Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It sits at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. There are two basic ways to enjoy a Lake Garda vacation: 1) to travel around the lake staying for two nights in several locations, or 2) to stay in one place for the duration of the vacation.
Let’s explore a vacation centered on option 1, traveling around the lake. This locale is so beautiful that the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” included an opening chase scene taking place in the town of Carrara and along Lake Garda.
Although there are many permanent residents around the lake, you’ll feel like the entire area is given over to tourists. Sign after sign announces apartments for rent, restaurants and other amenities.
Flying In to Lake Garda
If you plan on spending some time in Venice, as well, you have two options. You can fly into Millan, travel around Lake Garda, head to Venice, and fly home from Venice. The second option is to fly into Venice and return home from Milan. This option costs a bit more, but allows you to see more of Italy.
There are so many hotels and apartments that you’ll be able to choose at your leisure. Just make sure that you can park at the place you’re staying.
What to Do at Lake Garda
There are so many great things to do around Lake Garda. The lake itself offers parasailing and windsurfing, kayaking, and other marine activities. You can swim at the many beaches, although the lake is quite rocky. If you want to swim, you’ll need plastic shoes to protect your feet.
The lake is actually considered a mountain lake, so the winds can change rapidly from south to north or the reverse and pick up quickly during storms. It is always cooler around Lake Garda than in the many other destinations in Italy that are so popular with tourists.
The contrast between the water and the air is always on the side of moderation; that is, in the summer the water is cooler than the air, and in the winter, it is a bit warmer. Thus, Lake Garda has a much milder climate for its proximity to the Mediterranean basin than any other south European area.
Because the lake is tucked within a mountainous area, there is abundant hiking. Be aware, however, that you’ll hike both uphill and downhill, so be honest about the condition of your legs and be sure to bring along good strong hiking shoes.
There are a few casinos around the lake, as well, but may we recommend gaming online while you’re in northern Italy. This way you can bet on your favourite team at the Online Casino South Africa site while you’re enjoying your Italian espresso, lying on the beach or just sitting on a park bench enjoying the view. Because, let’s face it, you didn’t spend all that money to get to Italy and sit in a stuffy casino!
Wine and Olives
As you hike in and around the hillsides, you’ll see many vineyards and especially many olive groves. After you’ve consumed some local wine, you’ll understand why some say that the more famous wines are overrated and the less well known wines are underrated.
You’ll find lots of lemon trees, especially on the western side of the lake, where there are acres upon acres of lemon groves. The most famous product from lemons is the liqueur called Limoncino. Lemons are an important part of most local dishes, so leave the pizza alone and order items you’ve never tasted before.
Coffee is a ritual throughout Italy, and Lake Garda is no exception. You can make like a local and sip a small demitasse of espresso or buy café au lait or coffee with hot water – enigmatically known as American coffee. Most of the time, the coffee will be rich, aromatic, and magnificently flavorful. One thing’s for sure, though. Never ever buy coffee at a souvenir shop.
Depending on the season, there are concerts almost every night of the week at Lake Garda. Also, you may find at the tourist information offices that there is a “festival” somewhere nearby. Some festivals are not really festivals, but rather something along the lines of a church social or fundraiser. You’ll probably still have a great time, even if it’s not a “true” festival.
Riva de Garda
This town sits at the top of the lake, and we discovered that at the lake itself, the plazas simply run into each other. North of Riva de Garda is Tenno, and a short walk further north is Lake Tenno. You can easily walk all around Lake Tenno and visit a so-called Medieval Town at the southern end of it. The town is not medieval, but it is very interesting in its own way.
On the way back from Tenno, be sure and visit the grotto. There are actually two waterfalls there that originate at Lake Tenno. Be sure and wear a jacket, because you’ll no doubt get a little wet.
Traveling Without Kids
If you can visit Lake Garda without children, do so and go before the summer crush begins. The road around the lake gets crowded to the point of absolute gridlock in the summer. If you’re going with kids, don’t bother renting a car. Fly into Milan and take a shuttle to your hotel and stay there. The children’s park, Gardaland, is at the southeastern side of the lake and is packed in the summer, but if that’s the only time you can go, you should still go.
Please don’t waste your time at souvenir shops. It’s best to buy souvenirs from places you “bump into” along the way.
The Italian people have a reputation for being able to speak enough English to get by, but you’ll often find them speaking very good German, as well. If you speak neither, you’ll likely always find someone who can help you get to where you’re going.
Have other thoughts about Lake Garda? Feel free to leave comments in the comments section below.