7 lakeside holidays away from crowded coasts

Photo of Jacob LewisPhoto of Jacob Lewis
By Jacob Lewis

3 June 20244 min read

A view of the Lac de Sainte-Croix in Provence, France

Lac de Sainte-Croix The aquamarine waters of this Provence lake are hard to resist.

Looking to mix up your usual beach holiday? We know sun, sand and sea are alluring, but sometimes it's nice to swap the crowded coastline for a more tranquil and nature-oriented escape.

The good news is, you don't have to venture far from your favourite coastal destinations to discover these inland gems. Whether you're soaking up the sun on the Costa del Sol, exploring the Algarve’s coast, or living the high life on the French Riviera, these gorgeous lakeside alternatives are just a stone's throw away from popular beach hotspots across Europe.

The best part? These lake escapes are conveniently located near an airport that serves its popular coastal counterpart, making it easy to tweak your trip. Who knows, you might just discover a new favourite holiday spot…

1. Swap the Costa del Sol for Lake Viñuela, Málaga

Sun-seekers flock to the Costa del Sol's beaches, but less than an hour from Málaga is the turquoise charm that is Lake Viñuela. This stunning reservoir is a brilliant respite from crowded coastal resorts and a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the authentic Andalusian countryside.

Embrace the slower pace of life as you explore the lake's shoreline, dotted with olive groves and almond trees, and tuck into the region's renowned cuisine like gazpacho and local olive oil.

Be sure to check the water levels, as they can fluctuate.

2. Swap the Algarve’s coast for Barragem da Bravura

Set in the Algarve’s undulating countryside, emerald Barragem da Bravura near Lagos beckons with its untouched natural charms.

Surrounded by rolling hills of eucalyptus and pine trees, this secluded lake is a paradise for outdoorsy types – think challenging hiking trails, thrilling cliff-jumping spots and pristine waters perfect for a refreshing swim.

As you explore the lake's rugged surroundings, you'll find that you’re not even missing those beach crowds.

3. Swap the French Riviera for Lac de Sainte-Croix, Provence

Away from the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera is the breathtaking beauty of Lac de Sainte-Croix in Provence.

This man-made lake’s mesmerising aquamarine waters serve as a gateway to the jaw-dropping Verdon Gorge, which you can discover via a kayaking or paddleboarding adventure through its towering limestone cliffs.

As the sun sets, unwind in one of the nearby villages to sample the region's lavender-infused delicacies.

4. Swap the Amalfi Coast for Lago di Scanno, Abruzzo

Seeking a romantic escape from the Amalfi Coast's lively-but-cramped beach scene? Lago di Scanno in Abruzzo is an enchanting alternative.

Legend has it that this heart-shaped lake was formed by a lovestruck witch and its beauty certainly casts a spell on those who visit.

Take a leisurely boat ride across the lake's mirror-like surface, or explore ancient ruins and monasteries that dot the surrounding hillsides. Nearby villages like Scanno itself are just as photogenic.

5. Swap Croatia’s Adriatic for the Baćina Lakes, Dalmatia

Discover a side to Croatia that few beachgoers ever experience at the stunning Baćina Lakes.

One of Croatia’s best-kept secrets, these seven interconnected lakes in Dalmatia are a haven for wildlife, boasting a diverse array of bird species and lush vegetation.

Try your hand at fishing, stand-up paddleboarding or simply float in the crystal-clear waters with nothing but nature to keep you company.

6. Swap Corfu’s beaches for Lake Korission

Corfu's beaches are endlessly appealing, but they’re no match for Lake Korission for an eco experience.

Tucked away on the southwest coast of the island, this protected reserve is a nature-lover’s dream. Birdwatchers will love the diverse array of species that call the lake home, including cormorants and flamingoes, while hikers can explore the lush vegetation and sandy dunes that surround the waters.

7. Swap Majorca’s coast for Gorg Blau and Cúber Lakes, Serra de Tramuntana

Escape the busy beaches of Majorca and venture into the island's heart, where the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range hides a treasure: the Gorg Blau and Cúber Lakes.

Rocky shorelines and fluctuating water levels mean they’re not best for swimming in, but for outdoorsy adventures, they’re a brilliant alternative to the island’s coastal resorts. Bring your hiking boots to explore the trails that wind through the rugged landscape, or pack a picnic and find a quiet spot to take in the breathtaking views.

For a taste of authentic Majorca, stay in or visit the quiet towns of Sóller and Fornalutx.

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