Introducing Gardone Riviera holidays 2019 / 2020
Gardone Riviera is a beautiful town of villas and gardens, which sits on the western shores of Lake Garda in Italy. With a stunning mountain backdrop, this elegant resort captivates holidaymakers with its opulent mansions, pretty beach and attractive shady promenade — perfect for taking sunset strolls whilst drinking in the scenery. Gardone has a wonderful micro-climate, and is renowned for its magnificent gardens, particularly the Heller Botanical Garden. It’s also home to the Vittoriale degli Italiani, a hillside estate with spectacular gardens and an amphitheatre that hosts an annual festival of performing arts. Chic little Salò, with a marina full of yachts and an exquisitely preserved old quarter, is just a quick hop away on the bus and there are lots more beautiful villages to explore around the lake, including Sirmione, with its storybook castle.
Sitting pretty on the western banks of Lake Garda in Italy, Gardone Riviera is an elegant resort town that has been a popular summer retreat since the 19th century. Thanks to its remarkable micro-climate, it has some spectacular gardens, including the Heller Botanical Garden and the gardens of the Vittoriale degli Italiani estate. A charming, waterfront promenade runs along the shores of the lake, where you can join the locals for the evening passeggiata. There are a wealth of charming towns and villages to explore around Lake Garda, including picture-postard Salò, just a couple of kilometres down the coast, and enchanting and historic Sirmione, an enjoyable ferry-ride away.
Gardone Riviera offers a wealth of restaurants, from wonderful waterfront eateries to charming, traditional taverns. You can take your pick from the lively options along the shores of the lake in Gardone Sotto (‘Lower Gardone’), or head into the picturesque alleys of historic Gardone Supra (‘Upper Gardone’) to find some romantic and secluded places to eat. Local specialities in Lake Garda include the handmade Valeggio tortellini, which have a meat filling and are often served with a simple sauce of butter and sage. The freshwater fish from the lake tops many menus, and might include simply grilled trout or fried perch, served with a squeeze of lemon. The charcuterie is also renowned, and is fantastic when paired with bread dipped into locally produced olive oil. You can wash it all down with some of the excellent Garda wines.
There are heaps of things to do with kids in Gardone Riviera, from messing about in boats on the lake to running wild in gorgeous gardens. The cafés and restaurants are almost universally family-friendly, and will treat your kids like royalty. (Plus, Italian food always goes down a treat with children!) You can take the ferry to little villages around the lake, admire the castle in buzzy little Sirmione – which looks like it came straight out of the pages of a story book – and sit by the lidos as the kids splash about in the pools. There are plenty of wonderful, easy walking trails if you’ve got active kids, and even the least active will enjoy the cable car from Malcesine up Monte Baldo.
Action & Adventure
You can mess about in boats, try your hand at fishing, go kayaking and swim for hours on Lake Garda. There are several wonderful beaches within easy reach, including the Casinò beach in the centre of town and a couple of the most picturesque beaches in the whole region – Sermione’s Jamaica Beach and the beach at San Felice del Benaco – are a short drive or ferry-ride away. Lake Garda is also a very popular hiking destination, and you’ll find a range of fabulous walking trails close to Gardone Riviera. Many of them depart from the charming mountain village of San Michele, which is about an hour uphill from the town. You could also take the ferry to Malcesine, the starting point for the cable car up to Monte Baldo, which has more impressive hiking paths.
If you want to bathe in the lake, the most central option is the Casinò beach, which has earned a Blue Flag for the clarity of the water and the excellent facilities. It’s a pebbly beach, so bring some beach shoes. There’s a bar, with wonderful lake views, and you can rent sun loungers and parasols. Kids will also enjoy the play area. Another option is the Lido di Fasano, one of the prettiest beaches in the area, which is located in the neighbouring town of Fasano. Both of these are public beaches and have no admission charge, but you could also visit one of the private beaches for a fee. Further afield, the public beach in Sirmione is famous for its beautiful turquoise waters, or you could head to San Felice del Benaco, which is considered one of the loveliest on the lake.
Gardone Riviera is a tranquil little town, but it has enough going on after dusk to keep things lively on warm summer evenings. Most of the action – which is all pretty low-key, as you’d expect from a lakeside town – takes place in the bars and cafés along the waterfront in Gardone Sotto. You can sit out on a charming terrace, order a bottle of wine, and watch the sun set over the shimmering lake. There is also a sprinkling of elegant hotels, which have sumptuous cocktail bars if you want to dress up and enjoy a drink in glamorous surroundings.
There’s something a bit The Great Gatsby about Gardone Riviera, with its opulent villas and luxuriant gardens. If you love stunning scenery, wonderful food and want to soak up the Italian gift for dolce vita, then Gardone Riviera is a fantastic destination for a romantic holiday. You can stroll hand-in-hand along the lake on the charming promenade, perhaps take a dip at one of the lidos, then enjoy a long, lazy lunch under a shade tree by the water’s edge. It’s an ideal base for exploring the fairytale villages that are dotted around the lake, thanks to regular ferries that ply the waters. If you love hiking, you’re in for a treat, with scores of panoramic walks through the mountains.
Gardone Riviera is divided in two: Gardone Sotta (‘Lower Gardone’) is the area by the shores of the lake, and Gardone Supra (‘Upper Gardone’) is the charming historic village located just uphill. The town is most famous for the extraordinary Vittoriale degli Italiani, an extravagant hillside estate built for the Italian writer Gabriele d’Annunzio. The writer’s former home is now a museum, and you can also visit his mausoleum, and the magnificent grounds and gardens. The amphitheatre is the focus of an annual festival of performing arts. The other major cultural attraction in Gardone Riviera is the Heller Botanical Garden, created in the early 1900s by Dr Hruska. It now contains plants from all over the world.