When you think about Lake Garda in Italy, images of exclusive hotels, a chic Riviera and expensively-dressed travellers are all likely to spring to mind. And while you may well spot all of these on a break here, you might also see people getting unabashedly wet and wild on the lake.
Adrenalin-pumping sports are perhaps not what you might initially expect to encounter in Lake Garda, but they are available, and holidaymakers are increasingly taking them up. The setting lends itself to water sports, while the drier surroundings are ideal for a range of land-based pastimes – read on to find out exactly what you can get up to on an active getaway to Lake Garda.
One of the most exhilarating sports to try during a break at the lake is windsurfing. The northern section of the body of water is particularly popular among windsurfers and, depending on the time of day you visit, you can expect a challenging experience.
If you decide to give the pastime a go in the morning, the cold wind from the mountains can be strong, making early excursions better suited to those with a decent amount of experience on the water.
The afternoons are characterised by a warmer, gentler wind from the south, making this time of day better for novices and intermediate windsurfers.
If you’d rather get active on dry land, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for some Nordic walking during your holiday. There is a wide range of trails to follow through the areas of Lombardy to the west of the lake and Trentino to the north.
Among the most notable routes is the Mount Brione Forts trek, which will take you around a series of 19th-century castles put up to fortify the area of Riva del Garda. Admire the old buildings and the sight of the distant mountains as you walk from port St Nicolo along the Peace Path to the northern peak and then back again, which should take around two-and-a-quarter hours for experienced hikers.
The rugged landscape surrounding Lake Garda makes it a popular spot for climbing, and the areas to the east and north of the lake are particularly ideal. There are cliffs in Veneto to the east, while Trentino is home to the north Garda cliffs, the iron ladder paths and other protected climbing routes known as via ferratas.
In the northern area, Nago is ideal for families, while many of the ladder paths to be found are suitable those with a lot of experience. Climbing is available all year round thanks to the mild climate of the region, and you can be sure of some astounding views as you scale the peaks.
Another popular pastime among visitors to Lake Garda is sailing, and you’ll find dozens of clubs have set up in the local vicinity with a view to providing vessels and tuition for budding sailors. Even children can try their hand at the pastime, with dinghy courses available for youngsters.
Riva is among the top spots for yachting on the lake, while other sailing schools can be found in Arco, Maclesine, Navene and Torbole. As well as dinghies, you can hire catamarans, while those with more experience onboard a vessel can rent sports boats for a more exhilarating experience on the water.