Lake Garda-Secret Hideaway of Northern Europeans
Have you ever wondered where the Germans, Austrians and Dutch disappear to during the European summer when their own cities are overrun by tourists? You will find a great many of them on the shores of Lake Garda in Northern Italy. The lake, with its transparent blue water, is Italy’s largest. The relaxed pace of holiday-goers along the shores and in the centuries old lakeside towns makes for a welcoming break after the crowded streets and passageways of Rome, Venice and Florence. Lake Garda has a surface area of almost 370 km² and is surrounded by three distinct regions – Lombardy in the south-west, Veneto in the south-east and Trentino Alto-Adige, also called South Tyrol, in the north. One of the biggest decisions to make when visiting Lake Garda, is whether to stay on the western or eastern shore. The western shore is backed by beautiful mountains and characterised by ancient towns, nestled between rocks in the north before it flattens out slightly toward the south. Although this more scenic side of Lake Garda, it is quieter because there is less room for hotels and beach resorts. A highlight along the western shore is the picturesque Limone sul Garda. The small harbour town was named after the lemons that have been grown here since the 1700s. The orchards can be seen from the quaint little promenade with its abundance of colourful flowers. On the opposite eastern shore you will discover a different character. Be patient while driving, because many tourists undertake the scenic drive on a beautiful summer’s day. Stop for a lakeside drink or something to eat in Torri del Bénaco where there are ample parking and enough restaurants to cater for the many visitors. Visit the medieval castle or wander the little streets before settling with a pizza and a beer on a wooden deck over the water. From June to September the water is warm enough for swimming and water sports. The beaches in the north are pebbly, becoming sandier the further south you go. If you’re looking for more action, go to Gardaland, Italy’s biggest amusement park, including a theme park, Gardaland Sea-Life and Gardaland Hotel. The popular theme park is visited by almost 3 million people annually. With Lake Garda as base, easy day trips to Verona (25 km), Venice (125 km) and Milan (120 km) are possible. If you don’t want to travel by car, use a public bus or cross the lake by ferry. Cycling is also very popular. Trains only go to Peschiera del Garda.
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