Best lakes and mountains holidays in the UK and Europe

Garrett Gardner

The UK and Europe are packed with towering peaks and sparkling lakes that allow you to get closer to nature on a lakes and mountain holiday.

A relaxing escape to the lakes and mountains often involves less hiking and more travel by train and cable car, allowing you to enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery all around, without the tough climb.

Whether you’re thinking of visiting the countryside or a city in the likes of Switzerland, Spain or Scotland, there are plenty of hills and mountains where you can take in the romance of lofty landscapes at a leisurely pace.

To inspire your next escape, we’ve rounded up the best lakes and mountain holidays for 2023.

Mount Rigi, Switzerland

Rising above glittering Lake Lucerne, Mount Rigi offers some of the best alpine views in Switzerland. While mountain walkers love it here, a more relaxed way of getting to the top is by using the traditional cogwheel railway, which will lift you gently up its steep sides.

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At the summit, you can look out over the turquoise waters of Lake Lucerne surrounded by Alpine meadows and the medieval city of Lucerne, with its distinctive timber-clad buildings and fortifications. Like the sound of this? Visit Lake Lucerne and Mount Rigi as you ride the Glacier Express with Country Living in October 2023.


Lake Garda, Italy

Backed by some impressive mountains, from Monte Baldo to Monte Pizzocolo, as well as being the closest of Italy’s most famous lakes to the mighty Dolomites, Lake Garda is an excellent destination for a lakes and mountains holiday. You can take the simple Monte Stivo hike for incredible views of the lake or walk along the waterfront in Limone.

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Combing your Lake Garda getaway with the Dolomites, there’s Lake Molveno, surrounded by the jagged peaks the area is known for, and its picturesque mountain village to explore. While here, it’s worth taking in the scenery from a train, with the Renon Railway transporting you across the Renon plateau. Explore Lake Garda and the Dolomites over nine days in May or September 2023.


Mount Snowdon, Wales

The summit of Mount Snowdon is more than 3,500 feet above sea level and offers panoramic vistas of the rugged beauty of Snowdonia National Park – voted the best view in Britain in 2017.

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Since 1896, visitors have been taking the Snowdon Mountain Railway to get there, which sets off from the pretty village of Llanberis and chugs up the mountainside using a traditional diesel or heritage steam engine. There’s also the Llanberis Lake Railway, which follows the shore of the glacially formed Lake Padarn. Other gorgeous lakes in the area include Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn. You can reach the top of Mount Snowdon and ride the Llanberis Lake Railway on a Welsh rail trip in June and August 2023.


Pyrenees, Spain

These mighty mountains stretch along Spain’s northern border with France, dividing the two countries in spectacular style. They reach all the way to the coast, making for a uniquely beautiful and rugged landscape which is now a national park, Cap de Creus.

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While the region offers some challenging hikes for adventurous walkers, thankfully there are also more relaxing ways to explore all the beautiful scenery here by train, including the Roses Express, Núria Valley Rack Railway – which takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows. You can ride all of these on a Country Living tour between May and September 2023.


Lake Annecy, France

Located in France’s Haute-Savoie region and fed by mountain springs, the utterly breathtaking Lake Annecy is a must-visit for fans of lakes and mountains. At the foot of the Alps, this sparkling lake is where you can enjoy a boat ride, relax at one of its beaches, swim the turquoise water or get around on a stand-up paddleboard.

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The city of Annecy is joy to explore. Nestled between the mountain and lakefront, it’s one of the most picturesque places in all of France. While here, you can stroll the cobbled streets of the old town, see the network of canals (this is the Venice of the Alps, after all), and take a photo of the enchanting Palais de l’Isle. You can explore Lake Annecy and the city, as well as Mont Blanc and Geneva during a no-fly holiday to France and Switzerland, with departures in 2023 and 2023.


The Trossachs National Park, Scotland

With majestic Ben Lomond, idyllic wooded glens and crystal-clear lochs, the Trossachs National Park is easily one of the most beautiful in Britain. The scenic area is a paradise for walkers, campers and climbers. It’s also the perfect spot to enjoy a loch cruise as you sit back, relax and watch the natural scenes pass you by.

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Loch Katrine is the fresh water loch to experience and is in the heart of the park. Historic steamship Sir Walter Scott takes passengers up and down the loch and is the only surviving screw steamer in regular passenger service in Scotland. Experience a Loch Katrine cruise and visit the pretty town of Callander in Trossachs during a four-day steam-inspired trip to Scotland in June or July 2023, where you’ll also enjoy a ride through the Highlands on the Jacobite steam train.


Lake Como, Italy

Italy’s third largest lake is one of the deepest in Europe and sits against the foothills of the Italian Alps. The inverted Y-shape lake is a haven for walkers, with amazing hikes to plan. It’s also the perfect place to explore for a romantic break as its picturesque villages create a charming backdrop for trips away with the one you love.

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Colico, Como, Varenna and Bellagio are just a handful of the towns to visit, and you’ll want to get around by boat to make the most of the world-famous setting and its surrounding mountains. Being close to Switzerland, you can easily make a day trip over to witness more epic natural scenes and explore equally glamorous towns, such as St Moritz. Try an eight-day holiday, with various departures in 2023 and 2023, where you can explore Varenna and see the luxurious villas around Lake Como. You’ll also venture to Switzerland and go on the Bernina Express.


Alternatively, combine Lake Como with Lakes Maggiore, Orta and Lugano for the ultimate lakes escape between April and October 2024. You’ll also discover the stunning gardens of these lake destinations.


Cairn Gorm, Scotland

Britain’s sixth highest mountain, in the Scottish Highlands, is one of the few places in the UK where you can ski. Visitors to the resort take to its summit on the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, a modern funicular which has the distinction of being the UK’s highest railway.

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Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of an ancient glacial landscape that’s a gorgeous green during the summer months and snow white in winter. The views here are simply breathtaking, with tranquil lochs nestled between craggy peaks. Check into one of our favourite Scottish Highland hotels during a lakes and mountains escape.


Rocky Mountains, Canada

While it’s outside of Europe, we couldn’t list the best lakes and mountain holidays without mentioning Canada’s breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Packed with postcard-perfect peaks and turquoise lakes, this is one destinations where nature and wildlife is all around – think dramatic canyons, black bears, bald eagles and impressive waterfalls.

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The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the country’s most spectacular natural beauty, from Lake Louise to Emerald Lake and the Jasper National Park to Fraser River. The best way to see this mind-blowing corner of the world? With a Rocky Mountaineer train ride. For one of the most scenic rail experiences in the world, this incredible train has glass-roofed carriages for you to witness experience the lakes and mountains of Canada. You can join Country Living’s exclusive Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska cruise holiday in September 2023, which includes a day in Banff to explore Lake Louise and the stunning mountains of the region.


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