Great introduction to Lake Garda

Written by on December 18, 2020 in Lombardy, North West, Regions

magnificent view over the lake Garda with mountains and hill around - Great Introduction to Lake Garda

World famous and wonderful Lake Garda is located half way between Milan and Venice in the north of Italy.

Its huge!

Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian Lakes in terms of its surface area (370km/sq). 51km long and 16km wide at its widest point, the southern end. It is so big it belongs to three separate Italian regions. The western shore is in the region of Lombardia and the province of Brescia. The eastern shore is in the region of Veneto and the province of Verona. The very northern tip of the lake actually sits in the mountain region of Trentino – Alto Adige.

Sarca in, Mincio out – the rivers

The lake is fed at its northern end by the Sarca river which originates up near Monte Bondone, south of Trento. It is drained at the southern end by the Mincio river which leaves the lake at village of Peschiera del Garda. It flows down past the town of Mantova before joining the River Po. At Mantova, the Mincio river was widened in the 12th Century to form the famous lakes which give this gorgeous old renaissance city its unique island character.

One of the most easily accessible places in Italy

The A4 Milan-Venice autostrada passes along the south shore, giving immediate access to the popular villages of Peschiera and Desenzano.

Peschiera is only 30km from the amazing medieval city of Verona, setting for William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. And just 120km from Milano to the west or 150km from Venice to the east.

Milano Malpensa is your nearest long-haul international airport. Other nearby airports for domestic and European arrivals would be Milan Linate, Bergamo, Verona and Venice.

the little boats are wait to be taken out in Peschiera lake Garda

One of the world’s most pleasant environments

Of all the Great Italian Lakes, Lake Garda is perhaps the most complete. As a holiday destination and also as a place to enjoy a healthy, active as well as cultured lifestyle.

Thanks to its huge expanse of water it enjoys an almost Mediterranean climate, especially in the south. The air is soft, warm and sweet, getting fresher as you travel from bottom to top. And cooler should you head up into the hills.

It offers a lovely mix of landscapes. From the narrow and rugged north, where spectacular mountains arrive nearly at the water. To the south, which is much more open and gentle, with rolling hills covered vines, olive groves and citrus trees, oleanders and cypresses. There are even palm trees growing along the lake shore.

The ancient villages and harbours all around its shores are charming and overflowing with authentic and welcoming restaurants, bars and artisan shops. The abundant renaissance palaces and villas standing over the waters edge are exquisite. Many have been turned into ‘once in a lifetime’ hotels.

Visually, it is hard to find a more rewarding and harmonious setting anywhere else in the world than Lake Garda and its surroundings.

windsurfing paragliding and mountain biking all around lake Garda - Great introduction to Lake Garda

Where there is something special for everyone – to do, not just to look at

But Lake Garda’s main trick is its openness and approachability. A bit like the Cinque Terre, on the sea in Liguria, Lake Garda is not just to look at and respectfully admire. It wants you to dive right in and do everything it has to offer. Wind surfing and water skiing, boating, kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing. Canyoning, cycling and mountain biking, e-biking. Wine and olive oil tasting, horse-back riding, paragliding. Car & motorbike touring, abseiling and fishing. You name it, you can do it here. And usually in the some of the most breath-taking settings imaginable.

Perfect sailing conditions – one of the world’s premier regatta venues

The reliable regular winds and flat water make for the perfect sailing conditions. The waves, never overly large, are suited to both experts and beginners. Lake Garda is considered one of the worlds best regatta venues. Riva del Garda and Torbole sul Garda, are the most famous locations, also thanks to the quality services available, with schools and equipment hire of the highest quality.

A paradise for kids and teenagers, as well as their parents

The Lake Garda region is a great place for kids and teenagers to come and let off steam. As well as for adults to be their most active, outdoorsy and healthy selves.

But don’t let me put you off if your favourite thing to do on holiday is to just chill out. You can also take it easy here by all means. After all there’s no better place for a sunny snooze than a lakeside beach. Or for reading a book than a shady hillside terrace overlooking a tranquil Alpine lake. Long lunches, a gentle evening passeggiata. Slow cruises around the islands, window shopping. A drive to Verona or a leisurely winery tour. All this awaits you here at Lake Garda.

sitting on the top of the hill on the shore of lake Garda and admiring the view

Wonderful accommodation and restaurants to suit all budgets

Accommodation and food wise, Lake Garda is a very inclusive place. It’s not all high end and sophisticated, although there are many such luxury hotels, villas and restaurants for you to choose from. But there are also many excellent camping grounds, holiday lodge complexes, rental apartments and friendly B&B’s available, catering for all budgets.

Likewise, modest but excellent family run trattorias, bars and restaurants mingle unselfconsciously alongside their more exclusive, sometimes Michelin starred neighbours.

What an amazing place to live Lake Garda would be – or to own a holiday home

As a place to live or own a holiday home, Lake Garda offers year-round pleasure and takes some beating. May through to October speaks for itself. But stay here also during the winter months and you can access the world class snow-sports centres of Trentino – Alto Adige / Sud Tirol and the spectacular Dolomites. In only a 3-hour drive from the south shore you can even be skiing in Innsbruck, having travelled across the border into Austria through the iconic Brenner Pass.

Torbole magnificent mountains in the background

A neighbourhood of fabulous historic towns and unspoiled villages

By way of a quick run-down of some of the lovely villages to visit on the shores of Lake Garda, our favourites are probably Sirmione, Peschiera, Bardolino, Torri del Benaco,  Malcesina, Torbole, Riva del Garda, Limone sul Garda, Maderno and Desenzano.

From Lake Garda you can make day trips to some of Northern Italy’s most interesting towns and cities, such as Verona, Bergamo, Parma, Bologna, Mantova, Trento, Bolzano, Vicenza, Padua, Ferrara and Venice.

magnificent castle in Sirmione and view over Torbole

More attractions than Florida? – but don’t quote me on that

A map of Lake Garda’s tourist attractions is a chaos of hundreds of blue dots. Theme parks, water parks, acrobat parks, zip wires, cable cars. Castles & fortresses. Zoos, gardens & nature reserves, islands, museums, churches and monasteries. Even a movie studios. More than anywhere else in Italy, the Lake Garda region prides itself on its family entertainment facilities.

One of Italy’s golfing hotspots

Lake Garda is a real paradise for golfers. The area has one 36-hole course, three 27-hole courses, six 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course. The courses are all different, due to the different landscapes they are built on and they cater for all levels of ability. The most popular courses are Arzaga, Bogliaco, Chervo San Vigilio, Gardagolf, Paradiso del Garda, Ca’ degli Ulivi, Verona Golf Club and Villafranca.

eating out with the view over the lake

Do we need to mention the food and the wine?

It goes without saying that the food and wine on offer all over the Lake Garda region is superb. Fresh lake fish, olives and lemons are the absolute ‘Zero KM’ ingredients that form the basis of local cuisine. Along with a vast array of vegetables and fruits, honeys, cheeses and meats all also locally sourced.

Touring around the countryside near the lake on an e-bike or in the car or visiting the many charming waterside towns and villages, you will come across artisan food and beverage producers, small family wineries and boutique olive oil producers. All will be delighted to welcome you in, show you around and share their wares with you. And little traditional, family friendly restaurants cooking delicious home- made food are everywhere.

Sunset over lake Garda with the evening lights

Lago di Garda – a presto!

We hope that this brief introduction to Lake Garda has given you a flavour of what this magnificent part of Italy has in store for you. There is so much going on here that inevitably we will be returning to Lake Garda again and again in the future, going into more details on the region’s attractions, accommodation, lifestyle, seasonal events and so on.

Lago di Garda, see you soon!

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