Considering a lake holiday destination in Italy? There are so many to visit! At the foot of the mountains in the north, close to the border with Switzerland there is Lake Maggiore, Lugano, Orta and Iseo. As well as the more famous and well-known destinations such as Lake Como, where one hopes to bump into the handsome George Clooney, and one of our favourite destinations in the Italian lakes district, Lake Garda. While the sound of bumping into the famous actor is inviting, we want to highlight why you shouldn’t leave Lake Garda off your travel list when visiting Italy’s north.
Where to find Lake Garda and what makes it special?
The must visit, Lake Garda or Lago di Garda is located at the foot of Italy’s southern alps, between: Milan, Verona, and Venice. A place you can easily squeeze into your travel itinerary if visiting one of these three destinations.
As the largest lake in Italy with a surface area of 370 km, Lake Garda offers pristine clear turquoise waters with charming little towns and castles dotted around its banks. It’s surrounded by rugged high mountains, and it is these very mountains and hilltops which protect Lake Garda, giving it a unique microclimate. It is mild enough to allow Mediterranean-style vegetation to flourish, like the cultivation of grape vines, olive and citrus trees, palms, and bougainvillea.
Visiting Lake Garda, what to see and do?
With the Southern Alps only an hours drive away, you witness the picturesque composition of the rugged mountain terrain embracing this grand lake, and the scattered little towns. It’s this beautiful landscape which lures those looking for a relaxing getaway, as well as those hungry for adventure. The mountains are perfect for road and mountain biking, hiking adventures and rock climbing – all the while taking in the breathtaking scenery.
Then there’s Lake Garda’s southern banks lined with lake-beaches, setting the prefect scene for sport-loving visitors looking for popular activities like (wind) water sports for which Garda is world renowned. Sailing, windsurfing, and kite surfing are all ideal with wind conditions which cater for beginners through to professionals.
For those who prefer a slower style of travel experience with food and wine, Garda and its surrounds do not disappoint. In the hills north of Verona, east of Lake Garda you can experience the renowned Italian wines of the Valpolicella wine growing region. There you will find the vines of one of the greatest red wines of Italy, Amarone, known as the Queen of Italian red wines. The rolling hills of this wine region are dotted with century old family-run wineries producing exceptional reds.
On the dining front, on and around Lake Garda you will find many lakeside trattorias serving up typical cuisine. If you prefer something a bit more refined there are Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants such as Lido 84 and La Veranda del Color, to name a few worth visiting.
Which towns to visit on Lake Garda? Here’s our Top 3
1. Riva del Garda
Undoubtedly our favourite destination on Lake Garda, Riva is located at the northern shores of the lake. Besides being beautifully surrounded by high mountains and steep cliffs, Riva offers so much in terms of shopping, dining and recreation. The old town is picturesque and true to its old charm. There is the 12th century fortress, Rocca di Riva, a feature of the town’s landscape, as well as the maze of winding cobbled-stone lanes leading visitors down toward the harbour.
There are so many quaint towns scattered around the shoreline to discover, but it’s difficult to overlook Sirmione. Almost entirely surrounded by the lake’s water, this little town makes for a unique and atmospheric little excursion, where you can immerse yourself amongst its full character. Its medieval castle, Scaligero Castle, is a highlight, one gets the illusion the castle is coming directly out of the lake. It can be a very popular spot, so try to avoid the peak summer tourist season if you prefer less crowds.
Limone is another town worth visiting along the mountainous northern shores of Lake Garda, where the rugged rocky cliffs set a breathtaking backdrop for the beautiful old town. Its little harbour is the heart of Limone, referred to as Porto Vecchio (Old Port), it’s here you will lose yourself in the narrow streets amongst the boutique stores and little trattorias. Interesting fact: ‘limone’ is lemon in Italian, but there’s no relation, only a coincidence. Limone was once renowned for growing lemons and other citrus fruits.
Want to know more about this beautiful lake-meets-mountains destination? Vita Italian Tours have been travelling to Lake Garda for close to twenty years on the Northern Lakes & Dolomites small group tour, join our intimate group of travellers in exploring Northern Italy. If you prefer to travel more at your own pace the family team at Vita Italian Tours organise and plan tailor-made travel itineraries to this beautiful part of the world.
Contact us today to start planning your Lake Garda adventure.
Article written by: Dijana