5 Nights on Lake Garda
In August 2018, I was invited on a trip to Lake Garda with Inghams Travel. During the week we were based in Gardone and travelled to various places by mini bus. We were shown around the region by Jayne, a fantastic Inghams rep who had a real passion for Italy and was keen to show us as much as possible.
Although handy for us as passengers, driving the lake roads may be a concern for nervous drivers as there are always cyclists and motorbikes/scooters travelling along the narrow roads. I would definitely recommend visiting other places via ferry as this is an economical, enjoyable way of getting the most from the Lake [a return ticket from Limone to Malcesine was just 9 Euros].
The picturesque town of Limone is located on the north-western shore of Lake Garda and is renowned for its dramatic setting and fragrant lemon groves. I would gladly have spend a few days here just people watching in the sunshine, wandering through the narrow streets and eating authentic Italian food [the pizza's are to die for here].
Not far north of Limone is Lake Tenno, set up in the mountains and it is stunning! It takes about an hour to walk around but I wouldn't recommend that for people with walking difficulties due to the number of steps and uneven walkways. You can have a swim, grab a drink from the bar or just sit and take it all in! Another place I could have stayed for longer! Not far from Lake Tenno is the Varone Waterfall with 2 observation points at 40m & 80m and surrounded by botanical gardens and a large picnic area. We visited both of these on an Ingham's tour and I would definitely recommend taking a tour to visit both of these wonderful spots so you don't miss anything!
We took a car ferry from Gardone over to Garda on the east of the Lake and drove up to Malcesine, this is a popular town, particularly with those getting married. The highlight of this lovely town was the Castello Scaligero! The views are well worth the climb to the top but it took it out of me that's for sure - all those steps! Plenty of lovely restaurants and bars on the river front as well as some hidden gems to discover in the cobbled back streets. Our guide knew a fantastic place to go and we were treated to some of the finest prosciutto and prosecco at da Pedro.
In Punta San Vigilio we really did get a treat, a small harbour with some beautiful boats, a boutique hotel and an ideal place for a long lunch, people/boat watching.
Simione is one of the most visited places on Lake Garda and we had time for a quick look before taking a speedboat tour of the Penisula. This was amazing, thoroughly enjoyable and a real highlight of the week. If you do nothing else, I would recommend taking a speedboat on the lake if you can!
Our final day was spent in the beautiful city of Verona before our flight. We had a fantastic lunch at Le Cantine De L’Arena on the main square by the amphitheatre - Verona Arena. We then were guided around the city on foot by Jayne, who showed us some of her favourite spots such as the Ponte Pietra bridge and the Piazza delle Erbe. We of course also had a look at the famous balcony that inspired Romeo and Julliet.
During our time in Lake Garda we stayed at the Chalet hotel, Galeazzi in Gardone. This hotel was a traditional Italian hotel and my room was lovely and over looked the pool. Chalet hotel's food service is slightly different to a normal half board hotel and although enjoyable, the food at times was a little basic (and it seemed a shame to eat in the hotel when there was so many delights just down the road). Breakfast was a buffet and the evening meal you chose the night before from a small selection. One evening the staff have the night off and so we were taken to a local restaurant for a meal instead which was a delight.
Overall, I found Lake Garda less expensive than expected and with lots of different accommodation available from 5-star to camping it is also suitable for all types of holidaymaker. Lots for active people to do with windsurfing and hiking but also perfect if you want to relax and sip coffee in the Italian coffee shops or enjoying real authentic Italian cuisine.
August is very warm and busy so I would definitely advise going in September if you can - weather is apparently ever so slightly cooler, the towns are less busy and the lake is still warm enough to swim in should you wish!
Absolutely fallen in love with Lake Garda and Italy and can't wait to return!