A Local’s Guide to Visiting Lake Bracciano, Italy, in 2024

This post features a local’s guide to visiting Lake Bracciano in central Italy, a region where I’ve been living for several years.

Even if this crystal-clear lake near Rome isn’t as popular as other Italian lakes, I recommend you spend some days (ideally 3) exploring what the area has to offer in terms of landscapes, food, history, and recreation.

The region north is also known as the Bracciano-Martignano Regional Natural Park and one of the villages overlooking the lake features a Blue Flag Beach.

Just a short train ride from the Eternal City you will find a natural oasis where the locals live at a more relaxed pace.

This post focuses on the best things to do on Lake Bracciano like swimming, water sports, and sightseeing. It also includes info on how to get reach the lake, how to visit its towns, the best beaches and restaurants.

It’s almost impossible to visit Bracciano Lake and return disappointed.

12 Best Things to do in Lake Bracciano

1. Enjoy Swimming in the lake

Swimming in Lake Bracciano isn’t only possible, but highly recommended! 

May to September is a great time for swimming and sunbathing. 

Swimming in the lake is generally safe but please consider that at most beaches, the water becomes high after about 10 meters from the shore.

Be careful

  • Locals never venture too far from the shore.  
  • Offshore, eddies may occur. 
  • Swimming is forbidden below the docks. 

It may be a good idea to have water shoes with you because mostly there are pebbles on the seabed. I especially recommend it for children, and for those with particularly delicate feet.

The water temperature is mild. In February, which is the coldest month, it does not drop below 5°.

2. Relax on Lake Bracciano beaches

There are many beautiful beaches around Lake  Bracciano, and many of them are public. 

Beach clubs are convenient and recommended if you have planned to spend more than a few hours on the beach and do not have a beach umbrella with you. The sun in this area is very strong in summer. 

At the beach clubs around the lake, you can rent a beach umbrella and two sunbeds for about €10 or €20 per day. The price depends on the period, the day of the week, and the beach club.

The beach clubs also feature a café or restaurant, bathrooms, showers, and reserved guest parking.

Public beaches are free of course, sometimes they are far from the facilities but you will also find some near the villages.

Here are some 5 top Lake Bracciano beaches I recommend:

Vigna di Valle Beach

The longest beach on the lake. It is located along the road from Anguillara to Bracciano. This beach is perfect for children because the water is shallow for a long stretch, therefore safer for playing in the water. There are several beach clubs, some with beach volleyball courts.

Trevignano Romano Beach

From the historic center of Trevignano Romano, walk about 15 minutes along the lake promenade, and you will find free beaches and beach clubs. There are nearby cafes, bistros, and public toilets. There is a Blue Flag Beach here, you will find it in front of the Skipper Club and cafe.

San Celso Beach

In a fairly wild part of the shore, near Via Quarto del Lago Road in Bracciano, there is a forest with trails and a picnic area and this beautiful free beach bordered by trees. It is located about 3.5 km from the historic center of Bracciano.

Anguillara Sabazia Beach

From the pier square “Piazza del Molo” in Anguillara Sabazia, walk 5 minutes along the lake, and you will find a long public beach. 

There are beach clubs and free areas here. In summer, you can enjoy the best sunset over Lake Bracciano. All services and downtown are quite close by.

Dog Beaches

There are a couple of dog-friendly beaches around the lake.

One can be accessed by walking along the Trevignano Romano promenade, which is near the Bar Oltre café. Locals call it “Bau Beach.”

Another is in a more untamed location, also known as Spiaggia dei Gabbiani (Seagulls’ Beach), it is near the Air Force Museum.

3. Try Water sports

The lake is the perfect place to start your windsurfing or sailing lessons, for a relaxing kayak tour, or SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) tour. 

There are many sporting clubs where you can rent water sports equipment. You’ll find shops that rent kayaks, sails and sups on the main beaches near the three towns on Lake Bracciano. 

  • WOZ Way-out-zone Trevignano Romano | address: Via della Rena in the proximity of the Restaurant Casina Bianca
  • Windsurfing in Bracciano | A.S.D. Centro Surf Braccianoaddress: Via Lungolago G. Argenti 4
  • Sailing in Bracciano | Associazione Velica – address: Via Circumlacuale, 21
  • Sailing Team Bracciano | address: Via Della Sposetta Vecchia
  • Sporting Club Anguillara Sabazia | Via Belloni Reginaldo
  • Sailing in Trevignano Romano | Centro Velico 3v – via Della Rena, 112

4. Visit the Bracciano Castle

The Bracciano Castle is the main historic landmark in the region. The castle’s construction started in 1470 under the rule of Napoleone Orsini.

The Orsinis were a noble and powerful family of Roman origin. Since then, the castle it has been owned by several noble families. 

Today it is open to the public as a museum, with more than 20 rooms to visit with original furnishings.

I highly recommend an independent tour of the excellently preserved castle, now run by the Odescalchi family.

The signboards in each room will take you through the history of the castle and those who lived there.

Expect to admire frescoes, carved chests, beds, closets, and breathtaking lake views. All this awaits you inside its walls.

The rooms feature original furniture and frescoes from the late Renaissance period. One of Michelangelo’s disciples worked as an artist in this castle.

The visit to the castle is totally worth the €8.50 entrance ticket. An independent visit takes about an hour and a half.

I advise you to explore the Bracciano Castle on a weekday. You might have the whole place to yourself, but you’ll love it even on weekends.

And when you’re done visiting the castle, what to do in Bracciano town?

5. Explore Bracciano Town

Spend some time exploring the small historic center, which develops around the castle.

One of the best things to do in Lake Bracciano is to enjoy the gelato from Gelateria Picchio, just a short walk from the castle.

Then, triumphant with your artisanal gelato in hand, walk along the three most picturesque lanes:

  • Via della Collegiata
  • Via della Sentinella
  • Via Arazzaria

Along the Via Arazzaria, you will find some of the best restaurants in Bracciano, such as “Enjoy.”

I also recommend you dine at the trattoria Da Regina, which still possesses the flavors and ways of the typical Roman trattorias of yesteryear.

Another thing to do is to stroll along Bracciano’s shopping street, that is Via Principe di Napoli.

The tables of bistro Selita overlook the town square; sitting here will make you feel a bit like the locals.

6. Fall in love with the village of Trevignano Romano

Trevignano Romano is the smallest of the villages overlooking Lake Bracciano.

There are several reasons why this hamlet outshines the others. 

First and foremost is the presence of a well-kept and lovely lakefront promenade, about 2 km long, with gardens, sculptures, cafes, and restaurants. The promenade is the heart of Trevignano Romano. 

Stop at café Oltre Bar for a cappuccino; it is the best around the lake.

Trevignano’s historic center is also very close to the lakeshore.

After sampling both sweet and savory delicacies from Forno Franchini, have a coffee at Pasticceria Ermete together with the locals.

Then pass under the arch topped by the ancient clock tower and walk through the narrow streets until you reach the Church of the Assumption. Here you will find, in the apse, a fresco by a disciple of Raphael.

Then climb the steps to the top of the hill and you will find the remains of the ancient Orsini Fortress, as fascinating as the view from up there.

TIP:

Trevignano Romano is the perfect place to stay in the region. The Malì Hotel, set along the lakefront promenade is one of the best hotels around Lake Bracciano (and one of the most affordable!)

BONUS: Trevignano hosts the Etruscan-Roman Museum. The museum’s artifacts reveal much about the history of these places. Access to the museum, located on the ground floor of the town hall, is free.

7. Discover Anguillara Sabazia

Once you have seen Trevignano and Bracciano, you may feel that Anguillara has nothing to add.

If you love walking through medieval villages with cobblestone alleys and old houses, then take a stroll through the old town.

To visit the old town, you may have to climb from the pier square up on the promontory via stairs that start from Piazza del Lavatoio. 

There is easier access via the ancient gateway, the Porta Romana.

You will be immediately in front of the elegant Town Hall, the old Baronial Orsini Palace. Opposite is the fountain with the sculpted eels known as the ” Fountain of the Earth.” 

Take the stairs leading to the Torrione Gardens to see the ancient watchtower and enjoy the view of the village rooftops and the lake.

The best view is from the small square in front of the Church of the Assumption, the village’s highest point.

TIP: To admire the lake from a spot that only locals know about, walk from the Torrione Gardens to Via delle Rupi Road.

Definitely not your cup of tea if you have issues walking.

Anguillara has some noteworthy restaurants:

  • Friggitoria and Pescheria Toto, where you can have an aperitif with fish and a glass of wine
  • Zaira – excellent seafood and lake fish restaurant

8. Take a ferry ride across Lake Bracciano (summer)

This service is available only during the summer and if the water level is high enough. 

The boat serves as a means of tourist transportation between the three towns on the lake.

It’s a very romantic and convenient way to sightsee all three hamlets on the lake on the same day. 

Each stretch of the ride costs €4, while an entire round trip costs €10.

MIND: In Anguillara Sabazia and Trevignano Romano, the dock is only steps away from the attractions in the historical center, while in Bracciano you need to walk uphill for 40 minutes to go from the dock to the historic center. 

9. Birdwatching

Being a nature reserve, the lake is populated by many water and non-water birds.
Others include swans, ducks, geese, herons, coots, kites, buzzards, hawks. Swans are very sociable and approachable.
Mind: do not feed them, it is prohibited.

10. Taste local dishes 

Bracciano

Our favorite restaurant in Bracciano town is Enjoy on Arazzaria Street. Don’t be mistaken by the name, it is an Italian restaurant. The specialty in my opinion is the hearty and tasty homemade pasta. You will also find excellent fish dishes here. 

If you can’t find a table here, go to Trattoria del Castello, from which you can admire the ramparts of the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle. 

For lovers of rustic settings and a trattoria atmosphere, on the other hand, there is Trattoria da Regina, which makes the best tiramisu in the world.

Anguillara Sabazia

In Anguillara, locals like to have an aperitif in the picturesque Piazza del Molo (Pier Square). Try both seafood and lakefish dishes from Friggitoria Toto.

Restaurant Zaira, not far from Pier Square, has a porch with a lovely view of the lake and a chef who cooks fish to perfection.

Try the restaurants in Trevignano Romano

In Trevignano Romano, there are so many small restaurants. Here are tips for not losing your compass.

Restaurant Casina Bianca – Here is the most popular restaurant in town, within walking distance of the beach. Here you will find dishes with lake fish but also typical Lazio dishes and vegetables from the garden. When I come here I order all the vegetable dishes they have. I especially recommend chicory and broccoletti.

11. Fishing in Lake Bracciano

The lake is home to carp, tench, chub, perch, trout perch, pike, sun perch, rudd, mullet, and lattarino

The main fishing techniques are carp fishing, feeder, and spinning.

Sport and recreational fishing, it is regulated by the Lazio Region. 

It will not be so easy to practice it according to the rules if you are only staying in the area for a short time.

In fact, to avoid incurring a fine while practicing fishing in Lake Bracciano, you should provide yourself with:

Receipt of payment of the fee of €29.13 to be made by bank transfer to:

  • IT-75-C-07601-03200-000063101000
  • Headed to: LAZIO REGION – REGIONAL CONCESSION FEES
  • In the reason for payment indicate your first and last name in block letters as shown in your identity document

For foreign citizens residing abroad, once the payment is made, they will be able to fish for 3 months, after which, they will have to make a new payment.

Citizens under the age of 18 and over the age of 65 are exempt from paying the fee, but:

Everyone must carry the Catch Marker Card, valid from November 1 to October 31 of the following year (it must be returned before the expiration date.)

The catch marker card can be obtained by filling out a form at the office of the Agenzia Regionale per Lo Sviluppo e L’Innovazione dell’Agricoltura del Lazio located in Rome at Via Rodolfo Lanciani, 38.

An appointment must first be made by sending an email to one of these addresses:

  • Mr. Corrado Pierini cpierini@regione.lazio.it
  • Mr. Amerigo Di Salvo 06 5168 6687 email adisalvo@regione.lazio.it
  • Ms. Assunta Proietti 06 51686612 email aproietti@regione.lazio.it

In any case, you must have an Italian tax code to obtain the card. If you are a foreign citizen residing abroad, you can apply for the tax code at the Italian Consulate in your country of residence.

In case you get the card, remember that during the summer months, fishing on the lake is prohibited at the swimming beaches and piers where the public ferry docks.

Therefore you should also equip yourself with a small boat with an electric motor to go fishing far enough away from the beaches.

12. Plan a wedding here

If you are considering getting married in Italy, Lake Bracciano represents an exceptional location. 

We are talking about one of the most beautiful spots in the Roman countryside, which enjoys a year-round mild climate. The enchanting colors and shades of the water are just the icing on the cake.

That must be why celebrities from the entertainment world have decided to share their romance with the world right here.

So know that there are different locations where you can celebrate the happy event, I have chosen a few.

Bracciano Castle wedding

The most exclusive location in the region to celebrate a wedding is the medieval Orsini Odescalchi Castle, located in the heart of Bracciano.

You can rent the castle for a day (from €15000). 

Event managers can also provide catering, flowers, and shows such as pyrotechnics or swordsmen and acrobats, in tune with the historic location.

There is a privileged view of the lake from the castle. In summer, tables will be set up in the well-groomed gardens, and in winter in the halls inside the structure.

This is definitely an ideal location for those who want to add a touch of majesty and exclusive luxury to their wedding in the Roman countryside

Rocca Romana Residence

This wedding venue near Lago di Bracciano is set on a scenic hill surrounded by the lush greenery of the nature reserve.

It catches the eye with its large swimming pool that will make your event unique if you celebrate it in summer.

Also because on-site there are apartments that can accommodate up to 100 guests and a bridal suite.

Tenuta San Liberato 

A handful of kilometers from the historic center of Bracciano is Tenuta San Liberato. 

It is a farmhouse with a turret and a 9th-century church where you can celebrate your wedding ceremony. The walls of the church house frescoes from the Renaissance period.

The estate is surrounded by a manicured park with a botanical garden and ornamental plants overlooking the lake that can accommodate a banquet in summer.

Local’s tips for visiting Lake Bracciano

How to get to Lake Bracciano from Rome by car

You’ll find the lake located 40 km north of Rome, in the direction of Viterbo.

It’s about a 40 or 50-minute drive, but the road isn’t as good as it could be. I’d recommend driving from Rome to Bracciano if you feel confident enough to drive on a narrow, not well-maintained road.

Rome to Lake Bracciano trains

The easiest way to get to Lake Bracciano from Rome is by train. Trains depart from these stations in Rome: 

  • Roma Ostiense 
  • Valle Aurelia 
  • Trastevere

And take you to:

  • Anguillara Sabazia in about 40 mins
  • Bracciano in about 50 mins

The train ticket costs less than €3

Lake Bracciano to Rome

Trains from Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia stations leave for Rome about every half hour. There are fewer runs on Sundays and holidays.

Which town on the lake should you visit first?

There are three main towns on the lake: 

  • Anguillara Sabazia 
  • Bracciano
  • Trevignano Romano

They’re all lovely, and if you’re visiting there on a day trip from Rome you’ll have time to see at least two of them.

My favorites are Trevignano Romano and Bracciano.

Here is some insider info to consider before planning your trip:

For Anguillara Sabazia: 

  • The train station is about 3 km from the old town and the beach. Convenient local buses leave from the station to take you downtown.
  • The historic center is all uphill. If you have difficulty walking better visit another small town first.
  • There is a long beach but close to a fairly busy road.

For Bracciano

  • Among the best things to do in Bracciano is visit the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle, the major historical landmark in the area.
  • The train station is a few minutes walk away from downtown, which is very convenient.
  • To get to the beach, however, you will have to take a bus or walk downhill for 45 minutes.

For Trevignano Romano 

  • Has a village feel, it doesn’t have a train station so it’s more secluded, less touristic. 
  • You reach it with a bus ride from the Anguillara Sabazia Train Station (bus Line C, €1, about 20 minutes ride.)
  • Has the longest and more curated promenade of Lake Bracciano and the richest offer of restaurants and cafes just facing the water. 
  • The historic center is within walking distance of the lakeshore.
  • The beach is reached by a brisk walk along the lakefront promenade of about 15 mins.
  • All in all, Trevignano Romano is one of the best small towns to visit near Rome

Where to stay in Lake Bracciano

If you have planned to explore the area for a few days, I recommend looking for a place to stay in Trevignano Romano, like the Mali Hotel, which faces the lake on a quiet part of the beautiful promenade.

Check the availability for Mali Hotel

Instead, if you prefer a more unique place to a hotel, consider the Villa Clementina Hotel & Spa.

The property is located on a hilltop and is surrounded by a park with ornamental plants and a swimming pool.

Inside, there is also a Spa and a restaurant that will guarantee you total relaxation in one of the most beautiful places in the countryside around Rome.

Check the latest rates for Villa Clementina

Parking near Lake Bracciano

To park near the beaches very close to Bracciano town, Anguillara Sabazia, or Trevignano Romano you’ll have to pay a toll of €0.50/1 per hour, depending on the spot. In this way, you can park your car in the parking lots marked by blue stripes.
The parking lots marked by white stripes are free and it is very difficult to find them free during the weekend.
There is fairly strict control on parking and fines are around €30.
You also have to be very careful about parking on the road that goes along the lake in the proximity of towns. If your car occupies part of the roadway, it is liable to a fine.
In the towns of Bracciano (not very close to the beach) and Trevignano Romano (close enough to the beach), there are some free parking places, I have indicated them on the map.

Interesting facts about Lake Bracciano, Italy

Far, far away in time, Lake Bracciano and its tiny neighbor, Lake Martignano, were volcanic craters belonging to the Sabatino volcanic complex. 

Later, they filled up with water and became lakes. Remains of a Neolithic village dating back to 5500 b.C. were discovered underwater near La Marmotta Beach, including a 9 mt pirogue, which is now displayed at the Museo Neolitico in the town of Anguillara Sabazia. The museum is temporarily closed at the moment.

The water from the lake is drawn and channeled through the Roman aqueducts to provide water for many of Rome’s urban districts, as well as 40 smaller towns surrounding Rome. That’s quite impressive for a lake that is mainly fed by underground rivers and rain. 

To ensure the purity of the water, motorboats are forbidden on the lake. Lake Bracciano is one of Italy’s natural wonders.

History of Lake Bracciano

​​The history of the settlement of Lake Bracciano is closely connected to the history of Rome and even older. 

The origins of these villages are lost in the mists of time, as is the history of the noble families who ruled them.

Before the Romans, there were Etruscans in this part of the Roman countryside, as evidenced by the remains of necropolises found around Trevignano Romano. The splendid artifacts found at the necropolis sites can be admired at the Roman Etruscan Museum in Trevignano Romano, with free admission.

Near Anguillara Sabazia, on the other hand, the remains of a Neolithic village dating from about 5000 B.C. have been found in the waters of the lake at a depth of 10 meters.

I find very interesting two legends related to Lake Bracciano that I am pleased to introduce you to.

The legend of the ancient city of Sabate

The ancient name of the lake was “Lake Sabatine,” connected to the nearby Sabatine Mountains and the ancient Sabatine volcanic system. It is said that there was also a large and wealthy city named “Sabate.”

A German historian and geographer between the 16th and 17th centuries compiled the historical work “Italia Antiqua.” He reported in the work a document stating that when the waters of the lake were very calm, the remains of statues and buildings could be glimpsed at the bottom.

According to the legend, the ancient city of Sabate was prosperous but its inhabitants had lost moral values. An unspecified deity then decided to cause a cataclysm that completely destroyed the city. Only one young woman, who had a pure soul instead, was spared. The deity told her to run away and never look back. 

The woman stopped to catch her breath at the place where centuries later the little church of St. Maria del Riposo was erected.

Then the young girl turned back to look at the city of Sabate but instead of the city, she found a large lake. That lake was later known as Lake Sabatine, or Lago di Bracciano (Bracciano Lake). 

The legend of the dragon-serpent

The origin of the ancient Anguillara family, which owned many lands in the region since the Middle Ages, is a mystery. According to legend, in the 10th century, there was a dragon in the area, which terrorized its inhabitants.

The valiant Ramon of the Anguillara family managed to defeat the dragon near the lake.

Then, the pope gave him the territory.

More places to see around Lake Bracciano

Once you’re here, it would be a pity not to explore further. 

The Bracciano Lake can be the perfect base for exploring the Tuscia region, which stretches between the northern province of Rome and the city of Viterbo.

Tuscia in ancient times, corresponded with the region inhabited by the Etruscans, that preceded the Romans in central Italy.

Lake Martignano

This is a small, enchanting lake completely surrounded by unspoiled nature that you can reach with a two hours hike from Anguillara Sabazia. 

There is plenty of shade on the beach, and you can swim too, but you need to bring your own water and food, as it’s secluded.

This is one of the easiest and most rewarding half-day hikes near Rome.

Canale Monterano Nature Reserve and ghost town

This is of the most interesting and mysterious places in Lazio and Italy. 

In the 17th Century, the citizens of Antica Monterano abandoned their town and moved to Canale Monterano because of a plague. 

The ghost town features stunning remains of churches, a castle, and village houses. The abandoned town is surrounded by nature. There’s a stream with a waterfall, a sulfur spring, and forests. 

You will find Etruscan caves in the area too.

The place is really magical and you need half a day to explore it on foot. The best way to reach the reserve is by car. Avoid visiting if the weather is bad and from late June to the end of August for the presence of horseflies.

Calcata

Also known as the artists’ village, Calcata Vecchia can be reached by an approximately 30-minute drive from the lake.

The highlights of this place are:

the landscape: the old town stands on a cliff surrounded by lush forests

the vibe: Calcata since the 1960s has been inhabited by artists from all over the world, who have their studios here.

Conclusion

There are so many charming places to see around Lake Bracciano, Italy’s most underrated countryside destination. 

No matter which village you decide to stay in, either way you will feel like getting around to better explore the region.

Renting a car will allow you to move more freely, but beware of the quality of the roads and the often unexpectedly irresponsible driving of locals.

To visit the region, I recommend you take at least two to three days.

Bracciano Lake is so close to Rome that it could be a base for exploring the Eternal City without suffering its chaotic city atmosphere.

FAQs Lake Bracciano Italy

Is Bracciano worth a visit?

Bracciano town sits atop a hill overlooking Lake Bracciano. A visit to the historic center of Bracciano alone is enjoyable, with its castle and small restaurants.

However, to make it a fulfilling day-trip from Rome, it is best to add another village to the trip as well, preferably Trevignano Romano.

Can you swim in Lake Bracciano?

Yes, it is possible and very enjoyable. The water is pure, it even goes all the way to the taps of the Romans as drinking water. 

However, one must be careful not to stray too far from the shore, because the water becomes deep and eddies may occur.

Trevignano Romano’s beaches have achieved the Blue Flag recognition. The Blue Flag is awarded by a European foundation to beaches that best meet criteria related to sustainable land management. 

Further Readings

Leave a Comment