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Lake Garda

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Revision as of 11:40, 23 June 2013

City of Gargnano

Lake Garda is a lake region in the north of Italy.


There are small resort towns located all around Lake Garda. The largest lake in Italy 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 south of the lake also has a warmer climate than extreme north end of the lake which is cooled by a strong breeze which rolls off the Dolomite mountain valley above Riva in the early afternoon.

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.

All the resorts around the lake have different flavour and one of the great joys of a Lake Garda holiday is travelling around the by ferry or road to soak in the local ambience. One thing all the towns share is immense civic pride which is reflected in high standards cleanliness, lack of graffiti and the politeness of the people.

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 has increased greatly in recent years. The area is popular with tourists from nothern Europe and generally most people in tourist areas also speak fluent German.

In some parts of the Dolomite mountains just to the north of the lake there are areas where German is the everyday language lingering on from the Austrian occupation which only ended in 1919.

As with anywhere in the world, it is good manners to learn how to say goodbye, hello, please, thank you etc. in Italian.

Get in

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.

Get around

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.

  • from Verona: Buses run by ATV (the regional bus company) leave from Porta Nuova and travel up the eastern side of the lake between Peschiera del Garda and Riva del Garda - catch a 162 bus (formerly 62-64 in the morning from the railway station or from Corso Porta Nuova (the boulevard just south of Piazza Bra). It takes about 2-3 hours, depending on lakeside traffic (which can be heavy), to reach pretty towns of Malcesine or Torbole. Get a timetable (orario) from the tourist office or from ATV transport website Tickets can be bought from tobacco shops or on the bus for a supplement. Buses operated by Trasporti Brescia leave Verona for Peschiera del Garda, Sirmione and Desenzano del Garda, bus No.LN026 [5]. There is also a bus running up the western side of the lake between Desenzano del Garda and Riva del Garda, LNO27 [6].

Boat ferries [7] operate every day between mid March to early November. The number of services per day varies according to the season, with few services in Spring and Autumn. A fast ferry takes 2-2 and a half hours, including stops. There are two car ferries crossing the lake between Limone/Malcesine and Torri del Benaco/Maderno. It is possible to purchase hop-on-hop-off day tickets, giving unlimited travel either for the whole lake, the upper lake or the lower lake. The ferries range from historic paddle steamers to hydrofoils. High speed (Rapido) hydrofoil services require an additional premium fare.

Because Some resorts enjoy better ferry services than others and ferry services generally don't operate over lunchtime it is advisable to study the ferry timetable and plan ahead. Also be aware in high season ferry services to and from some resorts especially Sirmione can be very busy at certain times. If travelling to Sirmione it pays to arrive early and leave early to avoid the rush.

Lake Garda is a very large lake almost an inland sea and return travel by ferry between the southern and northern parts of the lake will occupy a full day.

By bicycle

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:

  • the city of Sirmione located on the peninsula to the south is famous for the ruins of a Roman villa known as the Grotto of Catullus and a 13th century castle.


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.


Lake Garda is a region article, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate city articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this region.

  • Hotel Al Castello Lake Garda – Via Gardesana, 58 - Cap: 37010, Torri Del Benaco (VR), Lake Garda, Italy. [8]. Telephone +39 0045 7225065 Fax +39 045 6299014. The Al Castello is a great 2 star hotel located a few meters away from the beautiful Lake of Garda and not far from city of Verona. The Hotel Al Castello presents a wide selection of bedrooms, services, fantastic food and sport activities, as windsurf and boating or horse riding and mountain bike. All at incredible rates.
  • Hotel Residence Miralago Lake Garda – Via Cavalle, 12 - Cap: 25080, Manerba del Garda (Bs), Lake Garda, Italy. [9]. [email protected] Telephone +39 0365 551149 Fax +39 0365 551149. Hotel ad Apartments on Lake Garda
  • Hotel Luna - Sirmione, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 92 - Cap: 25019, Sirmione (BS), +39 030 916137, [1]. Set in an extraordinary landscape (45.49488663722393,10.605604648590088)
  • Albergo Vicino Gardaland, Via Montebaldo, +39 045 6230934, [2]. A family run Hotel with an excellent restaurant and Bar. Each room is en-suite with TV and Telephone From €50 per room.
  • Hotel Vacanze 2000, Via Puri 36 (Near the historic center of Malcesine), +39.0457400327 (, fax: +39.0456570381), [3]. A family run hotel, comfortable with pool, elevator, rooms and apartments.

Stay safe

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.

Get out

Excursions to Verona, Venice or Milan are offered as well as numerous other activities. Many bars and restaurants are scattered around the towns and almost all hotels offer dinner and breakfast.

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