Friday, May 12, 2017

Lago di Garda "a beautiful escape"

Destination: Lago di Garda
Travel Companion: Wife
Duration: 4 days
Budget: 850$ pp (excl. Airfare)

By Bechara Daccache (Instagram): When you think of Italy, Rome, Florence or Venice come to mind. Today, I want to take you instead on one beautiful relaxing escape, Lake Garda. Lago di Garda is the largest lake in Italy, and is about half-way between Milan and Venice.

Morning view for a quiet breakfast at Hotel Classique.

It is a popular holiday destination but not exactly from Lebanon, since it is not easy to reach. The lake is located at the bottom of the Dolomite mountains and is surrounded by small villages, natural parks, wineries and camping sites.

You can spend your day walking around towns like Garda, Sirmione, Lazise and Bardolino. Easier way to get there is by landing in Milano's airport. You can spend the night in Milan, and take the train to Garda. Oh and I don't recommend more than that in Milan. I didn't like it.


Chiesa di San Nicola from the 12th century- Lazise Porto

1) Where to stay

We wanted to stay right by the lake, with a preference to authentic hotels, so we booked in Hotel Classique in Lazise. What we loved about Classique is its perfect location, vicinity to delicious restaurants and stunning view over the lake. A small caveat though, if you prefer modern interior, or you cannot survive without an elevator, this is not the hotel to stay in.

2) Duration & Budget

Lake Garda is very huge and you can visit many villages around it. We stayed in Lazise for 3 nights. Of course you can add more days and discover Malcesine (which is situated on the North part of the lake) and from there you can take a cable car to Monte Baldo for a hike in Riva or Limone. Caveat. Malcesine and the Northern part of the lake is more crowded than Bardolino and Garda town, yet more scenic with mountains surrounding the towns.

3) Activities to do

You can either go relax, chill and enjoy the views or you can fill maximize your time with a very rich schedule. Below are some of the sporty activities that are recommended:
  • Bike Routes: Many routes available with stunning views over the lake.
  • Gardaland Theme park: The first and largest theme park in Italy. (other theme parks available)
  • Canoeing
  • Sailing / Windsurfing
  • Horseback riding
  • Kite Surf
  • Diving
  • Paragliding (departure from Malcesine)
You can check Visit Garda for more info regarding reservations.
Unique bike routes - Photo credit: VisitGarda.com
If you prefer more of a chill vacation, where you can just relax, people watch, enjoy the food and swim, check Sirmione's old castle and Roman ruins.

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Sirmione Castle view

One of the many accessible beaches - This is in Sirmione
Many touristic destinations around Garda can be an option for a one day trip like Verona, Padua, and even Venice.
Go say hi to Romeo y Giulietta in Verona

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Ferries and buses are available to move from town to town and they're quite accurate.
No need to keep a car with you unless you want to explore the lake all around. But it is important to mention that car access might be limited in some areas.
Grottoes of Catullus Roman ruins as seen from the ferry - Sirmione
Water was amazing! <3 - Sirmione


4) Food & Drinks

Garda residents must get their olive oil, cheese and wine from God! They are the best I've ever tasted. One of my favorite restaurants that we tried there and which I highly recommend is the "Corte San Luca" restaurant located in Bardolino. You can go to the area just before sunset, enjoy some time by the lake before heading to the restaurant.
A perfect mixed grilled fish platter at Corte San Luca
And if you're lucky enough, you'll be entertained by some romantic Italian live music. Another restaurant suggestion are those at "Classique" hotel, for both breakfast and dinner. They have a big terrace that is perfect for breakfast just beside the lake, and their garden restaurant serves one hell of a Tuna Steak!

It is important to mention that food was quite cheap and very delicious, in particular seafood (proximity to the beach helps!).
Breakfast at Hotel Classique
Must do: You should pamper yourself with Garda's Ice cream at least once a day. We've never tasted anything like their ice cream ever, and trust me, we've tasted ice-cream. Watermelon flavor is to die for as the taste is very natural and delicious! 

Chillin' is key



FROM ITALY WITH FUNK


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