Italy is home to some of Europe’s, if not the world’s, most beautiful lakes, including the famous Lake Como and Lake Garda. If you are planning a trip to this magnificent country, you definitely do not want to miss out on visiting its lakes.
Yet, the question remains: Lake Como or Lake Garda?
In the following guide, we will explore both lakes in-depth, discussing history, the surrounding area, and whether Lake Como or Lake Garda is best for your trip to Italy. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it… the post, not the lake (see what we did there).
Lake Como or Lake Garda?
Before you decide whether Lake Como or Lake Garda is for you, let’s look at each destination. We’ll brief each destination and discuss their popularity, things to do, and history.
The Beauty of Lake Como
Lake Como or Lago di Como is situated in Lombardy, Italy, the most populated region in the country. The lake’s Latin name, Larius/Lario, means “deep place,” and true to its name, Lake Como is the deepest lake in Italy, with a depth of approximately 410 meters. It is the third-largest lake in Italy.
If you’re dreaming of romance, luxury, elegance, a little shopping, and some ‘me time’ in the spa, then Lake Como is a great destination for you.
Tourist Popularity of Lake Como
Since the Roman Empire, Lake Como has been considered Italy’s most famous lake, making it a popular tourist attraction. It has long been a sought-after destination for the wealthy. Several villas and palaces line the lakeside, with few still standing since Roman times, making it the perfect location for a romantic or relaxing trip away.
The most notable include Villa Olmo en Como, Villa Carlotta, and Villa del Balbianello.
Tourists will find numerous luxury hotels and resorts within this area, including the Mandarin Oriental Lake Como. This means you can wake up to incredible views of the dazzling lake and towering cliffs each and every morning. Many tourists choose to visit during the summer months, meaning that you may find it incredibly busy depending on when you travel. This is particularly true on weekends as the footfall increases with many day trippers coming from nearby towns and areas.
Don’t let that put you off from visiting when the sun is shining, as Lake Como is easily accessible, making it very easy to slip away to quieter areas away from the main hustle and bustle.
Perhaps another reason why many flock to this region is its celebrity reputation – celebrities like George Clooney, Madonna, and Sylvester Stallone have owned or own villas on the lake’s shores.
What to Do in Lake Como
Aside from the gorgeous views of the lake and majestic gardens on top of these villas, tourists also have the privilege of swimming and fishing in Lake Como (at designated public beaches), with water sports like sailing and windsurfing available.
From sunbathing to opulent spa experiences, Lake Como’s serene atmosphere makes it a wonderful place to relax. ‘Refined’ is perhaps one of the best ways to describe Lake Como, and it certainly does not disappoint when it comes to relaxing.
Lake Como is also known for its delectable cuisine and fine wine. Polenta and braised boar are just some of the delicacies you’ll find there. You can’t visit Lake Como without trying Bitto and Bresaola, a combination of local cheese and dried beef created in historic caves over the lake’s northern part.
You can take a boat tour around the lakes and explore the local towns and villas for an additional luxury touch.
The Extravagance of Lake Garda
In the meantime, another Italian lake worth mentioning is the grand Lake Garda or Lago di Garda/Benaco, the largest lake in Italy. Also situated in northern Italy, Lake Garda promises adventure, culture, and history for those looking to visit.
If you’re daydreaming of a place that is wholesome, simple and offers wild adventures, then Lake Garda could be just the place for you. With crystal clear waters and beautiful landscapes, it promotes a perfect place for outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, and windsurfing.
Historical Significance of Lake Garda
Archaeological evidence shows that Lake Garda has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, making it a prime area for history buffs looking to explore its historical locations. Lake Garda has seen empires rise and fall, ruled by the Romans and later the Franks, then the Spaniards, and even the Austrians.
From wars to political strife, Lake Garda has seen it all. Nowadays, it has become a hot spot for tourists from all corners of the world, whether they are looking for a place to unwind or a new adventure.
What to Do in Lake Garda
Lake Garda offers many hiking opportunities for travelers, from strolls to rock climbing. In the meantime, if you want to relax and put your feet up, Lake Garda is also known for its luxurious spa culture, which should not be overlooked.
Often referred to as Lake Como’s more rustic cousin, Lake Garda provides exciting activities for everyone, including children. In fact, Gardaland Resort and Caneva World Resort are amusement parks that are worth visiting for thrilling rides and attractions.
In contrast to Lake Como, the cuisine offered by Lake Garda is a much simpler affair. Here, they focus on the simple details that make Italian food exceptional. You won’t be surprised to learn that when you visit here, you will come across some of the best olive oil and wines to accompany and include in your meals.
Lake Garda can feel more touristy than Lake Como, which is predominantly down to certain parts of the area being less accessible than those of Lake Como. If you are happy to venture out and explore further, you will uncover quieter areas, particularly around the mountains.
So, Lake Como or Lake Garda?
Deciding whether to visit Lake Como or Lake Garda can be difficult, but if you only have time to visit one area, here is how to determine which one is right for you.
Consider the following:
Whether you visit Lake Como or Lake Garda, you’re in for a pricey trip. However, Lake Garda is considered more of a family-friendly holiday, therefore making it more cost-efficient, especially with lots of free outdoor activities to get involved in.
Lake Como’s impressive renown makes it an expensive choice, especially during the high season. It’s known as a more luxurious choice, and further expenses come with that.
A good way to know whether you should visit Lake Como or Lake Garda is to start by thinking about the itinerary you would like to have. Are you looking for a high-end experience that involves exploring small towns and villages? Lake Como is for you! But if you are interested in family-friendly escapades and adrenaline pumps, Lake Garda might be more suitable.
To choose between Lake Como or Lake Garda, you might want to consider how you spend your time. If you prefer to spend your time leisurely reading a book or sipping wine, Lake Como’s picturesque landscape is the perfect place to do this; meanwhile, if you are an explorer and want to embark on different adventures, then Lake Garda is the one for you.
Whether you visit Lake Como or Lake Garda, you will have an incredible time. As you can see, several factors could affect which area to visit for your trip to Italy. One thing is clear, though: visit at least one of them!
Or, if you have the time and the money, why not visit both?