Greener BeeGreen HolidaysContinent with cachet: the best European lakeside holiday homes in Italy and Switzerland — don’t believe us? Ask …

Continental Europe has many great lakes that provide the setting for idyllic holiday homes.

Some are internationally famous, replete with glamour, elegance and Hollywood celebrities, and some are below the radar. However, all of them highlight the appeal of waterside living, and most carry a significant price premium because of it.

“On average we see a 30 to 40 per cent premium on asking prices for lakeside properties in Italy,” says Amy Redfern from estate agents Knight Frank. “Many clients love the lifestyle of being directly by the water, enjoying the possibility to have their own boat mooring, while others want to be high above the lake, making the most of wonderful views.” 

The celebrity choice: Lake Como

Long before George Clooney brought his Hollywood A-lister friends, or his new twins, to his lakefront home, Lake Como was regarded as one of the most famous and beautiful Italian lakes. Steep green hillsides tumble down to the deepest waters, while small and charming villages line the banks.

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The elegant, bustling city of Como is the gateway to the lake, 30 minutes from Milan, two miles from the Swiss border and two hours from the Swiss ski resort of St Moritz.

It’s a university city with a population of 80,000 and a beautiful historic centre with a regular and popular covered market full of delicious Italian produce. Nearby is the small town of Cernobbio, a renowned tourist destination.

“Unlike many places around the lake, Como and Cernobbio have a year-round community,” says Tania Morabito of Knight Frank’s associate La Reale Domus. “This is where property prices peak.” 

Homes currently on Morabito’s books include a £312,000 renovated one-bedroom flat in Como’s historic centre, and a three-bedroom duplex apartment with mooring in a striking Venetian Gothic house in Torno, 15 minutes from Como on the eastern branch of the lake, which has been reduced from £669,000 to £490,000. The villa is at one of the widest parts of the lake, set in elegant, well-kept gardens of two-and-a-half acres.

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At Bellagio Lake Resort Knight Frank is selling newly completed, solidly built apartments and townhouses directly on the water with wonderful views over Comacina Island and Balbianello peninsula, priced from £513,000 for a two-bedroom home.

This is a peaceful location with a four-star hotel and offers strong rental potential. All homes have a balcony or private garden and share an infinity pool, beach and jetty.

The family-friendly choice: Lake Trasimeno

Italy’s fourth-largest lake stretches from Umbria towards the Tuscan border in central Italy with the medieval town of Castiglione del Lago in the south-west as its main focus.

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The area is ideal for multi-generation holidays, featuring impressive military fortifications and striking art and culture while the lake has a strong family-friendly vibe with beaches, parks and bike trails.

A new three-bedroom stone house requiring final interior decor overlooking Lake Trasimeno, 40 minutes from both Cortona and Perugia, is £428,000. Nearby, a two-bedroom flat in a 15th-century property with lake views is £183,000, both through Great Estate.

The insiders’ choice: Lake Brienz

Locals love Lake Brienz, east of Interlaken in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, for its dreamy alpine setting and famed turquoise waters. A regular tourist boat service allows visitors to hop on and off at will to visit delightful villages along the eight-mile lakeside.

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Bernese Oberland, the most-visited part of Switzerland, is filled with waterfalls, forests, glaciers, lakes and the majestic Eiger mountain. It is also where Sherlock Holmes met his (entirely fictional) end at Reichenbach Falls.

Ten minutes from Lake Brienz, Investors in Property is selling two- and three-bedroom flats at Sherlock Apartments in Meiringen. The 11 homes, six still for sale, are in two buildings, one renovated and one newly built, priced from £360,000. A ski lift a third of a mile away provides access to 37 miles of slopes.

Knight Frank: knightfrank.com

Great Estate: greatestate.it

Investors in Property: investorsinproperty.com

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  • Lake Trasimeno
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