The best tips for a holiday on Lake Garda

At almost 370 square kilometers, Lago di Garda is not only the largest of the eight northern Italian lakes, but also the largest lake in Italy. It lies northwest of Verona, embedded between high mountains, olive groves and vineyards.

In the north, the mountains rise up close to the crystal-clear water. And the further south you drive on either the west or east shore on the more than 50 km long coastal road, the more Mediterranean the mood on Lake Garda becomes. On the south bank, Sirmione radiates a southern Italian atmosphere with its narrow streets, the fortress in the water and the Roman ruins.

Holidays on Lake Garda are especially nice for families

Lake Garda has a lot to offer for families on holiday. On the lovely south-west shore in the province of Brescia, which is part of Lombardy, there is plenty of accommodation in holiday homes, hotels and campsites: especially near the Bay of Salò and the peninsula of San Felice del Benaco with its picture-perfect beaches overlooking the Isola di Garda. Large campsites right on the shore can be found in Moniga del Garda and Manerba del Garda.

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A spectacular sight in the region is the estate of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio in Gardone near Salò. The Vittoriale degli Italani with its spacious park can be visited daily.

Riva, Limone and Malcesine

If you want to explore medieval castles and pretty town centers on Lake Garda, you have a whole range of options on Lake Garda. In the far north is Riva del Garda. The landmark is a medieval clock tower at the port. A museum with finds from Roman times is housed in the fortress, which is located on a rocky outcrop. Attractions are also a water park with a giant slide and an idyllic lake promenade.

Thousands of holidaymakers are also drawn to the picturesque town of Limone on the north-west shore. The former fishing village is a popular meeting place for hikes in the mountains.

Perhaps even more spectacular than Limone for holidaymakers is a visit to the town of Malcesine on the east bank. From the beautiful old town you can reach the massif of the 2200 meter high Monte Baldo by cable car. A medieval castle, a governor’s palace with a park down to the lake and many beautiful beaches are other attractions of the holiday resort in the Veneto region.

Bardolino and the Strada del Vino

The Strada del Vino, an enchanting route that meanders through 16 towns and past 46 wineries, also begins in Bardolino on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. You can taste the ruby ​​red Bardolino everywhere. The Superiore drop, which is stored in wooden barrels for at least a year, is particularly strong. At the beginning of October, the winegrowers invite you to a festival in Bardolino, where guests are treated to red wine, fish and risotto on the promenade. If you don’t want to wait that long: At the Palio del Chiaretto at the end of May/beginning of June there are samples of Chiaretto on the lake promenade. This is the rosé version of the red Bardolino, a light, summery wine that is excellent as an aperitif.

Excursion to Verona

The ancient Arena di Verona, probably the most beautiful opera stage in the world, is only 30 kilometers away from Bardolino and has been the scene of the famous opera festival (June to September) since 1913, a huge spectacle in which 20,000 music fans in the open air cheered the soloists with shouts of bravo celebrate and like to smash along to the arias of Verdi and Puccini. Dates and tickets can be found here.

Verona is also home to the world’s most famous lovers, the setting for Shakespeare’s drama Romeo and Juliet. In the city center, between cafés and boutiques, lies the Casa di Giuletta with the legendary balcony on which Juliet is said to have waited for her Romeo. Those who come at the end of August or beginning of September can indulge in the tearful performances of “Romeo and Juliet” (in French) in the Arena di Verona in the evenings.

Holidays on Lake Garda – personal tips

What is a highlight?

The town of Sirmione on the Sirmio Peninsula on the southern shore of Lake Garda. The place is car-free, has a small castle, nice alleys, a beach and good restaurants. But the best thing about Sirmione is the Roman villa of Catullus, whose impressive ruins overlook the whole of Lake Garda. The Romans really knew where to build.

What you should definitely do

Drive all the way around Lake Garda. The landscape is totally varied. You drive past olive groves and vineyards and through galleries on the rocky west coast. There are many towns to visit along the way, such as Peschiera del Garda on the south-east bank, Malcesine on the east bank, Riva del Garda on the north bank and Salò on the west bank. Limone sul Garda, which can only be reached via a tunnel, is particularly exciting. Incidentally, a cycle path around the entire lake was recently completed, so the tour is not only feasible by car.

My personal insider tip

There are beautiful hiking trails around Lake Garda that lead to remote and sleepy hamlets on higher ground. The Gardesian Prealps go up to 2254 meters, so you can let off steam here. On the east bank, in the Torri del Benaco area, higher up, are petroglyphs dating back to the Bronze Age. The Roccia delle Griselle and the Pietra dei Cavalieri are particularly well known.

Which area is ideal for accommodation?

In the southern half of Lake Garda there are a lot of nice campsites that have direct access to the water. In general, however, each of the small towns is also suitable for a hotel stay. If you want to be closer to the mountains, it is best to look for something in the northern half. If you plan to go swimming or go to Verona, you can look around on the southern and south-eastern shore.


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