Garda holidays bubble with Italian romance, al fresco dining and lively entertainment on a glistening waterfront.

Soak in the atmosphere

Garda's tree-lined promenade stretches along the water's edge for over a mile and is the centre of town life. Filled with gelaterias and cafés, it makes for a pleasant stroll along the shore to Bardolino. When evening comes around, music and street entertainers get going and the cobbled, pedestrianised streets throughout the medieval town really spring into life. Locals come out to see and be seen on their traditional passeggiata, or early evening walk – its the perfect time to stop by a lakefront bar for a spritz or a vino.

Easy afternoons at the beach

Garda sits within a wide bay, and there’s a few beaches you’ll want to know about before you go. On the promenade close to Garda’s centre is La Cavalla beach, just the spot to enjoy a pebbly paddle during the day or a laidback limoncello with the sunset. For something even more special, it’s worth paying a little extra to visit the Mermaid Bay Park and Beach in Punta San Vigilio. The peninsular is in a class of its own when it comes to old-world romantic charm, and you can tie a trip to the beach here with a wander down to the harbour past centuries-old buildings and olive groves.

Fortresses and palaces

Hard to miss is La Rocca – the steep hill between Garda and Bardonlino where the ruins of a 5th century fortress and watch tower lie. This imposing landmark gives the lake its name, ‘Garda’ coming from the ancient Germanic term Warda, meaning ‘watch’ or ‘lookout’. If you’re up for the short but steep climb to the stop you’ll be met with spectacular views, but there are plenty other historical spots which are easier to get to. Take lunch on the piazza outside the Palazzo dei Capitani, a 14th century building in Venetian Gothic style which was once a palace for the Captain of Lake Garda.

Out and about

Here are some ideas of things to do when staying in Garda:

• Lakeside promenade with cycle paths
• Lake bathing
• Boat trips
• Tennis courts
• Markets
• Local museums

At a Glance

  • Hop between cafés and gelaterias on the waterfront
  • Learn about all things olive oil at the museum in Cisano
  • Dip a toe at Mermaid Bay – it’s oh so scenic

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