Earth : Europe : Italy : Lake Garda
Lake Garda is a lake region in the north of Italy.
There are small towns located all around Lake Garda. The north of the lake is narrow and surrounded by mountains and is well known for its water sports and outdoor activities. The choice is endless, sailing, kite surfing, windsurfing, mountain biking, hiking, climbing etc. The south of the lake is wider and with gentle rolling hills. The Gardaland Theme Parks are based near Lazise in the south eastern corner of the lake and there are many campsites in the area. There are quite a few small man-made beaches around the lake, but these tend to be fine shingle rather than sand.
Do not mix up Riva del Garda and Garda as they can often be confused and your holiday ruined by a simple mistake. Also a bit of a bother when trying to meet up with a friend at times.
All people speak Italian as a first language but basic English is known. Many locals also speak fluent German as this area is a popular tourist destination for Germans and Austrians. As with anywhere in the world, it is good manners to learn how to say goodbye, hello, please, thank you etc. in Italian.
The nearest airport to Lake Garda is just outside Verona, Aeroporto Valerio Catullo di Verona with flights arriving mainly from Europe. Flights from the United Kingdom to Verona are mainly operated by Package Holiday Companies but there are also scheduled flights from London, Manchester and Dublin.
Transfers to the Lake: Many hotels particularly in the south of the lake offer reasonably priced transfers for their guests so it is always advisable to check when booking. It is possible to reach the lake by public transport, by taking the Airport Shuttle bus to the centre of Verona, then either bus or train. There are only two train stations though, one at Peschiera del Garda and the other at Desenzano del Garda.
Other airports serving the Lake are Milan Bergamo (Orio al Serio), Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa, Venice Marco Polo and Venice Treviso.
By bus: Lake Garda is roughly halfway between Venice and Milan. Excursions to these cities are available through certain agencies. You can also reach the main towns by regional ATV and Trasporti Brescia buses.
Rental bike service companies can be found all around the lake and there are many easy biking itineraries around the Garda Lake Region.
There are many historical places and buildings around the lake. The architectural style is mostly traditional Italian vernacular, which is very picturesque. There are also many classical style building churches, grand houses and castles. There is a large church is located at the northernmost end of the lake, but appropriate clothing must be worn when visiting (eg. knees and shoulders must not be showing). The town of Limone gets its name from... guess what... lemons! Lemon trees grow throughout it, and is a lovely view.
Nearby towns worth visiting include:
A big theme park called Gardaland is located in the south of the lake. It is a theme park for everybody, whether it be thrill-seekers, kids at heart, or just stressed out parents. Also cable car rides are available in Malcesine. Beautiful views can be seen from the top, and a small shop/restaurant is there. For those who get a re-instated fear of heights going up at the start, fear not, as there is a halfway stop. Sulphur springs are located at the town of Simione is known to have special effects on catarrhal conditions, particularly those of the ear. Peddle boats or peddlos are available to rent throughout the lake although there are boundaries you must stick to as you are given a certain amount of time and that life guards are regular throughout the water.
As per usual, fine Italian cuisine is sold. This consists of pasta, pizza and many other traditional Italian dishes. But other options are available such as German, American and British style foods. Italian ice-cream is fresh and homemade- great for those who have a sweethtooth. Ice-cream shops are common, with some sprouting out of shops and restaurants. Some "gelato" (ice-cream-like treat usually made in the shop) shops have 50+ flavors. Smaller shops with only a half dozen flavors might be more enjoyable. These seem to focus on the flavors they offer, and making the decision on which flavor to choose will take much less time. Breakfast is not the same as English or American breakfasts so be careful when you ask for full board. Breakfast at Le Paul in Sirmione, has English and American style foods. They even offer cereal.
Always drink plenty of water or other fluids as weather can be very warm. If you do not like sparkling water then take care, as some water is frozen and may seem still. Other times will be mistaken by you, only to hear the fizz as you open it. 'Frizzante' is the Italian word for sparkling on the botled water, and don't be fooled by 'non frizzante' as it is sparkling. Double check your water bottle, or, if you are in a restaurant/bar, simply ask to waiter for a still water, if you don't like sparkling.
One of the most popular summer drink is the Aperol Spritz. Obtained by mixing Aperol, Prosecco wine and sparkling water (or, in alternative soda, or seltzer). Usually served in a glass with ice cubes, and a straw. Can be garnished with a slice of orange, and served with green olives.
Normal precautions should be taken, as usual. Many shops have outdoor stands and stalls, even if a shop is indoors, so always carry the receipt with you. Bag theft is not uncommon as in theme parks, lines often have a bag drop off point, which in turn is left unattended. If your bag is stolen it is usually left in the street with just your wallet or camera/phone stolen.