s Bridge. Legend has it that if two lovers kiss while standing on the bridge, they will be together forever! When you’re done on the lake, explore Annecy town. Explore the labyrinth of canals carved in this enchanting village, rightfully nicknamed “The Venice of the Alps.”
Lake Como, Italy
James Bond fans will recognise some sights in Lake Como, the third-largest lake in Italy and one of the most famous lakes in Europe. This lake is a haven for the elegant and the wealthy, dotted with neoclassical villas and luxury cars. It’s no wonder that hundreds of celebrities flock to its shores every year. However, despite this, Lake Como retains its authenticity. With sleepy villages and family-owned trattorias serving homemade cuisine, Lake Como is a world within a world waiting to be explored on a sailing getaway.
What is the best town around Lake Como?
This long and slender lake stretches through many rainbow-coloured towns which embellish the shoreline. The most iconic tourist hub in Lake Como is Bellagio, a gorgeous lakeside town that attracts celebrities during their holidays. Here, you’ll find meticulously landscaped gardens and dramatic mountain vistas. You’ll also see historic villas and former residences of famous artists and writers.
If you have time, venture into Lake Como’s “Golden Triangle”. Menaggio is perfect for nature enthusiasts, offering both water activities and hiking opportunities. Swimming and waterskiing are popular, or you can go hiking along one of the various trails. Sailing to Varenna, you can visit the Castello di Vezio, where you’ll uncover the legend of the Lariosaurus, an ancient sea reptile. Alternatively, take a leisurely stroll along the Passeggiata degli innamorati, “The Walk of Lovers.”
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
No list of lakes in Europe would be complete without the crescent-shaped Lake Geneva. The lake curves along the French border, making way for dramatic scenery all around. On the French side, the snow-covered peak of Mont Blanc commands attention, while the Swiss side boasts the rugged Jura Mountains. Spanning over 500 km², Lake Geneva is Central Europe’s largest lake and has amazing destinations to explore on your lakeside sailing adventure!
How do you enjoy Lake Geneva?
Of course, no trip to Lake Geneva is complete without a trip to its namesake city. While in Geneva, you can see the famous Jet d’Eau, one of the tallest fountains in the world. A few metres away lies the Bains des Pâquis, a city beach perfect for sunbathing and watersports. Try your hand at wakeboarding, windsurfing, scuba diving and stand-up paddleboarding. If you’re up for the challenge, you can paddleboard across the lake to Tropic Corner. Here, you can admire the sunset before experiencing the city’s vibrant nightlife.
But it doesn’t stop at Geneva! Visit other lakeside cities like Laussane. While there, stroll through the old town district to see charming architecture. You’ll also savour culinary delights in the local restaurants. If you fancy something more musical, you can head to Montreux. This cosy resort town has an illustrious history of hosting famous poets and musicians, including the rock band Queen. Finally, no trip to Lake Geneva is complete without a stop at Chillon Castle. This is the veritable jewel of Switzerland, dating back to the 13th century. It doesn’t hurt that it also boasts spectacular views of the mountain and the lake.
Other amazing lakes in Europe
There are so many beautiful lakes in Europe, we can’t go into detail about all of them! Here are some other iconic lakes to explore on your next European lake adventure!