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The largest of the Italian lakes, Garda laps at the shores of three delightful Italian regions: the plains of Lombardy are at its west, the alpine mountainscapes of Trentino Alto-Adige are at its north and the undulating hills of the Veneto are at its east. Surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and citrus trees the lake is picture perfect and best explored as slowly as you would drink a fine Italian wine. Enjoy the different feel of each part of the lake and savour the different cuisines from the Austrian salted beef of the north the French-influenced foods of the south.
South Bank - Families will love the cluster of theme and aqua parks that can be found in the southeast corner of the lake. The biggest of these, Gardaland, is perfect for thrill-seekers of any age.
North Bank - Straddling Lombardy and the alpine region of Trentino-Alto Adige the northern section of the lake has something of the fjord about it as its waters reflect the peaks that fringe it. The resultant currents of air make for perfect sailing and windsurfing.
West Bank - Arguably the most beautiful bank of Garda, this is lined with historic Lombardian towns filled with stately homes and statelier, flower-filled gardens. Just north of Gardone is the Parco Alto Garda Bresciano where you can escape the maddening crowds and enjoy the lake’s beauty in relative isolation.
East Bank - The Veneto region gives the ever-changing lake yet another character here, with silvery olive groves defining its shoreline and the lower reaches of the limestone ridges of Monte Baldo defining its skyline.
Things to See on Lake Garda
The lake itself is a scenic paradise but there are certain locations that offer the definitive views. The Mount Baldo cable car ride from Malcesine offers photo opportunities aplenty that start as soon as you arrive in the exceptionally beautiful historic town. For a spot of historic sightseeing it's hard to rival the southern city of Sirmione and its romantic ruins of a Roman villa and its 13th century castle. Meanwhile the town of Limone seems to cling to the sharp slopes that lead to the lake only by virtue of the support offered by the many lemon trees that are hinted at by its name.
Families can get their kicks at the the endless fun offered by Gardaland and the other amusement parks that can be found at the south of the lake. Meanwhile more adult thrills can be had sailing or windsurfing on the lake at its northern bank. You can hire pedal boats at most places, take a boat cruise or a guided tour or even combine the ferry service across the lakes with a gentle walk along the lake path. There are regular food and craft markets to explore along the lake for some local produce for a picnic by its waters or the perfect souvenir to take home. The best dining can be found in Riva del Garda but the healthiest experience must be the spas of Sirmione. To sup or to soak: the choice is yours.
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