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Coach Holiday to Lake Garda Review – Tips & Insights

Are you looking for a coach holiday to Lake Garda?

This is a detailed itinerary review of the Southern Shores of Lake Garda tour which is offered by Saga Holidays.

This tour stays in Sirmione, at the Southern end of Lake Garda.

It has a good mix of free time and excursions to help you make the most of your time in this wonderful spot.

It is quite an expensive option but if you want VIP transport from home, a Tour Manager, 4 included excursions and all your evening meals then it may be worth it.

Important:

I am sharing this review to help you get a better insight into this holiday and to highlight any areas you might want to get further information on before you book.

This review is based on my 36 years of being a coach holiday Tour Manager, including for Saga, and having spent a year working in Lake Garda.

Itineraries and details do change so please double-check the details on the Saga website.

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda – An In-Depth Review of the Southern Shores of Lake Garda

Is Lake Garda Worth a Visit?

Lake Garda is a beautiful lake and well worth a visit. There are fantastic views, plenty of attractions, nice markets and beaches. It is easy to explore using public ferries too.

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Holiday Headlines

  • 8 days
  • 7 nights in the hotel
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 evening meals
  • 4 included excursions with local guides
  • Tour Manager
  • VIP transfers from home to the airport and return at the end of the holiday
  • Return flights from Gatwick Airport

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Included VIP Transfers

  • There are several options included with SAGA for getting to your UK departure for your flight to Verona.
  • You can choose a VIP transfer service with a driver which is available from your home or from that of a family or friend.
  • You can also choose to travel by rail.
  • If you want to make your own way free airport parking is included.
  • If you choose an internal flight to get to your departure point from the UK you can also have your luggage collected from home and taken directly to your river cruise ship and returned to your home after your holiday.
hotel du parc sirmione

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Lake Garda Hotel Details

The hotel used for this hotel is the Hotel Du Parc located in Sirmione, Lake Garda.

This is a locally rated 4-star hotel. It has 90 rooms, a bar, a restaurant and lifts to all floors.

The hotel is located 3km from the old town of Sirmione, where the castle is located.

View the hotel website here

There is also an outdoor swimming pool (you have to wear a swimming cap).

The hotel scores 4 out of 5 on Tripadvisor. There have been some comments about the WIFI signal not being available in all rooms and the quality of the food at the buffet.

Check out the details and reviews on Booking.com

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Fly from London Gatwick to Verona

SAGA Website Itinerary Details

Our VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Verona. On arrival, we transfer to Sirmione, on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda.

Hotel Du Parc, Sirmione (4-star)

Professional Traveller Review

The flights from London Gatwick depart at 7.55 am and arrive in Verona at 11 am. The flights are with British Airways. As these are short-haul flights there are no refreshments provided on the flight other than tea, coffee, or water. You can pay for additional snacks and drinks on board.

Verona airport is located 35km from Sirmione. The journey time is around 45 minutes.

Given the likely arrival time in Sirmione, the hotel rooms may not be ready on arrival.

The Hotel Du Parc has 90 bedrooms. It has a swimming pool and a spa area. Included in your holiday is the use of the spa area for 30 minutes.

There is a restaurant and a bar. The bar serves snacks and drinks all day, and lunch is available at the hotel too.

There are lifts to all floors. Standard rooms have a small terrace or balcony. Each room has an LCD TV and a safe in the room. There is free WIFI throughout the hotel.

The Hotel Du Parc is located close to the marina area of Sirmione. There is a small beach not far away, along with some cafes and restaurants.

You can also walk 3km from the hotel to the peninsula.

The evening meal is at the hotel. There have been some comments about the food at the hotel, including the arrangements for dinner. Dinner is at a set time for the whole group and according to one guest review, diners have to sit in the same seats for each dinner service.

Questions to Ask Before Booking;

  • Check transfer options to the airport. Unless you live close to Gatwick Airport it’s likely to be an early start given the flight is scheduled to leave at 8 am.
  • Check the outbound flight times.
  • Check whether rooms will be ready for check-in on arrival on Day 1.
  • Check what the arrangements for lunch on Day 1 are. Is there going to be a stop on the way to the hotel somewhere for example?
  • Are the evening meals a set menu with a choice, buffet meals, or a la carte?
  • Are drinks included with the evening meal – if so what?
coach holiday to lake garda post picture sirmione
Lovely view from Scaliger Castle showing the Hotel Grand Terme and boat trip departure point

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day 2 – Free Day in Sirmione

SAGA Website Itinerary Details

Today you’ll savour your first taste of Lake Garda. The lake’s wind-ruffled waters and warm, colourful town of Sirmione are simply captivating.

Today is a free day to explore Sirmione under your own steam. Perhaps visit one of Lake Garda’s oldest settlements, which has evidence of fishermen living in stilt houses that date back to the Stone Age.

The beautiful setting has made this area a popular place ever since. Scaliger Castle is an incredibly well maintained 13th-century fortification; why not walk the drawbridge and climb the numerous steps to the castle ramparts to view the land and the lake as the medieval guards once did? Or experience a more relaxed side of the town’s history with a visit to the Roman thermal baths. Alternately, visit the Grotto of Catullus to walk amongst the remains of northern Italy’s largest Roman villa.

Professional Traveller Review

Breakfast is included this morning.

After that, your day is your own.

The old town of Sirmione is around 3km away from the hotel.

Nearby is a bus stop where you can take a bus along the peninsula to the Scaliger castle and Sirmione peninsula. There is also a tourist shuttle bus that runs from April to September and costs around 1.50 Euros each way.

The Scaliger castle is the first thing you will see as you cross the bridge into the oldest part of Sirmione. It is free to look around and there are some great photo opportunities from the top of the castle building as well.

There are cute beaches, lovely walks along the edge of the lakes, and pretty shops and views to enjoy as well.

Sirmione is famous for its gelato shops. You will see piles of gelato in all sorts of delicious flavours, which you can sample before you buy too.

If you walk all the way to the end of the peninsula there are very interesting remains of a Roman villa to explore. When you have finished exploring there is also a lovely beach and beach bar which has lovely views across Lake Garda.

If you want another view of Sirmione then why not take a boat trip? They are 10 Euros for half an hour and during that time they take you right around the peninsula. It’s great fun.

Here is a short video that gives you a flavour of what the peninsula of Sirmione is like, including some shots of the marvellous ice cream shops!

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day 3 – Venice Included Tour

SAGA Website Itinerary Details

Discover another Italian classic today. We board a motorboat for the ultimate travel experience; wind through the waterways to arrive in St Mark’s Square, Venice. Home to a rich history of art and wealth and a wonderland of winding canals, higgledy bridges and backstreets; Venice is iconic and we start in perhaps one of the most photographed squares country-wide. We take a walk with a guide through the historic centre and get to know the alleys and the canals. You have the rest of the day to make your own discoveries – take a romantic gondola trip through the canals, or maybe take a boat trip to admire the more prominent islands of this intricate archipelago and their significant sights. Explore the city’s cobblestone streets and you’ll find fabulous palaces, or churches decorated with priceless art and the colourful Rialto market, or climb to the top of St Mark’s iconic Bell Tower for some of the most incredible views over the city.

Excursions & visits:

Excursion to Venice including morning guided walking tour (all day)

Professional Traveller Review

After an included breakfast there is an included tour to Venice.

It is 155km to Venice from Sirmione with a travel time of around 2 hours. Generally, coaches have to park at the Tronchetto parking area. You then have to take a walk to board a boat which takes you into Venice. The boat takes around 20 minutes to get from the Tronchetto to the San Marco area of Venice. The boat may be one of the scheduled services or it might be a private boat.

This included tour is with a local guide that you meet in Venice. Given the travel time and the included tour, it is likely that this day will involve an early start, probably between 7 and 8 am. This means a very early breakfast.

Some guests have commented that the walking tour is quite long. However, you can skip the walking tour if you would prefer more free time in Venice on your own.

To depart Venice you will need to board the boat and return to the Tronchetto, taking the same 2-hour journey back to the hotel.

Some guests commented that the evening meal is a fixed time of 7 pm with some of the trips not returning until after 6 pm. Given the distance and timings, this trip is likely to return after 6 pm.

Questions to ask before booking;

You might want to check the timings for these tours and what time you depart the hotel and arrive back? If it’s a very early departure there might only be a continental breakfast instead of a full breakfast.

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day 3 – Lake Garda Tour

Saga Website Itinerary Information

Today we have a guided tour of Lake Garda, stopping in characteristic villages and at photographic spectacles. We visit the beautiful medieval hamlet of Lazise to explore its narrow alleys and picturesque squares; the pretty village of Malcesine with cobbled lanes and a 13th-century castle; and the bustling town of Riva. Considered the most important town on the lake, Riva has an interesting historic centre with an Austrian flavour, long beaches and a beautiful mountainous backdrop. After time to explore, we cross the lake by ferry to Limone, the most picturesque village on the lake and spend the rest of the afternoon in this town, forever associated with its old lemon groves (although the name derives from the Latin for ‘boundary’, reflecting the town’s history).

Professional Traveller Review

After an included breakfast there is an included excursion around Lake Garda with a local guide.

The first stop on the lake tour is Malcesine. It is 67 km from Sirmione to Malcesine with a travel time of 1.25 to 1.5 hours.

This is a pretty cobbled village set on the Eastern side of Lake Garda. It has a very picturesque castle set on the edge of the lake.

The coach will most likely drop off at the top of the town near the main road. There are some lovely lakeside cafes to enjoy.

Bear in mind Malcesine is set on a hill so if you want to walk down to the lake it is downhill on cobblestones. Cobblestones can be slippery when wet.

The next stop on the lake tour is Riva. This is at the Northern end of Lake Garda. It is 18km from Malcesine to Riva with a travel time of around 30 minutes.

Riva is a pleasant lakeside town with lovely cafes and a pleasant lakeside promenade. It is flat and level at the lake end of the town.

Riva is a popular spot for watersports due to the fairly consistent winds that come from Lake Garda.

From Riva, the itinerary says you will take a ferry to Limone. This is a public ferry that takes 45 minutes to travel from Riva to Limone. On the way, you should have great views of the road tunnels running alongside the edge of the lake. These were used to store munitions by Mussolini during WW2. You might also recognise them from the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.

Limone is a lovely spot. There are cobbled streets, cute cafes, and some nice shops to enjoy. There are also great views across Lake Garda. The name Limone comes from the lemons that used to be grown extensively here.

After your visit to Limone, you will travel back to Sirmione by coach. This journey travels down the Western side of Lake Garda passing through Moderno and Gardone Riviera. You then turn inland and continue down to Sirmione. The journey is just under 2 hours to get back to the hotel.

There is 4 and 3/4 hours travelling today (including ferry boat ride). That means that you will probably have 1 hour or so in each of the places you visit.

Your evening meal is included once again this evening.

Questions to ask before booking;

  • The length of time in each of the stops on this tour.
  • Whether the tour is with a local guide or led by the Tour Manager.

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day 5 – Dolomites Tour

Saga Website Itinerary Information

We’ll drive through breathtaking narrow gorges as we head to Lake Carezza, a small Dolomite mountain lake which reflects a rainbow of colours, giving it the second name ‘Lec de Ergobando’. It is said the rainbow was created by a magician who admired the beautiful mermaid who hides within these waters. Next we visit Canazei, an alpine village rich in tradition and a popular ski destination. From here, our journey becomes even more enthralling as we negotiate the multiple hairpin bends of Pordoi Pass. You might like to ascend to the pinnacle of Sass Pordoi (some 2,950 metres) in a cable car. From the top you can enjoy the stunning 360° view across the titanic mountain peaks of the Alpine Range. We ascend into Moena in the Fiemme Valley for time to explore this quaint, cosy village and maybe try some local apple strudel, before our journey home takes us through lush green valleys.

Professional Traveller Review

After breakfast, there is an included tour of the Dolomites.

It is just under 200km from the first stop at Lake Carezza. The quickest route is to go up the motorway and then turn off for the Lake. The travel time to Lake Carezza is around 2.5 hours.

There are some toilets and snack bars at this stop.

As you climb into the Dolomite mountain area the road becomes more twisty with some really lovely views.

It is around 24km from Lake Carezza to Canazei and it will take around 40 minutes to travel that distance.

Canazei is a small town that caters to skiers. After a stop here it’s on to the Pordoi Pass.

The Pordoi Pass has 28 hairpin bends.

At the top of the pass is a cable car that runs all year round. The cable car is an optional extra.

The cable car costs around 10 Euros each way.

Here is a video that shows the descent from the top, Sass Pordoi, on a lovely day.

At the base of the cable car is a cafe, which also has some lovely views, plus toilets of course, and parking for cable car visitors.

After the stop at Pordoi, it’s back down the valley to Moena.

Moena is a small village at the Val di Fassa. Again it caters to skiers. If you want to check out the views of the village then have a look at their webcams.

After a stop at Moena, it’s back to Sirmione.

Again this journey is just under 200km and it will take around 2.75 hours to get back.

There is an included evening meal this evening.

Questions to ask before booking;

You might want to check the timings for this tour. Again it may mean an earlier start and a later finish given the distance covered.

You may also want to ask if there is a comfort stop on the outward and return leg of the journey or whether it will be 2.5-3 hours non stop?

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day 6 – Free Day

Breakfast and your evening meal are included today.

Professional Traveller Review

You may want to enjoy the facilities at the hotel or explore Sirmione further.

If you want to see more of Lake Garda why not check out the local ferries which run from Sirmione. They are a cost effective and lovely way to explore.

Here’s the timetable.

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day 7 – Verona Guided Tour

Saga Website Itinerary Information

Verona is best known as the setting of Romeo and Juliet’s love-struck tragedy, but beyond the Renaissance romance Verona is a bustling and beautiful centre. Its heart is dominated not by Juliet’s balcony, but the incredible 1st-century Roman Amphitheatre which still hosts the annual Verona Opera Festival, as well as concerts from world-famous music artists. Entering the centre of Verona, we take a guided walk past numerous Roman and Medieval remains such as Piazza Brá, the main square which is surrounded by magnificent palaces and the Roman Amphitheatre, and holds a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, the first ruler of Unified Italy. You may also visit the perfectly preserved Roman Mercato Vecchio and Piazza delle Erbe, Verona’s commercial centre in the Middle Ages where souvenirs are still sold, or the Scaliger tombs, where the prominent Scala family rest within impressive monuments of Gothic architecture. And of course, we will see Juliet’s balcony. We’ll also enjoy some free time before we return to our hotel this afternoon.

Professional Traveller Review

After an included breakfast there is an included tour to Verona.

It is 45km from Sirmione to Verona and the journey will take an hour, or perhaps more depending on traffic.

There is an included walking tour with a guide in Verona. The guide will take you to the main sights in Verona including the famous balcony of Juliet. Romeo must have been quite athletic to get up there!

After some free time to explore on your own, the coach will return back to the hotel.

Verona is an easy city to explore. It’s flat and level in the centre with plenty of shops.

There is also the amphitheatre in the main square.

The evening meal is included this evening.

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Day 7 – Return Home

Breakfast is included this morning.

The flights depart from Verona Airport at 11 am. This is likely to mean a departure from the hotel somewhere between 7 am and 8 am.

The flight, with British Airways, lands at London Gatwick at 12.55

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Departure Dates

  • May 16th and 23rd
  • June 13th and 20th
  • September 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda

Pricing

For a departure on the 12th of September, a double occupancy room is £1729 per person.

A single occupancy room on the same date is £1879 per person.

Saga Travel Insurance

This holiday is offered by Saga.

Saga includes insurance in their pricing which adds £40 per person to the prices above. However, this insurance is optional so you can book without it.

Coach Holiday to Lake Garda – Professional Traveller Summary

Pros

  • Sirmione is a great location on Lake Garda – it’s a very pretty place to visit and enjoy
  • 2 free days give you plenty of time to explore on your own
  • 4 full day excursions are included in this tour, all with local guides and headsets
  • The Hotel Du Parc is in a pleasant location with a beach nearby
  • There is a Tour Manager who can help you make the most of your free time
  • VIP travel is included from to and from your home – it means you don’t have to worry about timings

Cons

  • It’s quite expensive – over £3,000 to spend a week exploring Lake Garda.
  • There are potentially several early starts – the Venice excursion, Dolomites excursion and return flight home. It may be worth checking these timings if you prefer a more leisurely start to the day.

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