Nestled between the Alps and the Po Valley, Lake Garda is characterized by a mild climate and a surprising nature made of olive trees, vines, oleanders and palm trees. Its waters lap three regions and it is the perfect place for short weekends and holidays among picturesque villages, beaches, marinas, nature reserves, parks and places that are full of life in summer. Not only that, because on Lake Garda, lovers of sports and outdoor activities can find here the ideal place for climbing, trekking, sailing or windsurfing.
So let's find out together what to see on Lake Garda: the most beautiful locations, attractions and villages!
- The most beautiful locations and villages
- What to see: hidden places and attractions
- What to see in a weekend: recommended itinerary
- What to do on Lake Garda: activities, excursions and tours
- Where it is
- User questions and comments
The most beautiful locations and villages
1 - Sirmione
Famous for being chosen by Catullus who composed his odes here and from Maria Callas who spent her free time in this locality, Sirmione is a real pearl of Lake Garda, also known for its thermal springs.
Lying on a thin strip of land stretching out between the waters of the lower Garda, every year it is a destination for vacationers, tourists and people who come to discover the small historic center characterized by a beautiful castle, numerous alleys and the famous Grotte di Catullo.
2 - Desenzano del Garda
Municipality with the highest number of inhabitants, Desenzano del Garda is a real town overlooking Lake Garda, full of attractions, shops, clubs and commercial activities. In addition to the beautiful castle, there is an interesting Archaeological museum and the Last Supper by Giambattista Tiepolo is kept inside the Cathedral.
Nearby offers the possibility to do lots of activities, like playing golf, horseback riding and cycling on the hills surrounding the center.
3 - Riva del Garda
On the northern side, in the province of Trento, Riva del Garda is one of the most evocative villages of the lake, characterized by pastel-colored houses, a beautiful promenade, a beach where you can relax and various panoramic points such as the Bastione, the Mastio della Rocca and the Apponale Tower.
History buffs can't miss the ancient medieval castle which houses the Alto Garda Museum, while sports enthusiasts can try their hand at activities such as the sailing, windsuf, mountain biking and paragliding.
4 - Limone sul Garda
On the western shore, in the province of Brescia, Limone sul Garda is a pretty town that since ancient times has dedicated itself to citrus cultivation, as evidenced by the numerous lemon groves climbing along the hills.
The small center is made up of alleys, a beautiful lakefront and several panoramic points; very beautiful and unmissable Garda cycle path to do by bike or on foot, the walkway overlooking the lake that in the future will connect 19 lakeside locations.
5 - Bardolino
A Venetian municipality on the eastern shore, just 30 km from Verona, is a village of Venetian origins with several historic buildings, numerous fishbone houses, and a long lakeside promenade.
Do not miss the Oil Museum, the Church of San Severo and the famous one at the end of September claret wine festival, a wine specialty of this area. In August, instead, the Aperitif Under the Stars event is held, to taste the specialties and excellent wines of the area!
6 - Salò
On the Brescia side of the Benaco, in a panoramic gulf at the foot of Monte San Bartolomeo, is Salò, a village which during the Second World War was protagonist of various historical events. Right here Mussolini, in 1943, gave rise to the Republic of Salò.
But in addition to its history, the town enjoys one magnificent walk to the lake which leads to Piazza Vittoria, the Palazzo della Magnifica Patria and that of the Podestà and the Duomo.
7 - Lazise
With a important historical past, Lazise is a village that has seen various populations and civilizations pass from the original ones of the Bronze Age to the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, to the Visconti and the Gonzagas until it was dominated by the Serenissima Republic of Venice.
Because of its history you can visit Lazise several museums, historic buildings and places of historical importance such as the Piazza del Comune, the Scaligero Castle and the small harbor surrounded by colorful houses.
8 - Peschiera del Garda
More than a village, Peschiera is a fortress city surrounded by the lake which has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. Its strategic role meant that the historic center became a fortress between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and today you can breathe the past in the pedestrian bridge area, near Porta Brescia, along the walkway and in the ramparts.
Very nice the small marina and the historic center with alleys, bridges and views that range from the lake to the Mincio river. It is also perfect for reaching Gardaland amusement park, just 6,5 km away.
9 - Gardone Riviera
A very elite resort, Gardone Riviera is full of spectacular period villas, lots of greenery, some small beaches and characteristic alleys.
But this location is known above all because it hosts the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the monumental complex with mausoleum and garden-museum commissioned by Gabriele d'Annunzio. Also in Gardone there is the Andrè Heller botanical garden built by Arthur Hruska che inspired by a real eden, is characterized by streams, small lakes, waterfalls, ponds and numerous species of plants and flowers.
10 - Malcesine
Municipality on the eastern shore in the province of Verona, Malcesine is famous for its Scaliger castle from medieval times, which dominates the village and is visible several kilometers away.
Characterized by narrow streets with numerous suggestive corners, beautiful views of the lake and a marina where boats moor, it is also the place where the panoramic cableway to Monte Baldo leading up to 1.760 m.
What to see: hidden places and attractions
In addition to the villages mentioned, Lake Garda and its surroundings hide pearls of extraordinary beauty and attractions such as amusement parks or nature. Here are some things not to miss.
- Punta San Vigilio: named the "Portofino del Garda", it is located near the town of Garda. Here is Villa Guarienti, a 500th century residence with a postcard port and the Baia delle Sirene from where you can admire one of the most romantic sunsets
- Isola del Garda: not far from the shores of Salò is this islet that hosts Villa De Ferrari, a refined villa, and a garden with terraces that slope down towards the lake. The island can be visited by reservation only
- Varone waterfall: 5 min from Riva del Garda. It is located in the Parco Grotta Cascata del Varone, a path on walkways and ladders that is divided between caves up to the 98 m high waterfall
- Villa Bettoni in Gargnano: an elegant 700th-century Lombard villa that can be visited by appointment, is characterized by monumental Italian gardens and interiors with period furnishings and various family collections
- tremosine: village perched on a promontory overlooking the lake that offers panoramic views especially from the Terrace of the thrill, suspended 350 m high. From the village there are trails suitable for Nordic walking, trekking and mountain biking
- Busatte Park: in Torbole, a 4 km walk above the lake among the vegetation of the Mediterranean scrub and rocks shaped by the ice following a staircase made up of 400 steps
- Gardaland: one of the most famous amusement parks in Italy and Europe suitable for children, teenagers and adults located near Peschiera del Garda, on Lake Garda - find out more
- Rocca of Manerba: on a rocky spur, in a spectacular position, it can be reached via a path that crosses the park
- Tenno canal: a small village with medieval streets rich in history and traditions just a few kilometers from Riva del Garda, to visit in the late afternoon to admire a splendid sunset over the lake
- Torri del Benaco Castle: on the eastern shore of the lake it houses a museum dedicated to the territory which houses ancient prehistoric finds and testimonies of the peasant life of these places
- Colà Thermal Park - Villa dei Cedri: a few km from Lazise, there is this park with ponds and thermal pools where you can relax for a few hours
What to see in a weekend: recommended itinerary
For a weekend on Lake Garda, if you want to visit the lower part, we suggest you keep as Sirmione base, in the southern part of the lake.
The first day by car Vittoriale degli Italiani (10: 00-18: 00, € 17,00) a Gardone Riviera (34 km, 1 h; or Sirmione-Gardone ferry, 1 h, from € 6,50). For lunch you reach Salò (4 km, 10 min by car, bus S202, € 2,00) and take a nice panoramic walk along the lakefront. Along the scenic route back, you reach Rocca of Manerba (20 min by car, to reach the fortress 10 min on foot). Finally by car you reach Desenzano del Garda for dinner (13 km, 20 min; or ferry Salò-Desenzano, 1 h). Return to Sirmione (10 min by car).
On the second day we suggest you reach in the morning Bardolino (35 km, 40 min by car; or ferry, 1 h, from € 6,50). Take a nice walk along the lake, enter the historic center through the alleys and enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants. Then reach the neighbor Punta San Vigilio a (6 km, 10 min by car; bus € 1,20). Indulge yourself, if the season is suitable, for a swim on the Sirene beach. In the late afternoon stop at Peschiera del Garda (21 km, 30 min by car; or ferry, 1 h, from € 6,50). Take a tour of the historic walls and bulwarks and eat something for dinner in one of the restaurants overlooking the lake. Return to Sirmione (12 km, 25 min by car).
For your last day we advise you to discover the beautiful Sirmione; in the morning visit the castle from where you can admire the view (8: 30-18: 45, € 6,00) and reach the Grotte di Catullo. Take the tour of the Roman villa, where there are beautiful views and views of the lake (8: 30-19: 30, € 6,00). In the afternoon, say goodbye to Sirmione and reach the nearby one Tower of San Martino della Battaglia (10 km, 21 min by car), climb to the top and visit the museum inside (9: 00-19: 00, € 2,50). To end your weekend, pay a visit to one of the many wine cellars which are found in these parts producing the famous lugana wine (to be booked in advance).
How much does a weekend on Lake Garda cost
Lake Garda it is not an economic destination, but since there are many accommodation facilities it is possible to choose between luxury hotels (average cost per night € 450,00 per person), pensions and mid-range hotels (average cost per night per person € 100,00) and B & Bs or holiday apartments (cost per night per person € 55,00).
Same goes for i restaurants; you go from very chic and starred places, to taverns-taverns up to find sandwich bars and bars that serve fast dishes.
If you decide to travel by ferry between the various locations, ask for a day or multi-leg ticket that will allow you to save money.
- Costs to eat: about € 65,00 per day per person (including breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- Costs for museums and attractions: about € 35,00 per person following the itinerary we suggest
- Transportation: car rental € 30,00 / day; transfer by private taxi from Verona airport to Sirmione on average € 100,00 per person; alternatively there are buses from the main towns which cost between € 1,50 and € 2,50 each way. Indicatively, for the tour that we propose the total price is about € 60,00, excluding any transfers to and from stations or airports
- Hotels, accommodation and b & b: starting from € 70,00 per room -
- Fun: from € 20,00 per person per day (including snacks, coffee, aperitifs, drinks, ...)
- Total cost of a weekend: from € 400,00 per person (flights and / or transfers excluded)
What to do on Lake Garda: activities, excursions and tours
Where it is
Lake Garda is located in Northern Italy and is nestled between three regions and three respective provinces: Lombardy (province of Brescia), Veneto (province of Verona) and Trentino (province of Trento). It occupies an area of 369 sq km, is 51,6 km long and 16 km wide at the maximum point; the average depth is about 133 m, but in some places it reaches up to 346 m.
Before leaving: useful tips
- the nearest airport is Verona, 22 km from Peschiera del Garda (Venetian side) and 84 km from Riva del Garda (Trentino side). Orio al Serio di Bergamo is also convenient, it is 37 km (40 min) from Desenzano del Garda and 82 km (about 1 h) from Salò (both Brescia side). By car, the motorway exits are: Rovereto A22 (for Tremosine, Limone, Riva del Garda, Torbole, Malcesine); Affi A22 (to reach Torri, Garda, Bardolino, Cavaion); Peschiera A4 (Lazise, Castelnuovo, Peschiera del Garda, San Benedetto di Lugana); Sirmione A4 (Sirmione); Desenzano A4 (Desenzano, Padenghe, Moniga, Manerba, Salò; Gardone, Toscolano, Gargnano, Tignale). By train, the reference stations where high-speed trains of the Milan-Venice line arrive are: Desenzano del Garda and Peschiera del Garda.
- the most convenient locations as a base for visiting Lake Garda are Desenzano del Garda, Sirmione, Salò and Gargnano (Brescia side); Peschiera, Bardolino and Malcesine (Veronese side); Torbole (Trentino side)
- Getting around: ferries and hydrofoils connect different locations several times a day (timetables, costs and destinations on the official Navigarda website). The car is comfortable for moving between the smaller villages and the hinterland
- Other: from April to November, Lake Garda is assaulted by tourists who spend short weekends or entire holidays, so it can take a long time to move from one place to another by car due to the queues that form.