Lake Garda

(29 Posts)
LiveInABox Fri 30-May-14 07:52:06

We would like to visit Italy next Sept (2015) starting with about a week in Lake Garda and then heading down to possibly Tuscany. We're well travelled but have never been to Italy, there will be me, DH, DD(3) and new baby approx 9 months old.

Can anyone recommend a particular town or area of the lake that would work for us? Thinking somewhere buggy friendly and maybe with a playground for DD. We usually hire a car when on holiday and enjoy the flexibility, we'd like to do day trips to Verona and Venice.

If anyone has any recommendations for things to see and do in the area, how to get around and where to stay I would be most grateful. I should mention that we are hoping to rent an apartment rather than camping!

Thanks in advance!

PeppermintInfusion Fri 30-May-14 11:12:52

I have been to lake Garda about 7 or 8 times, it is absolutely gorgeous.

In terms of where to stay, the right side of the lake has much more happening and the left is quieter, the north end (Riva) is quite windy and draws an older clientele generally, so it depends what you're after in a hol.

On the right-
Garda or Bardolini are a good option, and where I've stayed most often. Enough happening, easy access around the lake and over to Venice/Verona/airport, the Gardaland theme park and other parts.
Malcesine (mid way) is very pretty and worth a visit, though hilly (from memory) which might be a problem if you have buggies. You can get the cable car up monte baldo near here. Think most of the campsites are near this bit.
At the bottom of the lake is Sirmione, which is a walled village. Again it is lovely, a little quieter than Garda/Bardolino.
On the southwest side is Desenzano, which has a nice buzz, but seems to attract the beautiful people in their sports cars from Milan (also train from Milan comes into here) at the weekends so it has a slightly younger vibe, but it is still family friendly.

The left side I haven't explored too much, just driven through or stopped briefly, eg Limone, it seemed a lot more sleepy so would be more if you were really looking to get away from it all.

The great thing about lake Garda is that whenever you stay the other villages are all very accessible via the small ferries on the lake which run a frequent service. So you really won't be tied to one area, and won't necessarily need to drive every day. You can't go wrong with any village either, there's nowhere to avoid.

Verona is very easy to get to (I have gone by both hire car and public bus) and Venice I went on a tour, though if you can get there independently I would suggest that as I found we were herded about a bit.

Everywhere is so family friendly, and most evenings are spent people watching in the squares with a coffee or drink and long dinners.

Hope that helps, I absolutely love it ( as you can probably tell!) so ask away!

LiveInABox Sat 31-May-14 08:21:51

Thanks Peppermint, sounds fab! Someone else has recommended Bardolino to me so it's good to hear you like it there. Will do some more research on that area, and thanks again that is really helpful!

PeppermintInfusion Sat 31-May-14 08:29:47

No problem, you really can't go wrong with anywhere you stay. You're making me want to go back now!

Chopstheduck Sat 31-May-14 08:34:58

Bardolino is LOVELY! And they do the best wines ever, a very light, easy to drink red. WE've been twice, both times stayed around the west side. I think towards the south end is better for families. It's also closer to the motorway for Venice, and to Verona. For Venice, we pre booked a multi storey in Mestre, crossed the road and caught a bus to Venice - avoiding the queues for the huge car parks as you enter Venice.

We stayed here the first time we went - www.camping-bellaitalia.it/

We've stayed on holiday parks a lot, but this is still number one. It has private lakeside access, great restaurants and ice cream, and good evening entertainment. Nice play areas too.

Bunbaker Mon 02-Jun-14 08:46:27

If you have a buggy I would stay in the southern part of the lake as it is flat. There is a path that runs alongside the lake between Garda and Bardolino. Also, the transfer from Verona is quite a short one.

We stayed in Garda the first time and Sirmione the second time and loved them both. Sirmione is beautiful, but gets very busy during the day with day trippers. I think that Bardolino or Garda would be a better bet if you have a buggy, as the streets of Sirmione are quite narrow and full of people.

Getting about by ferry to visit other lake towns is brilliant and an excellent way to see the lake. Malcesine and Gardone are worth a visit, but as they are hilly might be tricky with a buggy.

juneau Tue 03-Jun-14 19:58:14

I've been to Desenzano, Sirmione, Lasize and Salo and they were all really pretty. Sirmione I found very busy and because its a walled town the streets are really narrow, which with a buggy was a pain as everyone is dawdling along. TBH I preferred the other towns. I haven't been to Bardolino or Garda Town, but I think they'd be good bets for you from what I've heard (I was a rep with a well-known tour company who do this lake as a summer resort).

The train line to Verona and Venice runs through Desenzano and Peschiera, so if you want to visit those cities via public transport you're better off near the south end of the lake. Gardaland is also near Peschiera (although Peschiera itself is not on the lake).

WildThong Thu 05-Jun-14 09:26:00

Also, Peschiera, a lovely walled town on the lake which also has a small beach, loads of lovely restaurants, cafes and shops. It's on the main train line for Milan and Verona, also a great base for dotting around the lake on the ferries. The waterpark and Movieland theme park are a short bus ride away. Iirc, there are free buses which run to the parks.
Best holiday ever!

Chopstheduck Thu 05-Jun-14 09:29:55

Peschiera has a lovely market too, not sure which day now.

juneau Thu 05-Jun-14 18:27:14

Sorry, I didn't think Peschiera was on the lake, but it is!

NotCitrus Thu 05-Jun-14 20:44:41

Bardolino is lovely, some great restaurants up in the hills with tables in fields, so dc can run about. Crazy golf and playground, and all less busy than say Sirmione.
But with a car, any of the southern half would be fab. Water park especially in hot weather.

Bunbaker Thu 05-Jun-14 21:57:16

"Sorry, I didn't think Peschiera was on the lake, but it is!"

We took a ferry to visit the market in Peschiera - definitely worth a visit. We really liked Garda as well as you can walk right by the lake away from traffic.

WildThong Fri 06-Jun-14 00:17:25

Lake Garda is such a lovely place altogether. The walkway (or cycle-way) from Bardolino to Garda is a pleasure. I love how, in the evening, the full I Taliban family dress up and parade after dinner, so healthy and so civilised iykwim.

WildThong Fri 06-Jun-14 00:19:14

I apologise! Full Italian family - not Taliban, bloody iPad auto-correct blush

Chopstheduck Fri 06-Jun-14 06:30:07

Loving the mental image that gave me of the Taliban wandering through Peschiera! grin

kissmyheathenass Fri 06-Jun-14 17:24:19

Taliban! You nearly put me off! I want to book around 9 days in Lake Garda for August so marking place.

Any recommendations for good family hotels with a pool? Some on trip advisor look rather old-fashioned like fawlty towers.

Lunaballoon Fri 06-Jun-14 17:34:53

grin at the Taliban autocorrect! Hotel la Perla in Garda is lovely. Really fabulous pool and close to all amenities including the bus station for trips.

Spurious Fri 06-Jun-14 18:55:23

We stayed at the Poiano hotel just outside Garda, was fantastic.

Had a car and went out most days, boats across the lake, up Monte Baldo on the cable car, to Sirmione etc. had dinner most nights in either Garda or Bardolino.

It was a great holiday.

NeverTalksToStrangers Fri 06-Jun-14 19:03:33

Don't do hotels if you have a family. The campsites are great. Going to bella-italia in August.

Bunbaker Fri 06-Jun-14 20:30:35

We stayed here three years ago. It is a family run hotel and the staff are so friendly. I wouldn't camp in the area in August as the nights are stiflingly hot. You need aircon to be able to sleep.

Honsandrevels Fri 06-Jun-14 20:39:01

We stayed at Peschiera at Camping del Garda booked through Thomson. Eurocamp and other operators operate there too. It was brilliant. We'd love to go back but can't afford out of term time prices!

All by the lake was great for pushing dd2 in the buggy. The buses and trains were all easy to negotiate too.

Spurious Fri 06-Jun-14 20:55:20

We have a family and did a hotel and it was fantastic. Each to their own.

WallyBantersJunkBox Fri 06-Jun-14 21:07:53

Have just returned from another long weekend that was all too short at Garda <<sighs sadly>>

It's a four hour drive from our home so we tend to go there at the mere mention of a bank holiday... blush

I concur - the hotels are hit or miss either vv expensive or very basic and not good value. We stayed at Camping Piantelle last weekend, it's right on the lake, with parks, pool, play areas, shady green layout, lake pebble beach, restaurant, snack bar and shop, oh and free wifi. It cost us €120 for a two berth caravan for 3 nights which would sleep 3 kids and 2 adults. Very friendly and great atmosphere. The ferry goes from Moniga a 10 min lakeside stroll on a nice flat path to the marina.

It's our second visit there and it just gets better.

Altomincino Family park is also good, but it isn't on the lake, but the river, so I would avoid if you want easy lake access.

Garda Village is also on the lake in Sirmione, with a huge pool, lake access and walks into the town. The ferries are very regular from here, and it's the best way to explore. Driving from Sirmione to Limone can take 2 hours and can be hair raising if it's the first time you are dealing with Italian roads.

If you do want a hotel - Duomo in Salo is ok and right in the centre of town.

I'd consider an apartment or villa rental too if I were you?

Orangeanddemons Fri 06-Jun-14 21:36:05

How long does it take to drive there? Which would be the best channel port?

MaryMotherOfCheeses Fri 06-Jun-14 22:17:58

If you want to go to Camping Del Garda, don't go through an agent, just book direct.

If you do want to go through an agent, try Vacance Soleil. They're cheaper than Eurocamp and you get the same type of place.

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