Lake Garda of the north, between Venice and Milan, is the largest lake in Italy. It also happens to be ABSOLUTELY beautiful - but then again, what in Italy isn't?
My entire trip to Italy was based around Lake Garda, as I lodged at the Eden Campgrounds. I think my favorite part of this was the unforgettable view I got to enjoy every single day. The pool didn't hurt either. Though to get from the pool back up to our cabin, we had to conquer a climb up what felt like thousands of steps (if I remember correctly I counted 111... but still) during which my shoe broke, on the very first day. (Good thing we had duck tape!)
During the off-season of mid-September, Lake Garda managed to be the most relaxing place I visited in Italy, compared to the crowded cities of Venice or Manarola.
To be perfectly honest, you can probably stay a solid week just by Lake Garda and have plenty of entertainment to satisfy your needs - from water sports like paddle boarding, kite boarding, snorkling or just tanning out by the dock or hopping around the enchanting, little towns nested around the lake and stuffing your face with gelato.
We flip flopped between days of doing absolutely nothing, lounging around the pool and ones more active like a trip to Cinque Terre.
But here are five adventures to have, all around this beautiful Lago di Garda.
No matter how the day was spent, whether we fried in the sun by the pool or took an all day adventure to Cinque Terre, as the evening approached, Salo called. Just a twenty minute walk away from the Eden Campgrounds, I strongly suggest visiting Salo once the sun sets.
The lights reflecting off the water add to the never ending charm of this little town.
We strolled through the narrow allies, filled with stores with leather Italian handbags and shoes, outdoor bars or souvenir shacks. My favorite place in Salo is right next to the Cathedral of Salo, where you can get the best gelato at the La Casa del Dolce.
We ate out in Salo on a couple of occasions either for Italian pizza or cheesy cappelletti. Responsibly enjoyed with a pitcher of white wine.
I had heard of Sirmione because of the Scaliger castle, which is a castle/port (which apparently is super rare) from the 13th Century.
If you're into architecture another famous landmark in Sirmione is the Grotte di Catullo, the ruins of a Roman villa.
But besides that I had no idea how adorable this little town is!
What I remember most were the brick buildings with old, wooden shutters surrounded by hundreds of beautiful, purple flowers! Ouhh and Tiramisu at the Lido delle Bionde.
Sirimione is filled with romance and grace and a must see for anyone adventuring about lago di garda. One word of advice, if you get there by car, bring coins for parking meters! I don't remember a single spot where you didn't have to pay.
3) Theme Parks
My cousin had her mind set and kept talking about this water park she wanted to go to. Though we ended up not going, I did some research out of plain curiosity and was actually surprise to find that there are several theme parks around Lake Garda, all with some pretty great reviews. Here are the three that caught my eye:
Canevaworld - This is the water park my cousin wanted to see. It's family friendly and sounds like a delightful refreshment on a hot summer day.
Gardaland - For all you adrenaline junkies, Gardaland is the themepark with multiple rollercoasters and rides suited for folk of all ages.
Busatte Adventure Park - This is the more active option, as Busatte Adventure Park has a climbing/hiking course and even a BMX trail.
4) Climb Monte Baldo
Speaking of being active! Monte Baldo is right on Lake Garda. It's not Everest, but it's Italian, soooo I say it's good enough.
You can drive up, take the cable cart or hike up the mountain in 4 hours. Up at the top you can venture out on your own, take a tour guide or do a bike tour. Regardless of how you chose to get there and how you spend your time there, I imagine the views from the top are even more stunning than the ones from below.
Though I didn't get to enjoy this experience, I wanted to make sure I mention it because it's for sure something I'd like to do next time around.
Verona is about an hour drive from Sirmione making it another day trip we took.
I wasn't as wowed by Verona, to be completely honest with you. It had its moments, but all together I don't recall it being THAT memorable. Not compared to Venice, for example.
Considering the whole Shakespeare shenanigans, it's worth visiting (I mean you're already there) and hey, if you get in the ridiculously long line to the statue of Juliet, you might have a chance at grabbing Juliet's boob in hopes of finding true love.
I'm not making this up, people actually do that! I think it's the right one too because apparently they are not equal.
(I ended up grabbing her butt which, I'm convinced, is why I'm still single)
Just make sure to wash your hands after.
Though I feel you really can't go wrong with Italy period, Lake Garda is definitely a place I recommend visiting, whether for a weekend or the base of your trip to Northern Italy.
Next time I'm in Italy (and ouuuuh there will be a next time!) I would love to explore the southern end. Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!