Lake Garda, Italy Scenic Drive
Lake Garda in Northern Italy by motorhome rental
When you find a region that is a popular holiday destination for the locals, then you know it must be good! The area around beautiful Lake Garda in the north-eastern corner of Italy has long been a favourite summer holiday destination for Italians from all over the country, and for a very good reason; the lake and the surrounding villages are exceptionally scenic as well as being full of history and heritage and there are a lot of activities to keep the whole family happily active. Spending a week or two driving a campervan rental or motorhome hire around the region is a great way to see some of Italy’s most impressive lake scenery. You can reach Lake Garda easily from either Venice or Milan.
Riva del Garda, Malcesine and Monte Baldo
The loop around Lake Garda is about 160km – the lake is 52km long from north to south – but forget about rushing around the region in a day! This is a drive to be savoured in a relaxed fashion if you want to appreciate all the Garda region has to offer. Starting at the extreme North in Riva del Garda, you could spend a couple of days enjoying water-based activities, especially wind-surfing, visit the fortress and sip an espresso at one of the many lake-side cafes while soaking up the beauty. From Riva, start your circuit of the lake down the eastern shoreline to pretty Malcesine, where you can walk through the tiny cobbled streets of the historic centre and visit the small harbour and the medieval castle. From here you can take a cable car to Monte Baldo to see the Botanical Gardens, possibly go hiking or just enjoy the spectacular views over the lake. Further south you will come to Garda town, which is very beautiful and will occupy at least a half-day of your time.
Bardolino, Peschiera del Garda and Gardaland
Next up on your drive is Bardolino, where you can enjoy a soak in the thermal baths and wellness centre; this little village also hosts an olive oil and wine festival each year around September where you can get an introduction to the fine produce of the Garda region. From Bardolino continue south to Peschiera del Garda, one of the most picture-perfect towns on the southern shore of the lake. Explore the small historic centre inside this walled 16th century town, and consider spending a couple of days here enjoying all the activities. You are also close to Gardaland, the largest amusement park in Italy and great for a day of family fun – park your motorhome rental or campervan hire and use the free shuttle bus from Peschiera station.
Sirmione, and Le Grotte de Catullo to Riva del Garda
Now continue your drive through the beautiful lakeside scenery to the medieval town of Sirmione which is known for its thermal bath resorts. While here, make a point of visiting Le Grotte de Catullo on the peninsula where there are ancient ruins to be seen in a spectacular setting of olive and lemon groves. The return drive along the western shore of the lake will take you to more interesting towns and villages as you make your way back to Riva del Garda. There are several ferries that cross the lake from east to west, making it possible to explore several of the towns and villages on both shores even if you only have time to drive down one side of the circuitous route.