From serene spa days to heart-racing hikes

As Italy’s largest lake, Garda draws people from far and wide wanting to soak up its famous sights. With tropical beaches, elegant resorts and historic towns all wrapped up in landscapes of rolling vineyards and soaring mountains – it’s no wonder. With so much to explore in so little time, where do you begin?

Day 1 – weekend wellness
At Lefay Resort and Spa, eastern tradition marries western innovation. Slick designs merge with lush surroundings. The cloudless sky sinks towards the lake, blending seamlessly into the cool blue waters of your infinity pool. It’s this flawless balance and harmony that makes Lefay one of the best hotels in Lake Garda.

Set in quintessential Italian landscapes, Lefay immerses you in Lake Garda living in the most relaxing way possible. Experience lavender and lemon hydrotherapy and a salt and caper body scrub – finished with a nourishing massage using extra virgin olive oil. As well as soothing away the stress of travel, you’ll have the perfect sensory introduction to your surroundings.

Day 2 – hike for the sights
Your Lefay balcony vistas of hills cloaked in olive groves and vineyards stretching into the distance will have you raring to explore. And hikers will have plenty of trails to choose from. For jaw-dropping views well worth the steep climb, we’d recommend Monte Pizzocolo. Have the hotel call you a private driver or cab, who’ll drop you off at the starting point. From there, hike up the hills to see the Lake spread out at your feet.

Another great hiking spot is Monte Baldo, a mountain range in the Italian Alps. Getting there gives you a great opportunity to explore the lake, too. First, catch the ferry from Gargnano to Malcesine – or hire a private boat to cruise past the crowds. Lanfredi Boat Service is right next to Porto di Gargnano, and rents boats from just one hour to three days. When you dock in Malcesine, hop on a cable car to the top of the mountain. Be sure to get there as early as possible, as you could be queueing for over an hour at peak times.

For less experienced climbers (or those wanting a more relaxing stroll), take the scenic path from Gargnano to Gaino. Pass through sleepy Italian villages, old farms and vineyards, for an experience that’s truly off-the-beaten-track.

Day 3 – Italian cuisine with a zesty twist
Famous for growing citrus fruits, Limone sul Garda has become a hub for foodies. Beside the lake in a lemon-yellow house sits Ristorante Gemma. Bougainvillea spill over the balconies of this restaurant, and inside, the food is equally brimming with flavour. Fish is plucked from lake to plate. Fresh Mediterranean flavours and zingy citrus notes infuse each dish. At lunch time, tuck into locally-caught lavaret, and a glass of vino from a local vineyard. All while soaking up the staggering views across the water.

In the evening, you can really push the boat out. Sail from Garnano over to Michelin-starred Vecchia Malcesine, where classic Italian cuisine provides the inspiration for culinary invention. From gooseberry ravioli and snail tortellini, to berries with liquorice and chocolate with curry powder.

Day 4 – A slice of history
Each of Garda’s three regions (Lombardy, Trentino Alto-Adige and the Veneto) has its own unique charm. The north is home to boutique resorts, while southern shores are peppered with farmhouses and quaint cliffside towns. But one thing they all have in common, is that they’re proud of their rich heritage. In Gargnano, eerily beautiful lemon houses stand as a legacy to Garda’s history. In the 13th century, citrus fruits were brought to the lake from Spain, and their seeds were planted. The lemon houses were built to protect the plants, and help them grow on foreign soil.

From Calla Sirmione to Arco castle, Lake Garda’s shores are dotted with atmospheric ruins and grand forts. For something a little different, visit Vittoriale degli Italiani –the former home of poet, soldier and notoriously extravagant Gabriele d’Annunzio. His beautiful – yet surreal – villa is an outlandish wonder that reflects his excessive nature. From stained glass windows to coffin-shaped beds and even a full-sized battleship in the garden – there’s no end to what can be explored here.

To end your adventure in style, return to Lefay Resort & Spa for one last relaxing evening. There might even be time to fit in a final spa treatment before it’s time to say goodbye…