Lakes of Varano and Lesina

In the northern part of the Gargano we find the lakes of Varano and Lesina. These wetlands, as well as that of Lake Salso, constitute real naturalistic oases, above all for the habitat capable of hosting numerous species of birds.

Varano lake

Lake Varano, with an area of ​​about 60 sq km, is the largest Italian coastal lake, being the seventh lake of the peninsula and the largest in the south.
Traditionally called a "lake", Lake Varano is technically a lagoon and is therefore a salt water basin, although it has a salinity of about a third lower than that of the nearby Adriatic Sea.
The lagoon dug into the limestone rock is fed by underground currents and communicates with the Adriatic Sea in two points: the mouth of Varano, to the east, and the mouth of Capojale to the west. The strip of land that closes the lake to the sea is called an island and extends for about 10 km with a width of just 1 km. The isthmus, as the writings of Pliny the Elder attest, was completely absent in the first century. AD, when the Lakes of Lesina (further to the West) and Varano were natural gulfs and served as a landing place for the Crusaders heading to Jerusalem.
Lake Varano hosts the Isola di Varano nature reserve, which is home to many species of birds: numerous cormorants live in Foce Capoiale. There are also numerous great crested grebes and goosanders, a type of duck that can reach 129 km/h in horizontal flight.
Other aquatic birds present are the coot, the ducks of the Nordic countries and also various species of herons, typical of all Italian wetlands: the gray heron, the purple heron, the egret and the great white heron, which can be often confused with the egret. Quite simply, the great white heron is bigger than the little egret and, in winter, has a yellow beak instead of the black one of its "cousin".
The kingfisher is inevitable, while on the dunes around the lake we find curlews, snipes and black-winged stilts.
A pedestrian path starts in the locality of "Bagno".
For those looking for natural places rich in spirituality, a visit to the Crucifix of Varano is certainly recommended, a wooden cross from the 1300s located on the eastern shore of Lake Varano. According to legend, the Crucifix would reproduce the true features of the face of Christ on the Cross and would represent the cross that surmounted the church of an ancient fishing village erased by a flood as divine punishment. Some swear to hear the tolling of the bells on particular days and see the ancient houses in the clear waters of the lake. Near the Crucifix stands a small church (Chiesa dell'Annunziata), almost completely restored, the destination of a pilgrimage that leaves every 23rd April from Ischitella (municipality to which it belongs) and is repeated in the summer version on 23rd August.
For more information, you can find useful information on the area on the website

Lesina lake

Lake Lesina is located in the northwest part of the Gargano, not far from Lake Varano, it is the 9th lake by surface area, as well as the shallowest in Italy
The lagoon communicates with the Adriatic Sea through two canals, from which it is separated by a dune, Bosco Isola, between 1 and 2 km wide and 16 km long.
Its waters are populated above all by eels and are home to many species of birds.
In the eastern part of the lake there is the Lago di Lesina Nature Reserve, a state protected natural area established in 1981.
In the area there is the Visitor Center of the Gargano National Park "Laguna di Lesina", managed by Lipu.

Follow also on social networks for updates and live coverage. Join the community and share the photos of your holidays in Vieste!



Peschici is about 20 km away. north of Vieste, on the coast,…
Rhodes Garganico

Rhodes Garganico

Rodi Garganico is located in the northern part of the Gargano, west of Peschici,…

La Chianca

So named for the homonymous rock (chianca, stone) located in the center of the small…

Vico del Gargano

The village of Vico del Gargano, located in the hinterland of the north of the Gargano,…


Crovatico beach is located about 10 km from the center…

Kalena Abbey

The Abbey of Santa Maria di Kalena, located about 1,5 km from the… is created by Diego Romano, Tourism Marketing

See also:

The Umbra Forest

The Foresta Umbra nature reserve is a protected natural area located…

Are you looking for accommodation?


Marc Hotel

4-star hotel 150 meters from the sea, near the centre