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TRAVEL: Garda paradise

Saturday, 24th February, 2018 10:00am

Story by Tony McCullagh
TRAVEL: Garda paradise

Cycling is a great way to enjoy the North Lake Garda scenery

TRAVEL: Garda paradise

Cycling is a great way to enjoy the North Lake Garda scenery

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WHEN holidaying in Italy, it's near impossible not to give in to temptation. And if you're visiting North Lake Garda in Trentino, you will find your resolve severely tested at every turn.

In a country renowned for its gastronomic delights - not to mention multiplicity of courses - you could easily eat yourself into a food coma in some of the finest restaurants the region has to offer.

While food is not the full story when it comes to North Lake Garda, it's certainly a big part of it.

Fortunately for your waistlines, it is also one of the best locations in Europe for embracing the great outdoors, with no end of healthy activities to enjoy, from windsurfing and sailing to e-biking and mountaineering.

We flew to Verona with Aer Lingus, with our transfer to Riva del Garda taking just over an hour.

Hiring a car is recommended if you want the freedom to explore but there are also train and bus options for those happy to base themselves in one of the picturesque towns dotted around Italy's largest lake.

We stayed at Campagnola Hotel Riva del Garda, just a short distance from the centre of this picture postcard town. The expansive blue waters are framed by majestic mountains that dramatically sweep down to the edges of Lake Garda. 

The bustling harbour area is alive with the sound of street entertainers and the chatter of locals and tourists enjoying al fresco dining at its finest in Riva del Garda's bars and restaurants.

You can spend hours enjoying a long lunch by the lakeside while watching the comings and goings of passengers on ferries and tourist boats.

To fully appreciate the natural beauty of North Lake Garda, it's recommended that you engage in some of the outdoor activities on offer.

We spent a leisurely morning kayaking on the lake ( in open top boats that were very manageable and easy to navigate, even for the novice paddlers among us.

Lake Garda has a unique climate of its own. This results in calm waters every morning, replaced by choppier conditions in the afternoon as the wind picks up, making it one of the most popular destinations in Europe for sailing and windsurfing.

Back on dry land, there are many outdoor pursuits to help you work up an appetite. The neighbouring town of Arco, overlooked by an imposing castle and surrounded by stunning mountains, is a popular base with hillwalkers and climbers. 

The more adventurous can try the Via Ferrata Colodri, a protected climbing route with steel rungs embedded into the steep cliff face overlooking the town.

Assisted by an expert guide (, who will provide you with all the necessary equipment, this is a great way of experiencing extreme climbing in a safe, controlled environment. All you need is a head for heights! 

With a network of scenic cycle routes snaking through the valleys, taking to the saddle is one of the best ways to explore the region. And here's the good news - the growth of e-biking has made cycling accessible for all, regardless of your fitness level. 

We enjoyed a guided tour with Mandelli Bikes (, whizzing through the Trentino countryside with the ease of a professional cyclist.

It may look like an ordinary mountain bike, but with a little help from the integrated electric motor, you have all the extra power you need when the going gets tough.

But back to the food. Eating out in Italy is one of life's greatest indulgences and we found it difficult to choose between our favourite restaurants during our visit to North Lake Garda.  

For lunch, try the lake fish at Nuovo 900, the freshly made pizza at Leon d'Oro or the fillet of beef at Ristorante Il Ritratto in Arco. We also had memorable meals at Ristorante la Berlera, Villetta Annessa, Restaurant Al Forte Alto and Acetaia del Balsamico. 

Finally, a visit to Agraria, a gourmet superstore, is a must, if only to treat yourself to a food tasting or witness the self-service wine pumps, which you can dispense into containers or boxes. Just make sure you leave plenty of room in your suitcase!

For further information, visit


A beautiful view of Riva del Garda. Ristorante la Berlera.

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