Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is considered a favorite travel destination in the country. The lake is located exactly in the middle of the northern region of Italy, between the cities of Verona and Brescia, and is shaped like a large ladle, reaching up to the pastoral mountains of the region. In the cities and villages surrounding the lake you can enjoy relatively comfortable weather, and it is full of hiking trails in nature and a spectacular view of lemon trees and snowy peaks. The area around the lake is full of attractions, from wine tours, ancient ruins to beautiful beaches and sports activities, everyone will find themselves enjoying themselves here.
Lake Garda is so large that you can see dramatic changes in the landscape between the different areas – in the south the landscape is gentle, quiet and calm, and therefore was especially loved by artists throughout history; In the north, on the other hand, the landscape becomes wilder and the Alps are revealed in all their glory and power. This is an area popular with adrenaline junkies who engage in extreme sports such as climbing and windsurfing.
How to get there?
Lake Garda is located near the big cities of Verona and Milan and there are quite a few options to reach all parts of it by different means of transportation. From anywhere in Italy you can rent a car and enjoy a long drive with an amazing view directly to the part you want to reach. This is probably the most convenient way of all, although there are also other options:
Flight: Lake Garda is close to several major airports, making it extremely accessible. Verona-Villafranca airport is the closest (at a distance of 15 km). A little further (at a distance of 30 km) is the Brescia-Montichiari airport, which is smaller but can be reached by domestic flight from Milan, which is about 100 km away from the lake “M. From the airports you can take a rental car, train or bus to one of the cities surrounding the lake.
Train: Every day there are trains from the city of Verona to the cities near the lake – Peschiera or Desenzano, both of which are south of the lake. The trip is short and takes about 15-20 minutes and the frequency of the train is almost once an hour. If you want to get to the northern part of the lake you can take a train from Morona or from Milan and get to Rovereto (about 40 minutes drive) and then take a bus to Riva del Garda.
Bus: To get to the eastern part of the lake you can take a Morone bus to Riva del Garda. The bus stops in towns surrounding the lake such as Lasize, Bardolino and Torre del Benaco. For those of you who want to reach the western or northern side of the lake, the best option is to take the Morone train to Desenzano and from there there are many buses to the various cities. The bus frequency is good and increases in the summer, during the region’s peak tourism season.
By ferry: Different ferries, faster or slower, arrive every day to the villages and cities around the lake. The ferries are a convenient means of transportation between the sites surrounding the lake. For those who rent a car in the area, there are also ferries on which the car can be transferred. The frequency and prices of the trips vary according to the season and the type of ferry.
The northern region – Trentino
Riva del Garda – the largest and most famous city in the northern area of the lake. It is a departure point for many recommended treks as well as bicycle tours, water sports activities and diving in the lake. The city itself is full of attractions – the Varone waterfalls, a visit to the ancient village of Canale di Tenno, the famous museum Museo Alto Garda, the Torre Apponale tower and many other cool places worth checking out. You can also enjoy fine food in the local restaurants and sip a chilled beer from the tap in the selection of bars in the area.
Torbole sul Garda – for lovers of extremes, windsurfing, sailing, climbing and trekking. The area is a starting point for a variety of sporting activities and is suitable for those who want an adventure trip. A particularly recommended trek is the Sentiero Busatte-Tempesta, a 5 km path that passes between mountains and rocks near the lake.
Acro – a city a little further from the lake, located along the Sarca River. The city has a lovely historic center and a famous castle that overlooks the whole area. The city can also be reached by bicycle from the nearby cities. Here, too, there are good attractions for extreme enthusiasts – the city of Akro is considered a favorite destination for mountain climbers with hundreds of climbing routes of varying degrees of difficulty. There is even a hall of fame dedicated to world climbing champions.
The eastern region – Veneto
Malcesine – is considered the most beautiful of the cities surrounding the lake. Another reason to visit it is the cable car that reaches the top of Monte Altissimo, the highest point that overlooks the lake, from where you can also go on a trek, dine at the on-site restaurant or just enjoy the spectacular view. The route of the cable car is 1.5 km but note that it is much colder at the top! Near the city you can also find the picturesque village of Cassone, where the shortest river in the world – Aril, is about 175 meters long. Another recommended point of interest is Val di Sogno, A nearby bay with a small island and ruins in the depths.The most recommended site to visit in the city is Castello Scaligero, an ancient castle that has been renovated, which also has a beautiful lookout, a nature museum and various activities for children.
Garda – the city after which the lake is named. In the city of Garda you can feel how the atmosphere and the landscape change from alpine hills to Mediterranean seas and the weather is warm all year round. In Garda you can explore the historic center of the Middle Ages, where you can also do some shopping for the produce of the region. Other beautiful points of interest in the city are the Madonna della Corona Church and Punta San Vigilio.
Bardolino – the place for wine lovers. You can do tasting tours here and if you come in September you will enjoy lively festivals with performances, good food, street performances and above all a lot of wine. In the city there are dozens of wineries, tours and even a museum dedicated entirely to wine, which makes the place a paradise for wine lovers.
Lazise – an ideal place to relax and rest thanks to its famous hot springs. In addition, you can visit the old costume house that is built right on the lake and enjoy great shopping of local products, in the local markets and shops.
Peschiera del Garda – the largest city on the eastern side of the lake and a transportation hub thanks to its train station. The city covers the area between Lake Garda and the river Mincio, which connects the lake to the river Po to the south. The city has a unique structure, its historic center is fortified and surrounded by a wall, it is connected to the rest of the city through bridges. Apart from that, you can enjoy staying at beautiful beaches such as Braccobaldo Bau, take a boat trip to other sites and walk around the blooming nature in the area.
Gardaland – an amusement park that is especially recommended if you are traveling with children. You should avoid visiting the place during the summer holidays (June to September) as then the queues can be extended to hours of waiting for each facility. The park has its own hotel that is true to the concept, with furry characters that roam the corridors, rooms designed for children and various activities, a bit like in Disneyland.
The southern and western region – Lombardia
Sirmione – one of the most peaceful and beautiful destinations around Lake Garda. The atmosphere is Mediterranean and magical. History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Catullus family villa and Scaliger Castle which look like they were taken from a fairy tale. In the summer season it is recommended to go down to one of the beaches and swim in the turquoise waters of the lake and in the winter you can enjoy spa treatments and massages at the Aquaria Thermal SPA center.
Desenzano – the largest city on the shore of the lake. The city has a train station and many buses and ferries arrive daily. Besides being a transit point, the city is worth a day or two visit. Among the recommended attractions in the area are the archaeological museum and the “la Terrazza sul Garda” castle.
Salo – a large city that is famous mainly for being the seat of the fascist government at the end of World War II. The city is worth a visit thanks to the long promenade along the lake and thanks to the Duomo di Sant’Annuzuata which shows Gothic archeology combined with Renaissance style. The city is also close to departure points for good treks in Alto Garda Bresciano park and if you want to rest more, you can go swimming or sunbathe at Rimbalzello beach where various sports activities are also offered.
Gardone Riviera – known for a beautiful park with exotic vegetation. The historic center of the city will take you back in time to the Middle Ages, with majestic and baroque buildings. In addition, there are several aristocratic castles in the area from the beginning of the last century that you can visit.
Gargnano – one of the most beautiful cities in the province, with a pastoral promenade all around and many points of interest and attractions on the spot, this is definitely a city that must be stopped during a trip to the lake. Among other things, you can visit the old house of the former ruler Benito Mussolini (Villa Feltrinelli), which has since become a luxury hotel, go hiking in the nearby mountains, sail and engage in water sports.
Tremosine – a city that is actually a chain of islands that have been joined together over the years. In the area you can find activities such as horse riding, windsurfing, cycling, going on various treks and more. A prominent attraction nearby is the Strada della Forra, a beautiful route that crosses a rocky canyon. The route appears in James Bond movies as well as in many advertisements for car companies.
Limone sul Garda – it is not difficult to guess from the name because this is an area where many lemon trees grow. Therefore, it is also a source for the production of many lemon products, chief among them of course limoncello. In addition to the unique view, you can enjoy a beautiful historical center and a promenade that stretches along the shore of the lake. Particularly recommended is the new bike path in the city that overlooks a spectacular view.