9 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type



Date of travel

July, 2016

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

In 1996 we visited Lake Garda on a day trip from Verona, were overwhelmed with its beauty and vowed to return soon. It actually took us 20 years (so many other places to see!) but last August we booked an apartment in Densenzano for a week and set off to explore as much of the lake and its glorious towns and villages as we could fit in.

We chose Densenzano because it is the transport hub of the region – from here ferries, buses and trains can take you to anywhere on the lake itself and also, should you feel for it, to Venice, Verona, and other lovely towns on the Veneto.
The first day was devoted to exploring the town itself, with its delightful old port, castle and cathedral and then a 5-mile walk around the lake to Sirmione, which lived up to its reputation as both unbelievably beautiful and unbelievably crowded! Well, it was August, I suppose.

During our lakeside walk we had noticed a booth selling boat tickets to Isola del Garda and booked for the following day. The boat was somewhat smaller – and faster – than we had expected as we assumed we would be travelling on a ferry, but this was a 25-foot motor cruiser which raced over the lake, bouncing above the waves and after 30 exhilarating and windswept minutes deposited us at the private quay of the Borghese Cavazza family, owners of the island. There we were met by our guide for a tour of the enormous neo-gothic villa and the gorgeous gardens, and a tasting of the family’s olive oil, delicious bread and delightful white wine. Yummy!

Next day was spent on a round tour of the lake to Riva del Garda and back. From the ferry we admired all the lovely lakeside towns we briefly put into and noted which we would return to later in the week. We had a couple of hours in Riva, the northernmost town on the lake, dramatically framed by mountains on either side, and enjoyed a stroll along its elegant waterfront, dominated by the 13th century clock tower, the Torre Apponale . We resisted the chance to climb the 165 narrow steps, despite the blandishments of the ticket-seller and his offer of half-price tickets (€1) for we over-65s. Deciding discretion was definitely the better part of valour we settled instead in a lakeside café to eat ice-cream as only the Italians make it, admire the view and await our return ferry.

On the return journey we were particularly taken with the look of the town of Gardone Riviera, an up-market resort with several impressive luxury 19th-century hotels and a traffic-free paved lakeside promenade visible from the ferry. Our guide book waxed lyrical about the resort’s two most famous tourist attractions, which persuaded us to jump on a bus around the lake the following day and see for ourselves.

Said attractions were the Heller estate, a delightfully chaotic botanic garden, filled with monumental and unusual statuary as well as water features and tropical plants; and the Vittoriale, the bizarre house and fantastic surroundings which were the creation of the ‘eccentric’ (for which read totally bonkers) Italian poet, Gabriele D’Annuzio. The dominating feature is the prow of a full-sized battleship – which you can walk on – embedded in the hill overlooking the lake, with a dozen other weird and wonderful buildings scattered around the grounds, including a mock-Roman amphitheatre used for classical concerts and the poet’s enormous rotunda mausoleum. Just has to be seen to be believed.

We also managed to fit in short visits to Bardolino and Lazise, both delightful in their different ways, but there are still many undiscovered gems on this gorgeous lake so we will just have to return – however, this time we won’t leave it another 20 years.


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.