Lake Garda - have you been?

(45 Posts)
turnipvontrapp Sat 29-Dec-12 23:28:57

We want to drive down from Innsbruck for a week so fancy something on the east of the Lake, have been looking at Garda, Lazise, Peschiera.

Would love to hear your recommendations for places to stay? Either apartment or caravan, don't mind but just not too pricey. Would like a pool.

Thanks smile

BooCanary Sat 29-Dec-12 23:38:17

Its lovely - well worth a visit. I prefer the mountainous northern end of lake - Malcesine and Limone are particularly nice IMO. Good boat links too, lots of water sports, and fabulous views. Malcesine is north east of lake.

I would avoid the middle part iyswim ( not the actual middle obv wink!!)as in my experience the boat links are not so good.

Southern end is more touristy - lovely but much flatter.

We have struggled to find good caravan parks in the northern end though. Have you tried Inghams - they often do good deals on Lake Garda hotels?

turnipvontrapp Sun 30-Dec-12 00:28:56

Ha ha, yes will avoid booking a dinghy grin. Thanks for the tips, Boo, will look at Inghams.

My plans seem to change by the minute, now looking at flying into Venice and doing 5 nights there and 5 nights in garda. But only problem is we love Innsbruck and Austria.

Too many choices and DH just says he doesn't mind wherever I choose.

scrumpkin Sun 30-Dec-12 00:49:20

It's wonderful! I prefer the southern end ie: Garda, bardolino, Lazise....
It's a beautiful place smile

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 30-Dec-12 00:52:57

Yes yes to Venice, and Garda.

Have you been to Innsbruck before? There is not that much there, except Maximillian's roof, but the Austrian countryside is beautiful and so clean!

unitarian Sun 30-Dec-12 01:03:24

Salo is nice and less touristy than the southern part of the lake.

We like the little towns on the Italian side of the Brenner before you get to Garda. Chiusa/Klausen is lovely.

Hi, Garda is about a 3,5 hour drive for us, so we visit quite a bit.

For caravans there are a lot of sites, but be warned, they cater to the Italian/German/Swiss German tourist, so in peak seasons prepare for organized entertainment galore, Birdy songs and Scnipp,schnapp Snappi - das Kleine Krokodil on repeat.

We stayed in the Altomincino Family Park at the bottom of the Lake in 2011, it's not on he water front, but it's easy together to Sirmione, which is a must do when you visit - the walled island is lovely to explore. The Gelateria and restaurant were great,pools were lovely but you couldn't park by your van.

We have stayed in one park in a static caravan €200 euros for the week with a Lake View in Camping Piantelle. There was a lovely walk lakeside to Padenghi together the ferry. It had a basic restaurant, shop, pool and of course the entertainment. You could park by your van.

Both were very good standards of cleanliness. We booked both through Hotels.com. There are hundreds of parks around the lake to choose from. They get busy through July and August due to Swiss and Italian holidays.

If you want hotels there are lots to choose from at many different prices. In Salo, we stayed at the Il Duomo, right on the Lake front, it had a hot tub and rooms were really nice for 110 a night and breakfast.

We are currently looking for a property there in the Salo region, it's my favorite town. travelling up to Limone is beautiful too. A day can be spent hopping on and off the ferry/cat.

There are some theme parks Gardaland,Movieland and an aqua park attached. I didn't rate it much but ds loved it.

Not together - to get the. Sorry!

roughtyping Sun 30-Dec-12 01:51:14

Ohhh I love Lake Garda. Stayed at Camping Bella Italia in Peschiera last time - easy walk into town, lots of activities on site, right on the lake... Gardaland isn't far away, train to Verona was approx €10 return for 2 adults and 1 child. Have also stayed in Riva, at the other end of the lake, which is stunning. Always loved Malcesine, although have only visited for the day.

turnipvontrapp Sun 30-Dec-12 17:00:08

Wow, all these replies, thanks everyone! Will look at all the places mentioned. Been looking at the sites thru thomson, keycamp etc but the prices are extortionate. Found a website casamundo (or something like that) that does similar places but cheaper. Anyone used it?

Yes have been to Innsbruck before, we loved it, love going up into the mountains and hiking and stuff. Presume there are mountains around Garda where you can do this so we can get our mountain fix?

Is the traffic horrendous around the lake? Wondering if 5 nights is enough or whether we need a week. We definitely need multi-centre though, at least I think we do (after an AI experience in Turkey last year, realised that type of holiday just wasn't for us).

Croatia not too far from Venice either - anyone been to Porec or anywhere lovely around there they can recommend? Presume you can take a hire car from Italy to Croatia.

Do fancy Venetian riviera too but not sure if its any good for snorkelling and have heard croatia is great for it.

Where do you live Binfull? Lucky you being so close to it all! Not sure about the sites with entertainment, had enough of all that type of stuff in Turkey, not really our cup of tea. Much prefer a nice meal, a stroll and a play in the park for the kids. Will look at hotels.com. Been looking at Booking.com.

Only got as far as Vipiteno when we popped over for the day from Innsbruck last year, unitarian. Was lovely town from what we saw of it and kids loved the pizza and ice cream there.

turnipvontrapp Sun 30-Dec-12 17:01:06

Anyone know if the lake ferries are expensive?

Just google lake Garda ferries and you can get a timetable and price info.

I live in Switzerland. There are some beautiful Lakes there, in the Interlaken region. Also Lugano and Ticino.

Then before you get to Garda you have Como?

Lakes aplenty here! smile

ihatethecold Sun 30-Dec-12 20:14:16

Have a look at vacanzesoliel website. They are usually cheaper than canvas etc

LIZS Sun 30-Dec-12 20:15:57

Mountains are at the north/northeast end - Malcesine (cable car), Riva, Torbole, Limone - but it can take a good hour and a half to drive up from Pesciera etc, longer by ferries which aren't that cheap but you can get tickets for several days and combine bus/boat. Watersports better at northern end due to prevailing wind conditions. Verona less than an hour away with a clear journey and easy to park.

If you are doing Venice then a nearby beach resort would be Lido di Jesolo?

Or if you want something a little more remote in that area, try Grado near Aquilea. It's an island with one road in/out. It's an Itslian holiday destination and spa town. Very beautiful. You can fly into Trieste.

Just remember if you are travelling to Italy in August most Italians have the month as holiday, as a lot of businesses shut down. A lot of Italians then hit the beach!!

If you stay in the Brescia region around Lake Garda you could explore Milan whilst there, but you could also make it down to Genoa, Portofino, Santa Margherita area for a coastal fix?

To be honest there is plenty around Garda to do.

Are you going to Austria and not exploring Salzburg?

roughtyping Sun 30-Dec-12 20:44:35

Oohh binfull I visited Interlaken with my school when I was a teenager, we stayed in (I think) Wilderswil? Visited Interlaken and the beautiful lake beside it, couldn't believe the colour of it, gorgeous. Such a beautiful country.

Rosa Sun 30-Dec-12 20:57:01

You must advuse the CH comp at the time of booking if you intend to go to Croatia as they have to prepare the insurance papers .

turnipvontrapp Sun 30-Dec-12 21:35:39

Lucky you binfull, am very envious! Would love to do switZerland but think it may be a lot more expensive than Austria or Italy and when there's 5 of us every euro counts.

Done Salzburg a few times, to be honest preferred Innsbruck but maybe that's cos we've had better weather there. Am a sound of music fan so am sure we will go back again one day. Have you been to Zell am See in the summer? Heard that's really busy too.

Busy August does put me off Italy slightly, is end of July as bad? Should have booked half term flights when they came out, too expensive now.

Will def check out all the above places mentioned, so thanks everyone for your tips, an very grateful!

Anyone fancy booking it all for me? grin - too many decisions to make.

unitarian Tue 01-Jan-13 02:54:09

You might like Ca' Savio. It's a caravan site on the other side of the lagoon from Venice (Treporti is the nearest town) with Keycamp and all the rest of the companies offering ready set-up cabins and tents.
There's a ferry to Venice and the other islands as well as a great beach on the Adriatic and pools on site. We had some difficulty persuading DD to tear herself away from all that to go sight-seeing!

Venice is very hot in August. We found it best to go to the city itself in the afternoon and evening.

We have a touring caravan and like to come north by a different route. This has meant we have discovered the lovely Ossiachersee in Carinthia. Watersports, hiking, cycling etc. all on offer there. - and so peaceful after bustling Venice.

Chopstheduck Wed 02-Jan-13 12:33:27

Zell am see is gorgeous in Summer and not actually that busy, and if you get the salzburg card, you can do so much round there on a very limited budget.

Garda is a lot busier in summer, traffic jams galore, try to avoid driving at peak times. We've been twice, stayed at Bella Italia in Peschiera and somewhere around the east side a bit more which was a lot cheaper. Peschiera is particularly busy in summer, gridlock a lot. lots of sites you can walk to the lake for swimming, sun bathing etc. It is stoney and rocky but quite pleasant.

I love Garda though. I quite liked the cheesy music, etc, at the camps it kept the kids entertained in the evenings, while we sat with our wine in the restaurant. The bella Italia restaurants were very good and we watched fireworks over the lake. renting a boat for a day is a must do, swimming in the middle of the lake was amazing. Southern side of the lake is better for Venice and there is more to do. We've also done day trips to Bologna , and Milan, though didn't like either of those much.

Switzerland CAN be done on a budget if you dont mind self catering. We stay in apartments with shared pool just outside Zurich, on the French side and we've done fab day trips from there too, even as far as up Mont Blanc and an amazing thermal spa at Leukerbad. Eating out is horrendously expensive, especially in switzerland. We did a few meals out when we went to the french side back to the apartment.

Mountains are quite far from Garda, if you want mountains, go for Zell am See. The weather would be a bit hit and miss, with the Salzburg schnürlregen (string rain) but if you plan your trip carefully you can do indoor stuff like thermal spas, salt mine on the wet days and mountain exploring on the hot days. The day we went to Salzburg, it was roasting! And the Grossglockner alpine road is amazing.

We actually did a week in austria and then a week in Garda one year so got the best of both worlds, and drove over the dolomites rather than take the motorway into italy. was amazing.

LIZS Wed 02-Jan-13 12:38:16

Alternatively Lake Lugano in Italian Switzerland is smaller and less commercialised than Garda but within easy reach of Milan, Lake Como etc. More nestled in the mountains with a range of cable car rides and attractions nearby. Has a micro climate and is warm form May onwards

Badvoc Wed 02-Jan-13 12:40:57

Zell am see is amazing, as is wilderswil.
Didn't really like lake Garda, sorry! Very touristy and the hotel we stayed in wasn't great...came home with gastroenteritis!
Zell is on the main rail line and so easy to get to Salzburg, Innsbruck, krimml etc we stayed at the tirolerhof with inghams.
In wilderswil we went to murren, to the jungfrau, up the rot horn, grinder wall, wengen, interlaken...was amazing.
What about lake como?

Chopstheduck Wed 02-Jan-13 12:43:26

ooh Krimml is lovely, we climbed about halfway up, saw two of the falls.

I don't like Como, nothing really there though it is quite pretty.

The best tip for eating in Switzerland is to go for Italian. Especially pizza. They always tend to be between 15 and 20 chf, which, for the size, generally works out as good value for money.

Badvoc Wed 02-Jan-13 12:53:14

I loved Hallstatt. Amazing place.
Don't rate Salzburg tbh...
Like Innsbruck.
The rot horn trip was great too and the jungfrau.

turnipvontrapp Wed 02-Jan-13 16:56:42

All these tips are great, thanks! Now fancy a week in Zell and a week in Garda (change my mind like the wind, I know) but think it may be too much driving. How long did it take you over the dolomites, Chops?

Would it be better to fly to Venice or Munich do you think?

Do you mean fly for a separate holiday? Sorry I don't understand the question?

Chopstheduck Wed 02-Jan-13 17:35:47

We drove from the UK to zell, spent a week there, then it was about 6 hours over to Garda, and then drove back from Garda, I think stopping off at Zurich and the rhinefalls, and a few hours in Luxembourg city. There must have been a hotel somewhere along the way home, but I can't for the life of me remember where!

Chopstheduck Wed 02-Jan-13 17:36:50

for garda either milan or venice is good to fly in, garda is pretty much bang in the middle. I'd prob go for milan and try to have a quick look before flying home. Venice you need a whole day to explore.

turnipvontrapp Wed 02-Jan-13 18:20:41

Sorry I mean if we wanted to do Zell and Garda in the same holiday, a week at each.

Could fly to one and back from the other but then we have the problem of the hire car.

Thanks Chops. I would drive but DH won't. Did it 2 years ago and he wants to fly.

Anyone stayed at Residence Camping Gardaturist in Peschiera?

Would you plan on driving the car back from Guarda to Munich for your flight then?

I know we have returned back to Switzerland at the end of a weekend on many occasions from Guarda, and found the motorways hellish. So the least driving at the end of your holiday, the better I'd have thought? Or plan it well, with an overnight stop.

You have more than one choice of Airport in Italy - Milan, Bergamo, Verona. I would try and avoid the pricey tolls in Italy as much as possible by keeping motorway distances short.

My last work trip in November cost me 60 euros in tolls for three days driving!

Just check with the car hire that you can take the car across 2 or 3 countries? Shouldn't be a problem, but I'm not an expert. Don't forget you need a vignette for driving in Austria too.

So perhaps try and balance flight costs with car hire costs from each airports and toll costs if you are working to a budget?? <<wibbles>>

turnipvontrapp Thu 03-Jan-13 11:53:27

Yes, would probably do the garda part first and then make our way to Zell and then back to Munich. Are we mad? Is it too much driving? Just want to do both places now I've read up about them.

What's a vignette? Never had one before I don't think.

Google tells me that its about 5 hours from Garda to Zell but my head says its probably a lot more. If we do the drive on a monday and maybe go the scenic dolomites route? What do you think?

Am very envy, Binfull, living in Switzerland, working in Italy. Is it as idyllic as it sounds?

Chopstheduck Thu 03-Jan-13 12:09:46

Garda to Munich is going to be a looong drive. I'd go to Innsbruck I think, then do a week there, do the scenic drive over the dolomites. I'd allow the best part of a day for that, take a picnic, there is a lovely stop at the top where you have to wait in any case cos part the way down is single direction. Then from garda, drive back to Innsbruck, spend a night at a hotel before flying home.

Vignette is a compulsory tax disc type thing to drive in Austria. eight days is €8,30, 2 months is €24,20.

If you did go to Switzerland at any time, it's worth knowing you also need a Swiss vignette which is CHF 40 - for a year. They don't do any smaller time periods, annoyingly.

Chopstheduck Thu 03-Jan-13 12:11:24

go to Innsbruck and spend the week in Zell.

I would want to save the hottest weather for the second week, and zell can be pretty tiring if you want to make the most of the salzburg card.

salburg card

You only need a Swiss vignette if you are travelling on the motorway. However, not travelling on the motorway does add to the journey somewhat! They are keeping the price at 40chf for 2013 (about £28). And if you're caught, you're fined.

It's similar in Austria for A and S roads you need a vignette, otherwise face a €240 fine i think. You can buy them in chunks of time in Austria i.e a week, from petrol stations. Your hire car from Italy won't include one, obviously.

The Swiss one is a window sticker, the Austrian one, if I recall from my last work visit there was a paper ticket that flew around the dashboard.

There is a very nice continuous thread on Living Overseas by the German and Austrian MN'ers, usually carries the wording Kafe mit Kuchen in the title (coffee with cake) so you could ask for more detail on car hire across borders there turnip. They are a lovely bunch, I dip in and out as I do most of my shopping in Germany, and they are most helpful and knowledgeable.

I have to say work and vacation are two different things, but I have stayed in some amazing places in Europe, and worked with some amazing people. It's a lot of travel, as we have stores in every country and head offices in Germany, and I do spend a lot of time away from my ds during these chunks of travel. But nothing's ever perfect, and I'd prefer store visits to Milan and Berlin than to Leicester and Gateshead if I'm honest! NOT that I am belittling either of those cities of course!

Chopstheduck Thu 03-Jan-13 12:34:49

Austria is a sticker now too. Sometimes you can get either on ebay cheap, where people have used it and peeled it off again very very carefully! It's not really possible to spend a lot of time in either country avoiding the motorways. Austria in particular, around the Zell area the roads are generally fairly slow and winding without avoiding motorways!

turnipvontrapp Thu 03-Jan-13 22:42:33

Ok the flight is booked, to Munich! Got too good a deal compared to Venice.
Only problem is we arrive on Sunday night at 9.10pm. So was thinking we should drive to Innsbruck that night as its a lost night anyway and then we are a bit closer to Garda for the drive the next day. What do you think?

Want to do Garda first as looking at caravans there and apartments in Zell so want to upgrade for the second week in terms of accomodation and also will be closer to Munich for the return flight then.

Am very excited now!! Love an adventure.

So is the route over the dolomites from garda to zell worth it? Where would be good places to stop en route?

Hee hee, feel very cheeky, like you are my personal travel advisors! If you ever need travel advice on a holiday to Lancashire, I'm your lady!

I will ask two of my colleagues tomorrow if you can hang on till the weekend. One is from Brescia, the other from Salzburg.

But at Garda, make sure you visit Limone, Salo and the surrounding towns and Sirmione - a gelato in the Piazza is a must do!

Chopstheduck Fri 04-Jan-13 06:30:41

There isn't much in the drive over in the way of villages or anything to stop, but jut fantastic scenery, so like I said, I'd pack a picnic and just see where the fancy takes you. At the peak though, where you cross the border, and there is the one way stretch is a nice part. There are walking trails marked, and a little cafe selling the best apple strudel!

If you look at google maps, the route we took was from mittersill, take the 108 towards Matrei in Osttirol, then it's Bruggen on the left, which heads straight through the Riesserferner-Ahn Nature Park, past Monte collato. Then eventually you can rejoin the motorway down to Garda.

So Innsbruck would be a bit in the wrong direction, Somewhere south of Salzburg would be better.

turnipvontrapp Fri 04-Jan-13 14:21:55

Would appreciate that Binfull, thanks.

Chops, does that take you past the grossglockner?

Chopstheduck Fri 04-Jan-13 15:04:54

the grossglockner is due south of Zell am see, and is a full day out in itself. There are lots of little stops along it, musuems, craft type places, scenic vistas, cafes, play areas for the kids, etc. One point we stopped and had a snowball fight! It was boiling hot and we were in shorts and tops, and throwing snowballs, it was so much fun!

Then at the top you can see the grossglockner mountain (highest in Austria), the Pasterze glacier (at 8.4 kms the widest in the eastern Alps) and there is a big visitor centre. You can walk down to the glacier, or hike through several long tunnels to a big alpine area. We were lucky enough to see loads of marmots up there. It is a toll road too, €32 for a day, but def well worth it if you love mountains.

In theory you could drive to the end of it, double back a bit then turn off to Italy but it would be too much to do if you planning to drive all the way down to Garda. gmaps says 6 hours, but the traffic through the grossglockner is leisurely, and it could be up to 10 hours without stopping anywhere.

There is a part in the middle, Hochtor, which is the highest point of the overall road. There is a huge car park - it's forbidden to larger vehicles, then a queue of traffic winding their way up it. It is very scary, and lots of clutches burning from cars trying to climb it at slow speed! Only try that bit if you are confident drivers! The view from the top is fantastic though, there is parking to stop for a bit up there.

The website is here

Chopstheduck Fri 04-Jan-13 15:05:29

the short answer would have been 'no', wouldn't it! grin

I really did love Austria though!

turnipvontrapp Fri 04-Jan-13 15:41:43

Ha ha, yes, but it sounds great from your description so think we need to go there. Think I may have been as a child, will ask my mum and dad. Will defo look at the website link thanks.

turnipvontrapp Fri 04-Jan-13 15:45:57

I love it too, Turkey just didn't do it for us like Austria. If I won the lottery would get myself a lovely holiday home there......must get a ticket tonight! grin

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