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Things to do in Lake Bracciano

Things to do in  Lake Bracciano

Welcome to Lake Bracciano

Set just an hour northwest of Rome, volcanic Lake Bracciano has long been a beloved retreat for city-weary Romans while remaining largely off the international tourist radar. A popular shore excursion destination from Civitavecchia (or stopover between Rome and Orvieto), the lake is ringed by medieval villages like Bracciano, Anguillara, and Trevignano and its placid expanse is ideal for swimming, sailing, and water sports. The 15th-century Odescalchi Castle looms over the lake, and has served as a dramatic wedding venue for celebrities from Martin Scorsese to Tom Cruise.

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All about Lake Bracciano

When to visit

When the mercury skyrockets, Romans (and savvy visitors) seek refuge at Lake Bracciano. In the summer high season, urban escapees fill the medieval villages along the shore, hike and bike in the surrounding trails, and set sail across the water. The area’s main festivals take place between June and August and include the Sagra del Pesce (fish festival), Laghidivini (wine festival), Processione delle Barche (boat procession), and Festa Contadina (farmers’ festival).

Getting around

The lake is less than an hour from Rome by car or train; there are stations in the towns of Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia. To visit the third village on the lake, Trevignano Romano, take the local Cotral bus that runs along the shore. You can also cycle around the entire lake in less than two hours; there are bicycle and e-bike rental shops in all three villages.

Traveler tips

Bracciano is an important reservoir of fresh water for the city of Rome, so motorized boats are banned from its waters (with the exception of electric boats and local ferries). This makes the lake an especially safe and peaceful spot for sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and other water sports. There are kiosks that rent gear and offer lessons along the lakefront in all three villages.

A local’s pocket guide to Lake Bracciano

Rebecca Winke

A Chicago native, Rebecca remains a lake lover at heart even after three decades in Italy. Lake Bracciano is one of her favorite haunts.

The first thing you should do on Lake Bracciano is...

take a dip in one of the cleanest lakes in Italy. Motorized boats are banned so the only company you’ll have are sailboarders, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders.

A perfect Saturday on Lake Bracciano...

pairs a visit to the chocolate-box towns lining the lake with a refreshing afternoon dip. Break up the day with a wine tasting at one of the under-the-radar cellars in the surrounding hills.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the storybook Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, a 15th-century fortress that has hosted a number of celebrity weddings and never fails to impress with its perfectly preserved crenelated walls and towers.

To discover the "real" Lake Bracciano...

set off along the trails through the Macchiatonda Nature Reserve and Tarquinia Salt Marshes on foot or by bike to experience the pristine countryside far from the lakeside holiday crowds.

For the best view of the lake...

survey the hills and lake with a conqueror’s eye from the top of the watchtowers and bastions ringing the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle. There’s a reason that A-listers tie the knot here.

One thing people get wrong...

is heading to Lake Bracciano for a boating excursion. The lake is an important source of drinking water for Rome, and motorized boats are forbidden on the lake.

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