Northern Italy has a lot to offer – from the ancient history of its cities to its enchanting lakes and the glistening coastline of the Italian Riviera. South of the Alps, with a diverse landscape of mountain slopes and sprawling valleys, this region has a wealth of attractions. And if you’re looking for amazing food, wine, adventure and outdoor activities, Lake Garda is the place to go. Europe Travel Expert, Cammie takes us on a tour of her favorite areas around the lake.
Lake Garda, Italy is one of the lesser known lakes in Italy, but that’s what makes it so special. It’s the largest lake in Italy and a hub for outdoor activities, great food, beautiful medieval villages reachable only by boat and so much more. The lake is spread through three regions, Veneto, Lombardy, and Trentino. Each area offers something different from sprawling olive groves, drastic cliffs and lemon groves to beautiful medieval villages. Here are a few of my favorite areas around this enchanting Lake…
Riva del Garda
The picturesque town of Riva del Garda is situated on the Northern shore of Lake Garda. The views are something that cannot be explained with words. Severe mountains drop directly into the water and the views of the surrounding lake and windy James Bond-style roads are incredible. The town has great shopping, restaurants and is bustling with outdoor activities. From hiking, mountain and road biking to kite surfing, sailing and paragliding, the list goes on and on. There is endless to do and see in this little town, I recommend spending more than one night. Just a short drive away from Riva del Garda lies the Northern Italian mountains of the Dolomites, the perfect place to pair with Lake Garda.
With beautiful Monte Baldo as its backdrop, the town of Malcesine is extremely charming and scenic. I walked through the Palazzo dei Capitani and was in awe of the Castello Scaligero perched lakefront with the colorful village surrounding. After wandering the cobblestone village, I decided to take the nearby cable car up to the top of Monte Baldo for the most spectacular views of the Lake. The cable car slowly rotates while traveling to the highest plateau, allowing you to get a nice view no matter where you stand. The 360-degree views when you reach the top will take you breath away and make you fall in love with Lake Garda all over again. I suggest taking one of many the hiking trails, watch the paragliders visiting with the alpacas or just have a coffee and drink in the views and mountain air.
On the Western shore of Lake Garda lies the oasis of Gargnano. The colorful town is painted with the brightest colors, the port is full of beautiful sailboats and authentic fishing boats, and town backs up to a spectacular mountainous backdrop. Gargnano is truly one of the most beautiful places in Northern Italy. One of the most luxurious places to stay just outside of town, is the wonderful Villa Feltrinelli. The villa faces the lake, and is simply magnificent. The grounds and park behind the building are also a sight to see.
Sirmione is a beautiful town on the South shore of Lake Garda. The old town of Sirmione lies on a peninsula extending into the lake. The town is surrounded by water, as you walk into the village you will cross the moat over the bridge and through the old town. The town is the most idyllic place to spend an afternoon, stroll through the narrow streets, stop for a gelato or lunch at a pizzeria and visit the beautiful castle. If you are looking to do something a little different. I recommend taking a small boat tour around the town, it gives you the best perspective of the beauty and character of Sirmione. Just nearby is my favorite city in Italy, Verona. Verona is definitely worth a trip from Lake Garda and a night or two in the 5* Palazzo Victoria.