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Amalfi Coast or Lake Garda/Veneto?

Can anyone help us decide where to go for a two week honeymoon in September? We've had lots of recommendations for Italy (neither of us has been before). Most people seem to be suggesting the Amalfi coast or Lake Garda as two of the best places but which one? I like the idea of flying into Bologna with Easyjet, hiring a car & driving up towards Venice via a good few days stop in Lake Garda for relaxing, watersports etc. But Anya reckons driving in Italy could be very treacherous & she might prefer a more relaxing holiday. One of her friends reckons that trains & buses are very good in Italy & we'd be best off not hiring a car, possibly just flying to/from rome & getting the train from there to the Amalfi Coast. I'm a little bit unsure how stress free a honeymoon would be relying on public transort but could be persuaded...

Can't really decide, so short of tossing a coin wondering if anyone on MSE who's been to one or preferably both of these regions could advise?



  • crossleydd42
    It is quite possible to fly Ryanair/Excel to Verona and get a bus to Garda itself (a lovely town) - the bus journey taking about an hour. You can then get the boats around the lake for the rest of your stay. [Don't forget that Verona itself is very beautiful, too]. You could easily spend a week here without a car. There are many buses in and out of Garda, itself, too.

    This link will show the relevant bus services from Verona to Garda :clicking on a route will give you the timetable.


    One thing is that Lake Garda has a generally good climate all of its own, unlike Venice.

    See how simple it really is!
    "Some say the cup is half empty, while others say it is half full. However, this is skirting around the issue. The real problem is that the cup is too big."
  • purple12
    purple12 Posts: 304 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I've spent a lot of time in Italy (used to live in Venice) and have been to Garda many times but have also been down to Amalfi. I know the Veneto area much better and if you were going to do that, I'd suggest flying into Bologna and getting a train to Venice and only hiring a car when you leave Venice and go to Garda because a car is useful to have around the lake as there are lots of really lovely places to see in that area and, while public transport in Italy is good between the large cities, it is not always easy between smaller towns.
    You can get the boats around the lake but I think there are also very interesting places to see around the lake that aren't necessarily on it. It depends how relaxing you want the honeymoon to be - but the roads around the lake are not busy roads. They seemed to be like B-roads here and the driving in the north of Italy isn't as bad as it is down south!

    It does matter where you base yourself by Garda too. I personally like Sirmione the most and don't think much of Desanzano although there is much more in Desanzano regarding water sports. The north side of the lake is more beautiful and unspoilt until you get to Riva del Garda which is very popular with older German tourists! Taking side trips to Verona and up into Trento in the mountains can be lovely though.

    Amalfi is a different experience. Easier to get around without a car and, again, probably would suggest you don't bother with a car unless you have lots of exploration plans. You can get a boat up to Capri (which is definitely worth it!) and to Naples. I really like Naples but it can be quite chaotic and know lots of people who find it a bit too much.
    I think Amalfi is more beautiful that Garda. It certainly has more reliable weather. I probably wouldn't want to drive around there though because the roads are more twisty/turny, but I honestly don't think either places would disappoint.
    The advantage of going up north is Venice though. I love Venice and think it deserves at least three days in itself (but I'm slightly biased because I lived there!).

    Partly though, my answers depend on the time of year that you are planning to go.. Venice is beautiful in the mist but miserable in the rain! You won't find much rain in Amalfi!
  • stec00
    stec00 Posts: 58 Forumite
    Brilliant reply purple12!! Exactly the info we needed to know. Will talk to Anya about it tonight but I'm now thinking maybe best to fly in & out of Venice & hire a car from there to drive to / back from Lake Garda. The only bad thing about this would be the retracing the route back which we wouldn't have to do if we flew into Bologna but guess it's not too far to travel and perhaps we could go via different places on the way & the way back...

    Thanks for your advice too crossley although I should have mentioned we'll be flying from Bristol, think the only budget options from there are Bologna, Venice & Rome.
  • Seamus
    Seamus Posts: 88 Forumite
    Sorrento is an excellent base on the Amalfi coast. There are plenty of hotels to choose from and lots of nice bars and restaurants and some nice designer shops.

    From Sorrento you can jump on ferries direct to Naples, Capri, Positano etc. They are regular and fast (takes about an hour to either Capri or Naples).

    You can also get a train direct to Pompie and Naples. And there is so much to see and do in the area e.g. Vesuvius, Herculaneam. etc. etc.

    Last time I was there, I also got a bus to Rome for a few days and it only took about 4 hours to get there.
  • SallyD
    SallyD Posts: 1,009 Forumite
    Uniform Washer
    I agree with Seamus. I did Stanstead to Naples,all the nearby sites then ferry over to Ischia which is a lovely island. Ferry over to Capri -ferry to Sorrento (a great base for all the sites) bus along the Amalfi coast,Positano,then train to Rome making last visit to Florence by train and flying home from there, weather very lovely September 2004.

    September 2005 flew Stanstsead into Bergamo,bus to Lake Como 1 hour) day trips on ferry visiting all the delightful areas around the lake. Day trip on regular bus to Lake Lugano just over the border and an hours train ride away from Milan.

    I just luv Venice whatever the weather. Verona easy by train for a day trip, as is Padua.

    I am sure wherever you decide you will enjoy and guaranteed to return. Train fares very reasonable. If you drive in London you will soon adapt to driving in Italy, remember no cars in Venice.
  • crossleydd42
    Sounds wonderful - I must look into these.
    "Some say the cup is half empty, while others say it is half full. However, this is skirting around the issue. The real problem is that the cup is too big."
  • rosy
    rosy Posts: 642 Forumite
    I've been twice to the Amalfi Coast in the last couple of years and I haven't been anywhere better. We flew from Manchester to Naples. I would agree with earlier poster that Sorrento is a good large base but if you are looking for something more secluded and romantic I would go for one of the little towns further along the coast,, eg Amalfi, Positano, Ravello.We stayed in Ravello, which is a small, quiet hilltop town with classic, spectacular views. There was also a tiny village even further up the hillside, called Scala, where we went to the Chestnut festival ( roasted chestnuts and inter-village competitions with singing , dancing, donkey racing in the little square and roasted chestnuts: a lovely restuaurant called "The Penguine" for Sunday lunch crammed with Italian families, superb seafood, pasta, pizza). The paths along here are where you still meet the locals transporting goods by donkey. Ravello itself was fantastic. We stayed in a self catering apartment with views of paradise, near Villa Rufolo, where we would have the windows open in the evening and listen free to live piano/ string recitals from the Villa next door. Heaven. ( And bonus - paid for with Tesco Clubcard vouchers! ) If you want something luxurious and expensive there are really classy hotels there too. It was lovely there, though a little isolated; to go further afield we would get the bus to Amalfi, slightly bigger if less aristocratic. We used the bus a lot ( would say absolutely if you decide to go do not hire a car - parking and driving both difficult - we were there in October and although it must have been a lot quieter than summer still would have been nervewracking driving round hairpin bends never mind the summer crowds! ). Amalfi is a good central point for buses - and they are reliable, frequent and cheap. There are superb places to visit within easy reach, Pompeii, Vesuvius, Capri, the towns I mentioned earlier. If you like walking there are superb walks, I recommend the Sunflower book which we used till it was falling to bits. Fantastic walk on the "Path of the Gods" - long but really rewarding trail and stunning views to Capri. Food is fantastic, especially from the corner shops. And also you have to have the hot chocolate at a place called The Cocktail Bar in Pogerola high in the mountains. Sorry I have gone on a bit - it's making me want to go back!!! The Amalfi Coast would be perfetto for a honeymoon IMO, was also at Lake Garda for a couple of days on an Interrail trip as a student many moons ago so would be unfair to compare the two but if I could choose to have my honeymoon again it would be the Amalfi Coast definitely.
  • stec00
    stec00 Posts: 58 Forumite
    Sounds fantastic! Replies one way & the other but think this one will swing it. Still like the sound of Lake Garda but think it'll have to wait for another holiday some time, the Amalfi Coast sounds like it's ideal for what we want as a honeymoon destination.
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