Lake Garda itself is gorgeous but around the lake there are a few places where the natural beauty is particularly awe-inspiring.
Mount Baldo is one such place. Soaring over 2000 meters above the lake. This is the most spectacular of all the natural features around Lake Garda.
The view from the top is incredible and don’t worry you don’t have to climb all the way up either.
A very modern cable car leaves from Malcesine and it takes about ten minutes to get to the cable station at 1700 meters. The fact that the cable car rotates while ascending means you get to enjoy a 360 degree panorama.
Mount Baldo is "The Garden of Europe" for the rich variety of flora and fauna. A richer variety of plant species, from Alpine to Mediterranean, exists here than nearly anywhere else in Europe. The flowers are particularly spectacular during spring and early summer.
Try to make sure you choose a clear day as it can sometimes be a little hazy in summer. Best is to go early in the morning or a little before sunset for the clearest view.
Good news is that the Valley of Dreams is right nearby; well actually it is the Hotel Val Di Sogno ( which means Valley of Dreams in Italian) and it is ...well, a dream! If you don't believe me just click here for more reviews from actual guests and photos of the wonderful setting.
Right at the top of the lake near Riva del Garda is this 98 meter waterfall in a cave. It costs 5 Euros to get in but it is well worth it. The second observation point half way up the falls is the best.
When you want to get away from it all and relax in one of the world’s most beautiful botanical gardens then come here. Situated in Valeggio sul Mincio a short distance from the lake this 50 hectare park is an oasis of tranquility and a very important botanical garden.
Best way to explore is on foot but if you have young children take the little train that follows an “Enchanted Trail” through the park. My young son loves it but even if you don’t have children it is still great fun and only costs €3 for the 35 minute ride.
Other ways of exploring are by bike or golf cart both of which can be hired. Bikes cost €4 and the golf carts cost €13. I am way too embarrassed to hire a golf cart but I suppose if you are really old or REALLY lazy it might be an idea.
When you're finished at the park make sure you visit the nearby village of Borghetto sul Mincio, which is one of the loveliest in all Italy - here's our guide to the village.
A new addition to the list of best natural attractions is Isola del Garda. The island has only recently been opened to the public and only from May to September.
The Borghese Cavazza family are the lucky people who own the island and villa; nobody leaves the island without a little envy for the family. I bet you'll wish you could live here too after you've visited.
The island is just offshore from the Rocca di Manerba which is, incidentally, a great place for views of the lake. Boats leave from most of the main ports and the boat trip is part of a comprehensive package that includes a two hour tour of the island and the villa. Also included is a tasting of some of the local wines and olive oils.
Dating back to the early 19th century, the villa is magnificent and the gardens too are exquisite. There are well maintained parks and wilder areas of olive groves, cypress and lemon trees...it's all wonderful. Views across the lake to the far off shores are unforgettable.
Summer concerts are occasionally arranged on the island and are well worth attending if you love music and are lucky enough to be in the area when they are held. The setting, combined with the fabulous music, makes these evenings truly enchanting.
For boat, tour details, cultural events and times visit their site.