It would be hard to imagine a more beautiful and perfect setting than Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake where the mountains of the Northern Alps tumble to the water’s edge, olive and lemon trees weave across the hillsides and vineyards dot the landscape.
This magnificent scenery has inspired poets and artists from around the world. James Joyce, Maria Callas and Tennyson all spent time in Sirmione. Medieval forts and castle lay tribute to Venetian and Veronese rulers. Even Mussolini entertained his mistress in a villa that is now a restaurant in Gardone Riviera. More recently, the James Bond film Quantum of Solace with Daniel Craig featured a frantic road chase scene alongside Lake Garda.
The rich history, perfect Mediterranean climate and character of harbour towns and hillside villages provide a feast for the senses. Lake Garda with its crystal clear waters, coves and beaches is perfect for swimming, sailing or windsurfing, you can hire a boat or let someone else do the hard work and take a boat trip, while a network of ferries provide the best transportation for exploring nearby towns and points of interest.
The mountainous scenery of the north of Lake Garda is quite different from the undulating landscapes of the south. Malcesine in the north is the site of a 13th century castle built on Roman foundations, and is the base of a cable car that goes to the summit of Monte Baldo at 2,200 metres. Limone, named from the surrounding lemon trees, lies romantically beneath the mountainous northern cliffs with a lively lakeside promenade. The town of Garda on the eastern shore is where you will find the Venetian Palace of the Captains and the Heller botanical gardens. Wander around the cobbled streets or walk to the pretty harbour village of Bardolino where wine and food play a prominent part. The small towns of Riva and Peschiera with its medieval walls and river cafes are quiet and relaxed.
On the southern shores the lively resort of Desenzano with its 16th century cathedral and imposing medieval castle is an easy location to reach Venice and Padua. Torri del Benaco, once the maritime capital of Lake Garda is a charming harbour town. At the furthest southern tip Sirmione with its striking Castle Rocca Scaligera bordered by the lake against a background of olive and cypress trees. Here you will find the Groto of Catullus, named after the Latin poet who died in 54 BC. It has been a favourite with poets and artists for many centuries.
Inghams now offer 12 resorts on Lake Garda with Maderno as a new destination for summer 2015. Our package holidays include flights to Verona from a range of regional airports, return transfers and a selection of accommodation with a variety of catering options to choose from. All resorts offer add on city breaks, such as Verona or Venice, or to stay in two or three hotels in different locations.
With so many microclimates, Lake Garda weather can vary greatly between the North and South, inland and on the water. Generally you can expect a Mediterranean climate but the Garda area for example is a sub-Mediterranean climate, which is extremely mild. Expect temperatures of between 24º – 30º C. in July and August. Lake Garda can be subject to several winds such as the Peler, which blows from north to south in the morning, or the Ora, which comes from the south in the afternoon.
Bardolino lies at the foot of rolling hills covered with orchards, olive groves and of course, the vineyards for which the village is so famous. Your holiday in Bardolino offers excellent accommodation, while the attractive and lively traffic-free centre is home to numerous bars, restaurants and smart shops.More information
Holidays in Desenzano combine a picturesque lakeside resort setting with the vibrant atmosphere of a thriving Italian community. Social life is focused on the many bars, cafés, pizzerias and restaurants in the historic centre and on the pedestrianised shopping area.More information
Gardone Riviera is one of the main bays on the west coast of Lake Garda and consists of two elegant resorts; Salò and Gardone. Sheltered by the lakeside hills, its mild climate has long attracted visitors who want to relax and regenerate.More information
Nestling alongside lemon groves, beneath the cliffs of the north-western shore of Lake Garda, Limone is a picture postcard resort - an artist’s paradise. Houses covered in blossoming geraniums and bougainvillaea line the old, cobbled streets that lead up from the lakeside.More information
There are plenty of places to visit in Lake Garda and the surrounding area and easily reached from Lake Garda resorts are the cities of Venice and Verona.
There are plenty of things to do here, and no visit to Lake Garda would be complete without taking to the water. As well as sailing, windsurfing and swimming there are paddle steamers, rowing boats and aquatic theme parks.
There are 1000 marked trails for cycling or mountain biking. This varies for gentle cycling around the lake to more mountainous and longer trails. As walking and hiking specialists Inghams have many guided wanderwalks from relaxing lakeside walks or more strenuous in the countryside or mountains. Our walks are graded for difficulty and length of time with most including a break for a cappuccino or ice cream.
The Sirmione Spas on the peninsula of Sirmione are amongst the top natural spa complexes in Europe. There are the two spa centres Virgilio and Catullo, and also Aquaria, a unique Thermal Wellness Centre set in a large park with thermal pools overlooking the lake. All spas have thermal pools filled with the sulphurous water containing natural minerals that flows from the depths of Lake Garda. Aquaria offer beauty and relaxation treatments and courses. Another natural thermal bath complex is the Garda Thermal Park in a spectacular setting near Cola di Lazise.
Inghams offer four top hotels with their own spas in different locations. They include Hotel Villa Nicolli in Riva, the Grand Hotel Terme and the Hotel Olivi Thermae & Natural Spa in Sirmione, and the Aqualux Hotel Spa & Suite in Bardolino.
Lingering over lunch or watching the lights dance over the lake at night in the many bars, cafes and restaurants is part of a Lake Garda experience. There are more than 1600 places to eat including pizzerias and gelaterias where you will be amazed by how much ice cream can be heaped onto a cone.
This area covers three regions, Veneto, Trentino and Lombardy. Local specialities are varied from extra virgin olive oil, to fish from the lake such as pike, perch, whitefish and a trout native to these waters. Citrus fruits are included in many recipes and it is here that Limoncino liqueur and lemon cream of the Riviera dei Limoni originates. Chickpea polenta, homemade pastas and sauces, risotto and venison are all regional favourites. Markets selling fresh fruit and vegetables abound and there are local cheeses such as Tombea from the mountains and Formaggella di Tremosine a soft, medium cheese. The Garda vineyards produce Nosiola, Cabernet and Merlot in the north. Visit the vineyards of Bardolino where wine tastings include the Bardolino Classico and Chiaretto a light rose wine.
Eating out can be expensive but there are many good value cafes and cantinas. Expect to pay £3-7 for a pizza and for something special, such as the Ristorante Vecchio Malcesine (linguine with foie gras), £56-60. Serious gourmets can drive from vineyard to vineyard or even try cookery lessons at the Ristorante Gemme di Artemesia a hilltop restaurant at Torri del Benaco.
Fireworks and festivals abound in Lake Garda during the summer. There are sailing regattas, a chess festival, music and film festivals and even a medieval festival in July with jousting and knights in armour. The Garda jazz festival takes place in June and the Musica Riva festival, a competition for young musicians is in July/August. The Notte de San Lorenzo in Bardolino in August is a night of Shooting Stars celebrated by towns around the lake. Fish festivals take place in Malcesine and Desenzano.
There are two wine festivals in Bardolino, one in June and one of the most popular events is the Bardolino Wine and Grape Festival in October celebrating the harvest of grapes from which the Bardolino classic, Chiaretto and other wines are made. It is a gastronomic experience with food stalls show casing local produce and cuisines with a finale of fireworks over the lake.
Antique flea markets, archaeological sites, museums and spectacular medieval castles and forts dating from the 12th century form the rich tapestry of La Garda’s history.
There are also elegant villas formerly used by Royalty with one of the oldest private dwelling in northern Italy, the “Grotto di Catullo” in Sirmione. The Palazzo Bettoni in Gargnano designed in the late 18th century is a most beautiful villa. At night these historic buildings are lit up forming an unforgettable background to the many cafes and restaurants on the lakeside promenades.
Daytime pleasures include wandering around the narrow cobbled stone streets and squares, reflecting in the gardens and parks, pausing for an espresso, or dipping into the local markets and shops.
With so much to do and see, Lake Garda is also a great destination for a family holiday and provides a range of activities to suit all ages and abilities. Nearby is Gardaland, an amusement park with roller coasters, family-friendly rides in themed areas and shows. Some of our Lake Garda hotels provide facilities for children such as children pools, play areas and indoor games rooms. We are also pleased to offer free holidays and special child prices for children ages 2-11 for selected flights and hotels.
FREE EXCURSION | Pre-book 3 excursions per person and receive a FREE full day excursion to Verona* (saving up to £43).
FREE half day wine tour worth £74 per couple when you book a 7 night holiday to Lake Garda travelling between 11th July and 29th August 2015. Book by 30th June 2015. Terms and conditions apply.
2015 launches another spectacular season of opera in Verona. See our Verona Opera page for full details and follow the online booking process to pre-book this excursion. Please note: Only one Verona opera booking per person can be counted towards your 3 excursions.
Leave your Lake Garda resort by coach making your way to the unique and famous city of Venice. Board a private boat and cruise down the Giudecca Canal to disembark close to St. Mark’s square. Enjoy around 6 hours free time to explore the likes of the Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Rialto independently. Take optional tours like a magical Gondola ride or a cruise around the Lagoon to see other famous islands. Leave Venice once again by private boat back to Tronchetto to join the coach for journey home.
Leave your resort after breakfast by coach making our way to the unique and famous city of Venice as per Venice by Day. You’ll leave by boat as the sun sets and the lights come on make it worth staying the extra time. Departs Venice around 9.30pm for the return to Lake Garda.
Vineyards are plentiful in the regions of Lake Garda with a wide range of choice from the different varieties of grapes grown here. The Trentino wines, benefitting from the micro climate include white wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon. From Bardolino the Classico is one of the best known wines but there is a rose “Chiaretto” made from the first pressing of the Barbera grape. Our half day wine tour provides a thoroughly pleasant afternoon spent visiting one of the region’s many renowned wine producers. A tour through their vineyard and the cellars to learn the techniques of wine making and to finish, enjoy tasting a selection of wines. A must if you like Italian wine.
Available from all our Lake Garda resorts is a day trip to the magnificent rose coloured Dolomite Mountains. Many say that the Dolomites are the most spectacular part of the Alps. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery as we drive north of the lake towards these famous mountains making our way up to 2,000m at Passo Pordoi where you will have time for lunch. An optional cable-car ride will give you the most incredible views of the area. A visit to the picturesque Tyrolean town of Ortisei and photo stops along the way will also be included.
Travelling by coach and ferry, discover the contrasts of this lake, from the spectacular mountain scenery of the north to the sunny plains of the south with free time in selected resorts. The tour itinerary varies depending on where you start but takes in resorts that are less easy to visit from your start point.
If you want to explore the contrasts between the north and the south of Lake Garda, why not look at our 11 nights two-centre holiday. It includes 4 nights in Desenzano and 7 nights in Riva start point.
Verona is one of Italy’s most charming Città d’Arte. This day trip dips into the romance of this medieval city reliving the scenes from Romeo and Juliet while wandering around this beautiful city. The impressive 2000 years old Roman arena is one of the best preserved roman amphitheatres in the world and the marble paved shopping street of Via Mazzini leads you into the stunning Piazza Delle Erbe. This handsome city mixes its rich past and modern present with great style. The stage for summer opera is also a short distance away.
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