Lake Garda instead of Lake Como?

Aug 5th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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Lake Garda instead of Lake Como?

After extensive research, I am totally confused & can't decide where to stay on Lake Como. So, I went back to the drawing board: revisited the map of Italy & did a search on Fodor's Forum for Lake Garda! Now, I am excited again!

It would be at most a 2.5 hour drive from Venice depending where we decide to stay on the lake and we will be well-situated to drive to San Gimingnano for the Tuscany portion of our trip. It looks like there are some lovely drives and of course, opportunities to explore the lake by boat.

The search here provided some, but dated information on Lake Garda, places to stay & hotels. Towns such as Sirmione & Riva del Garda seemed to come up frequently. Did a quick check on TripAdvisor & Venere for hotels.

So now, I am looking for any recent experiences & hotel recommendations (under 200 EUR, with lake view, air-conditioning, parking) you may be able to share. Has anyone stayed at Hotel Gardesdana in Torri Del Benaco (

Many thanks for your help!!!

2010 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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Garda is fine but a totally different expereince than Como. The scenic part of Garda is at the north end---Riva or Malcesine. Torre del Benaco is a cute town but closer to the south end and also close to the Gardaland theme park---tons of people and most of them German. I would stay north.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Aug 5th, 2007, 01:58 PM
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Bobthenavigator: Yes, I see that the northern part of Lake Garda would be a different experience than Lake Como. Much like Whistler Mountain in my part of the world I would think! Not necessarily a bad thing, but may not be what we want this trip. Thanks for your insight!

Would still appreciate others' experiences though, especially if you have visited both lakes.
2010 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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We have been to both Lake Garda and Lake Como. Our personal preference is Lake Como over Lake Garda.

We stayed in Riva Del Garda at the Hotel Europa. They have a small parking lot. While the Europa has a lake view, the Hotel Sole might be better oriented for lake views.
Big_Red is offline  
Aug 5th, 2007, 05:54 PM
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Not sure when you are going but we are staying at Riva for 3 nights in mid-September. Will be happy to let you know how our visit is if that will work with your timeframe.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2007, 08:18 PM
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Big Red: Thanks for the hotel recommendations. Any reason why you prefer Lake Como over Garda?

cmeyer: Where will you stay in Riva? We are planning 4 nights in September, 2008. So, I will be looking for your trip report! Hope you have a great trip!

2010 is offline  
Aug 5th, 2007, 09:43 PM
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I've been to Como twice but only once to Garda. I also prefer Lake Como because it's more dramatic (shaped like a wishbone). That said the beauty of Lake Como depends on weather. It's a real jewel when the sky is clear blue, otherwise it can be a bit disappointing.
DAX is offline  
Aug 6th, 2007, 09:22 AM
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We're staying at hotel mirage - has gotten ok reviews; other properties just broke the budget. be aware that many of them will quote you a per person rate which got us excited until we did the math.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Aug 6th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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Ah yes. We have stayed at Hotel Gardesana at Torri del Benaco and LOVED it. I have recommended it often here. We also had one of the finest meals we've ever had in Italy at their balcony restaurant. We stayed three or four days and I was thrilled with our choice. We went to the town of Riva del Garda one day and after looking for a place to park for nearly an hour we gave up and continued around the lake. That was not a place for us. We took the boat to Sirmione which avoided the crowds and traffic -- in fact we took boats to several parts of the lake as well as driving all the way around it.

That said, while I highly recommend Hotel Gardesana IF you're going to Lake Garda, I MUCH prefer Bellagio and Lake Como to Lake Garda.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Aug 6th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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I stayed on both Como & Garda last September (as well as lovely Lake Orta, further west), and also stayed at and loved the Gardesana in Tori del Benaco. I took many photos there in the village, and from the balcony looking over the lake and charming little boat harbor, which I'll link below. I passed through Riva del Garda, on route to Tori & was unimpressed.

From Tori, I drove north to Malcesine & around the top to Limone del Garda. Malcesine is a charming cobbled village, and Limone as well, though not as much so to me as was Malcesine. I agree with the commenter who said Garda is 'full of Germans'--which is not meant to offend any Germans in our community here. I'd never seen so many in one place at a time; and be forewarned if you choose Garda: they seem to enjoy driving *very* slowly around the lake (like 10-20 mph slower than the speed limit), allowing many cars to pile up behind them without pulling over to let them pass. This surprised me because of my autoban images.

On Como, after long research, I stayed in Varenna at Albergo Milano, which has a fabulous chef owner serving dinner on a lovely terrace overlooking the lake. I chose Varenna over the oft preferred Bellagio on Como because of personal preference for less crazed tourism, and was able to enjoy Bellagio by boat easily from Varenna. I'd say if you prefer more luxurious digs, the choice range for them would be broader in Bellagio, and you can boat to Varenna from there. I loved the AM, but its rooms are fairly small.

On balance, I'd choose Como for its exceptional beauty and the ease of enjoying it and its villages by boat with only a few days there.

Photos from Como:

Photos from Garda:

Let me know if you have any questions I can answer. Hope this helps.

KarenKM is offline  
Aug 6th, 2007, 07:15 PM
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Thanks all for your responses to my dilemma ... and what a lovely dilemma it is!!!

cmeyer: Yes, interesting how some hotels quote per person rates! It has taken me by surprise as well!

DAX & NeoPatrick: Thanks for your perspectives having been to both! Has me wondering if we can add two days between Venice & Lake Como to visit Garda?

Karen: Thanks for opening a window into your own travels to Lakes Garda & Como for me. Your photos are especially beautiful & inspiring! You have been most helpful!

2010 is offline  
Aug 6th, 2007, 11:32 PM
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Hello we are also having these debates regarding Lake Como and Garda.
We will be leaving Venice Sunday morning by car, and will have to arrive to Rome by Friday afternoon. During this week we would like to tour the lakes.
I am wondering if we could see both lakes during this week,?
Could any one tell me what would be the drive between the 2 lakes?
Do u think we could stay in Garda for 2 nights, then Como for 2 nights, and then start driving south towards Rome, and stay in Florence for 1 night, so we end up at Rome on Friday.
Thanks for ur help it is well appreciated.
MarciaR is offline  
Aug 7th, 2007, 04:37 AM
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I think having 2 days in each lake is a good idea, the drive from Riva del Garda to Bellagio/Varenna is just over 3 hours depending on traffic. Watch out for Italian holidays and warm weekends, the drive can be bumper to bumper. That's how we bailed out of our plan to revisit lake Garda last year.
DAX is offline  

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