Holidays on Lake Garda
The largest of the Italian lakes, Lake Garda enjoys a sheltered position and a warm, balmy climate – a seductive combination for a relaxing holiday. Beautiful towns and villages hug the lake shore, all with their own unique charm and breathtaking scenery.
Framed by the Dolomite Mountains, the landscape is rich and diverse, from the dramatic mountainous backdrops of the northern villages to the pretty promenades along the southern shores. The heady scent of lemons in the air is as tantalising as the towns and villages of Lake Garda are beautiful.
A holiday on Lake Garda offers a dazzling array of opportunities. Families are well catered for, particularly in the resorts of Peschiera and Sirmione which provide easy access to Gardaland, one of the most popular theme parks in Europe. There are lots of lakeside pathways suitable for families with pushchairs, while those who prefer more challenging hiking terrain will be spoilt for choice with all the walking and cycling trails throughout the mountains.
Lake Garda is also an ideal destination for couples, with breathtakingly beautiful scenery and elegant resorts such as Malcesine, where ancient castles and lakeside palazzos provide the perfect backdrop for a wedding, or just a place to stroll around hand in hand on a romantic break.
Not surprisingly given the expanse of water in the region, sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, rowing and kayaking are hugely popular here and in particular, the resorts of Riva del Garda and Torbole on the northern shores of the lake boast world class facilities and renowned watersports schools.
For culture buffs, the two great cities of Verona and Venice are within easy reach. We recommend a guided tour of Venice to ensure you see the key sights of this important city, and we can arrange a night at the Verona Opera for guests staying in any of our featured resorts on Lake Garda.
Peschiera del Garda prices from €539.00 pp staying in Bella Italia Bungalows.
A perfect destination for a fun-filled family holiday, Peschiera is a lovely little resort set in beautiful surroundings with some of the best loved family attractions in Italy on its doorstep.
The focal point of the town is its pedestrianised centre where you can amble through quaint streets lined with shops, pavement cafés and ice cream parlours. There is also an impressive selection of traditional restaurants where you can relax after a day of sightseeing and enjoy fine Italian food and wine along with breathtaking lake views.
There is plenty of history to be found within the walls of the historic old town, not least the 16th Century Fortress of Peschiera. Outside the walls are two beach areas, each a 10-minute walk from the centre, and a harbour where fishing boats and yachts rock gently in the breeze and ferries run to other lakeside resorts.
There is no doubt that families are drawn to Peschiera not only for its unique charm – which it has in spades – but its proximity to major attractions gives it extra family appeal. It is a short bus ride to Gardaland, the biggest theme park in Italy and the third largest in Europe, with no shortage of thrills and spills to offer families looking for adventure. Canevaworld Resort is also a must-see. This is divided into Movieland, offering a magical mix of rides, shows and stunts, and Aquapark with its combination of hair-raising waterslides and gentle, flowing rivers. As if that were not enough, there is also a wonderful safari park and impressive aquarium nearby, and the great cities of Venice and Verona are a mere train ride away.
Bardolino prices from €564.00 pp staying at Camping Cisano and San Vito.
Bardolino is a picturesque resort overlooking the widest part of the lake. In the evenings, the charming old town comes to life with its pedestrianised area lined with cafés, restaurants and bars offering a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.
You can rent a bike and explore the green hills behind the resort, rich with vineyards and olive groves, or stroll through the town itself which is flat and very easy to walk around. Bardolino has a thriving wine industry and many wineries and bars hold wine tastings throughout the year. Olive oil is also a way of life here, as it is throughout Italy, and you can see why during a visit to the fascinating olive oil museum at nearby Cisano di Bardolino, south of the town.
Shopping is a treat, with some lovely shops selling everything from leather goods to perfume and some good deals on designer clothing. The Thursday morning market offers good value wine and olive oil, not to mention its bustling, friendly atmosphere.
The Italians celebrate food and Bardolino is no exception. There is a wide choice of restaurants where you can look forward to fantastic classic Italian dishes, fresh seafood and appetising pizzas, and after dinner explore the lively streets and main square where open-air concerts often take place during high season.
Sirmione prices from €899.00 pp staying in the Catullo Hotel.
One of the most picturesque resorts on Lake Garda, its traffic-free streets, chic pavement cafes and elegant shops are all dominated by the impressive Scaligeri Castle at the entrance to the medieval town.
A panoramic walk along the shore leads past a number of bathing beaches to the tip of the peninsula where you will find the preserved ruins of an old Roman palace, the Grottos of Catullo. It is a pleasant walk up to the top level where you will be rewarded with superb views. At night you can unwind at a choice of bars and nightclubs, but this resort offers many more relaxing activities to enjoy, especially in its thermal pools which are said to ease a myriad of aches and pains as well as relieving stress and tension.
If you want to revive body, mind and spirit, Terme di Sirmione Spa is one of the most important wellness centres in Europe. It has two thermal health centres, one modern wellness centre and three thermal spa hotels and offers an extensive range of health and wellness treatments. Topflight features two of the thermal spa hotels in Terme di Sirmione, the Grand Hotel Terme and Hotel Sirmione.
Sirmione is well serviced with transport links to other resorts and perhaps one of the best ways to see more of the outstanding scenery is to take a boat trip to the north of the lake. Like its neighbouring resorts, it also offers easy access to the cities of Venice, Verona and Milan.
Riva del Garda prices from €577.00 pp staying in Ambassador Suite Apartments
The old town with its 12th Century fortress features a maze of winding, cobbled lanes leading to a lovely harbour. The promenade is lined with colourful pizzerias and ice cream parlours, and there are lots of inviting shops and pavement cafÃ©s.
Thanks to the fresh breeze that blows through the area, Riva is also one of the top sites for watersports in Europe. Whether you are interested in surfing, sailing, jet-skiing, fishing or any other water-based activity, we have got an action-packed holiday for you!
For more cultural pursuits, check out the civic museum which showcases paintings and other exhibits by local and international artists, or head up the hillside to Bastione, a 16th Century tower which is now home to a museum and restaurant with panoramic views.
After a day of sightseeing or just soaking up the views, there is a great choice of lakeside bars and traditional restaurants where you can be sure of a relaxing evening with delicious food and fantastic local wines.
Malcesine prices from €652.00 pp staying in Hotel Antonella
Standing at the foot of Mount Baldo, the medieval town of Malcesine has a magical charm.
A maze of narrow cobbled streets wind through the town leading to a pebble beach and unspoilt harbour surrounded by restaurants, cafés and shops. If you have a head for heights, take the funicular to the top of Mount Baldo where you can enjoy scenic walks and truly spectacular views. Other attractions include Aril, the world’s shortest river 3km south of Malcesine and Scaligeri Castle with its rich history and wonderful views of Mount Baldo.
A holiday here can be as lazy or active as you like. With excellent ferry connections to other lakeside resorts, it is a great base for sightseeing and exploring all that Lake Garda has to offer. Riva and Limone are both close by, or you can catch the boat to any of the other lakeside resorts that catch your fancy.
To the south of the town, a lakeside walk meanders its way to a little headland where you can hire a sunbed and parasol and enjoy more of those lovely lake views. On the other side of town, small pebble beaches are popular haunts for swimming and sunbathing.
In the evenings you may like to stroll up the winding lanes to the town centre where you can relax at a bar or restaurant on one of the three piazzas and watch the evening promenade, the passeggiatta, while sipping a glass of great local wine.
Limone prices from €769.00 pp staying in Hotel Villa Dirce
Traditionally a small fishing village, it is now a busy town with a spectacular waterfront and picturesque harbour. You can stroll through its cobbled streets lined with shops selling shoes, leather goods and souvenirs, stopping off for a capuccino at a pavement cafe in an old piazza.
Leisure options include relaxing boat trips to nearby Malcesine, or you can enjoy the many watersports facilities that Limone has to offer. Alternatively, stroll through the mountains, enjoying the views and the fresh air, or hire a bike and follow one of the many cycle paths in the area. In the evenings, enjoy a stroll along the promenade with a choice of restaurants and cafes, some with live music and all with those breathtaking lake views.
For an interesting glimpse into the heritage of the village, check out the old lemon houses and olive oil mills, and the ancient churches which display beautiful examples of Romanesque art and architecture.