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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Italy > Garda beaches

About Garda beaches

Garda is a lively resort on lovely Lake Garda, the largest and cleanest of all the Italian Lakes. Lake Garda’s varied landscape and picturesque scenery made it a popular holiday resort in ancient times – wealthy Romans used to come here to escape the city heat, though they tended to stay around Sirmione and Desenzano on the lake’s southern shores. Garda is a popular resort and makes a good base for a family holiday on the lake, as well as for exploring other parts of northern Italy. With beautiful views, an historic town centre and plenty of bars and restaurants, Garda has something to offer everyone from couples seeking a relaxing break, to families wanting to amuse the kids for a week or two.

Beach:

There is a long section of pebbly beach at Garda, while Punta San Vigilio, a short distance further north, has a very popular stretch of shingle beach. For those who really wish to make the most of the watersports the lake has to offer, it is best to head for resorts to the north such as Malcesine and Riva del Garda, where there are many opportunities for waterskiing and windsurfing. Torbole, at the top of the lake, offers sailing and watersports too.

Beyond the beach:

The centre of Garda is a pleasant place to stroll, with plenty of shops and a medieval church, the Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore (in the historic centre), which contains some 15th-century frescoes. It is well worth taking boat trips to other towns on the lake, or driving along the lakeside (beware, it does get busy in summer) to resorts such as Malcesine. This is a pleasant town with a striking 13th-century fortress, Scaligeri Castle. A cablecar also runs from the town up to the nearby peak of Monte Baldo.

Family fun:

Italy’s answer to Disneyland, Gardaland (www.gardaland.it), is just a short distance south of Garda at Castelnuovo del Garda, between the towns of Peschiera and Lazise. Gardaland has everything from themed rides and stomach churning rollercoasters to entertainment. Not far away by Lazise is Canevaworld (www.canevaworld.it), an American-style complex with a water park, and Movieland, a cinema themed park featuring a Rambo action show, a submarine simulator ride and even a medieval show complete with knights on horseback.

Exploring further:

There are plenty of places to explore on Lake Garda, notably the Vittoriale (www.vittoriale.it) in Gardone Riviera on the western shore. Mussolini presented this extravagant villa to the socialite poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, who turned it into a monument to himself: a lavish palace and garden.

Splashing out:

For a real treat there is the exclusive Locanda San Vigilio, Punta San Vigilio (www.locanda-sanvigilio.it) just north of Garda. There are only seven rooms, including one reached by a private lemon grove, as well as an excellent restaurant with views across the lake.