The complete guide to your
Lake Garda holiday

Lake Garda Holidays

If you are planning a holiday on Lake Garda, you are in the right place to find useful information and interesting facts about towns such as Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda, Riva del Garda and Malcesine. Each town has its own unique charm and offers a wide range of activities to discover, such as visits to castles, scenic walks along the shore, water sports, shopping and much more.

Lake Garda, nestled between gentle hills and majestic peaks in northern Italy, is the ideal destination for those who love nature, sport, relaxation, food and wine, and culture. This magical place offers unique and characteristic landscapes, with activities to suit all tastes.

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Water sports enthusiasts can go windsurfing, sailing or kayaking, while trekking fans can explore scenic paths through vineyards, olive groves and forests. For those seeking a little more adventure, there are rock faces to climb and the possibility of exciting hang-gliding flights.

Lake Garda is not only a natural wonder, but also a source of culture and beauty to be discovered, with its crystal-clear waters, picturesque medieval villages, spa resorts and local culinary delights.

Our website will be your complete guide to what to do during your holiday on Lake Garda, whether you are planning a relaxing family stay, a romantic weekend, or an unforgettable adventure with friends.

Lake Garda Holidays

With a surface area of about 370 km2, Lake Garda holds the record as the largest natural lake in Italy, bathing three regions in northern Italy: Veneto, Lombardy and Trentino-Alto Adige. Each of these regions has very different landscape elements, making Lake Garda multifaceted.

The northernmost part, the shores of the Trentino-Alto Adige region, where the lake becomes narrower, is characterised by imposing peaks that are reflected in the crystal-clear waters of the lake.

This part of Lake Garda is also characterised by special winds that make Nago-Torbole and Riva del Garda a favourite destination for windsurfers and sailors.

The Lombardia region, which stretches along the western shores of Lake Garda, offers a flatter landscape than the Trentino region. This region presents a combination of hills, vineyards and picturesque villages along the shores of the lake, such as Desenzano del Garda, Salò and Sirmione, which offer a unique combination of history and culture.

Finally, the Veneto, a region known for its cities of art such as Verona and Venice, which embraces the eastern shores of the lake where one can find enchanting medieval villages, ancient castles, and where one can immerse oneself in the lively atmosphere of coastal towns such as Bardolino, Lazise or Malcesine. Veneto offers a diverse landscape that combines mountainous elements, plains and of course beaches, making this area ideal for summer relaxation and water activities.

Lake Garda is a fascinating and surprising place precisely because it offers a great variety of landscapes, an enchanting climate and breathtaking colours. It is a place that invites continuous discovery, always offering something new to explore.

Bardolino
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Torri del Benaco
Brenzone
Malcesine
Nago-Torbole
Riva del Garda
Arco
Limone del Garda
Tremosine
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Gargnano
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Maderno
Gardone
Riviera
Salò
Moniga
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Padenghe
San Felice
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Desenzano
Sirmione
Peschiera del Garda
Lazise

Choose where to spend your holidays on Lake Garda

Holidays on Lake Garda? Discover with us all the villages on Lake Garda, here divided according to the regions to which they belong.

On holiday at Lake Garda?

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Lake Garda in numbers
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Discover what to do on holiday at Lake Garda

Explore our blog and get inspired by the breathtaking itineraries, food and wine experiences, cultural curiosities and practical information.

Lake Garda Holidays: Faq

Lake Garda is a wonderful holiday destination that has so much to offer. To best plan your holiday, carefully consider where to stay.

If you only have a few days at your disposal, it might be useful to choose a base for an overnight stay and visit the various places nearby. If, on the other hand, you have more time available, you could change accommodation to explore different regions of the lake.

Choose the type of holiday you want, such as sporting, cultural or relaxing, and on Lake Garda you will find nature trails, water sports, spas, amusement parks, museums, castles, ancient villages, events and much more.

Also consider with whom you are travelling: as a couple, with friends, or as a family with children. Explore our pages dedicated to the villages around the lake and read our travel tips on the blog to make the most of your holiday on Lake Garda.

Are you looking for your next destination for a holiday on Lake Garda? It is really difficult to suggest a single destination, because each one has its own charm and offers different experiences depending on personal taste.

Some might prefer wild and unspoilt landscapes, while others might be attracted by the liveliness of more mundane locations or water sports activities. To find the ideal destination for you, we recommend exploring the web pages of each lakeside resort.

You will find detailed information on each destination, the activities available, and you will be able to assess which one best suits your interests and the time you have available.

The best period for a holiday on Lake Garda depends on your personal preferences. However, in general, the summer months from June to September offer pleasant temperatures and the opportunity to enjoy the beaches, water activities, and summer events on the lake.

If you prefer to avoid the tourist crowds, spring and autumn can be good options. The weather is mild and pleasant, and the lake is less crowded, offering a quieter atmosphere.

These periods are ideal for exploring the surrounding landscapes, hiking or visiting the picturesque villages along the shores of the lake.

In winter, on the other hand, Lake Garda has a different but fascinating atmosphere. The villages along its shores host Christmas markets, creating a cosy and festive atmosphere.

If you only have one day to spare, you can focus on visiting one or two villages around the lake, such as Sirmione, Bardolino, Limone or Gardone Riviera, exploring their historical centres and visiting the main attractions such as castles, churches and museums.

If you have time, you could also take a boat trip to admire the lake from a different perspective.

Some villages are also very close to each other and within walking distance. For example, in the eastern part of the lake you could see Garda, Bardolino and Lazise in one day and in one fascinating lakeside walk.

To reach Lake Garda, there are several options:

  • By plane: The closest airport to Lake Garda is Verona-Villafranca Airport (VRN), located about 15 kilometres southwest of the lake and Milan-Bergamo Airport ‘Orio al Serio’. From the airport, you can take a taxi, rent a car or use public transport services to reach the lake.
  • By train: Lake Garda is well connected to the Italian railway network. The main railway stations along the lake include Desenzano del Garda, Peschiera del Garda and Rovereto. You can take a train from various Italian cities, such as Milan or Venice, and reach the lake by train. From the railway stations, you can use public transport or taxi services to travel to your desired destination along the lake.
  • By car: Lake Garda is easily accessible by car. The main motorways connecting to the lake are the A4 motorway (Milan-Venice) and the A22 motorway (Modena-Brenner). There are several exits along these motorways that lead to the various locations on the lake.
    A22 exits: Rovereto Sud, Affi
    A4 exits: Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda, Peschiera del Garda

Once you arrive at the lake, you can use public transport, rent a car or a bicycle, depending on your preferences and the destinations you wish to visit.

To move from one place to another on the lake, it is also possible to use the ferries; info: www.navigazionelaghi.it

If the coastal resorts on the Lake are not enough for you, know that there are other very interesting locations and places around and inland. For example, the cities of Verona, Brescia, Bergamo, Mantua, Trento or Rovereto, each with its own history, culture and unique attractions.

For a scenic and naturalistic experience, you could effortlessly ascend the Malcesine cable car, which will take you to the top of Monte Baldo, where you can admire the extraordinary botanical biodiversity and enjoy breathtaking views.

Or you might want to visit some inland towns or villages. Then we invite you to discover Borghetto sul Mincio, with its characteristic water mills and picturesque atmosphere; an ideal place for a peaceful walk and to taste the famous tortellini of Valeggio.

Also in this area, we suggest a visit to the Sigurtà Garden Park. Finally, we recommend the Cascate del Varone waterfalls, near Riva del Garda, and the tower of San Martino della Battaglia, inland from Desenzano del Garda.

The beaches of Lake Garda vary greatly depending on the area of the lake. In fact, the lake offers a variety of coastal landscapes and beaches, suitable for both relaxation and sports activities.

Beaches on the eastern side of the lake, such as those in Desenzano del Garda, Sirmione and Salò, tend to be wide and sandy. These are popular beaches with tourists and offer services such as sunbed and umbrella rental, bars and restaurants nearby.

Locations in the northern part of Lake Garda, such as Riva del Garda and Limone sul Garda, are known for their small, rocky, very natural beaches.

In the southern area, however, resorts such as Peschiera del Garda, Bardolino and Garda offer both sandy and pebble beaches.

Briefly, some of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Garda are: Baia delle Sirene Beach (Garda); Cola Beach (Limone sul Garda), Giamaica Beach (Sirmione), Sabbioni Beach (Riva del Garda). There are also beaches for those travelling with dogs such as Bracco Baldo Beach (Peschiera del Garda) and Fido Beach (Manerba del Garda).

On the pages of the individual countries you will also find more information about the beaches.

Lake Garda is a paradise for water sports and offers numerous opportunities for various sports activities.

Thanks to the constant winds and favourable conditions, Lake Garda is considered one of the best spots for windsurfing, sailing, kitesurfing, but also other water sports such as Stand-Up Paddle (SUP), canoeing or kayaking to explore the inlets of the lake and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Malcesine, Brenzone, Riva and Torbole are among the best locations for water sports because of the favourable winds.

Lake Garda offers numerous opportunities for trekking, hiking, paragliding and other outdoor activities. Some of the most popular activities include:

  • Trekking on Monte Baldo: Monte Baldo offers an extensive network of hiking trails suitable for all skill levels, with spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
  • Paragliding in Malcesine: Malcesine is a popular paragliding destination, thanks to its favourable weather conditions and spectacular panoramic views.
  • Cycling: Lake Garda is a great place for cycling, with numerous cycling routes along the coast and in the surrounding hills. It is possible to rent bicycles in the resorts or participate in organised cycling tours.
  • Climbing: The cliffs around the lake offer excellent opportunities for rock climbing, with several routes of varying degrees of difficulty.

Lake Garda is surrounded by numerous cycle routes that offer spectacular views and cross breathtaking landscapes. Some of the best cycling routes are:

  • Sentiero della Ponale, which connects Riva del Garda to Ledro along a scenic military road closed to vehicular traffic.
  • Veronese shore cycle path: This cycle path follows the eastern shore of the lake from Lazise to Bardolino and Garda, offering beautiful views of the lake and coastal towns.
  • Trentino shore cycle path: This route follows the western shore of the lake, connecting Riva del Garda to Limone sul Garda and Tremosine. It offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
  • Limone sul Garda cycle path: This new cycle path is truly amazing; clinging to the mountain and overlooking the lake at a height of 50 metres, it is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe.
  • Adige Valley Cycle Path: This route follows the course of the Adige River and connects Riva del Garda with Verona. It passes through vineyards, orchards and picturesque villages along the way.

As for historical and cultural places to visit on Lake Garda, here are some suggestions:

Castles: there are several, of medieval origins. We recall those of Sirmione, Lazise, Arco, Malcesine, Torri del Benaco and Desenzano. If you are fascinated by them, discover our article on the Castles of Lake Garda.

Grotte di Catullo: Located in Sirmione, these ruins of a Roman villa offer an insight into the Roman history of the region.

Vittoriale degli Italiani: Located in Gardone Riviera, the Vittoriale is the residence of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio and is a complex of buildings, gardens and museums worth visiting (reservation required).

Villa Romana in Desenzano del Garda, a remarkable example of a Roman residence from the late antique period, famous for its well-preserved mosaics.

Museums: there are many museums on Lake Garda that tell the story of the area; for example the Olive Oil Museum, in Cisano di Bardolino; the Wine Museum, also in Bardolino. And then the one in Riva del Garda, which tells the natural, archaeological and cultural history of the area. And again, the coffee museum in Arco, the civic museum in Desenzano del Garda.

There are also other historical and cultural places to discover, including ancient lemon houses, churches, monasteries and villas.

There are many scenic spots on Lake Garda, both picturesque views and views from above. Here are some postcard views:

Punta San Vigilio, in Garda: offers one of the most picturesque views of the lake, with its small harbour, beach and green promontory.

Terrazza del Brivido: This viewpoint is located above Limone sul Garda and is accessible by cable car. From here, there is a spectacular panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Rocca di Manerba: Located on the tip of the Manerba peninsula, the Rocca di Manerba offers a panoramic view of the lake and the islands of San Biagio and Conigli.

The Strada della Forra is renowned for its spectacular natural beauty and unique geological features. It is located in the area between Tremosine sul Garda.

Monte Rocchetta: Located near Riva del Garda, Monte Rocchetta offers spectacular panoramic views of the town and lake.

Monte Baldo: Located on the eastern shore of the lake, Monte Baldo offers spectacular panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. It can be reached by cable car from Malcesine.

Busatte-Tempesta Trail: This scenic trail, located near Torbole sul Garda, offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding cliffs.

There are several accommodation options around Lake Garda, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, flats, campsites and agritourisms. The coastal towns offer a wide range of accommodation to suit different needs and budgets.

During peak seasons, such as summer, it can be difficult to find parking in the most crowded areas. However, many tourist resorts offer paid parking or public car parks near the main points of interest.

It is advisable to find out in advance what parking options are available at the specific location of interest and to consider using public transport or parking further afield if necessary. On this site, on the pages of each country you will find some ideas of where to park.

The traditional dishes of Lake Garda vary according to the region where we are located, i.e. Veneto, Lombardy or Trentino Alto-Adige.

Certainly fish plays a central role in the gastronomy of Lake Garda, and risotto with lake fish is perhaps one of the most emblematic dishes.

In the Veneto and Lombardy regions, the cuisine is enriched by traditional dishes such as sarde in saor, an appetiser based on sardines marinated in a sweet and sour sauce with onion, vinegar and sultanas. Potato gnocchi are another classic of the area, served with rich and tasty cheese or tomato-based sauces.

In Trentino-Alto Adige, on the other hand, there is carne salada, a speciality made from marinated and smoked beef.

Alongside these dishes, local products play a fundamental role in the cuisine of Lake Garda. The extra virgin olive oil, produced in the surrounding hills, gives the dishes a unique and precious flavour. Local wines, such as Bardolino, Custoza and Soave, perfectly complement meals, offering a wide range of flavours to go with different dishes.

Finally, the region is also famous for its agricultural products, such as lemons grown on the shores of the lake and the Baldo truffle, a delicious black truffle harvested on the slopes of Mount Baldo.

In winter, Lake Garda changes its appearance but still offers incredible activities and scenery. Some options include:

Visiting Christmas markets: During the Christmas period, many towns on the lake organise Christmas markets with stalls, decorations and local specialities.

Hiking: The surrounding mountains offer opportunities for winter hiking, with trails suitable for all skill levels.

Spa relaxation: There are several spa facilities around the lake where you can relax and enjoy wellness treatments.

Visiting castles and museums: The castles on the lakeshore, such as Sirmione Castle or Malcesine Castle, are also open in winter and offer breathtaking panoramic views.

The ancient name of the lake was ‘Benaco’, thought to have Celtic origins and meaning ‘horned’, probably referring to its characteristic funnel shape. However, during the Middle Ages, a name of Longobard origin began to spread, ‘Warda’, meaning ‘guard’ or ‘lookout place’. This name was later Italianised into ‘Garda’, and is still used today.

This evolution of the name reflects the rich history and cultural influences that have shaped the Lake Garda region over the centuries.

Lake Garda has a very ancient geological origin. It was formed during the Ice Age, about 1.5 million years ago, as a result of the movement of glaciers that carved out the valley where the lake now lies. Subsequently, the lake was shaped by weathering and river erosion.

Today, the lake is fed by several rivers and streams, including the Sarca River, one of the main tributaries. The region around the lake has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has a rich history, with Roman and medieval settlements.

The climate on Lake Garda is generally mild, however, it can vary considerably depending on the season and altitude.

Here is a general idea of the seasons on Lake Garda:

  • Spring: this is a pleasant season, with temperatures gradually beginning to rise. During this period, the gardens and vegetation around the lake begin to bloom, creating a very beautiful landscape. Temperatures vary from cool to pleasantly warm.
  • Summer: this is the busiest season on Lake Garda. Temperatures are warm and often exceed 30 degrees Celsius. This is the ideal time for outdoor activities such as swimming, sailing and hiking. Summer evenings are pleasant and events and festivals are often organised along the shores of the lake.
  • Autumn: a very pleasant season to visit Lake Garda. Temperatures remain pleasant, although they gradually start to fall. It is a good time for excursions and tasting local wines.
  • Winter: this is the coldest season, but temperatures on the shores of the lake are still relatively mild compared to other parts of northern Italy. Cold and wet days can occur, but snowfalls are rare along the shores of the lake.

Lake Garda is also known for its winds, in particular the ‘Pelér’ that blows from the north in the morning and the ‘Ora’ that blows from the south in the afternoon. Winds can have an impact on the climate but also influence sailing and water sports activities such as sailing and windsurfing.

Lake Garda has five main islands:

Isola del Garda: Also known as Isola Borghese or Isola di San Francesco, it is located on the western side of the lake, near the town of Salò. It is the largest of the three islands and is famous for the majestic neo-Gothic palace that dominates the landscape, built in the 19th century.

Isola dei Conigli (or Isola di San Biagio): Located near Manerba del Garda, this small island takes its name from the numerous wild rabbits that once populated the area. Today it is a protected natural area and offers beautiful views of the lake.

Isola di Trimelone: This island, located on the eastern side of the lake opposite Brenzone, is much smaller in size than the other two and has a more controversial history that saw it become a military base during the Second World War.

Isola del Sogno: Located near Malcesine, it can be reached on foot at certain times of the year when the lake level drops. It is known for an underwater wreck at a depth of about 40 metres.

Isola dell’Olivo: also near Malcesine, it is famous during the ‘Centomiglia’ sailing regatta. It offers rocks for sunbathing and an underwater cave at a depth of 13 metres.

Many guided tours and organised tours around Lake Garda are available. These can include boat tours to explore the lake, visits to historic castles such as the Scaligero Castle in Sirmione, or food and wine tours to sample the local cuisine.

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