The Top 10 Lakeside Drives in Europe - Page 2

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Buttermere in England's Lake District
Buttermere in England's Lake District  (Joe Cornish/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Lake Garda, Italy
Italy's largest and most scenically diverse lake is a motorist's joy. Start on its south side in Peschiera del Garda, and head west for the main resort town, ancient Sirmione, then Desenzano del Garda, and Salò, Mussolini's capital from 1943 to 1945. Farther northeast, Gardona Riviera heralds the start of more spectacular upland scenery. En route lie several pretty villages, including Riva del Garda, popular with windsurfers.
PLANNING: It's possible to drive around the lake in four hours but better to allow two days to explore the attractions, many just off the main road. Allow time for traffic jams, especially in August. www.lago-di-garda-tourism.com

Mecklenburg Lake District, Germany
Moorland, marsh, woodland, and countless waterways make up Germany's largest lake network. Boats are the obvious means of transportation and recreation. But motorists, cyclists, and wildlife-spotters also frequent its irregular shoreline roads.
PLANNING: The town of Waren, on the north shore of Müritz, the largest lake, is a useful starting point for the many meandering roads around the district. www.m-vp.de

Lake Vänern, Sweden
Sweden's greatest lake is the world's largest freshwater archipelago, where more than 20,000 islands, islets, and rocks await exploration. From Trollhättan, head clockwise via Vanersborg for a 254-mile (408 km) loop. You can fish for oversize salmon and trout, explore Viking boat-graves, or simply imbibe the splendid Scandinavian scenery.
PLANNING: Midsummer and Christmas are joyous times to visit. In summer, near-daylong sunshine encourages alfresco nightlife along Vänern's shores. www.visitsweden.com

Lake District, England
A fine drive through this national park starts at Windermere, running south along Lake Windermere to the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Steam Railway, then heading north along the lake's forested western shore to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's home. The road to Keswick from Hawkswood via the 70-foot (21 m) waterfall of Aira Force delivers breathtaking fell views.
PLANNING: Avoid Lake Windermere in oppressively crowded high summer. www.cumbria-the-lake-district.co.uk

Lough Corrib, Ireland
The road around Lough Corrib mainly runs some distance from its shores—reachable by certain access roads—but takes you through dramatic moorland and mountain landscape. The lough reputedly has an island for every day of the year, but for many, its prime appeal is world-class fly-fishing for salmon and trout.
PLANNING: Start at Oughterard, a market town with places to stay, angling shops, and fishing-tour operators. www.discoverireland.ie

Reproduced with permission from Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips, 2010, National Geographic. All rights reserved.

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