The stunning Lake Garda, in northern Italy, has been a popular holiday destination for Italians for decades, and recent years have seen a boom in foreign visitors to the region. Not only is it surrounded by striking scenery, from green, rolling hills on the south to sharper, taller mountains further north; it also boasts of five main islands and of numerous lovely towns and cities scattered around the mainland.
If you have been to Italy before and want to experience the country’s culture, cuisine, and beauty once again but are not sure of where to set off to this time around, Lake Garda and its surroundings are a perfect area to explore. Here are some of our favourite cities to base your holiday:
Situated on the southern edge of Lake Garda, Affi is an affable little commune with stone paved, charming streets, sturdy Italian architecture, and a handful of nice restaurants serving traditional fare made with local produce. If you visit around lunchtime, you’ll be able to mingle with the locals eating out at their favourite bar whilst you try some of the delicious wines the region is famous for, such as Bardolino Classico and Chiaretto. After lunch, you can head to Mount Moscal for a relaxing wander amongst the region’s flora and fauna before heading off to your next destination.
Famous for its wonderfully preserved medieval castle, Arco is just a few miles north of Lake Garda. Reaching the castle requires a short hike up the mountain – although there are some steep climbs – from the city centre, so it is ideally tackled either in the morning or when the heat starts to let up around mid-afternoon. The views from the top are marvellous, and the smell of fresh lavender and olive groves will make you want to sit down for a few minutes and breathe in your surroundings. Once you reach the castle, you can learn some more about the history of the region and the castle, and explore its old prison cells.
For those wanting to explore Arco’s culture and architecture a bit more, settle in for a longer daytrip and visit the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built in the 15th century, and the church of Sant’Apollinare, with beautiful 14th century frescoes, as well as a few other highlights.
Castello of Arco opens daily from 10:00h to 19:00h during the high season. Entrance fee is €3.50 for general admission and €2.00 for children and over 60s.
Yet another charming town, this time on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, Bardolino is well worth a visit. Its streets possess a distinctly Italian character and the town has successfully avoided becoming too touristy, while, at the same time, it attracts all kinds of holidaymakers thanks to its lovely historical buildings and friendly atmosphere.
The Church of San Severo dates back to the 9th century and it is small and quaint, perfect for a quick cool down during the hot summer months. On the other hand, if you’re looking to explore the town when activity is at its peak, you might want to consider visiting on a Thursday, when the market sprawls throughout the cobbled streets and you’ll be hard pressed not to find the perfect souvenir for your family and friends back home.
This tiny village is a bit further away from Lake Garda, near Lessinia Natural Park, and it’s ideal if you want to stop for a nice meal before or after exploring the park. The Trattoria Al Castel is a cosy restaurant often frequented by the locals and popular for families gathering for a Sunday lunch. The food is varied and tasty, with pasta dishes that will please everyone and delightful coffee to finish off the meal. Moreover, the vineyards and mountains surrounding the trattoria are a flawless accompaniment to your stay.
Finally, if you’re after some wine tasting to round off your Lake Garda adventures, Cavaion Veronese has a couple of wonderful wineries where you can indulge in as much wine tasting as you’d like. Gerardo Cesari S.P.A. is a welcoming wine cellar run by some lovely people who will be happy to introduce you to some of the best wines of the region, such as the Amarone and the Chiaretto al Valpolicella. Another place to visit if you have time is Tenuta Preella Lamberti, a vineyard with its own restaurant that offers tasting meals where each course is paired with a different wine. Insider tip: their risotto all’Amarone is breath-taking…
How to Get to Lake Garda from Venice Airport
Getting from Venice Marco Polo Airport to Lake Garda is fairly straightforward, as long as you book an airport transfer in advance. Once it picks you up from the airport, you’ll be on your way to the lake via roads surrounded with brilliant Italian landscapes. Depending on which side of Lake Garda you’re settling in, the journey time varies between just over one hour and a half to reach the eastern shore, a bit more than two hours to reach the northernmost edge of the lake, and around two and a half hours to reach the western shore.
About Shuttle Direct:
With years of experience delivering premium quality airport transfer services, Shuttle Direct are highly respected within the industry. When you book a taxi with us, you can expect a private car, a courteous driver and a world-class door-to-door service.