Travel // Lake Garda {with a newborn}

September 23, 2019

Oh Lake Garda. HOW did I not know about this dreamy place before? For all the times that we've travelled to, and loved, Italy, neither Ben or I had any idea how gorgeous Lake Garda would be. I had in my head somehow that it was for old people on coach trips? But then, this summer a friend visited and combined it with Venice & Verona, and I saw her photos and was convinced in an instant knowing that one day I wanted to visit. In August, we decided to book a last minute trip away for September - Freya's first trip at just 8 weeks old - and were going through so many potential destinations in our head. The key things being that we wanted nice places to walk with a buggy, by the water {but not a beachy trip}, with good food and old towns to wander around. We didn't want to have to hire a car, the whole carseat thing being a faff when she's so small {and doesn't really love the car as it is back in England} and not too expensive. We thought about Porto, we thought and nearly booked the Ile de Re, but then we discovered Lake Garda and it was JUST what we were looking for with so, so much more. So here's a mini travelogue of our stay, I'll mainly let the photos do the talking as ever but lots of details about what to do/how to get there etc. 

To get to Lake Garda //

I've written all about packing and flying with a newborn, in this blog post. But essentially we booked ridiculously cheap flights to Milan with Easyjet {Freya's infant seat ticket more in the end than our seats did!} and Ben booked trains on the Trainline website before we went. Italy is really well connected train wise. From Milan airport, Malpensa, we got a train into Milan central and then another train out to Pescheria del Garda {and from there we then connected back into Milan to go out to Lake Como for the last few days}. 
BUT if you're not looking to go to Lake Como, and if the prices are better, you'd find it closer and easier to fly into Verona because Lake Garda is super close to Verona on the train. We looked at this but it was more money, and less convenient times to fly into Verona so chose Milan and it worked out well. The total train time was around 2.5 hours I think. 

You can buy train tickets at any of the stations on the day if you're not 100% sure time wise. But we found it cheaper to book them in advance, you can choose between different classes and speed/brand of train. We just went for the cheaper, slightly slower trains. 

// Where we stayed

There are towns all around the lake to choose from but we went for Pescheria del Garda because of the fact it had a train station we could connect to from Milan and it had good ferry links to get around. This was crucial for us because we didn't want to hire a car. But actually it turned out to be a really, really beautiful town with good supermarkets and the best gelato shop {La Romana} out of lots of towns we visited {an essential in Italy right?}. 

We booked this Airbnb {and if you'd like £25 off your first airbnb booking anywhere in the world, you can use this link to sign up and I'll receive £15 in credit}so we could self-cater, and have a washing machine {priorities now we have a baby!}. It wasn't the best ever - and certainly not beautiful, but considering that we booked it just a couple of weeks beforehand and it was in an amazing location and good value, it did the job. It was just a little noisy in the evenings if you had the windows open because there were a couple of bars across the road. It had a great kitchen though and was really spacious with a really helpful host.

Peschiera was exactly the kind of town we were looking for.

The view from our bedroom.

We could walk to two huge supermarkets, a Lidl and a big Italian one - can't think of the name of it but it was next to Lidl, in about 15 minutes and so walked there on our first afternoon to stock up. 

Everything tastes so good in Italy, even just the salads.

We got acquainted with the town that first evening. Hello dream insta walls... 
side note - this babyzen yoyo pram was ad/gifted to us, but I SO recommend it as a travel buggy. This is the newborn attachment and it was perfect for our trip, and many more in the future.

La Romana gelato is a must visit. Ask for your cone to be lined with melted chocolate.

When our eyes first hit the lake, we were totally blown away. The boats and the mountains and the clear water as far as the eye could see. 

Pescheria has some really lovely places to walk by the lake.

Which fast became my new favourite feeding spots with a view.

This bit almost reminded us of Venice.

It didn't feel like a lake at all really, we were only reminded of the fact it was a lake when the odd duck or swan would swim past. But we realised that our favourite part of any holiday is being by the water, so this was the dream trip being by it at almost all times.

That light and our favourite evening walk {as you look at the ferry terminal with the lake ahead of you, it's to the left of that}. We didn't actually eat out in Pescheria in the end, just preferring to eat in, but those restaurants to the left looked really lovely and were a lot more reasonable than we expected them to be when we looked at the menu. 

Our first evening - SO happy that we made it and were here.

Baby girl taking it all in.

// What to do around Lake Garda;

With the huge lake in the middle, and pretty old towns to visit all around it, you can choose between using the ferries or buses to get between them all. We only ended up seeing a small fraction, just the bottom right corner between Sirmione and Garda in the five days that we had. If we'd have had a car we could have ventured further afield, and next time I'd definitely want to visit Salo, Malcesine and Limone which a lot of people recommended. 

We'd basically choose a town to go to and then work out how to get there/back. Often getting the bus one way, from Pescheria {you go to the tourist office to buy a ticket} and then the ferry back or vice versa. Our favourite days were where you could get off at one town, then walk a good stretch of the lake on a lakeside promenade to another town and get back from there. 

Lasize, Bardolino and Garda are all have a lakeside path running between them so we loved combining these towns.

This was a morning spent in Lasize. 

Again, just so blown away by the beautiful towns and that water.

There are little beachy bits all along the lake shore that you can swim from, or hire a boat, or jump off a jetty. 

The clearest water.

Such a special first trip with this little peach. We'd take both the sling and buggy out with us - depending on what she was in the mood for. She slept really well when we were walking, and then we'd stop when she wanted to feed/have some awake time kicking around on the grass somewhere with a nice view.

I think it was on this first day when we said 'we're coming back'. The sign of a good trip when you think like that early on. But just seeing so many children playing in the lake on inflatables and people jumping off the jettys, we'd love to come back when Freya's older.

We couldn't believe just how well manicured every town we visited was. And well connected with the transport. It's definitely a heavily tourist visited area but that pays off when it's so beautiful and clean.

This was the boardwalk just outside the town of Bardolino. 

Gelato stop in Bardolino before we got the ferry back to Pescheria.

This little bambina took it all in her stride. The ferries, the bus journeys, the walks. 

With lots of adoring looks from Italians as we went.

Random photo but one of the BEST pastas we've ever eaten, their supermarkets sell so much fresh pasta - this was spinach gnocchi and we didn't feel like we missed out on the restaurants at all.

Dreamy lake scenes.

// Garda

Pistachio. Always.

On another day, we took the ferry across to Garda where we sat by the lake with our morning cornettis {filled with crema}

and then decided to go on an adventure to see if we could walk to a restaurant two friends had recommended which on the map looked do-able from Garda!

The walk turned out to be really beautiful, even more so than we'd imagined. Parts of it felt like we were on some Greek island or somewhere tropical.

From Garda, as you look at the lake, we walked to the right all along the lake shore {where it got a bit too bumpy for the buggy in parts}, through some parts where we had to take our shoes off for, and eventually....

we made it! Locanda San Vigilio is a 16th century villa set on a peninsula on the lake. Friends had recommended it for lunch and it didn't disappoint.

There are two restaurants there to choose between, with Freya we went for the relaxed one right on the water's edge, whereas there's a bit more of a fancy fine dining one to the right. We didn't book a table, just turned up just before the lunch rush and managed to grab one.

We ordered two big salads to share for lunch, the octopus one was especially delicious.

We sat and watched the boats coming and going, and even a helicopter flying in to land here!

I think this was one of my favourite days of the trip.

Baby girl. <3

We walked some of it back on the road, before dropping back onto the beach back to Garda.

Happy, happy holiday memories around that lake.

Back in Pescheria, that evening light. Pure magic.

This little baby was happy to have a last bit of warm weather to wear all her cute summer rompers.

Another day, another ferry trip. This time to Sirmione.

We were undecided about whether to go to Sirmione or not, hearing from others that it was incredibly beautiful but also incredibly busy. In the end, we had a spare day to fill so we went for it.

It was probably the most different town that we visited, out on a thin peninsular rather than with paths along the lake to get to others, and with a medieval castle standing tall in the middle of it.

We were really glad that we visited, for the water/beaches around it like no others we saw, BUT it definitely was a lot busier and less enjoyable because of this.

How is this a lake again?

We found our favourite parts to be the quiet parks and Jamaica beach {so called because the water looks like the Caribbean there} rather than the town with the crowds and overpriced average food. But it was definitely still worth visiting. 

Other things to do are the cable car ride up a mountain for views back across the lake, and there's theme parks called Gardaland and Movieland and something similar between Pescheria and Lasize which looked popular. 

There are so many campsites around too, which we'd definitely look into for the future with children.

// Venice & Verona

Pescheria is well connected for easy day trips by train to both Verona and Venice. We were tempted to go to Venice if we'd have had more time but as we'd been there before {and loved Garda so much we didn't even really want to leave it}, we chose Verona which was about 20 minutes away. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain that day so we pretty much just got to the city, walked to a pizza restaurant for lunch and then walked back as Freya was awake by that point and it wasn't that easy in the rain with her when she didn't want to be in her sling! The pizza was amazing though, the only Neapolitan one we found in the north. It was called Peperino and it was right next to the impressive amphitheatre. I'd have loved to have had more time to explore Verona as it looked beautiful. Next time for sure.

Thanks for snoozing through our pizza baby girl!

Little lemon girl.

To counteract allll the pizza and pasta... haha.

And then it was time to move onto Lake Como already.

even though I could have just lived these days on repeat in Garda and was kinddd of reluctant to have to move on.

We'll definitely be back. Italy just blows my mind every. single. time. Such a beautiful place filled with my favourite food.

Lake Como blog up soon.

R <3 xx 

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  1. Lovely to see what you made of Lake Garda. We stayed in Salò for a friends wedding just after your trip and we also fell in love with the place. We visited Sermione, Limone and Malcesine while we were there but found these to be much more touristy than Salò so I would definitely recommend Salò as a base to explore the other parts of the lake. @Sadie_Tutton


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