The draw of a seaside holiday is obvious. You arrive at a sunny location and spend the majority of your trip doing little more than simply watching the world go by and very rarely leaving your sun-lounger. However, you don't have to go to the seaside to experience a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday of this kind. How about swapping the gentle lapping of the waves for the even more peaceful surroundings of one of Europe's many lakes?
Picture the scene. You awake from your cosy cottage to the sound of birds singing and leaves swaying in the breeze; a rare melody in modern life. You take a step outside to be greeted by spectacular views that feature dramatic peaks, enchanting forests, and a motionless lake, before setting off to explore the surrounding areas.
Here are four lakeside paradises in which this could easily become a reality.
Lake Constance is simultaneously situated in three countries at once; meaning that a holiday in this part of the world can take in the sights of Germany, Austria and Switzerland without you having to travel too far. The river Rhine flows both into and out of this large expanse of water which is split into two parts, known as the upper lake and lower lake. The scenery varies from the iconic Alps in the south to thriving vineyards, baroque churches and idyllic towns that are dotted along the shoreline.
Aside from Constance itself (Konstanz in German), there are many other towns and cities around the edge of the lake that provide the perfect place to stay. One such place is the German town of Lindau. This picturesque place is mostly located on an island in the middle of the lake which is joined to the mainland by excellent rail links and a main road. Here, you can admire the architecture of the lighthouse and the Bavarian lion sculpture, explore the lush greenery of the Lindenhof Park, or head out on a boat tour of the lake. However, the best way to travel in this region has to be by bike as there are a variety of different trails that can take you everywhere you need to go.
Other places to find great accommodation include Friedrichshafen and Bregenz.
The largest lake in Italy is also one of the most well-known and popular in Europe, attracting the rich and famous as well as the usual throng of tourists. The beautiful region benefits from great weather and is also close enough to be used as a base for a Venice city break or visits to Milan and Romeo and Juliet's home town of Verona.
Apart from swimming in the lake and taking part in water sports on it, there are plenty of things to do here that don't involve getting wet. Thrill seekers will enjoy a visit to Gardaland - a theme park with rides that include Italy's first winged roller-coaster - whilst history lovers can learn all about Lake Garda's formation and the archaeology or the area at the Rock of Manerba. If you would rather take things easy though, you can simply marvel at the breath-taking scenery as you stroll in and out of the local shops; sampling olive oil, wine and many other local products as you go.
Geneva is the largest lake in the Alpine region and forms part of the border between Switzerland and France. Its name will be known to many and, in a similar way to Lake Garda, it is framed by luscious vineyards and the dominating Alps. From snowy hilltops and frozen glaciers to typically French chateaus, there is so much going on at the water's edge. But that doesn't mean you have to do anything more demanding than simply admire your surroundings.
The main towns on the lakeside include Lausanne, Nyon, and of course, Switzerland's second largest city itself - Geneva. Lausanne is the home of the Olympic Museum which houses, among other things, an impressive collection of Olympic torches through the years, whilst Nyon's castle and Roman ruins are a draw for all history lovers. Furthermore, a Geneva city break is a great way to combine the calmness and serenity of the lake with the exciting attractions and sights that the city centre has to offer.
There is also an abundance of excellent ski resorts surrounding the lake including Les Diablerets, Leysin and Villars-sur-Ollon.
Lake Bled may be the smallest and least known location on this list, but it makes up for this in sheer beauty. This Slovenian retreat lies amongst mountains and forests and has a shoreline which is dominated by the beautiful Bled Castle.
Previously famous for its stunning health spa, Bled is now well known to those who want to take it easy along with pursuers of extreme sports. Some of the sporting activities that you can take part in (if you are brave enough) include skiing, canyoning, ice-climbing, diving, cave exploration, rafting, skydiving, hydrospeed (riverboarding) and much more. However, anyone looking for a slightly less intoxicating adrenaline rush can take the Alpine cable car to the top of Mount Vogel for panoramic views of the area.
In the middle of the lake is Bled Island which features many interesting buildings. Among these is the pilgrimage church of the Assumption of Mary. This popular wedding venue has some wonderful examples of gothic and baroque architecture, but something even more interesting lies at the top. The 'wishing bell' has been positioned in the upper roof beam since 1534 and is said to grant the wish of whoever rings it.
If you would like to spend a lethargic, or indeed more action-packed, break in the vicinity of one of these European lakes, we can help you plan your trip. Talk to a member of Fred.\'s friendly team for great insight into these beautiful regions.