Photo of Lake Orta

About Lake Orta

Lake Orta is separated from its ’much larger sister’, Lake Maggiore by the Monte Mottarone, an impressive peak with a cable car and a cheese producing industry. But it’s not the mountains, or its comparatively diminutive size that prevent folk from visiting Lake Orta; it’s because it is so overshadowed by its showier siblings, Maggiore, Garda and Como, that many visitors just miss it out, and never give themselves the chance to fall head over heels in love with this spot. And those people who have fallen in love with Lake Orta are reticent to wax too lyrical about it, lest their serene and charming patch of picturesque paradise end up altered by fame. So the best places to stay on Lake Orta are somewhat of a secret. Our Gurus are sharing their favourites with you, including converted townhouses in Orta San Giulio, glamorous villas in the hills, contemporary hotels in Pella, and a collection of family-friendly apartments close to Pettenasco.

Lake Orta’s verdant, and mountainous setting, fair weather and beautiful architecture are cut from the same cloth as the other lakes in the region, and the view is made extra picturesque by the island in its centre, often shrouded, almost magically, in mist. But Lake Orta is much less built up than its neighbours, with long expanses of woodland, and direct access to the water at many places along the shores. So it's ideal for a lakeside escape complete with proper peace and quiet.

Orta San Giulio is the lake’s largest town, and the best place to stay on Lake Orta if you like to be in the thick of things. It’s not a big centre, but it's got a reputation for excellent regional cuisine. As well as bars and restaurants, the narrow streets of Orta San Giulio are lined with the faded elegance of Baroque and Romanesque architecture including a 15th century church atop the hill, and a Romanesque basilica. If you stroll along the waterfront you’ll see the changing face of the island, Isola San Giulio, which by night is lit up so that it looks as if it’s floating in mid air. As well as foodies, Lake Orta is great for romantics, painters and photographers, and anyone whose soul yearns for picturesque peace.

The Best Places to Stay on Lake Orta

For Lake Views

  • Casa Fantini is a super stylish choice, right on Pella’s Lake Orta shore, with idyllic views across to Isola San Gulio. Not large, but very spacious, this eleven room hotel is beautifully decorated. Each room, and the communal spaces, have huge windows, elegant design furniture, and a soft monochrome colour scheme. Each room has a private balcony, and huge, indulgent, bathroom. There’s no restaurant, but they offer breakfast, and you’re surrounded by places to eat and drink. Some of the rooms would suit families too.

For Romance

  • On the other side of the lake, in Orta San Giulio, you can almost imagine the Vila Crespi staring back at the Casa Fantini, this time from a higher elevation and more ornate surrounds. The Villa Crespi is a gloriously grand period villa, complete with opulent antiques and plenty of marble, velvet, gilt, walnut and crystal. The Villa has 14 rooms and suites, the most romantic come with four-poster beds, and all have terraces with lake views. The restaurant has won a slew of awards, and the beautiful grounds run all the way down to the water’s edge. It's our pick for honeymooners.

For a Lakeside Escape

  • The Hotel San Rocco has been converted from a convent, retaining its sense of serenity, and incredible lakeside position, but adding a wonderful collection of creature comforts. Today the hotel has 80 rooms and suites, and a spa and treatment centre. We like the rooms with views best, and there are many of them to choose from. We also like the rooms with more traditional details — panelled ceilings and tiled floors, for example — but there are more contemporary options too. Perfect for relaxing and exploring the water.

For Families

  • La Darbia is a collection of 20 private apartments, running up a hill on the eastern shore of Lake Orta, north of Orta San Giulio. Staying here puts you just out of the way of the busiest parts of the lake, but close enough to them to enjoy the buzz when you want to, and the views are incredible. Each apartment has been uniquely imagined from the collection of original old buildings, but they all offer a fully-equipped kitchen, and separate living space. Many of them can easily accommodate two adults and two children. You can have breakfast delivered too, and the hotel has a very good restaurant. There are two playgrounds on the property (one with a zip line), as well as plenty of beautiful spots to sit and enjoy the view, and a heated saltwater infinity pool.

For Foodies

  • The Hotel Il Giardinetto is a restaurant with rooms right on the waterfront, in fact on top of the water, on the road north out of Pettenasco. Bright white when seen from the water, each of the 59 rooms and suites has a balcony overlooking the lake; inside, the rooms are decorated in a range of pastel colours, with comfortable details. The restaurant is known for its creative regional cuisine.

For Great Value

  • Comfortable and charming, La Bussola, is close to the lake-edge in Orta San Giulio, with lovely views, and a garden that runs all the way down to the water. It has 42 rooms and suites, a terrace restaurant, and a pool, and is a good choice for families and lake explorers on a budget.
  • The Locanda di Orta is a charmingly converted townhouse in the heart of Orta San Giulio, tall and narrow, with just nine rooms and suites, featuring original exposed stone and beams, and simple decor. Our favourite rooms have private balconies with charming views — one of the suites has a balcony with a private hot tub — but all the rooms are comfortable, and offer great value. The highlight, however, is a rooftop bar, where they also serve nibbles from the excellent restaurant. Family friendly too.
  • La Contrada dei Monti is a charming, and super affordable traditional townhouse conversion just back from the water’s edge in Orta San Giulio. Its 17 rooms and suites are cosy, and feature everything you need to make yourself at home, plus some lovely original features to look at: terracotta tiles, exposed beams and stonework, and original fireplaces. The communal areas are too grand to be called cosy, but they offer a warm, fire-lit welcome. The restaurant serves regional recipes, plus continental additions, in either the sunny courtyard or dining room.

Prefer a Private Apartment or Villa?

  • If you'd prefer the privacy of a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner, Booking.com.

Travel Information

  • Milan’s airports, Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate, are the closest airports to Lake Orta. Your best route depends on your start and end point, but to Pettenasco, which is around the lake’s ’waist’, the journey from Milan Malpensa takes around 50 minutes in the car or taxi, or around three and a half hours by public transport. Milan Linate is a longer journey by road, about an hour and ten minutes, however it’s only around three hours by train. There are plenty of other rail connections to explore, Milan included.
  • If you want to hire a car we recommend you visit our online partner, Rentalcars.
  • Summer is the most popular time to visit Lake Orta. It’s much loved by Italian families, and local European families, and everyone who appreciates natural beauty, and woodland walking trails. If you’re not restricted by school holidays, it’s worth considering May through June, and September and October to visit Lake Orta, because it’s especially green and verdant in spring, and beautifully copper golden come autumn. You’ll get some rain in both of these windows, but you’d be unlucky to have so much that it spoils your trip. Easter and Christmas are always wonderful celebrations in Italy, but it does get chilly on the lake.

Still not sure where to stay?


Monthly Weather in Lake Orta

Best Hotels in Lake Orta

  • La Contrada dei Monti Orta San Giulio, Lake Orta 17 rooms from £79

    Sights nearby  -  Visit the Sacri Monti churches, a colleciton of 16th and 17th century churches.
    Sailing  -  Take a boat to San Giulio island and visit the Romanesque basilica.
    Great walks  -  Along the ancient footpath at the Sacro Monte.
    Lakeside  -  On Lake Orta
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessParking

    Located along a cobbled Piedmont lane provides a traditional stay in this historic town. Bright rooms are decorated in yellows and period pieces with terracotta tiles, exposed stone walls and beamed ceilings. Local and continental food can be enjoyed indoors or in the sun. Do note there is no wifi. See More

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  • Locanda di Orta Orta San Giulio Novara, Lake Orta 9 rooms from £74

    Roof terrace  -  Fabulous gastrobar roof terrace.
    Value chic
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Private Hot Tub  -  One of the suites has a private balcony with hot tub

    Charming, traditional, cheaper than most. Wonderful rooms and suites have stone walls, private balconies, good sized beds. The highlight - rooftop gastro-bar, wine cellar and bistro. Very family friendly and affordable. See More

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  • Hotel Il Giardinetto Pettenasco Novara, Lake Orta 59 rooms from £112

    Romantic Break
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Restaurant  -  Creative regional cuisine
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Air conditioningRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenViews

    Fantastic restaurant with charming rooms on the water of Lake Orta. Gourmet food on romantic terraces, sun decks overhanging the lake, pastel rooms with wonderful views over the lake. A romantic choice for an authentic Italian break. See More

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  • La Darbia Ameno, Lake Orta 20 rooms from £113

    Families  -  The self-catering apartments are great for families travelling with children; the kids' playground is a highlight too
    Romantic Break  -  Couples love the romantic, rural setting of this resort and the thoughtful touches, like the daily breakfast basket
    Country Escape  -  Set on a verdant hill overlooking Lake Orta, this hotel makes a great escape to the country
    Sights nearby  -  Visit San Giulio Island on Lago d'Orta, a tiny island that is home to the basilica of San Giulio and a Benedictine monastery
    Air conditioningRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessViewsParkingNo pets
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays, I Escape

    This holiday village is nestled on a hill overlooking Lake Orta. The private apartments are bright and airy, featuring rustic furnishings, cosy linens and lake views; book Ca'da Sass for a private garden overlooking the lake. Take a dip in the pool before dining at the hotel restaurant; a chic stay. See More

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  • La Bussola Orta San Giulio Novara, Lake Orta 42 rooms from £117

    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Private Hot Tub
    Sights nearby  -  Well located for major sights.
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    RestaurantSwimming PoolGardenViewsParking

    A great Three Star hotel with an excellent terrace restaurant, swimming pool and gardens. Stunning views over Lake Orta, large contemporary rooms and suites, and good meeting facilities. A great choice for a romantic and understated break. See More

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  • Hotel San Rocco, Lake Orta Orta San Giulio Novara, Lake Orta 80 rooms from £120

    Views  -  Superb views over Lake Orta
    Total relaxation
    Spa breaks
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenViews
    Recommended by  -  CN Traveller

    Renovated lakeside convent with a great restaurant, spa, and relaxing views. Rooms and suites in contemporary style have stand alone bathtubs, parquet floors, and white furniture. Extensive spa perfect for relaxation. A good choice for spa breaks with fabulous views. See More

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  • Villa Crespi Orta San Giulio Novara, Lake Orta 14 rooms from £217

    Foodies  -  The restaurant has two michelin stars
    Romantic Break
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Restaurant  -  With two michelin stars
    Air conditioningRestaurantGardenPet friendlyViewsParking
    Recommended by  -  Relais & Chateaux

    A glorious period villa with a fantastic restaurant and gorgeous gardens. Romantic bedrooms and suites have four poster beds, chandeliers, walnut floors and huge marble bathrooms. Stunning views over the lake from outdoor terraces. Very romantic, very good food. See More

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  • Casa Fantini (NO), Lake Orta 11 rooms from £343

    Country Escape  -  A design-led hotel boasting a quiet and picturesque spot on Lake Orta
    Great walks  -  Take long picturesque walks in the surrounding countryside (guides are on hand for those who wish)
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Air conditioningSwimming PoolGardenPet friendlyViewsParking

    A stylish boutique hotel on the Pella side of Lake Orta welcomes design-conscious travellers into a contemporary and modern space with excellent views of the lake. Spacious rooms are decorated in monochrome tones with floor-to-ceiling windows and wonderfully indulgent bathrooms. A chic rural space. See More

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