Top international lakes to visit
Couple weeks a go 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.