While Switzerland is full of beautiful lakes and mountains I often find myself running away to Italy. There are several reasons including the similarity with Indian people who love to talk loud and enjoy their food! Given a hectic schedule from Monday to Friday I never miss an opportunity to go to places close by on a Friday evening and return back on Sunday. One such trip was to Italy’s biggest lake – Lake Garda or as they say in Italian Lago di Garda.
It is aptly located between Milan and Venice on the edge of the Dolomites. They say that the lake is a left over of a Glacier from the Ice Age.
March is when it is still cold in Basel and the weather I got in Italy was a delight.
If you have a weekend in your pocket then here is the guide to make the best use of time. The entire round trip of the lake is around 160 kms, it passes through several beautiful towns.
Ways to go around the Lake:
By Car: The road are good albeit narrow and may face traffic but the drive is scenic and wonderful.
By Ferry: A boat can be taken on the lake and you can choose a couple of places as stops.
Alternatively you can combine both a drive and the boat to enjoy the journey.
Without much ado below are the best spots to click pictures.
Lago di Garda Nord: The North part of the lake is narrower and offers spectacular views. It has many restaurants and activities and markets to visit.
Torri del Benaco: One of the lake’s smaller towns, picturesque, medieval Torri del Benaco has a lovely harbor filled with colorful fishing boats, the imposing Castello Scaligero, and a lakeside promenade lined with restaurants.
Bardolino: The town has a preferable terrain to cultivate wine and obviously is famous for its red wine. The Romanesque church of San Severo, a 9th century church is to watch out for.
Limone sul Garda: A citric town is that of Limone sul Garda with its lemon groves. It is a small-town charm lying at the foot of the steep Dosso di Roveri mountain. A must-visit is the 18th-century Castel lemon house; acquired by the city in 1995, it houses a museum and an educational center. Also worth a visit: The San Pietro church, with beautiful 13th- and 14th-century frescoes.
Salò: The largest city on the western side of the lake is Salo. A walk around the promenade is romantic or just a stroll is worthwhile. Don’t miss the Palazzo of the Magnifica Patria, built in 1524 and rebuilt after the 1901 earthquake, and the Cathedral, which was commissioned in the 15th century.
Malcesine: To get a bird’s eye view of the lake take a cable car to Monte Baldo. Other places to visit at Malcesine are Castello Scaligero and Palazzo dei Capitani.
Sirmione: The most popular and touristy is the city of Sirmione. The Grotte di Catullo (the ruins of a vast Roman villa), the imposing Scaligero Castle, and its thermal baths are worth a watch.
Getting to Lake Garda:
By Air: The closest airport to Lake Garda is Verona-Villafranca airport, around 15 kms. Milan is a 100 kms away but the highway makes it a quicker drive. rom the airports, you can take a car, train, or bus to Lake Garda’s towns.
By Train: Peschiera del Garda and Desenzano are Verona towns that are connected by train to Lake Garda. Both are on the southern part of the lake. It takes 15 minutes to get from Verona’s Porta Nuova station to Peschiera del Garda, or 20 minutes to Desenzano. Trains to both towns run almost hourly.
If you come from the Norther part of the Lake then from either Verona or Milan, take a train to Rovereto (about 40 minutes to an hour), then a bus to Riva del Garda.
By Bus: If you’re traveling to the eastern side of Lake Garda, you can take buses from Verona to Riva del Garda, including stops in Lasize, Bardolino, Garda, and Torre del Benaco, among other towns. You can get a full timetable of bus from here.
If you are going to the western side, your best bet is to take the train from Verona to Desenzano; from there, buses connect Desenzano with towns all the way to Riva del Garda, in the north. From Desenzano’s train station, you can also take the bus to Sirmione, which takes about 30 minutes.
By Ferry: Taking a ferry is also a convenient option to reach Lake Garda. Lake Garda’s options range from standard to fast ferries; you can load your cars on ferries between Maderno and Torri del Benaco, and in summer, also between Limone and Malcesine. Please find the timetable to the ferries here.
For more information and activities please visit: http://www.visitgarda.com/en/lake-garda-data/