Regular flights to Italy make it easy to enjoy a city break in one of the country’s varied metropolises. If you want to step further afield and experience the relaxing atmosphere of Lake Garda or the Venetian Riviera, for example, these cities make perfect gateways. With some of Italy’s most picturesque landscapes lying within easy striking distance, you could be enjoying a beach break in no time at all.
Escape Verona for the beauty of Lake Garda
Known across the world as the setting for Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, the city of Verona retains much of the romance and elegance portrayed in Romeo and Juliet. Wander the streets of the medieval old town, quote famous lines from Juliet’s balcony and soak up a performance at the Roman amphitheatre during opera season.
As the biggest lake in Italy, nearby Lake Garda is a popular holiday destination, with a wide selection of towns and villages scattered around its shore. Many of them have brightly-coloured houses and individual character that sets them apart. It’s a fantastic location for hiking, cycling and sailing, as well as sunbathing and enjoying local delicacies at pavement cafes. Take the cable car up Monte Baldo for stunning panoramas and complete 360-degree views thanks to its rotating cabins.
- Fly to Verona from Luton and Birmingham.
- Verona Airport is located close to the southern tip of Lake Garda, making it very convenient.
- Travelling times will depend on which resort you choose to visit, but the public transport in the area is good, with buses and trains departing from the airport and connecting towns all around the lake.
- Lake Garda is at its hottest in the summer, with average temperatures reaching the mid-20s in July. Breezes from the lake help to prevent the heat from getting too intense, but the spring and autumn are cooler, yet still warm. These months do increase the chances of rainfall, however.
- Freshwater fish from the lake is served in every manner you can imagine around Lake Garda, offering up plenty of possibilities. Also, be sure to try frico, which are thinly sliced piece of parmesan, mozzarella or montasio cheese, coated in flour and deep fried. The limoncino liqueur from the Alto Garda lemon houses is also worth seeking out while in the region.
- Dine at the Al Cardellino restaurant in Riva del Garda for homemade pasta and views over the lake from its stunning garden. It has been in the same family since 1977 and promises a warm welcome.
- A trip to Lake Garda is great for couples who love to be in beautiful surroundings and active families.
Resorts in Lake Garda
The outlook couldn’t be much prettier in Malcesine, as it has the expansive lake to one side and Monte Baldo to the other. Such a scene is complimented by the small town’s cobbled streets, quaint harbour and the Scaligeri Castle just to the north. You can spend your time meandering around Malcesine or take advantage of its ferry connections to explore other locations around the lake.
Riva del Garda
Having once been part of Austria, Riva del Garda at the most northerly end of the lake, is quite different to many of the other resorts in the area. Its culinary influences include those from Germany, as well as the popular pizza and gelato of Italy. A 12th-century fortress, complete with moat, lies at the heart of the town centre and sailing is a popular pastime in Riva del Garda.
Combine Venice with the Venetian Riviera
Venice looms large in the imaginations of many, as this floating city, where boats replace cars, is like nowhere else on the planet. Consisting of more than 100 islands and complete with palaces, mansions and churches at every turn, Venice is a cultural icon that should be experienced at least once in everybody’s life.
Once you have explored Venice, head to the Venetian Riviera for some downtime, enjoying traditional holiday activities. Long stretches of sand, fun waterparks and delicious local cuisine make this part of the Italian coastline the perfect place to relax. Hop aboard the Wheel of Venice to survey the surrounding area and take in incomparable views.
- Flights to Venice depart from Manchester.
- July and August are the hottest months on the Venetian Riviera, with maximum temperatures hitting the high-20s. In May and June, September and October, the weather is slightly cooler, but still pleasantly warm.
- Squid ink risotto is a local speciality of the Venetian region, while a Spritz Veneziano is a refreshing wine-based cocktail to drink on a hot day.
- Enjoy a seafood feast at Bucintoro in Lido di Jesolo and peruse the 80 different varieties of wine on offer.
- Lido di Jesolo lies just 32km from Venice Marco Polo Airport and there is a direct public bus between the two.
- Families will love this stretch of coastline, as the beaches are safe and there are plenty of other attractions to keep everyone entertained.
Lido di Jesolo resort
Distinct from the old town of Jesolo, which lies inland, Lido di Jesolo was created around ten miles of beach on the Adriatic coast. It is therefore much younger than many Italian towns and has been built with convenience for those wishing to enjoy the seaside in mind. Everything you could want out of a beach holiday is here, from lifeguards on duty and sunbeds to well-stocked ice cream shops and mini-golf.
Swap Naples for the Neapolitan Riviera
Dominated by the huge sweep of Bay of Naples and the still-active cone of Mount Vesuvius close by, Naples has long been defined by its geography. Luckily for the visitor, it matches its dramatic location with a rich cultural scene, which includes impressive architecture and world-class art. Step inside the palaces, castles and cathedral and you will be rewarded with priceless frescoes and sumptuous artefacts.
The Neapolitan Riviera is what most people think of when they envisage a sun-soaked holiday on Italy’s coastline. Some of the best views in the country can be gained from picturesque towns clutching to the hillside above a glittering sea. Charming fishing villages appear to have been forgotten in time and scented lemon groves hint at the incredible array of ingredients that go into the food in local trattorias.
- Long hot summers and mild winters make the Neapolitan Riviera a great choice year-round.
- Taste the gnocchi in this part of Italy, as it is second to none, and enjoy some limoncello at the end of a meal to transport your senses back to those lemon groves.
- Don Alfonso 1890 is that most wonderful of things – a restaurant that is both innovative and respects the traditions of the locale where it is situated – and must be visited, just outside of Sorrento.
- Sorrento is located 50km from Naples Airport and you can catch a direct bus to the Neapolitan Riviera or change onto a train at the central station.
- Honeymooners will love this part of Italy and have some particularly idyllic snaps to share on social media.
Resorts on the Neapolitan Riviera
It’s hard not to fall in love with Sorrento. From its position on a clifftop overlooking the Gulf of Naples and views of Mount Vesuvius, there’s plenty to admire. Navigate the labyrinth of cobbled streets until you find the main square, where you can enjoy an espresso, or the shopping street of Corso Italia. When it comes to history and elegance, the 14th-century Cloister of San Francesco and the 15th-century cathedral epitomise these qualities.
Holidays in Sant’Agenllo are peaceful affairs that combine a selection of relaxing activities. Enjoy a drink at one of the cafes in the square, before hiking in the hills that stretch out in all directions. The town is connected to the beach below via a lift, meaning its clifftop setting does not provide a barrier to sunning yourself on its volcanic sand or taking a stroll along its scenic pier.