Top Alpine Lakes

The onset of winter makes us want to curl up by a warm fire and stare out the window at a beautiful view. Of course, at these alpine lakes, there is plenty of outdoor activity all year-round as well. If you’re inclined to just relax with a hot beverage or get out and experience nature, these lakes make for perfect getaways.

Lake Lucerne

With a fjord landscape, mild year-round climate and the city of Lucerne on its shores, Lake Lucerne is a Swiss delight in all seasons. The almost 7,000-foot summit of Mt. Pilatus looms over the lake and plays a key role in the history and folklore of Switzerland. The 44-square-mile lake and its surroundings are a playground for the recreation-mad Swiss, with winter sports in the mountains and biking and cycling along the shore in other seasons.

Lake Tahoe

With clear water and a ring of mountains all around, Lake Tahoe is first and foremost a feast for the eyes. It has plenty to offer your other senses, too, serving as a playground for skiing and other winter sports during cold months and for parasailing and other water sports when the weather turns warm. Elevated hiking and biking trails offer spectacular views, and casinos on the Nevada side of the lake provided entertainment year-round.

Lake Louise

A spectacular emerald color thanks to glacial and rock runoff, Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, is a picture-perfect sight to behold. At almost 6,000 feet of elevation with mountains and trails all around, it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise year-round. In winter, there’s world-class skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog-sledding, and sleigh rides. In summer, there’s canoeing, hiking, and horseback riding, plus the ski gondolas remain in operation to whisk visitors over alpine meadows and babbling brooks.

Lake Titicaca

In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering, and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital.
Lake Wakatipu

In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering, and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital.

Top International Lakes to Visit

Last week we focused on lake destinations in the U.S. in anticipation of Memorial Day. We couldn’t write our favorite domestic spots without also mentioning some great lakes in other corners of the globe. There are few things better than hitting the water on a beautiful sunny day, and these lakes deliver.

 

Lake Como


Northern Italy is full of gorgeous glacial lakes, and Como is the jewel in the crown. With an amazing combination of natural and human-made beauty, it’s impossible to go anywhere without having to stop and marvel. Take a boat over to Bellagio and browse the shop-lined streets for silks before lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina on the lake’s lone island. In between, cruise by the ornate villas replete with perfectly manicured gardens that line the shores, set against the backdrop of alpine foothills.

 

Lake Louise


A spectacular emerald color thanks to glacial and rock runoff, Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, is a picture-perfect sight to behold. You could spend hours just gazing from the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. At almost 6,000 feet of elevation with mountains and trails all around, it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise year-round. In winter, there’s world-class skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog-sledding and sleigh rides. In summer, there’s canoeing, hiking, and horseback riding, plus the ski gondolas remain in operation to whisk visitors over alpine meadows and babbling brooks.

 

Lake Pichola


The lake’s construction in the 14th century inspired the founding of the city of Udaipur, which is today in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and lavish palaces along the shoreline and on islands. The Jagdish Temple dedicated to Vishnu sports a 79-foot high pagoda with ornately carved statues on several levels. The white marble Maharajah’s Palace, mosaiced Winter Palace, yellow sandstone Jag Mandir and granite and marble Jag Niwas (now a hotel) are architectural marvels. The Virtuoso-preferred Leela Palace Udaipur and The Oberoi Udaivillas occupy prime real estate on the shore.

 

Lake Titicaca


Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,507 feet and the largest lake in South America. The lake is a mecca for bird-watchers, the floating islands made of reeds by the pre-Incan Uros people are unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. Ancient temples stand on many of the more than 40 islands in the lake, which has been considered sacred by the several civilizations that have sprung up around it. Virtuoso-preferred Titilaka Relais & Chateaux makes for the perfect base for exploration.

 

Lake Wakatipu


In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering, and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital, while Virtuoso-preferred Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Matakauri Lodge, and Blanket Bay are homes away from home.