The city of Rome enjoys a strategic location that allows its inhabitants to reach both the Tyrrhenian coast and the snow-capped mountains of the Apennines in just over an hour. Those who are fond of relaxing landscapes and off-grid attractions and genuine food often prefer to visit one of the many lakes near Rome. The lakes near Rome are the destination mainly of local tourism and are never crowded, except for the central weeks of August. Here are the most beautiful lakes to visit with a day-trip from Rome and how to reach them. Let’s start with the most popular Lake Bracciano and Lake Albano to continue with lakes that you have never heard of. I will also recommend what to do nearby, given that some of the quaintest towns near Rome overlook one of these lakes.
It is imperative that this lake is at the top of the list. Lake Bracciano is super easy to get to and very clean. Fed by underground springs, its waters are punctually extracted to go to supply the taps of the Romans! To keep the ecosystem intact, motorboats are prohibited on Lake Bracciano. Fishing is allowed in specific periods of the year.
The lake is part of the Bracciano and Martignano Regional Park, which also includes another much smaller lake, which I will tell you about in a moment. Lake Bracciano has many beaches and is a perfect place to go to survive the Roman summer.
How to get there from Rome
Take a city train from the stations Valle Aurelia, Trastevere, Ostiense, and get off at Anguillara Sabazia or Bracciano
This is the most famous historical landmark in the Lake Bracciano area. It is a museum with over 20 rooms with original furniture and frescoes from the late Renaissance. From its walls and windows, you can enjoy spectacular views of the lake.
The town of Anguillara Sabazia
This is the fastest point of the lake to reach from Rome. The beaches with and without casual beach clubs are accessible from the historic center of the town. I suggest to stop and taste the fish specialties at the lake restaurant Toto Pescheria.
The town of Trevignano Romano
Here, you’ll find the longest lake promenade, decorated with plants and sculptures, and dotted with plenty of cafes and restaurants.
The picturesque village of artists, perched on a cliff of tufaceous rock and surrounded by a green gorge can be reached in just half an hour from Lake Bracciano.
A few kilometers from Lake Bracciano, there is another lake, hidden among uninhabited and unspoiled hills. Lake Martignano, like Lake Bracciano, was formed with the rains and streams that filled the craters formed by the eruption of volcanoes. This area is also known as the “Sabatino Volcanic District”.
Getting here from the larger lake is an invigorating nature walk of about an hour and a half. You need to bring your own water and snacks. During the warmer months, this is a great place to take a dip and then relax in the shade of the trees. In the spring and fall, there’s a good chance you’ll have the lake to yourself.
How to get there
The fastest way is by private car. Set Lake Martignano on your online maps and then leave the car in the parking space at the entrance of the reserve. Then hike for 45 minutes down to the lake.
by public transport
Get to Aguillara Sabazia by train from Rome (as shown in the above paragraph) and then a bus directed to Molo. Then ask the driver to let you get off at the cross for Martignano, from which you’ll hike for 1.30 h to the lake.
- Agriturismo Il Castoro
- Agriturismo Zugarelli
Walking along the easy path that runs almost entirely along the shores of Lake Albano, you will notice that the shores are very reminiscent of the crater of a volcano. This lake is also part of a volcanic district now extinct, called “Latium volcano”. The shores are covered with thick vegetation, making it a pleasure to practice sports such as running and cycling under the shade of the trees.
This territory was inhabited since ancient times and there are centers of historical, artistic, and natural interest. All these sites are enclosed within the Regional Park of the Roman Castles, which extends around Lake Albano and Lake Nemi to the west.
How to get to Lake Albano from Rome
From the Roma Termini Station, take a train directed to Albano Laziale and get off at Castel Gandolfo Station. Then walk for 500 mt to the shores of the lake.
Villages to visit with picturesque historic centers near Lake Albano
- Castel Gandolfo
- Albano Laziale
- Rocca di Papa
Some historical monuments near the lake:
Nymphaeums of Domitian’s Villa
The shore of the lake was once part of the immense gardens of the villa of the Roman emperor Domitian. Today we can see the remains of those structures that housed the water games carved into the rock. They can be visited on Saturdays at 10 am and 3 pm. The entrance ticket includes a guided tour.
Emissary of Lake Albano
This is a colossal work of hydraulic engineering dating back to the 4th century BC. A 2 km long tunnel carved into the rock that allowed to regulate the waters of the lake to prevent them from overflowing, and it’s still used to irrigate the fields in the area.
Archaeological Area of Tusculum
Here are the remains of houses, temples, a church, and a forum. The ancient Tusculum was inhabited from the 5th century BC until its destruction in 1191.
Villas and Gardens of the Vatican
Where today are the summer residences of the popes, once stood the ancient Alba Longa, the legendary city where Romulus, the first king of Rome came from. Here are also the remains of the Villa of Domitian.
The refined gardens that now belong to the different villas of the Vatican date back to the 17th century. They are included in the territory of the Papal State and you can visit them with a ticket.
The little brother of Lake Albano is Lake Nemi, not far away. Its shores are wild, not anthropized, a destination for those who want to immerse themselves completely in nature and sports. On the shores are the Museum of Roman Ships and the ancient Temple of Diana.
In addition to relaxing and taking a refreshing bath, you can walk from the lake to the village of Nemi, slightly uphill, for about half an hour, and visit the local workshops. From the hamlet, you’ll also be able to admire Lake Nemi from above.
How to reach Lake Nemi from Rome
From Roma Termini take a train to Albano Laziale and then a Cotral Bus to Nemi.
LAKE BOLSENA, BIGGEST LAKE NEAR ROME
This is the largest volcanic lake in Italy and Europe. The visit is especially recommended in the summer when off-grid travelers love to spend entire weeks in the campsites scattered along the shores of the lake. Being rather large, there are long stretches of wild coastline.
A number of picturesque medieval villages overlook the lake, the best kept of which is Bolsena. Bolsena still has part of its walls intact and a fortress or castle that enjoys spectacular views of the lake. If you’re passing through Bolsena, I recommend tasting the local products at the trattoria “I Sapori del Castello”.
In the middle of the lake, there are two islands, Isola Bisentina and Isola Martana, both rich in monuments, but it is not possible to visit them.
How to get to Lake Bolsena from Rome
- The best way to reach and explore Lake Bolsena is by private car.
- Alternatively, there’s a train from Roma Termini to Orvieto and then a bus to Bolsena.
- Otherwise, reach the Cotral Bus station “Saxa Rubra” in northern Rome and get on a bus to Bolsena, it takes 2 hours (routes are limited, so check the schedule with the driver to arrange the return).
What to see in the surroundings of Lake Bolsena
- Etruscan Museum in the Rocca Monaldeschi
- The historical center of Capodimonte
- The historical center of Marta
- Tour of the lake by boat to see closely the shores of the two tiny islets
LAKE GIULIANELLO, TINY SECRET LAKE NEAR ROME
This small volcanic lake is located halfway between the better known Velletri and Rocca Massima, which are some of Italy’s hidden gems. Only the locals come to this lake, it is completely surrounded by nature and separated from the main road by a country road. This place is perfect for meditating, doing yoga and bathing, walking your dog, sitting with a bottle of wine, and breathing deeply.
If you visit Lake Giulianello during the week you will probably be the only visitor. Of all the lakes near Rome I’ll mention, this one, together with Lake Martignano, are the ones that are truly off-the-beaten-path.
How to reach Lake Giulianello
Train from Roma Termini to Velletri and then a Cotral Bus from Velletri to Cori (tell the driver to drop you at Giulianello). Then hike for 40 minutes to the lake.
What to see and do near Lake Giulianello
Enjoy an aperitif at Bar Volo while you take in the breathtaking from Rocca Massima, where the zipline “the flight of the peregrine falcon” starts, a perfect experience for adrenaline seekers.
Admire the view from the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia in Palestrina
The ruins of this Roman temple, built on 6 terraces, date back to the Republican era (2nd century B.C.) and are dedicated to Fortuna, the goddess of chance and fate. From the highest terrace, you can enjoy a spectacular view up to Rome. Today on the last terrace there is a baroque palace, Palazzo Barberini, that houses the Archaeological Museum.
Lake Barrea is one of the most visited places in the Abruzzo National Park. Although it is located in a different region than the city of Rome, it is worth renting a car and getting up early in order to explore the lake and its surroundings. Local travelers come here in all seasons to breathe in the pure mountain air and photograph the wildlife, such as deer, chamois, and wolves, that roam undisturbed.
The lake is located almost 1000 meters above sea level.
If you make it this far, walk along one of the many paths that start from the shores of the lake, there are from the most to the least challenging. It is also worth visiting the village of 600 inhabitants that gives its name to the lake, Barrea, its historic center equipped with an ancient castle.
How to reach
Train from Rome to Pescara, get off at Avezzano, and take a TUA Bus to Barrea.
Lake Vico is located halfway between Lake Bracciano and Viterbo, one of the most beautiful cities near Rome. The presentation of the picturesque Lake Vico must start with a couple of curiosities, aimed at explaining why its waters are polluted. Surely you know one of the most sold Italian food products in the world, Nutella.
Nutella, like other products of the Ferrero brand, is produced with hazelnuts from the trees that abound in the territories around Lake Vico. Unfortunately, in the last decade, in order to sustain production, the big company has bought more and more land in the area of the lake, which is part of the region also called Tuscia, rich in history and biodiversity. On the other hand, many independent farms, pushed by the economic crisis, have converted their fields into hazelnut groves to sell more. The problem of pollution of Lake Vico has worsened due to the intensive use of pesticides and discharges into the once pure waters.
Hoping that this testimony will invite you to boycott industrial products for environmentally sustainable products, I invite you to take a tour of the fantastic places in the vicinity of the lake:
- Mount Venere with its forests
- The historical center of Caprarola with the Renaissance Villa Farnese, entirely frescoed.
- The Bomarzo Garden, where you can see some mysterious art in nature.
- The Castle of Soriano nel Cimino
- The secular beechwood, natural UNESCO heritage “Faggeta Cimina”.
How to get to Lake Vico
From the Cotral Bus station in Saxa Rubra, take a bus to Ronciglione, get off at Punta Del Lago (ask the driver!) and then walk for about 2.5 km.
This lake is located north-east of Rome, on the road to L’Aquila. The lake was created because of a dam that interrupted the course of the Salto river, also submerging entire villages, whose inhabitants were forced to move their homes. The landscape shapes the waters in a way that this lake has many fjords, which make the views of the lake particularly fascinating, especially if you travel the 57 km of its shores by motorcycle.
The best time to visit Lake Salto is between spring and summer when both the dense woods around the lake and its waters take on emerald hues.
Villages to see nearby
- Borgo San Pietro
- Petrella Salto
- The panorama of the lake that you can enjoy from the Cave of Santa Filippa Mareri
Not far from Lake Salto, there is Lake Turano, also formed as a result of the construction of a dam and consequent barring of the Turano River. The nature surrounding the lake is almost uncontaminated, also thanks to the presence of the Natural Reserve of Mount Navegna and Cervia. There are two small villages overlooking the lake, Castel di Tora and Colle di Tora, and several beaches.
Let me know which of these fabulous lakes near Rome was your favorite in the comments!