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A very classy lake.
Lake Garda (Italy)
Member Name: xxlucexx
Lake Garda (Italy)
Advantages: a stunning holiday location.
Lake Garda is the largest Italian lake and it is in Northern Italy. It is between the regions of Lombardy, the Veneto and Trentino Alto-Adige or about half way between Venice and Milan. The lake is long and slim, the southern part of the lake is quite built-up and has rolling hills where as the northern part of the lake is surrounded by mountains.
The scenery at Lake Garda is quite simply, stunning. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in my life so far. It really is breathtaking. The clear blue lake and the towering magnificent mountains surrounding it make it feel so untouched and sheltered.
The lake is a huge tourist destination and there are some magnificent hotels surrounding it, some of which are very expensive. However you don't have to spend a huge amount on a fancy hotel to get the feel of what Lake Garda is about and to enjoy it.
There are many towns around the lake which are all beautiful and definitely worth a visit. The best known of these are Garda, Riva del Garda, Malcesine, Limone and Sirmione. Each town has its own perspective and view of the lake and each has its own character. There are many different things to visit in each town so it is worth visiting as many as you can. Limone and Sirmione are more historic and have some beautiful architecture. The other towns are a little more modern with newer buildings and sights, for example; the cable car in Malcesine which takes you up the mountain side to give a stunning view of the whole lake.
The obvious way of getting to Lake Garda is by air and there are plenty of airports near to it. Depending on the type of holiday you go on, be it package or not, you may have to find your own transfers. The nearest large international airport is at Verona, about a 40 minute drive away. Alternatively there is a train which runs from Verona airport to Lake Garda.
Ryanair fly to Brescia airport which is a little closer as it is only just under a 20 minute train journey away however they only fly from London-Stansted.
There is also a smaller airport in the countryside called the Gabriele D'Annunzio Airport however flights to it are very limited and very expensive.
The train and bus system in Italy is very reliable and a lot cheaper than it is in the UK so definitely take advantage of it and don't forget to stamp your ticket before you get on the train or when you get on the bus!
The hotel or travel agent however can give full information about transfers and getting to the destination, watch out for taxi's though..they are very expensive!
My first impression of Lake Garda was just Wow! It was so beautiful and it really was stunning. We had a package holiday deal so transfers were included in the price. We arrived at Verona airport and First Choice took us by coach to the lake.
The First Choice representative was brilliant as she gave us a guided tour of what we were seeing as we travelled. Once we started to get closer to the lake the scenery improved rapidly and it wasn't long (about 40 minutes) before we got a first glance of the lake. It was about midday and the sun was shining brightly and the glisten off it hit the lake and it struck me as it looked amazing. The lake looked enormous and you could see from the road the bustles of tourist parks and in fact tourists heading towards the lake.
The weather was incredible, it was very hot however it wasn't a sticky hot and when we stepped off the bus we found there to be a gentle, cool breeze which was much appreciated.
Of the many beautiful towns around Lake Garda, we decided to stay in Garda. Garda is central to getting around the lake and there is a lot to do at night as well as during the day.
First Choice dropped us off directly outside the hotel and that is where we got picked up at the end of our stay also. The staff were very friendly and tried their best to speak English and be accommodating. The hotel was only a 2* however it was ideal. The rooms were spacious and had everything you would need and above all they were spotlessly clean; as was the rest of the hotel.
The hotel had its own pool outside with a lot of sun beds which meant that there was always one spare. There was also a bar at the side of the pool. The pool was ideal as it was very hot during the time we were there so it was lovely to be able to go for a swim after a hot day. There was also a shop in the foyer selling bit of food etc. which was handy.
The rooms were cleaned/fresh towels put out daily. Each room had a balcony with furniture on and there was a TV in each room as well as a well sized en-suite. There were however no English speaking TV channels but this wasn't a problem as we didn't want to waste any time watching the TV.
We went on a half-board basis which meant we ate breakfast and dinner at the hotel; therefore finding our own arrangements for lunch. The food was absolutely delicious. The breakfasts were incredible; quite a feast in fact. There was such a selection of food from fresh fruit, pastries, cereal and much much more all in a all-you-can-eat buffet.
The dinners were also of a high standard. There was a huge salad and bread selection for starter and then the waiters would bring around another 2 courses (one pasta, one meat) before a huge dessert selection was put on offer. The food was off such a high standard also which made it definitely worth the money. We had our own table in the dining room for our stay and the staff were very friendly.
There is nothing more enjoyable than wandering around beautiful streets, looking in quaint shops on a warm Mediterranean evening, before settling on the lake side at a cafe for a glass of wine whilst musicians play away typically Italian music. This really does sound too idyllic to be true, but that is honestly how it is.
There is a very tourist atmosphere, the most tourists being either French, English, German or Italian. It is a very classy area and it is kept very clean which makes being there even more enjoyable.
On a night time in Garda, people walk down to the lake side and sit and have a drink and the shops stay open until late so you can look around them. The hotel which we stayed in was only a few minutes walk from the lake side which was really convenient.
What to do?
As we went on a package holiday, First Choice put on a lot of optional trips/excursions that we could go on however if there isn't the option of somebody putting the trips on for you then it is not difficult to get around on your own.
There are boat trips around the lake which take you on a tour of a lake and some which will drop you off at various towns and then pick you up again so you can see a different part of the lake. The boat tour which we went on was actually a full day and it took us to every town around the lake, it was brilliant as it gave us the chance to explore and see all the fantastic places. We had about an hour to have a quick look around each town which really gave us the flavour for what each was about.
In Garda itself, there are a few pebbly beaches which are great when the weather is good. There are also lots of walks to do, up into the mountains and across the lake promenade. Just a few short miles away from Garda there is a little town called
Bordolino where there is a weekly market selling all different types of things. We walked from Garda to Bordolino every other day as it is a wonderful walk, it is one straight path along the lake side and it is flat and the view is incredible. At Bordolino there are some lovely cafes and streets to explore.
We also went on a day trip to Venice which was organized by First Choice. We got to Venice by coach and it took about 90 minutes. We then had to get on a boat to get into the city and we had all day to look around. There are a lot of agencies that do the day trips and also Venice by Night trips so they are easy to come across and book.
Venice was very busy and you really do have to see it to believe it as it is fascinating. It is just incredible and it is like stepping into a doll-house like city with canals as roads, it is mind blowing. The shops were incredible; window shopping there was great with all the great designer names. The place in itself is brilliant but do be aware of how busy it gets, especially in summer, it is also very very hot and the gondola rides are really expensive so shop around to see if you can get one included in the tour or before you go.
'Gardaland' is Italy's largest theme park and it is situated just outside of Garda on the Lake. It has a lot of rides and is a lot of fun for all ages, the entrance fee is also reasonable and there are buses directly to it!
Before visiting Lake Garda I had no real interest in Italy or lakes or anything Mediterranean, however that was soon to change after I had visited this beautiful place. Of all the places that I have been in the world Lake Garda is definitely one of the most memorable and beautiful. The climate, the atmosphere, the food, the Italian lifestyle; it all magically works to make a wonderful and relaxing holiday.
Going on holiday to Lake Garda and experiencing the lifestyle and its beauty even convinced me to go on and study GCSE Italian at college. I then carried this on to University and I recently just returned from living in Milan for 6 months where I studied at a University.
I will definitely continue to re-visit Lake Garda and hopefully travel around the lake. The hotels are quite expensive and the food however there are some really good deals out there it is just finding them! There are some really nice camp sites around the park also which I may well visit!
I would definitely recommend Lake Garda as a brilliant holiday destination for all ages and for families, friends, couples..there is something for everyone!
Thank you for reading.
Review also on Ciao under luceey.
Summary: A relaxing holiday location surrounded by beautiful scenery.