So I’m sure you all know at this stage I was off gallivanting in North Italy a few weeks ago for ten days. I had been to Rome on a weekend break but had not been to anywhere else in Italy. A really close friend of mine was getting married in Lake Garda so we decided to make a big holiday out of it and tour some of North Italy.
We flew with Ryanair directly to Milan Bergamo, this is probably the most central destination to fly to within North Italy due to how accessible it is and it central to many of locations we visited.
Our first destination was Garda town in the beautiful Lake Garda, honestly we could have spent the whole holiday here. I didn’t realise but Lake Garda is actually HUGE, to give you an idea it’s 51km in length.
As we were only in Garda town for 3 nights we opted for a B ‘n’ B, which was beautiful! As far as I know it only has three rooms which means the people working there give real attention to detail. This B ‘n’ B is about a 20 minute walk from Garda town or a 5 minute drive. Here’s the direct link to have a look! We payed approx. €350 for two people for three nights. They have a Jacuzzi too and breakfast is served outside on the patio each morning. https://www.tripadvisor.ie/Hotel_Review-g194771-d10463998-Reviews-B_B_Anna-Garda_Province_of_Verona_Veneto.html
While in Garda town we simply drove and took in the views. We also ate by the lake and watched the sun set which was simply stunning. As we had a wedding during this time we didn’t do much else around Garda (bar eat and drink of course!). Here’s a snap of what I wore for the wedding bought recently on Pretty Little Thing! https://www.prettylittlething.com/elisse-red-bow-detail-scuba-midi-dress.html
(Sunset in Sirmione)
Our next stop was Sirmione, an absolutely stunning town which is located at the Southern part of Lake Garda. I 100% recommend you make it your business to travel and see this beautiful town if you are ever in Lake Garda.
The most striking part of the town is the remains of Scaliger Castle. This costs €5 to tour around and you can wander up to the top of the castle and see for miles!
In Sirmione we also rented our very OWN boat! This was by far one of the highlights of our trip. It cost €75 to rent the boat for three hours, plus you pay whatever amount of petrol you use. We spent about 3 hours driving the boat and ended up paying approx. €25 on petrol afterwards. Bearing in mind however we only drove at about 40k/hr as it was our first time to drive a boat! You will also have to leave either a €300 deposit or your drivers license (depending on which company you travel with).
Renting a boat is the best way to see Lake Garda, and it also gives you a chance to take in the incredible views. We stayed in a small B ‘n’ B again in Sirmoine as we were only there for three nights. The B ‘n’ B was central but couldn’t say much else about it. However for the time we spent in accommodation on holidays we didn’t really mind and they served the breakfast on a very cute tray! 😉
The cost of this B ‘n’ B was approx. €370 for three nights. However I would 100% recommend it due to it’s location – we were literally smack bang in the middle of Sirmoine. Check it out here for further images. https://www.booking.com/hotel/it/rainbow-b-amp-b.et.html
(Breakfast served in Rainbow B ‘n’ B)
The old town of Sirmione (where we stayed) is closed off to daily public transport due to how small and old the streets are. If you are staying within the old town you may only drive through (after your accommodation details have been checked by police) to drop your belongings and you are then advised to park your car elsewhere. The accommodation generally covers this and will advise you where to park your car.
Seems a little crazy but for us it really added to the whole experience of this beautiful place. I could not begin to recommend restaurants here as there literally are so many and all of which we ate in were amazing.
At the very end of Sirmione are some gorgeous ‘beach like’ areas, perfect for catching some rays! As it’s a lake there’s no sand but plenty of areas to relax and sunbathe.
After six incredible nights in Lake Garda we left for Venice. I’m not gonna lie this was the place I was MOST excited to see. We hadn’t done enough researching however in relation to Venice, though I knew it was an island I never thought about cars or transport out until we got there! Venice is made up of about 118 small islands, all of which are connected by bridges and full of canals separating them. Be aware if you are travelling via car (as we did) to Venice it’s €26 a night to park. Upon arrival you can get the ‘water boats’ (similar to a LUAS line!) which is €7.50 per person all the way around Venice, and stops at regular intervals.
Our accommodation in Venice was INCREDIBLE and the location was perfect! I cannot recommend this hotel enough for how good they were to us. The view every morning was everything I had dreamed of. As well as this the décor and interior in the hotel really added to our stay.
The cost of this accommodation was about €400 for two people for two nights. The hotel overlooked the Rialto bridge, one of the main focus points in Venice.
Another focus point is the Main Square (Piazzo San Marco). Again this is so stunning. Bare in mind however it’s crazy expensive to eat in the main square, you could pay up to €15 for a cup of coffee here!
A lot of people had forewarned me about the smell from the canals, especially during warm summer months. But I didn’t find it a problem, definitely there are times where the smell is more prominent but as a whole it was fine.
In my opinion two nights in plenty in Venice. You will have most of it covered simply by walking. While we were there of course we had to a trip on a Gondola. All over Venice Gonodolas are €80 a go (not per person, I think the max you can have on one is 4 people). They told is it would last 30 minutes, this is not the case however it was a twenty minute ride which was a pity. However it was worth it and a major tick off the bucket list!
Our final trip was to Milan, we headed back this direction as we were flying home again from Milan Bergamo. Honestly we had been on such a high from Lake Garda & Venice (probably exhausted too) from all the travelling, we found Milan to be a little bit of a disappointment. In hinds site, we should have booked a hotel with a pool as this would have been nice to just chill and we also didn’t research parking in Milan. Unfortunately there was a charge of €25 a night to park our car in the hotel we were staying in! We stayed in the Artisan Hotel in Milan (here is the link https://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g294309-d1215415-r153459303-Hotel_Milan-Cuenca_Azuay_Province.html). This hotel was pretty basic, however the great thing was how central it. It is about a 5 minute walk to the main square (Piazzo Del Duomo). Again prices for food etc. are a lot higher here, a glass of wine can cost you up €10.
In my opinion Milan is fine for a weekend city break. April or May is an ideal time to go as we just found it WAY too war. It was approximately 36-38 degrees in Milan, which didn’t encourage us to do much sight-seeing.
The main attraction for me in Milan simply is the shopping, it really is the city of fashion.
However it’s fab to sit out here in the main square and watch the world go by!
Don’t forget you always have to pay city tax as extras after your stay. In bigger tourist areas like Venice this can be up to €3.50 per person per night. These aren’t included and are paid when you check out.
Car tolls were another thing we knew little or nothing about upon arriving to Italy. It’s something which is a bit confusing too for tourists, upon arrival to a toll be sure you drive to the barrier indicated with a hand and a ticket, be sure to collect you ticket here which is given BACK to the cashier at the next toll prior to leaving the motorway. It’s generally priced on the distance you cover. For example a two hour drive from Venice to Milan on the motorway cost us €19. A friend of ours who were on holidays with us didn’t know about the toll and went through it without collecting a ticket and had a €60 fine at the end of their drive. It’s not very well explained or signposted for tourists, so it’s one to watch out for!
For all our touring around we rented a car. Honestly I had nothing to do with this part and left all this to my boyfriend. I would be far too scared to drive on the other side of the road, so my boyfriend did all the driving. I think it cost approx. €300 to rent the car for ten days. As well as this you pay insurance, we’ve learnt by buying the highest insurance cover your deposit (which is also required on the car) works out a little lower. Another thing to remember is that if you use a credit card for the deposit it can only be the driver’s credit card. All little things which are good to know before you land in a foreign country!
All in all I loved our holiday. We covered so much (we even made in to Lake Como for a day trip!) Without a doubt Sirmione and Venice were the highlights of the trip. If anyone has anymore questions or would like more info please feel free to drop me a message on my social medias , which are all @sineaddeblogger.