Lake Garda is Italy's largest lake, surrounded by mountains and fjord-like hills in the north. As you travel down the narrow region to the south, the landscape changes into flatter ground with open olive groves and serene waters. Ancient towns sit along the water's edge and climb up the mountain sides where lemons and oranges are grown. This tranquil region is a favourite spot for a variety of outdoor sports.
Stay in a Lake Garda hostel nestled up in the mountains for breathtaking scenery and fresh air or get cosy in a traditional building in a quaint harbour town. There are also places on lakeside promenades or surrounded by ancient olive groves. Some Lake Garda hostels have views out across the water from a rooftop terrace, while others have gardens with a barbecue for cooking charcoaled fresh fish. You can also get a free breakfast at many hostels, with tasty local treats like homemade cakes.
The different areas around Lake Garda range from little medieval towns with castles, like Arco, Sirmione and Malcesine, to towering mountains in the north and peaceful fishing harbours in the south. Small villages are dotted on the mountain sides, while down by the shores of the lake you can spend a quiet afternoon in seaside towns such as Garda, lounging on little beaches with a creamy gelato. Verona, Milan and Venice are all easily reachable from Lake Garda.
Lake Garda has plenty of activities to choose from. Get your heart racing by jumping off the colossal Monte Baldo and paraglide down to the medieval town of Malcesine below (you can also take the cable car!). In the cliffs near Arco you can try climbing, and there are over 1,000km of trails around the lake for mountain biking. Torbole sul Garda is a renowned water-sports haven and is the ideal spot for windsurfing and sailing.
Lake Garda sits between Verona Villafranca Airport (15km to the east) and Brescia Montichiari Airport (30km to the west). You can take a train from Verona to Desenzano del Garda and Peschiera del Garda on the southern shore of Lake Garda, which then link to other stations further around the lake. There's also a bus service that travels to different lakeside towns or you can jump on one of the ferries that operate like water buses throughout the day.