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Lake Garda in Italy

Lake Garda Is More Than Just a Family Destination

Lago di Garda or Lake Garda is the perfect spot to experience Italy’s dolce vita. Whether you like strolling around the waterfront with a vino or gelato or exercising outdoors, Lake Garda will be worth your while.  Known as an idyllic place for a family vacation, many people are unaware that it’s also perfect for activity and sports-centered holidays or a fascinating road trip.

The southern region provides a Mediterranean atmosphere where you can take walks between palm, olive, and citrus trees. The northern region is ore ideal for an active holiday. The mountainous landscape of the Southern Alps allows for an adventurous vacation. Everything is possible here, from windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, diving, hiking, climbing, or mountain bike tours.

Journey to Lake Garda and Mode of Transport

The diverse nature of Lake Garda is not restricted to the northern region of the lake. The south side of the island has countless small, picturesque, and beautiful places to visit. These villages invite travelers to stroll, eat ice cream, and swim. Lake Garda is the ideal stop for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

The best way to discover Lake Garda is by car, seeing as you can make your own timeline because you don’t have to rely on public transport. In addition, most places here have good parking situations. If you cannot take your own car we recommend renting one. Reach Lake Garda via the airports of Milan (Bergamo or Malpensa), Verona, or Venice, where you can rent a car on-site. If using a car while at Lake Garda is not an option for you, there are still many places you will be able to visit.  

Many places on the lakefront are accessible by ferry, and the bigger cities near the lake ─ like Verona and Venice ─ benefit from regular train connections. Unfortunately, the bus connections, especially on the northern side, leave a lot to be desired.

Camping or Holiday Flat at Lake Garda?

The southern region between Sirmione and Garda offers many campsites that are well equipped with all you will need to enjoy your time here. They often have bikes, canoes, paddle boats, and windsurfing equipment for you to rent.

There are also many hotels and other private housing available for you to rent. Like most places, the closer you get to the lake the higher the cost per night; however, you can still find good offers within a 10-to-15-minute walk. If you are looking to save travel at a more affordable cost, avoid visiting Lake Garda during the tourist season (July and August), seeing as accommodation prices will be higher.

The Most Beautiful Places at Lake Garda

Riva del Garda

Starting in the north, the mountainous region around Riva del Garda offers a huge variety, including the perfect conditions for mountain bike tours, hiking, surfing, and sailing. On hot days, you can cool down at the longest beach on the lake. The nearby Varone Waterfalls are also a worthwhile destination. These are located inside the mountain and can be reached through a grotto.

Not far from Riva del Garda is the health resort Arco. The steep rock formation you’ll find there is a highlight for every climber. If you are not into climbing, the site still impresses with the ruins of a castle, which is reachable on foot.

Malcesine

Further to the east, the picturesque town Malcesine is situated at the bottom of Monte Baldo. Discover Castello Scaligero here ─ the landmark of Malcesine. From the castle, you will enjoy a great view of the city.

Another highlight is the cable car that takes you up to the 1.760-meters-high Tratto Spino. The spectacular view over the western bank of Lake Garda and the Alpine peaks in the distance is well worth the low cost of the ticket to ride. Don’t forget to pack some warm clothing for the typically milder climate in Malcesine.

Bardolino

We stay on the east side of Lake Garda but move a little further southward, into the wine paradise of Bardolino in the Province of Verona. Take some time to discover the beautiful old town, stroll through the wide alleys, and browse the many shops along the lakeside promenade.

Bardolino maintains its lively atmosphere at night. Thanks to the late open hours offered by some clubs, shops, bars, and restaurants, the nightlife provides just as much excitement and entertainment.

Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, the landscape of Bardolino is very inviting. It provides an idyllic atmosphere and offers famous red wines and fresh olive oils.

If you’ve already explored Bardolino’s city center and its nature, there are also gorgeous beaches waiting for you! From there, you can even walk to the neighboring villages of Garda and Lazise.

Peschiera del Garda

Located on the southeast lakefront, Peschiera del Garda provides a special charm with its romantic canals and flower-adorned homes. This site is so renowned, that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Peschiera del Garda has numerous historical buildings, including San Martino Church, the star-shaped Fortress, and the magnificent pilgrimage church ─ the Sanctuary of Madonna del Frassino.

After a long day of sightseeing and exploration, relax in one of the cozy cafés or restaurants and watch the hustle and bustle of the tourists and locals all around you. After a long, hot day, a visit to one of the beaches between Peschiera and Sirmione could make for a delightful swim.

If you decide to travel without a car, you can reach Peschiera del Garda by train. The train ride will offer you a chance to admire the beautiful landscape all around you.

Sirmione

This scenic peninsula juts into the lake and is easily accessible by ferry. The ferry ride also offers a unique view of this beautiful place. We don’t recommend taking your car to Sirmione ─ as parking is very restricted.

Sirmione is a must-see on your holiday at Lake Garda. The charming city impresses with its lively old town, as well as sightseeing points and the Scaligero Castle.

Reminder: don’t forget your bikini or swimming trunks while visiting Sirmione. Jamaica Beach with its white, flat rocks is simply stunning! The rock formations give this location the appearance of a Caribbean paradise.

A warning though ─ while the sight may invite you to run straight into the water, it is important that you enter carefully, seeing as the rocks are very slippery!

After swimming, relax at the beach bar and enjoy the spectacular sunset. This captivating view is a sight that you will never forget!

Desenzano del Garda

The biggest city at Lake Garda is located in the southwestern province of Brescia. It boasts an inviting old town, a beautiful harbor, and a lively city center with many possibilities for shopping. Desenzano del Garda may not be as touristy as its neighboring villages. However, it is just as beautiful and offers visitors a window into the simple and authentic Italian lifestyle.

Limone sul Garda

Limone sul Garda is known for its lemon gardens, as reflected in the name. Here you can learn about different citrus plants while you visit the gardens at the mountainous edge of the city. After climbing the many stairs, wafts of refreshing lemon and orange fragrances will greet you. In addition, a sensational view of Lake Garda and the mountainous landscape to the east awaits you at the top.

The city center is located further down the mountain slope. Here, you can sit back in one of the restaurants by the lakefront and enjoy your pizza while overlooking the scenic landscape.

Don’t forget to try a refreshing Limoncello ─ a lemon-based liqueur ─ or bring one home to share with your family and friends.

The Best Day Trips at Lake Garda

If your destination is the southern shore of Lake Garda and you have already explored the villages, we recommend a day trip to one of the bigger cities in northern Italy.

For example, Verona is close by and offers many romantic places and sites. Go see the balcony where people romanticize that Romeo waited for Juliet. Venice is nearby as well, offering dreamy canals that will leave you speechless.

For those not interested in day trips, a day beside Lake Garda is a completely valid vacation option. In fact, you could go on a complete trip around Lake Garda! The drive from one place to another may be a highlight in itself. The scenery will be filled with enchanting views of the lake and the idyllic mountain landscape. Why not take a pitstop and enjoy a gelato by the lakefront!

Climate and Best Travel Time

The busiest season at Lake Garda is in July and August, as temperatures are usually between 30 and 35 °C. However, the summery temperatures often drop with the frequent thunderstorms.  

At the beginning of April, heavy downpours are rather common. From the end of April to October, the temperatures in all of Italy are usually over 20 °C.

Therefore, the off-season still offers pleasant temperatures while allowing you to avoid the masses of tourists and save money with off-season accommodations.

Conclusion

As you can see, a holiday at Lake Garda can mean many things: sporty outdoor activities, interesting sites, and relaxing strolls through scenic landscapes. The unique nature and diversity of Lake Garda will leave no travel fans unimpressed. There is something here for everybody!

On that note, buon viaggio!

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