Italy is one of the dreamiest destinations in Europe 🤩.

Many of us can’t wait to visit the places we’ve all seen in the movies, such as Rome, but there are still some hidden gems to discover, especially as Italy has soared to new heights in popularity.

If crowds aren’t your jam, we can’t say we blame you.

Between the bustling streets of Milan, the fascination of Rome, and the over-tourism of Venice, some travelers are quite understandably looking to explore Italy in other ways.

Sure, you could opt for the loophole of exploring the landlocked nation of San Marino within Italy’s borders or you can visit Lake Como’s doppelgänger, a stunning budget-friendly region just an hour away from Milan.

A Real Life Dream

Historical town center of Lake Orta

There are a ton of delightful small towns to visit to escape the crowds, but Lake Orta feels like a real life dream set upon the foothills of the stunning Alps.

While it’s not as cheap as the $1 houses seen for sale across Instagram, it is very budget-friendly for travelers.

Many tourists visit the gorgeous Lake Como for a ritzy vacation, but Lake Orta offers similar vibes without forking over your whole paycheck.

Not nearly the size of any of Italy’s world-renowned cities, this laid-back region is the perfect escape to kick back and relax in one of the most serene destinations in Italy.

Waterfront restaurant along Lake Orta

From heavenly eats, charming cobbled streets, idyllic beaches, and arguably the prettiest scenery, the quick trip from Milan is definitely worth it.

The weather is warmest between April and October with peak tourist season being July and August.

Orta San Giulio

Orta San Giulio is the main town tourists seek out who do know of Lake Orta’s wonders.

While there’s no Coliseum or spectacular cathedrals, the allure of this town is the scenic streets and delicious cuisine we’ve all dreamt of indulging in.

Historic buildings of Orta San Giulio

Tourists love to take leisurely strolls perusing all the delights from local shops, cafes, and restaurants all packed into this quaint village.

The town offers impeccable views and is one of the main ports for going out on the clear waters of the lake, where there is one stop that is an absolute must.

San Giulio Island

One glance at San Guilio Island and you’ll see why it’s beloved by visitors, but even more so when you actually visit.

San Giulio Island on Lake Orta

Known as the ‘island of silence’, tourists can have one of the most unique and peaceful experiences as they’re asked to mute their electronics as part of a silent walk tour to enjoy Lake Orta’s tranquility.

Religious or not, you can’t help but find yourself in awe of the island’s monastery and Basilica di San Giulio dating back to the year 390!

Like many towns and sites in this region, they be small, but leave lasting memories, which is why multiple recent tourists have said the will never forget this place.

Money Talks

Clear water of Lake Orta

The closest comparison to Lake Orta is Lake Como, and vice versa. The difference is not only name recognition between the two, but Lake Orta is by far the most budget-friendly for travelers.

Even the starting point of your journey is off to a great start, as Milan is often the cheapest gateway in terms of airfare for American travelers.

From there, renting a car, taking a bus, or train (3 hours) are all options worth diving into.

Americans do need an international driver’s permit to rent a car in Italy, so taking the busy may be the most efficient time-wise and cost-wise.

Aerial view of Lake Orta

This region has some incredible stays you can splurge on for as much as $500 per night, but there are plentiful budget options, such as the Hotel Madonna di Luciago, as low as $40 per night in the lovely town of Armeno.

Day-to-day costs, such as grabbing quite possibly the best cappuccino of your life or visiting the area’s vineyards, won’t break the bank.

In fact, the only annoyance may be the $23 to $35 entry fees for lakeside beaches.

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