Your guide to camping in the Italian Lakes
The beautiful Italian Lakes are well known as a holiday destination; fans include George Clooney who owns a house here. However they are almost as well known for being expensive, so for those who want to visit the Italian Lakes on a budget, camping is the obvious answer.
Camping in Lake Garda
There are a variety of different campsites around the Italian Lakes. Many have permanent tents or mobile homes available to hire. This is an ideal option for those who do not own their own camping equipment or are flying to the region so have a limited baggage allowance. The tents come equipped with basic equipment such as beds, table and chairs and cooking facilities. They are in campsites which offer full washing facilities and a range of leisure activities such as swimming pools and activity clubs. Linen is usually available for hire as well. Mobile homes offer more room and often come with their own toilet and washing facilities. These options are very flexible, you can hire a tent or mobile home for one night or several weeks and arrival and departure dates are flexible. They are, however, relatively expensive compared to taking your own equipment. If you have your own tent all you need to do is pay for a space in the campsite, which can be as little as a few euros a night. You can also take your own camper van or caravan on a similar basis.
Camping is also a good option for those who like to move around an area. You can spend a few nights in a campsite near Lake Garda and then move on to Lake Maggiore, Lake Como or Lake Idro, giving you a chance to explore the differences in the region.
When to go
Camping is best undertaken when the weather is warm and where there is a maximum chance of sunshine, allowing you to be outdoors as much as possible. This means that the traditional summer season from May September is the best period to go camping in the Italian Lakes. The summer months, do however, get very busy. This can lead to congestion on the roads and the most popular campsites, in prime locations, getting booked up.
What to do
Water based activities are an obvious choice, of which sailing is one of the most popular. Whilst not offering the opportunity to take out a bareboat charter as you might to explore the Croatian coastline or Caribbean islands, you can still have great fun on one of the smaller sailing boats used on the lakes. Other popular holiday activities in the region are hiking and cycling. After all that activity visitors should take the opportunity of sampling some of the delicious local ice cream.
The roads around the Italian Lakes are full of hair pin bends, which make for a dramatic landscape but can be challenging for those driving, especially in a camper van or caravan. Whilst camping is one of the most economical and fun ways of exploring the Italian Lakes it is probably easiest to take advantage of campsites and organisations which have permanent tents, caravans or mobile homes to hire.
Susannah Richards writes regularly on yachting for a range of websites and blogs including http://www.sunsail.co.uk/yacht-charter. She is a former sailing instructor and is based in Weymouth.