Among the most populous and picturesque municipalities among those located on Lake Garda, Desenzano del Garda undoubtedly ranks in first position: not for nothing is it one of the favorite destinations for Italian and foreign tourists visiting the renowned lake area. Known mainly for the beautiful Roman Village, castle and the very rich archaeological Museum, the town is only a few kilometers from Brescia and Verona, which makes it ideal even for a half day trip.
Here's what to see in Desenzano del Garda, but also what they are restaurants to try necessarily and the main entertainments for an unforgettable evening.
- 10 things to see in Desenzano del Garda in a weekend
- What to see in Desenzano del Garda in one day: recommended itinerary
- Where to eat in Desenzano del Garda: the best restaurants
- What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Desenzano del Garda
- Plan your stay in Desenzano del Garda: info and useful tips
- User questions and comments
10 things to see in Desenzano del Garda in a weekend
1 - Cathedral of Santa Maria Maddalena
Main place of worship in the city, the cathedral is one baroque construction built according to the project of the Italian architect Giulio Todeschini and consecrated in the early 1600s. In addition to the beautiful and imposing external façade, it is worth visiting this building even if you are not a believer for what is contained inside: we are referring to the famous canvas depicting The Last Supper depicted by the Venetian painter Gian Battista Tiepolo. Furthermore, do not miss some canvases in the presbytery on which salient episodes from the life of Mary Magdalene are represented.
- it is located a few steps from the lakefront and from Piazza Malvezzi, the main square of the city. From here, walk towards Piazza Duomo, it will take you less than 2 minutes - Get directions
- always accessible
2 - Castle
Considered by many to be the most important attraction in the city, the castle is a wonderful fortress dating back to the early Middle Ages. Used in the past as a defense against barbarian invasions due to its strategic position, the castle underwent various changes over the centuries which extended its original nucleus. Today, the structure has become a tourist landmark around Lake Garda thanks to wonderful panoramic view which is able to offer: not for nothing, many consider the castle a sort of "privileged terrace on the Benaco". Furthermore, on summer evenings, the gardens and halls become an extraordinary location suitable for hosting exhibitions and cultural events.
- easily reachable on foot starting from Piazza Malvezzi: following Via Castello you can reach your destination in just 3 minutes - Get directions
- 9: 30-18: 30 in the winter months and 9: 30-19: 30 in the summer
- € 3,00 at full price and € 1,00 at reduced price for minors, groups and residents
3 - Piazza Malvezzi
It is the main town square, just a few steps from the lakefront. Dating back to the sixteenth century and built according to the project of Giulio Todeschini (the same architect who built the cathedral), it is the heart of the historic center and this is where some are found important monuments, including the statue dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Santa Angela Merici. The square is the favorite meeting place for locals and tourists, who can choose whether to take a nice walk under the arcades or rest in one of the many clubs in the center. Also here, numerous events organized by the Municipality take place.
- it is in a central position with respect to the urban fabric. Having as a reference the lakefront and the city port, you can reach the square in a couple of minutes on foot following via Porto Vecchio - Get directions
- always accessible
4 - Old port
The port is one of the most suggestive areas. It too dating back to the medieval period, built in particular during the rule of the Republic of Venice in the thirteenth century, it was once used for the transport of food and goods, so much so that the town acquired the nickname of "Lombardy warehouse". Besides being a very nice area for lake scenarios that can be admired there, is now quite popular for the numerous boats that accompany tourists on excursions along the shores of Lake Garda.
Please note:: if you leave the port for a boat trip, do not miss the unique Venetian-style bridge that was built there after the war!
- Piazza Malvezzi is practically overlooking the Porto Vecchio, so much so that in less than a minute on foot you will be at your destination - Get directions
- always accessible
- Lake Garda: full-day tour with ferry cruise
5 - Roman villa
Immediately after the panoramic castle, the Roman Villa is probably the second major attraction that archeology enthusiasts cannot help but love! The villa, located in the historic center, was built at the end of the st century BC and is today considered one of most significant late antique villas in all of northern Italy.
In addition to a huge garden and a beautiful one antiquarium, the main treasure of this site is represented by the over 240sqm of polychrome mosaics, which show hunting scenes and wild animals, but also running chariots, harvesting cupids and satyrs. According to some studies, it seems that the owner of the Roman Villa was Flavius Magnus Decentius (brother of the then Emperor): in all probability, the name of the city of Desenzano derives from this singular historical figure.
- it is located near the historic center. Starting from Piazza Malvezzi you will have to walk about 3 minutes, crossing Piazza Duomo and then following via Crocefisso - Get directions
- 8: 30-19: 30. Monday is closing day
- € 4,00; the reduced one € 2,00
6 - Archaeological Museum
The museum is named after Giovanni Rambotti. Numerous are preserved here manufactured goods found along the southern banks of the Benaco and belonging to the prehistoric era (it is estimated that the finds kept in this museum go from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age). It is in this museum that nothing less than one of the oldest plows in the world, over 2.000 years old.
Take advantage of this opportunity to visit the cloister of the former Carmelite convent which houses the rooms of the museum: it is in fact one of the most relaxing corners of the whole city.
- starting from Piazza Malvezzi and passing the port area, it is possible to reach the archaeological museum on foot in about 6 minutes, along via Anelli - Get directions
- Tue and Thu 9: 30-13: 00, from Fri to Sun 9: 30-12: 30/14: 00-19: 00. Closed on Mondays and Wednesdays
- € 4,00 at full price; € 2,00 at a reduced price
7 - Desenzano Lighthouse
Passing the old port and going into the area of the most recent pier, it is possible to come across one typically seafaring structure: the lighthouse was built at the end of the 1800s. Always a point of reference for ships in transit near the shore, in its first years of life, the lighthouse worked thanks to a large oil lamp and the supervision of an employee who lived a few steps from the port (unlike what one might think, the lighthouse cannot be inhabited inside). Today, the lighthouse has almost completely lost its central role, yet it remains an incredible testimony of the past for the most nostalgic, as well as making it even more the port location is suggestive at sunset time.
- from Piazza Malvezzi, walk towards the lake along via Porto Vecchio. Passing the small port, you will arrive in the more modern port where the lighthouse is located - Get directions
- can only be visited externally
8 - Parco del Laghetto
The park is another attraction that we advise you not to miss, especially if you are traveling with children. This small green area, in fact, it is ideal for taking a break while walking along the perimeter of an adorable artificial lake, but also to have fun: in fact, there are basketball courts, tracks for skateboarding, a playground to entertain the little ones and even a bar for parents. On weekends it is not uncommon for sportsmen and families to enjoy a picnic on the lawn.
- always having as a reference the historic center, the Parco del Laghetto is about 25 minutes on foot along via Michelangelo. If you want to travel by public transport, take bus 1 or 2 from Piazza Malvezzi (15 minutes) - Get directions
- 8 pm (CET)
9 - Desenzanino beach
A trip to Desenzano del Garda also includes a taste of the surrounding natural beauty and a little bit of relax on the beach. Yes, along the shores of the lake near the town, you will find four beaches where you can bask in the sun and have fun in the company of friends: the Desenzanino beach, the Feltrinelli beach, the Rivoltella beach and the Golden beach. Given the proximity and the convenience of services, we advise you to opt for the Desenzanino beach, the favorite of the locals themselves. Overlooking the beach, you will find many bars and restaurants, while a large paid parking lot nearby will allow you to leave your car near the beach.
- starting from the historic center, walk along the Lungolago Cesare Battisti (10 minutes). Alternatively, take bus 3 which, starting from Piazza Malvezzi, will allow you to reach the beach in just 5 minutes - Get directions
- always accessible
10 - Oasis of San Francesco
Still speaking of the natural wonders present, do not miss this oasis extended for over 10 hectares. For those who love walks and stay close contact with nature it is a perfect place, equipped with information panels, marked trails and an observation hut, reachable via a comfortable wooden walkway.
Fate caution however: being a territory of great value from the naturalistic-environmental point of view, it is not possible to visit it in its entirety but only in specific areas indicated, in order to limit as much as possible the damage related to the human presence and thus preserve the integrity of the natural habitat.
- you can take bus LN026 departing from Piazza Malvezzi. In just 12 minutes you will arrive at the entrance of the area. Alternatively, use your car following viale F. Agello - Get directions
- always accessible
What to see in Desenzano del Garda in one day: recommended itinerary
The itinerary can only start from a good breakfast consumed at the Riva Pastry Shop (excellent sweets at reasonable prices). After breakfast, walk towards the neighbor Desenzano Castle, from which you can admire the most beautiful panoramic view of the area. From the castle, move towards the heart of the historic center, Piazza malvezzi. Here, you will be able to savor the relaxed atmosphere and stroll under the arcades and get lost in the alleys. A few steps from the square, there is the cathedral with a marvelous baroque facade and Renaissance interior. Pay attention to the aisles and discover Tiepolo's painting of the Last Supper. Finally, walk towards the very close Villa Romana.
For lunch, stop at the Taverna del Garda, tasting exquisite dishes from the lake. After refreshing yourself, take a coffee in Piazza Malvezzi, to admire the picturesque up close Old Port and the beautiful Desenzano lighthouse in the most modern port area.
Finally head to the Desenzanino beach, you should be able to relax for the rest of the afternoon (alternatively you can visit the Parco del Laghetto).
Dine at Gattolardo, a short distance from the old port.
One day itinerary at a glance
- Breakfast at Pasticceria Riva - Get directions
- Castle (9: 30-18: 30 in the winter months and 9: 30- 19:30 in the summer, € 3,00 reduced € 1,00)
- Piazza malvezzi
- Villa Romana (8: 30-19: 30, closed on Mondays, € 4,00 reduced € 2,00)
- Lunch at Taverna del Garda - Get directions
- Porto Vecchio
- Faro (open only externally)
- Desenzanino beach
- Dinner at Gattolardo restaurant - Get directions
Where to eat in Desenzano del Garda: the best restaurants
- Esplanade Restaurant: starred restaurant. Dream location with phenomenal lake view and rich fish menu
Average price per person: from € 60,00
Address and contacts: via Lario, 3 Get directions / tel: +39 030 914 3361
- La Goccia Trattoria: restaurant specializing in traditional Lombard dishes with a well-stocked wine list
Average price per person: € 35,00 / 40,00
Address and contacts: locality Montonale Basso, 13 Get directions / tel: +39 030 910 3194
- Bruschetteria Nose: it is an excellent bruschetteria full of delicious proposals, in the city center
Average price per person: € 20,00
Address and contacts: via Parrocchiale, 44/46 Get directions / tel: +39 389 694 6385
What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Desenzano del Garda
Unlike what many think, in Desenzano there are not only historical monuments and nature: the city is in fact very lively all year round and offers different alternatives for youngstersie anyone who wants to spend a fun evening in the company of their friends. The best areas are obviously those in the center, scattered with trendy clubs where you can sip an aperitif or listen to live music performances. Alternatively, head to the Desenzanino area for a cocktail overlooking the lake.
The best pubs, clubs and discos
- Bianca Coffee: excellent place for lovers of live music, with a wide choice of cocktails and the possibility of having aperitifs / Address: via Nazario Sauro, 10 Get directions / Facebook page
- Mariky Terrace: exceptional location with lake view and access to the Desenzanino beach. Offers live music performances. / Address: Lungolago Cesare Battisti Get directions
- Art Club Disco: cult disco of the place, very popular with local young people and those who love to let loose until late at night / Address: via Mella, 4 Get directions / Facebook page
Plan your stay in Desenzano del Garda: info and useful tips
- by car, along the A4 Turin-Venice motorway and then take the Desenzano exit. From here, follow the signs for the center which is just 3km from the toll booth
- Getting around: without a doubt on foot in order to better appreciate the city fabric and the alleys that make up the historic center. Alternatively, rent a bicycle to better explore the lakefront
- Where to park: the main car parks are near the lakefront and the more central areas such as Maratona, Bagatta or Feltrinelli (around € 2,00 per hour).
- Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -
- What to see in the surroundings: Sirmione (10km), Rivoltella (3,6km), Peschiera del Garda (15km), Castelnuovo del Garda (23km), Castellaro Lagusello (21km), Brescia (33km), Verona (44km), Cremona (68km), Mantua ( 47km), Lake Iseo (53km), Lessinia Regional Natural Park (90km), Bergamo (78km)