A day exploring with the dulcet tones of Dean Martin
Weaving through the narrow tunnels carved-out from mountains, with the wind in our hair and opal waters ahead. Yes, we are touring Lake Garda in northern Italy, by car.
The town of Torbole
We wish we had allowed more time around Lake Garda as the scenery and little towns are so picturesque.
However, we were really pleased that we toured around the lake to appreciate its beauty from north to south.
A helpful guide
If you're hooked like us and want to tour around the beautiful Italian Lakes in northern Italy, then take a look at this DK Eyewitness book.
This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
Where were we heading?
We started from our base of Limone Sul Garda on the northwest shores of the lake. Although to be perfectly honest you’re going in a circle, so it doesn’t really matter where you start. We chose a few destinations for the route; however, for this one-day itinerary, it is also about enjoying the landscape too.
The Audi RS5 parked up on Lake Garda
Our stops were to be; Peschiera del Garda, Salò and the hilltop Sanctuary of Montecastello, Tignale.
We’d visited Malcesine the previous day by boat from Limone Sul Garda.
Our First Tip
If you are on a road trip around Lake Garda, this is a must. Ensure you drive clockwise around the lake and have the unhindered view on your right-hand side. That way you’ll always be hugging the lake’s edge.
With Lake Garda on our right-hand side, we head north, immediately the backdrop is stunning. In the northern region of Lake Garda, the mountains tower above the lake and look magnificent.
The view of Lake Garda from the north at Torbole
Snaking through the tunnels and arches towards the north of the lake, we pass through the bustling town of Riva del Garda. We wiggled on by, but we couldn’t resist pulling over at the water’s edge in Torbole, to catch the incredible view down Lake Garda.
You feel like 007
Back on the route, we start heading south, winding our way through more tunnels and towns. With the engine echoing around you and the rumbling sounds beyond, you feel like you are in the opening scene of James Bond’s Quantum of Solace.
Driving the road around Lake Garda
We meander down the eastern side soaking up the sunshine and landscape as we go. If you have more than one day to tour, then you must try and stop at numerous towns.
When you drive along the main route around Lake Garda, you often don’t appreciate the historical villages below with their unique characters. Malcesine and Limone Sul Garda have beautiful little harbours and tiny narrow streets that are for pedestrians only.
Peschiera del Garda
The further south of Lake Garda you head, you’ll begin to notice that the mountains disappear in your rear-view mirror and it’s a lot flatter than in the north. It’s also got a lot busier.
Looking across Lake Garda
Passing through Porta Verona, we reach the town of Peschiera del Garda in the Veneto region. We are now in the southeast corner of the lake and jump out to discover it further.
Porta Verona, Peschiera del Garda
Stroll the canals
The quaint town of Peschiera del Garda is really picturesque. Lovely Italian architecture painted in delightful colours, wrought iron balconies and flowing window boxes.
A stroll by the canal
We take a wander through the old town and around the canals, it has quite a nautical feel about it. Little boats were bobbing in the harbour and lakeside cafes to relax at.
A view along the Mincio River
You get a lovely view over the historic centre and the Mincio River from the old city walls. The old town of Peschiera del Garda sits on its own island that it shares with the ancient fortress.
Duomo di San Martino, Peschiera del Garda
Heading up the western shores to Salò
We continue around the south of Lake Garda and start to head north, up to the western shoreline. At times the main route takes you slightly inland, and you are unable to follow the lakeside around. The drive is scenic nonetheless, as you pass by olive groves and honeysuckle bushes.
Promenade by Lake Garda in Salò
Now in the Lombardy region of Lake Garda, we stop at Salò, this town was recommended to us by a local, so we were definitely going to take a peek.
Porta dell'Orologio – Clock Gate
Piazza Angelo Zanelli, Salò
We found that parking was reasonably cheap around the lake at only €1 per hour.
Among the lanes of Salò
With a history dating back to the Romans, this was another incredible lakeside town. Elegant colourful buildings throughout the old town, tiny narrow lanes and intriguing little alleyways.
Elegant buildings in Salò
Narrow lanes of Salò
Some of the beautiful buildings were in the process of being restored, and others had the rustic charm that required a little bit of TLC to get them back to their former splendour.
Sanctuary of Montecastello
Our last stop around Lake Garda before heading back to Limone Sul Garda was to the hilltop Sanctuary of Montecastello by Tignale. We were informed that the views across the lake from the top were incredible.
View across the mountain tops
We parked at the bottom of the hill, we knew it was going to be a bit of a hike, but we were led to believe it was only short, I certainly had my reservations half way up.
A view from Sanctuary of Montecastello across to Malcesine
We kept going and made it to the top, and yes, the views were amazing. The monastery looked as though it was just clinging onto the edge of the mountain side.
It was a bit of a hazy day, so, unfortunately, the views weren’t perfect, but hey we got to the top.
Although we should have done a little research, as we didn’t realise that you weren’t allowed to enter the church if you were wearing shorts.
The Sanctuary of Montecastello
So, we had to admire the Sanctuary of Montecastello from the outside and the far-reaching views beyond.
Quantum of Solace
Our final stretch around the loop of Lake Garda we enjoyed the twisting arched tunnels which were used in filming the opening scenes of James Bond’s – Quantum of Solace. Gary drops the car into a lower gear, and it growls its way through the tunnels.
A view from 'A Quantum of Solace'
Inspired to tour Lake Garda?
Base yourselves by the beautiful mountains in the north at Limone Sul Garda. Does the idea of a road trip tempt you? Would you like to see the opal waters for yourself?
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