Best place to stay at Lake Garda? Hotel Villa Florida, Gardone Riviera

Waar verblijven aan het Gardameer?

One of the most popular and beautiful vacation destinations in Italy is of course Lake Garda. With an area of no less than 370 km2, this is the largest lake in Italy. So you can imagine that it is not easy to find the best place to stay at Lake Garda

And that’s not all. The immense lake extends over 3 Italian provinces: Trentino, Lombardy and Veneto, each with their different cultures and local traditions. For people with FOMO (fear of missing out) like me, this only creates more stress to pick a place to stay.

A trip around Lake Garda is approximately 160 km. That’s not too bad, you might think. But don’t forget that you are driving along winding mountain roads so that it does not always go so smoothly. So if you want to explore a lot of the lake, a good base is definitely a must!

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Best place to stay at Lake Garda?

Lake Garda has so many stunning places to stay. That makes it even more difficult to pick that perfect spot to spend your vacation. So I made it my mission to find the best place to stay at Lake Garda. I went looking for a pleasant, peaceful (not too touristy) place that is also well located for trips around the lake.

That’s how I discovered that only two villages around Lake Garda made it to the official list of most beautiful places in Italy. These villages are Tremosine and the Gardone Riviera. Two not so obvious locations to choose as a base for a vacation at Lake Garda. Which of course triggered me even more, because I like to get to know lesser-known locations.

But how could I choose between these two beautiful gems on Lake Garda? The excellent location of the Gardone Riviera was the deciding factor here. While Tremosine is situated a bit higher in the mountains, the Gardone Riviera is located directly on Lake Garda. Because this town is located just a little further south, the various main roads are more quickly accessible. Which is interesting if you also want to make some further excursions during your vacation on Lake Garda, for example to Verona or Venice.

Gardone Riviera

The stunning Gardone Riviera

The Gardone Riviera is located in the province of Brescia on the western shore of Lake Garda. Unlike other places on the lake, the Gardone Riviera doesn’t have such a long history. The town was founded at the end of the 19th century by the German Luigi Wimmer, who saw potential for a luxurious spa destination. After that, this place grew into a luxurious vacation destination with impressive villas and hotels.

Today it is a rather peaceful, but enchanting destination surrounded by mountains. And thanks to the mild climate you can enjoy many different plants and trees between many impressive buildings. You can spot lemon trees, palm trees, oleander, olive trees, fig trees, magnolias, eucalyptus trees and even orange trees.

The Gardone Riviera consists of two parts. First you have the more vibrant Gardone Sotto. This is a pedestrian promenade along the coast of Lake Garda. It is wonderful to wander around here. Take a seat in one of the cozy bars or restaurants with a front row view of Lake Garda. This was by far my favorite place for a tasty Aperol Spritz in the evening.

Gardone Riviera

And then you have the higher located Gardone Sopra. A picturesque village where you can get lost in a maze of colorful streets with fragrant flowers. In the center you will find some important sights and delicious eateries, but I will tell you more about that later.

Gardone Sopra Gardone Riviera
Gardone Sopra Gardone Riviera

In short, this is the ideal vacation  destination to completely relax and enjoy the beautiful nature and culture.

Hotel Villa Florida

Looking for a place to stay in the Gardone Riviera I came across the instagram page of Hotel Villa Florida  and I fell in love instantly! The beautiful Belle Époque interior and the dazzling view made me dream of a relaxed vacation in style in the Gardone Riviera.

Arriving at hotel Villa Florida, my expectations were immediately fulfilled. I was greeted by the beautiful blooming, purple Bougainvilleas that lusciously made their way along the exterior walls of the hotel.

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

Upon entering, I was immediately transported to the glory years of the Gardone Riviera: the Belle Epoque. This style is pursued down to the smallest details, the shape of the windows, the drape of the curtains, the murals and the beautiful art nouveau Tiffany lamps. How wonderful when an accommodation can make that happen.

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

It is also wonderful to hang out in the garden. You can cool down under the lush lemon trees or relax by the pool.

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

Hotel Villa Florida opened its doors in the 1960s. Since then it is still run by the same family. You can really see that the hotel is looked after with heart and soul. And this also gives a personal touch to the accommodation. In the lobby and lounge you can find some historical Italian collectibles from the hotel owner. He is happy to tell his guests more about it.

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

What can you expect from the rooms?

The elegant Belle Epoque style is also present in the rooms. But the real eye-catcher here is the spectacular view over Lake Garda.

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

When making a reservation, you can of course choose from different types of rooms depending on your wishes. There are standard rooms, suites, but also family rooms. You can also opt for the use of a kitchenette, which is always useful. We stayed in a suite.

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera
Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

But all rooms are extremely well-kept, equally elegant and all have that magical view of Lake Garda.

You can also opt for an exclusive stay in the historic Villa Rosenhof. An outbuilding surrounded by the  lush gardens of the hotel. This building contains two beautiful suites.

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

What can you expect from breakfast?

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

Breakfast is truly a meal to look forward to at Hotel Villa Florida. A very nice and extensive buffet and a beautiful view of Lake Garda. What more could you possibly want so early in the day?

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera
Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

Hotel Villa Florida Gardone Riviera

What more has Hotel Villa Florida to offer?

Hotel Villa Florida does everything it can to spoil its guests as best as possible during their vacation. This also means that they are happy to help you at the reception with your questions both about your stay and activities in the area.  Hotel Villa also works with partners to organize trips to nearby parks or cities.

How accessible is Hotel Villa Florida?

Hotel Villa Florida is located in the main street of the Gardone Riviera which runs parallel to Lake Garda. When arriving by car from the North, Villa Florida is uphill on the right. Because of this you have to make a short turn to enter the domain of Villa Florida. You can park there for free as a guest. We didn’t use our car during our stay in Villa Florida.

Both Gardona Sotto and Gardona Sopra are easily accessible on foot from Hotel Villa Florida. For the latter you have to climb a bit. But both places are also accessible by car. There are parking facilities around the centers which are pedestrian zones. But these parking lots aren’t free.

The Gardone Riviera can also be reached by bus, including from Brescia, where there is an international airport. You can also visit other places around Lake Garda by bus.

To visit neighboring villages you can of course also use the ferries or pleasure boats on the coast.

The nearest train station is in Desenzano del Garda. That’s about a 30-minute drive from the Gardone Riviera. This is interesting if you want to make a slightly further trip. From there you can travel to beautiful cities such as Bolzano or Milan by train.

Things to do near Hotel Villa Florida

Besides visiting the city, there are many other cultural and active things to do near Hotel Villa Florida. I’ll list them her briefly.

The best cultural sights in the Gardone Riviera

The Gardone Riviera may not be very large, but here are some of the most famous sights on Lake Garda located. These are mainly situated in Gardone Sopra, the higher part of the Gardone Riviera.

Vittoriale degli Italiani

Vittoriale degli Italiani Gardone RivieraHere you can find the famous Vittoriale degli Italiani, one of the most visited sights on Lake Garda. Vittoriale degli Italiani is the former residence of the eccentric Italian poet and war hero Gabriele D’Annunzio. Eccentric is an understatement to describe this man. Because his residence doesn’t only consist of an imposing villa, but also a gigantic, landscaped park in which you can spot an amphitheatre, naval ship and mausoleum, among other things. Yes, you read that right! There is a real Naval ship in the yard of this house. From the ship you have aan amazing view of the lake. Perfect for capturing your own Titanic scene here.

Vittoriale degli Italiani Gardone Riviera
Vittoriale degli Italiani Gardone Riviera

You can choose to visit only the garden or in combination with the villa. A visit to the villa includes a guided tour. I definitely recommend this. Because that way you really get a glimpse into the life of Gabriele D’Annunzio. The rooms are still furnished as when D’annunzio lived there and consist of a large collection of artworks, gadgets and strange curiosities. In short, a big chaos and disorder from which you can deduce what an exuberant person this man was.

Vittoriale degli Italiani Gardone Riviera

You can quickly fill half a day with a visit to both the villa and the garden. So definitely take some time to explore everything here.

Botanical garden of André Heller

Another must-see in the Gardone Riviera is André Heller’s Botanical Garden. This magnificent garden with more than 2000 different plant and tree species from all over the world was created by Arthur Hruska in 1910. Thanks to the favorable climate of Lake Garda, you can really travel the world during your visit. You will find Japanese gardens, ponds, rocks, caves, little streams and even a bamboo forests. Not to mention the view. So it’s definitely a wonderful excursion during a hot day. I almost forgot to mention that  you can also enjoy modern sculptures by famous artists such as Keith Haringn, Roy Lichtenstein and many others in this garden.

Botanical garden Gardone Riviera

Il Divino Infante

This museum is a must do for lovers of religious art. Here you will find the only and largest collection of different artworks dedicated to none other than baby Jesus. The German collector Hiky May made this her life’s work and it took years to collect and restore all these unique pieces. Really worth checking out if you’re in the area

Town church Parochiekerk San Nicola

In the picturesque center of Gardone Sopra on the opposite site of Vittoriale Degli Itali you will find the church of San Nicola. This church was built at the end of the 14th century on an already existing building. Inside, you will be surprised by an impressive Baroque interior with frescoes and numerous canvases by different artists. From the balcony you can enjoy a beautiful view of the lake.

San Nicola Gardone Riviera
San Nicola Gardone Riviera

Nature

Hiking and cycling

Lake Garda view from San Michele

With the Alto Garda Bresciano National Park at your doorstep, the Gardone Riviera is also the ideal base for the more active nature lovers. Here you will find some fantastic hiking routes, but also adventurous mountain bike trails. At the tourist information point you can obtain a map with the best hiking and cycling routes in the area. But also at Hotel Villa Florida they are happy to help you rent a bicycle and map out an individual route. Hotel Villa Florida also has private access to a small mountain path that connects to the roads that lead to the top of the mountain.

San Michele

San Michele Gardone Riviera

For the most spectacular views, you absolutely must go to the village San Michele at the top of the mountain. This can be done by foot, by bike, but also by car. On the road you can simply follow the directions with  panoramic view. The directions stops at a kind of church. You have to walk around the building and then you can see an enchanting panoramic view of Lake Garda.

San Michele Gardone Riviera

Boating and water sports

Of course, a swim in the lake can’t be missing from your itinerary. If you want to bathe or swim, go to Lido di Fasano near Hotel Villa Florida or Casino beach a little further to the center.

Gardone Soto Gardone Riviera

Would you rather enjoy the beautiful surroundings from the water? You can rent a speedboat at Motonautica Zanca in Salò. If you prefer to be a bit more active you can explore Lake Garda by canoe. Renting a canoe is possible at Rimbalzello beach in the Gardone Riviera.

Then you can opt to rent a boat or book a boat trip. Several tour operators offer individual or group boat trips on the lake along various popular spots or sights. Via Getyourguide you can also book beautiful cruises and many more fun activities around Lake Garda. Check out the best deals below.

Where to eat good food near Hotel Villa Florida?

Hotel Villa Florida helped us find some great restaurants that I would love to share with you.

Gardone Sotto

Sans Souci

For delicious pizza with a fantastic view of Lake Garda, you should definitely go to Sans Souci.

Ristorante Bali

This is a fairly new, but small restaurant where you can eat delicious fish dishes. Don’t forget to book a spot, because the places are limited.

La Taverna

La Taverna is a small family restaurant serving fantastic traditional and local dishes.

Gardone Sotto Gardone Riviera
Gardone Sotto Gardone Riviera

Gardone Sopra

Antico Broco

Here you can enjoy the refined Italian cuisine. Besides, it is very pleasant to dine on the indoor terrace. Reservations are a must here!

Fiore Di Zucca

Dining in one of the cozy alleys of Gardone Sopra. That is possible in Fiore Di Zucca where you can taste the delicious Roman cuisine.

Locanda Agli Angeli

Here too you can enjoy the delicious local cuisine from one of the most pleasant squares in Gardone Sopra, surrounded by the lush, purple Bougainvilleas.

Gardone Sopra Gardone Riviera
Gardone Sopre Gardone Riviera

We had a wonderful stay at Hotel Villa Florida on the Gardone Riviera. Here you can completely relax in a beautiful setting, but also enjoy all the cultural and more outdoorsy activities that the town and the surrounding area have to offer. A must for anyone who wants to escape the busy daily life and completely immerse themselves in the luxury of the Italian Belle Epoque.

What do you think is the best place to stay at Lake Garda? Let me know in the comments below.

Do you want to read more about Italy?

Be sure to check out these blog posts as well.

10 things Italy is famous for

How to spend 3 days in Florence

Tips for the perfect Cinque Terre itinerary

A long weekend in Umbria

The ultimate Puglia road trip

Thanks for reading.

Your truly,

Sarah

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