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Lake Garda: The Best-Kept Secret in Italy

Lake Garda: The Best-Kept Secret in Italy?

Located in northern Italy between Verona and Trentino, Lake Garda is the largest freshwater lake in all of Italy. As this region is fed by glaciers, it is also worthwhile mentioning that the waters here are spectacularly clear. This is one of the reasons that visitors have be arriving to these shores since the Roman times. In fact, it is rumoured that Napoleon himself spent a great deal of time here during his military campaigns. Lake Garda is currently one of the most popular (if not slightly hidden) tourist attractions in the entire country. What does this enticing region have in store? Let's take a closer look.

Arriving to Lake Garda

We should mention that there are no airports close to this lake. Instead, there are bus, ferry and rail services. The closest airline hub is Verona Villafranca International Airport (VRN). From here, the average travel time by rail or car is approximately one hour. Some of the major carriers which serve this major airport include:

  • British Airways
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Berlin
  • easyJet
  • Thomas Cook Airlines
  • Thomson Airways

As many will arrive to Lake Garda during the spring and the summer, prices will normally be higher. However, there are a number of package deals which are available.

Things to See and Do in Lake Garda

The beaches here are one of the main reasons that tourists arrive from all over the world. While the waters are not as warm as the Mediterranean or the Aegean Seas, they are extremely clean and clear. Some top spots to enjoy are the shores of Salo and Portese.

The region itself is a dream come true for those who have a passion for mountain biking or hiking. Climbers can tackle the steep slopes of Mount Baldo while rolling hills to the south make for an excellent day on the trails or even a picnic with the family.

Another very popular excursion has much to do with the history of this region in regards to the production of olive oil. There are several mills which can be visited; many of these boasting a history that can be traced back for centuries. Not only will you be able to see the entire production process, but you can even walk away with a souvenir such as a bottle of extra pure virgin olive oil.

There are also a number of castles located near Lake Garda. Some famous examples include Castello di Sirmione, Castello di Torri del Benaco and Castello di Pozzolengo. Once again, there are guided tours to these and other locations. Such castles will also provide excellent photo opportunities.

When to Visit

Lake Garda can be enjoyed throughout the year. Some will arrive here during the summer to experience the waters, the flora and the fauna. Those visiting in the water can enjoy some excellent skiing resorts located not far from this resort itself. As always, prices for flights and accommodations tend to be cheaper during the autumn, winter and early spring.

A Look at Yucatan Cenotes

The Yucatan Peninsula is famous as being a holiday resort and for boasting some wonderful beaches including Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. However, there are always some sights which are considered to be off of the beaten path. One example can be seen in what are known as the Yucatan Cenotes. A cenote is a natural swimming “pool” created when limestone rock collapses and fills with rainwater or ground water. One of the most interesting facts is that due to the porosity of the surrounding limestone, the waters here are highly filtered and one can normally see to the bottom with no problem. Yucatan cenotes are also known for their healing properties due to a mineral-rich content. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the ancient Mayans considered these swimming locations to be sacred.

Getting Here

There are several cenotes scattered throughout the jungles of the Yucatan as well as near the coastline. However, most who will fly into the region utilise Chichen Itza International Airport (CZA). This hub is actually found quite close to the famous ruins of Chichen Itza; another worthwhile fact to note. Some of the airlines which are supported by this airport include:

  • United Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Air Alaska
  • Air Canada
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Caribbean Airlines

You have likely noticed that there are no direct flights from Europe or the United Kingdom. You will therefore require a transfer from major cities such as New York, Tampa or Chicago.

The Cenotes Themselves

One must-see location is locally known as Cenote Yokdzonot. As it is only approximately 10 minutes from the ruins of Chichen Itza, it has become popular with locals and tourists alike. It is still cared for by local native women and on most days, only a few visitors can be seen. This swimming hole is also known for its surrounding high jungle canopies.

Another spot is referred to as Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes). This is not very far from the beaches of Tulum. The name is derived from the fact that there are two different swimming holes; one cerulean blue in colour and one completely clear. Anyone who enjoys diving or snorkelling will therefore have a blast upon arrival. However, only experienced divers should venture into these areas, for their depths can be cavernous and even a bit claustrophobic.

Finally, Cenote Azul (blue hole) is only a short distance away from Playa del Carmen. This is arguably the most popular location due to its shallow waters and amazingly blue waters. Minivans or tour buses make regular journeys to this spot and unlike the other locations, a few concession stands as well as sanitary facilities are located nearby.

The cenotes of the Yucatan are undeniably spectacular and it is worthwhile to spend a day or two enjoying their unrivalled splendour. As they are generally free to experience, these are especially great options if you are on a budget or you simply wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds.