If you're leaving behind the canals of Venice for the clear waters of the Italian Lakes Region, there are a few ways to make the journey. At 87 miles (140 km) away, Peschiera del Garda on Lake Garda is the closest lakefront city to Venice and easily reachable by train. While the lakes farther to the west, such as Lake Como or Lake Maggiore are reachable by train, a rental car is a more practical option.
By Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 1.5 hrs (to Lake Garda); 3.5 hrs to Como on Lake Como or Stresa, on Lake Maggiore
Peschiera del Garda makes a fine base for exploring Lake Garda (Lago di Garda) and is a stop on this 7-day tour of Milan and the Lakes Region. The 1 hour, 30-minute drive from Venice begins by taking the SR11 roadway out of Venice, and picking up the A57/Tangenziale di Mestre. The A57 merges into the A4 Torino - Trieste Autostrada, also signposted as the E70. Stay on the A4/E70 all the way to the exit for Peschiera del Garda. Along the way, you'll pass Padua and Verona, both of which are interesting, beautiful cities in which to pass a few hours or an overnight.
If you're continuing on to Lake Como (Lago di Como), the city of Como is a convenient base for exploring this storied shoreline. From Venice, the 177-mile (284 km) drive to Como take 3 hours, 30 minutes, depending on traffic. To get there, continue on the A4/E70 past Peschiera del Garda, and pass Brescia. Take the exit for Bergamo – also a great stopover for a few hours or an overnight – and quickly pick up the SS671, a divided highway. At the Terno del'Isola interchange, the road name changes to the SP342 and continues all the way to Como.
If you're driving all the way to Stresa on the far side of Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore), it's faster to bypass Como altogether. Instead, when you get to the outskirts of Bergamo, continue on the A4 (also signposted E64 in this section) in the direction of Milan/Milano. You'll pass north of Milan, then exit onto the A8/Autostrada del Laghi/E62 in the direction of Varese. At the Castaletto/Ticino interchange, you'll pick up the SP33 for the scenic drive up to Stresa. The drive from Venice to Stresa is 218 miles (350 km) and will take 3 hours, 30 minutes barring traffic delays on the autostradas.
Milan, Stresa, Como and Peschiera del Garda are all stops on this exciting 14-day tour of Milan and the Lakes Region. If your budget allows, let someone else do the driving by hiring private transfer from Venice to your stops along the lakes.
Duration: 1.5 hrs to Peschiera del Garda; 3.5 hrs to Como; 3.5-4 hrs to Stresa
Italy's national rail service, Trenitalia, runs daily direct trains from Venice's Santa Lucia station to Peschiera del Garda, as does Italo, the country's private train company. Travel time is 1 hour, 30 minutes. To get to Como or Stresa, travelers can take a direct Trenitalia or Italo train from Venice to Milan, then transfer to a TreNord or Trenitalia Regionale to their final destinations. There are also Swiss SBB trains from Milan to points north, and some of these call at Como or Stresa.