Small towns filled with narrow cobbled alleys cling to the side of the rocky landscape in Lake Garda’s dramatic northern tip. Having sat under both Venetian and Austrian rule over the centuries, you can still spot these influences in the architecture, no more so than at the very top of the lake.
Known for its breezier climate, the north is a favourite for watersports. And even if you’re not taking part, you can spend hours watching from the lakefront promenade or a café along the shore. But where in the north should you holiday this summer?
Nestled between the lake and the mountains, Limone could only be reached by boat until 1932, when the road to Riva was carved through the rock. And it’s kept its character – streets snake past ancient terraced lemon and olive groves towards the lake shore, passing shops, restaurants and traditional shuttered houses along the way. At the waterfront, a bustling promenade walk is lined with terraces, shingle beaches and spectacular views across the water.
Want to explore further afield? With great ferry links to neighbouring towns like Riva at the very top and Malcesine across the lake, Limone is ideal for sight-seeing the northern half of Lake Garda.
The All’ Azzurro is right in the heart of Limone, just steps from the ferry point. If you’re staying local, days can be spent taking refreshing dips in the outdoor pool, with unspoiled views of the lake. At mealtimes, you can enjoy a 4-course meal while feasting your eyes on the shimmering lake and panoramic mountain backdrop.
Perched on the hillside above the ancient lemon groves, this hotel is as splendid as its name suggests. With an upside-down layout, walk through the lobby bar and onto the beautiful sun terrace to be rewarded with breathtaking views across the bay of Limone. And you get more than your usual half board here. Tuck in to snacks at the daily afternoon tea and unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks during your evening meals.
Taking centre stage at the Hotel Imperial is the large outdoor pool, surrounded by manicured gardens and palm trees. Sit back in the sunshine or relax in the shade of the poolside cabanas. And what’s more, there’s a sauna and whirlpool in the hotel spa. The historic centre is a 20-minute walk away, ideal for an evening stroll after your daily 5-course Mediterranean banquets.
Reminders of Riva’s turbulent past pepper the town and surround the 12th-century fortress at its centre. Climb the 165 steps of the clock tower in Riva’s main square or hike to the 16th-century ruins of the Bastione tower perched on the cliffside. Riva’s a bustling town with streetside cafés, which is perfect for people watching. And if you fancy a bit of shopping, you can get clothes and souvenirs on Viale Dante Alighieri’s pedestrianised street and at the Blue Garden shopping centre along the main road. If you’re after a bit of peace and quiet, the town’s 3.5km promenade stretches along the shore to neighbouring Torbole, and is lined with pebble beaches and grassed public lidos.
Centrale by name, central by nature. With less than a minutes’ walk to the ferry point, catching a boat to the nearby towns is easy and convenient. The hotel’s interiors are elegantly designed, with nothing too fancy and no long list of facilities. But with such a great location and superb surroundings, you probably won’t be spending much time indoors anyway.
Set back from the lake with a large outdoor pool and greenery in all directions, the Hotel Savoy Palace is a modern and comfortable hotel with a contemporary bar and lounge – ideal for an evening cocktail accompanied by live music. Fancy getting out and about? There’s a great selection of hotel-run activities including walking tours, yoga on the lakefront and free bike hire for exploring your surroundings.
This stylish hotel is located in a peaceful area of Riva, just 300 metres from the lakefront. Head up to the glamorous sky terrace and admire the vistas across the lake, whether you’re off for a dip in the rooftop pool, a drink at the bar or to dine at the restaurant while watching the sun set over Riva town. The modern twin rooms are sophisticated and spacious, each with its own private balcony.
The best time to visit the north of the lake is in September when the temperatures are a little cooler than the highs of July and August. Later in the summer, the lake water is at its warmest, which is great for a daily dip. And the evening breeze is still pleasant for an after-dinner stroll.
There’s a wide range of festivals and events taking place throughout the summer season. Travel in mid-August to join the celebrations of Ferragosta, the most important day of the summer. This public holiday creates a lively and buzzing vibe in every town, all topped off with a firework extravaganza.
Sip a spritz on the shore or wander along peaceful promenades. Check out our latest Lake Garda deals.
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Author: Ben Dent
Published: June 14, 2019
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