Lake Garda is a popular summertime holiday destination in northern Italy, which is much visited by British and German tourists. This deep lake, formed by glaciation, is 51km long and 16km at its widest point, making it Italy’s largest lake. Many argue that it is also the most beautiful.
When deciding where to stay around Lake Garda, it is wise to give some thought to the size, ambience, accessibility and the surrounding scenery of the resort you are considering. The variety is such that the requirements of even the most exacting lakes and mountains enthusiast can be met.
The northern end of the lake is narrow with dramatic, rugged mountain scenery, which is in sharp contrast to the softer hills of the wider southern basin. In mountainous regions the weather can be variable, so be prepared for a warm, sunny day to give way to a sudden downpour. There is much truth in the adage ‘mountains make their own weather’.
If you have your own transport or intend to go on organised tours, then this is not much of an issue. As Lake Garda is a major holiday area, most tour companies offer a range of excursions, which include day trips around the lake, to Venice, to Verona and to the Dolomites. If, however, you intend to explore the region by public transport, then some initial research is imperative.
Boat travel is surely the best way to enjoy Lake Garda, just sit back and relax as its beauty and majesty unfolds. But remember, the lake is large and journey times can be long (up to 3 hours from north to south). Times and destinations of the boats vary with the time of year: check this out on here. You may find that your preferred destination has a very limited service!
Bus travel is cheaper and usually quicker than the boat. Buses are also very comfortable, but check the timetable carefully as services vary from day to day according to whether it is a workday, Sunday or public holiday.
The west side of the lake is served by a bus that runs between Desenzano and Riva: stopping points include Salò, Gardone, Gargnano and Limone. A bus from Riva to Verona runs down the east side of the lake, calling at Torbole, Malcesine, Torri del Benaco, Garda, Bardolino, Lazise and Peschiera, where you can pick up a bus to Sirmione and Desenzano.
Peschiera and Desenzano have railway stations, which lie on the mainline between Venice and Milan. Stations on this line include Brescia, Verona, Vicenza and Padua. Verona and Brescia offer connections to many other destinations.
Size and ambience
From bustling town to tranquil village, from tourist hub to small Italian community, from rugged backdrop to sophisticated promenade to historic importance – the choice is yours.
With a variety of things to do in Lake Garda, here I offer detailed information about many of the resorts.