Lake Garda is a beautiful oasis tucked away in Northern Italy.
Venice is for lovers and Lake Garda is for R&R. After experiencing the “city of water,” you may find yourself seeking a little solitude from the maddening crowds. The lake provides the perfect retreat to revitalize before venturing out again.
Tourists tend to flock to Lake Como, perhaps in hopes to catch a glimpse of George Clooney, but Lake Garda with its cascading mountains and perfectly painted towns is equally deserving of your time.
Where is Lake Garda
Italy’s largest lake, is located just south of the alps about a 100 miles west of Venice. Unfortunately, there is no high-speed train to whisk you there from Venice, so whether you drive, train, or bus it’s about a two-hour trip.
Train, Bus or Drive
None! Hire a driver instead. My days of getting lost and navigating through narrow and windy streets are over! Instead I thoroughly research, primarily TripAdvisor, for reputable drivers. Even though having a private driver can be a little more costly than public transportation, it literally has not only added years to my marriage, but years to my life!
For this particular trip to Italy, I hired Lake Como Transfers. They were both punctual and professional. The Mercedes vans were immaculately clean and always well stocked with bottled water. A few of the vans even had wifi. What more could you ask for?
Best Place to Visit
Lake Garda covers an area of about 100 miles and is home to over 30 unique and picturesque towns. Choosing a base can be a little confusing and overwhelming.
We are self-proclaimed certified photograph chasers and chose to head to Riva del Garda in the northern part of the lake, where the towering mountains provide a perfect backdrop for the beautifully colored lake.
For amazing views of the lake as well as your daily dose of cardio, you can either bike or walk the Old Ponale Road Path. Sports enthusiasts seek Riva del Garda for wind surfing. Not only is the wind perfect for the sport, but motorboats are prohibited here as well leaving the wind surfers little interference.
For me, the best way to see the lake was to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic ferry ride to the neighboring towns. We visited the towns of Malcesine, Limone and Torbole. An hour or two was enough time in each town to stroll and catch the sights. While in Malcesine, definitely find time to take the cable car to Monte Baldo for jaw dropping views.
Since Riva del Garda is at the northern tip of the lake, it makes it difficult and costly to visit other parts of the lake. If your goal is to explore more than the northernmost towns, it may be wiser to make your base in south. Sirmione, located in the southern part of the lake, is one of the most popular towns especially in the summer months. It is home to the ruins of a Roman villa, a castle, and thermal baths.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the contemporary Hotel Lido Palace in Riva del Garda. The hotel sits directly on the lake providing sweeping views of both the lake and mountains and is also within walking distance to the town.
We enjoyed nightly cocktails on the terrace, followed by a delicious, reasonably priced dinner. Each night we indulged in a nightcap while listening to the live band on the terrace. Breakfast was included in the rate and was both tasteful and plentiful.
The hotel staff spoke perfect English and were eager to please and happy to provide recommendations. The rooms were adequately sized and very modern. My only complaint was that the bathroom’s layout was somewhat awkward and the sink, although very cool, was not too functional.