The largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda has been inspiring artists, poets, musicians - and even politicians for hundreds of years. Covering over 370 square kilometres, the lake is a stunning mirror of clear, blue waters, warmed by the gentle Mediterranean climate and peppered with ferries, pleasure boats and catamarans. On the northern shores, the surrounding landscape is lined with imposing mountains, used by paragliders, climbers and hikers on their holidays to Lake Garda. The southern shores are sprinkled with picturesque towns and villages, with lemon groves perfuming the air in spring and vineyards ready to give up their grapes to the local wine-makers. Home to amazing architecture, villas, and ancient cathedrals, Garda is a little gem with something for everyone to enjoy. With so much to see and do around this magnificent expanse of water, you can make your Lake Garda holidays just what you want them to be.
Whether you want to go skiing in winter or sunbathing in the summer, Lake Garda holidays have something to offer all year round.
2 hours 30 minutes
Approximately two and a half hours.
To explore the glistening treasures of historical Garda and bring the past to life, book your holiday with Thomas Cook today.
Situated on the east coast of the stunning Lake Garda, the characteristic town of Garda is one of the smallest in the province and is just a short distance from the city of Verona. For a taste of history and culture, head to Riva, where you can explore medieval fortresses in the heart of this pretty town. Historical Peschiera is equally as lovely and is a great place to enjoy a glass of the local Lugana. Discover the cultivation of lemons in the authentically Italian and charming town of Limone, which sits on the border of Lake Garda, or get your creative juices flowing at the romantic Malcesine – nestled at the foot of Monte Baldo , it is a beauty spot popular with writers and artists. For a more peaceful retreat, head to Bardolino where you will find the perfect blend of olive groves, vineyards and beaches.
Walk back into time and visit the stunning Venetian villas and the ragged ruins that lie untouched in this town. If you’ve got the kids with you, make sure to set aside some time for a visit to the best-known amusement park in the country: Gardaland. The coastal paths on the east of the lake make for easy and superbly scenic walks.
Those who want more of a challenge on their Lake Garda holidays might fancy mountain climbing on the northern shores. Alternatively, there’s Garda town: the centre of the old town is one of the most popular attractions in the area, where you can take a break from visiting the sights in one of the little cafés in the lake-front square of the Palazzo dei Capitano and watch the world go by.
Explore the old centre of the town and take a walk between the promenade, by the castle-like Villa degli Albertini, dating back to the 16th century. Then move on to the Palazzo dei Caitani, with its pale-yellow stone and pretty arched windows. This is a design you’ll see a lot as you wander around the more ancient areas of the town. Visit the hidden art galleries on the narrow street paths. Chiesa de Santa Maria Maggiore is a must-see, with three naves and alters, one in a baroque style, a 13th century bell tower and stunning Renaissance-style frescos.
With such a rich and diverse landscape, you’ll find there are plenty of natural attractions to see on your holidays to Lake Garda. If you’ve got a head for heights, catch a cable car up to Monte Baldo. It’s only a seven-minute trip, but you’ll get astonishing views of the lake, the mountains and the surrounding towns and villages. Let’s not forget Lake Garda itself: probably the best natural attraction in the area! Hop on a pleasure boat and cut a swathe across the tranquil waters, or sit on the shore and soak up the scenery.
Lake Garda’s rich history is best seen in the architecture of the towns and villages that surround it, meaning there’s always plenty to see and things to do in Lake Garda. The San Michele City Gate is a superb example of medieval craftsmanship and acts as the gateway to Riva. If you want to go further back in time, pay a visit to the Bronze Age lakeside village, high up in the hills above Lake Garda. The village is a faithfully recreated replica, but with plenty of original artefacts, from the nearby museum. A great day out for all the family! For a great view of the lake, walk up to the remains of the 5th century fortress, Rocca.
Best for walkers: Enjoy beautiful coastal walks and hillside climbs for views of the rich blue sea, north or south of the region.
Best for history buffs: Explore the Bronze Age relics, 15th century frescos and Renaissance villas that dominate the old town centre.
Best for adventurers: Part of Garda’s charm is its accessibility; hop on a bus, boat, hydrofoil or catamaran to start your adventure!
Language: The language spoken in Lake Garda is Italian, but you’ll find that most of the staff in hotels, shops and restaurants have a good command of English
Currency: You’ll need to exchange your Sterling for Euros, before flying off on your holidays here
Local time: Garda is one hour ahead of GMT/UK time
Fly to: Verona Villafranca Airport(VRN), which is approximately 36km south east of the resort
Flight time from UK: About two and a half hours
Tourist information: Further Garda tourist information can be found at www.visitgarda.com
Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Garda.
Temperature: Mid 20s (°C) in summer and low to high teens in winter.
Best time to visit: Great all-year round, Garda is still sunny without being too hot. The temperatures in the winter are still warmer than in the UK and strong winds can be avoided on the south side of the lake, which is more sheltered.
By foot: The ancient town centre is full of narrow streets, allowing you to explore all its hidden treasures on foot. The main part of the town is pedestrianised, making it even easier to access.
By bike: See even more by hiring a bike from your hotel. Cycle out to Rocca or Monte Luppia and save your legs for climbing up the hills for the stunning views.
By boat: Choose from a great range of boats to transport you to other lakeside areas.
Music buffs: If you’re into music, then you’ll love being just 20 miles from Verona, where you’ll find the world-famous Arena di Verona. An enormous Roman amphitheatre, it hosts everything from traditional Italian opera to contemporary rock: Pink Floyd and One Direction have both performed here!
A taste of Garda: There are food festivals throughout the year, showcasing the best in Italian food. However, the one that most people seem to get excited about is the Bardolino Grape and Wine Festival, in late September (we wonder why!). In addition to some outstanding wines, there’s also a superb selection of local dishes to sample.