Love Lake Garda? Hate crowds? Here are six top tips for an off-radar break
Italian resident Hugo McCafferty has the inside track on Italy's loveliest lake...
How to dodge the crowds in Lake Garda? Here are six tips to get you started.
1. Skip high season
Lake Garda is a stunning location offering the best of Italy in one place. Spectacular scenery, pristine coastline, picturesque towns and hidden gems can all be found within easy reach. It's great for families or a short romantic break, and you'll find it least crowded outside of high-season (May-August). Don't worry, the lake keeps temperatures mild, even in winter...
2. Verona or Bergamo?
The Irish usually fly to Verona and many decide to visit Venice before or after their Garda trip. However, flights can be expensive during peak season and Venice is always busy. You could fly to Bergamo and take the train through Brescia and on to Dezensano on Lake Garda. Bergamo Alta is an incredible town and often overlooked as just an airport - but it's highly recommended for the scenery, the art and the food.
3. Sirmione and Jamaica Beach
On the little peninsula that juts out into Lake Garda from the southern shore you'll find beautiful Sirmione. The remains of Roman Villa Grotte di Catullo are spectacular and nearby is the 'Jamaica Beach', so-called because of its flat white stone edge at the water. It's a spectacular place to watch the sunset.
4. Best beaches
Lake Garda's beaches clearly get busy in summer, so if you want to avoid the crowds, stick to the western shore or go as far north as you can. Makio beach near Salo is usually a less crowded option. There's also a private area where you can hire a sun lounger for the day... it's a lot more comfortable than a towel thrown over pebbles.
This is a good place to base yourself if you want to get away from intense tourism activity. There are plenty of museums and historic villas to spend the day in. You can also take a day trip to Isola del Garda and visit its stunning villa and gardens.
6. Eating out
Forget overpriced pizzerias on the lakeshore; ask at the hotel for the local trattoria. You'll eat better, cheaper and have a far more authentic experience. On a Sunday, look for the local Agriturismo. These are farms that produce the food they serve - the best of fresh, local cuisine. They're excellent value, too - justifying a taxi ride.
Read more:Roz Purcell's Riva Del Garda: Six tips for your Little Black Book