Italy’s Lake Garda is a longtime favourite with families seeking affordable yet fun-filled holidays. There are boundless activities to be enjoyed against a stunning picture-postcard backdrop.
Cool off in the hot summer months with a refreshing dip in the clear waters of the lake. If you find the lake water too chilly, head to Thermal Park Garda with its spring-fed lakes and 100 degree waterfalls.
Take your rod and your pick of 30 types of fish by dropping your bait at one of the lake’s many fishing spots or take out a boat – choose from pedaloes, motor boats, sailing boats, kayaks and canoes.
Go for a lakeside stroll or a heartier hike – Monte Baldo in particular will reward you with some excellent views. You can also take the ten minute funicular ride up if you want to conserve your energy!
Significant ground can be covered on horseback with a trek run by one of the numerous riding schools. Hire a set of wheels from one of the towns for an hour or a whole day – there are leisurely lakeside paths and rugged mountain trails for the more intrepid.
All family holidays to Lake Garda should probably include a trip to the Disney-style Gardaland, Italy’s largest and most popular theme park – delivering adrenaline, fantasy and adventure to children and adults alike.
A few miles north is Canevaworld, home to the tropical island water park Aqua Paradise, which is bursting with rides and slides and Movieland, a Universal Studios-style theme park.
Parks and gardens
The beautiful gardens of Parco Giardino Sigurta are considered to be among the top five displays in the world. Covering a vast area of 560,000 square metres, there is a plethora of plant life, tropical fish-filled ponds, herb gardens and a vast lawn.
The whole family will love the fairytale magic of Isola del Garda – an island nestling on the lake and home to a stunning villa and breathtaking gardens.
The public gardens at Riva are well worth a visit – a sanctuary away from Lake Garda’s bustling second largest town.
Parco Natura Viva is a 40 hectare park packed with treats, including the Fauna Park which holds 200 animals in thefive-mile long Safari Park with animals from the African Savannah.
You can also enjoy a botanical route in the landscaped hillside with its array of plants and the Dinosaur Park, where children will be wowed by the life-sized models.
The ‘real’ Lake Garda, away from the tourist hot spots, consists of quiet Mediterranean villages and Roman ruins. Torri Del Benaco is a good place to begin with its practical and reasonably priced amenities.
Visit the 14th-century Scaligero Castle, built on the ruins of its 10th century predecessor, eat ice cream at Gelateria Miralago then amble along Piazza Chiesa, a path which borders the lake and ends at the beach.