10 things to do and see in Lake Garda

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Lake Garda

10 things to do and see in Lake Garda
10 things to do and see in Lake Garda

The Lake Garda is the largest Italian lake with an area of  370 square km. It would be right to consider it a sea among mountains, because that is the feeling you have looking at it: you can’t find boundaries. In fact, Lake Garda flow through three Italian regions: Lombardia, Veneto and Trentino-Alto-Adige, offering many extraordinary landscapes.

The Lake Garda is a destination that please everyone all the year because you can find mountains covered with snow, hills, small town on the banks, including some islands in the middle of the lake. In this page we suggest you some of the places to visit and  10 things to do and see in Lake Garda.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lake Garda, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 380 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Sirmione Castle, Lake Garda

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The Scaliger Sirmione Castle  dates back to 1250 and is one of the best preserved castles in Italy.

Sirmione Castle, Lake Garda
Sirmione Castle, Lake Garda

Today it’s in perfect conditions and open to public:  two crenellated towers dominate the lake and the dock, still functioning, which houses a Roman era gravestone.

The castle is a suggestive stronghold overlooking the lake, from which you can access through drawbridge over the waters. The 146 steps allow you to reach the patrol path  and admire the surrounding territory. The entrance of the castle is also the only way to enter into the historic center of Sirmione: you’ll feel the history around you

There are many legends about this Castle including the one of Ebengardo and his beloved Arice. According to legend, one night a knight asked for hospitality at the castle but he was impressed by  the beauty of Arice and he sneaked into her room. Arice refused him and he stabbed her. Ebengardo was  his rival , from that night, on stormy nights his spirit roams into the castle in search of his beloved.

Where: Viale Gugliemo Marconi 2, sirmione, Brescia
How to get there: highway Milano – Venezia, exit Sirmione
When – Hours: from March to October from 8:30  am to 7 pm  and from November to February from 8.30 am to 5 pm , every day except on Sundays when it closes at 2 pm
Tickets: € 4 €, € 2 for childrenfrom 18 to 25 years and free entrance for children  until 18 years.

Grotte di Catullo in Sirmione

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“Le Grotte” (caves), as it was called this Roman Domus before  the excavations in the ‘400, are actually well-preserved remains of a Roman villa built in the first century AD, and is now considered the most important example of Roman villa in Northern Italy.

Grotte di Catullo in Sirmione
Grotte di Catullo in Sirmione

The complex, now as more than a thousand years ago, overlooks the peninsula in Lake Garda and extends for about 2 hectares: the original structure had three floors and a long terraces that looked on two sides of the lake.

There was an efficient thermal section  and an underground cistern to collect water. Today the villa is open to the public and has a large olive tree grove and a museum. The 1.500 olive trees produce  a valuable oil, while the museum has several archaeological finds as well as a detailed documentation of the history of the lake and its people from prehistory to the Middle Ages.

Where: in Sirmione
How to get there: by feet from down town or by an electric train that leaves from the Baths of Sirmione
When – Hours: The complex is open in winter from Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm , on Sundays until 2 pm . In the summer closes at 7:30 pm and on Sundays it’s open from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm
Tickets: € 6 €, € 3 for children from 18 to 25 years and free entrance for children until 18 years.

Isola del Garda

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The Garda Island, also known as Isola Borghese, is the largest island in Lake Garda, and is located about 200 m from the coast, in the territory of San Felice.

Isola del Garda
Isola del Garda

Today is reached by boat and it’s the property of the Cavazza counts, which since 2002 manage guided tours in the charming park and the Villa Ferrari, an admirable example of a villa built in the early ‘900, which is the only example of Venetian – Gothic style of the lake .

In addition to the villa and its gardens, Isola del Garda is well worth a visit for its fascinating history.

This place, actually, is inhabited since Roman times, as evidenced by the gravestones and the remains of votive temples found here, and has been a refuge for pirates, before becoming an important ecclesiastical center thanks to the intervention of St. Francesco d’Assisi who built there a small hermitage. Over the centuries the island has gone under many owners and has seen many famous people: in addition to St. Francesco d’Assisi,  Dante Alighieri, St. Anthonio da Padova and Adelaide Malanotte, the main interpreter of the works of Rossini.

How to get there: by Boat and speedboat from major nearby cities with private guide. Info: +39 388 4971640
When – Hours: from April to October with guided tours by appointment. The tour lasts about two hours and includes transfers, multilingual guide and a welcome cocktail.
Tickets: The excursion costs from 25 to 30 euro for adults depending on the port of departure, with discounts for children and groups.

Riva del Garda

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Riva del Garda, in Trentino, is one of the most northern places  of Lake Garda and has a special charm. Here, in fact, the lake narrows and slot in between high cliffs of Monte Rocchetta: water is colder and bluer, the landscape is influenced by the nearby Dolomites and the silence becomes more rarefied, because on this part of Lake Garda the navigation engine is prohibited.

Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda, as the name suggests, overlooks the lake and is placed between its waters and the historic center, which slot in the mountain. Riva is a fully equipped resort, organized and rich in history, inhabited since Roman times and with numerous remains of its medieval past.

The center of Riva is Piazza 3 Novembre: here you can find  the Apponale Tower, its most important monument, which dates back to 1220, the Town Hall rebuilt by the Venetians in the ‘400 and the Praetorian Palace built in 1375 by Scaligeri family . A walk in the square allows you to breathe the Austro-Hungarian charm of Riva, maybe sitting at a café. It worths a visit also the Inviolata Church, a fine example of Baroque style built in 1603, the medieval quarter of Marocco (from “marocche”, the landslide remains on which were built some palaces), and the lakefront, surrounded by white balustrades overlooking the water.

The Italian Vittoriale, Lake Garda

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The Italian Vittoriale is the burial place of Gabriele D’Annunzio and a real citadel built together with the architect Giancarlo Maroni between 1921 and 1938.

The Italian Vittoriale, Lake Garda
The Italian Vittoriale, Lake Garda

Here the poet decided to celebrate his literary works, war and patriotic feats. The Vittoriale includes the Priory, a large house – museum full of objects,  room decorations, a large park with statues, ponds and gardens, an auditorium for 200 people which hosts exhibitions, conferences and events and an amphitheater.

Among the most fascinating places there is the D’Annunzio Secret Museum, located in the basement of the amphitheater and collects the objects of everyday life of the poet, including shoes, clothes and collars for its dogs. Among the many relics to admire, stand out on all the Mausoleum at the top of the hill that houses his remains and the Puglia ship. This ship is now placed in the park with the bow towards the Adriatic. It was  donated to D’Annunzio by the Royal Navy in 1923. The Vittoriale is a place of charm, but also a place where you can have a great view  of Lake Garda and the surrounding landscape.

Where: Via Vittoriale 12, Gardone Riviera (Brescia)
How to get there:
Highway: A4 Milan-Venice, exit Desenzano; A22, exit Rovereto South.
When – Hours: every day of the year (except 24 and 25 December and New Year) from 8:30 am  to 7 pm from  the end of March-end of October
From 9 am  to 4 pm  from late October to late March
Tickets: the cost  for the visit to the Vittoriale varies from €16 to 8  depending on the chosen route. Discounts are available for children from 7 to 18 years and for over 65 years. free admission for children under 6 years.

Limone sul Garda

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Limone sul Garda is one of the oldest and best preserved towns on Lake Garda. The origins of the name are uncertain: they may derive from “limes”, the border in Latin, but actually lemons  dominate this little pearl of Garda. Limone is famous  for the cultivation of citrus fruits, that here, thanks to the breeze of the lake and its microclimate have been  grown always in “limonere”. They are  protected terraces, one above the other , where citrus trees are cultivated. The most famous, now owned by the municipality, is the Limonaia del Castel, which dates back to 1700 and today is open to the public.

Limone sul Garda
Limone sul Garda

In addition to the famous lemons you will find cedar, mandarin, bitter oranges, kumquats. The old town of Limone sul Garda is instead a pleasant walk through narrow streets, squares and old houses of fishermen on the lake.

Today the houses are opened to tourists for the holidays. Do not miss the church of San Pietro in Oliveto: built in the IX century, is one of the oldest Romanesque churches in the area and thanks to the restoration of 1989 today you can admire the original frescoes.

Don’t miss  Piazza XX Settembre, the Old Market Square, with Visconti Tower (XVI sec.), The Basilica of St. Nicolò, the XIX Town Hall (Palazzo Bovara) and the Azzone Visconti Bridge with its arches. Built during the Renaissance, the bridge was used to connect Lecco to the Duchy of Milan and still today is the access to the city for those coming from Milan or Garda.

Gardaland and other parks in Lake Garda

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Lake Garda offers also a number of theme – park attractions perfect for the whole family. Most of the parks are just a few kilometers from the lake’s shores. The Lake Garda park attractions  are generally opened from April to late October, with special openings during the Christmas holidays and some weekends.

Gardaland and other parks in Lake Garda
Gardaland and other parks in Lake Garda

It starts from the famous Gardaland, the largest in Italy, with more than 35 theme attractions for young and old: the park is located in Castelnuovo del Garda, near Verona.

Adventure lovers can’t really miss the Caneva World theme parks: Movieland, dedicated to the world of cinema with shows, animation and reconstructions of film sets, and the Caneva Water Park, a paradise made of big and small pools with slides , attractions and water games. Both parks are located in Lazise sul Garda, in Verona district.

Parco Natura Viva however, is in Pastrengo, Verona district, and is a zoo with more than 1,500 animals of 200 different species from all continents. A perfect opportunity, even for children, to know and to protect the animal species in the world. But don’t think about a simple visit: the park is a research and preservation center, and includes the Safari Park with African animals and birds and an area completely dedicated to dinosaurs.

Cathedral of Salò, Lake Garda

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Salò Cathedral, Brescia district, is in late Gothic style and is worth a visit because it appears to the visitor almost as it was in 1453, when the first stone was set down.

Cathedral of Salò, Lake Garda
Cathedral of Salò, Lake Garda

The façade also: simple, unfinished, made up of simple brick, was enriched in 1509 only by a marble portal in Renaissance style. Inside houses, among others, works by Paolo Veneziano, Romanino and Moretto. Salò Cathedral is the most important place of worship in the city and is dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata. It’s also famous for the altarpiece in gilded wood, which dates back to the XV century. This is one of the most important examples of Brescia crafts of the area. At the center of the church there is a large crucifix made in 1493 by Giovanni Teutonico, while on the left of the Crucified you can admire the large and valuable organ made in 1489 and given in 1957 to the Commission for Artistic and Cultural Heritage

Where: Vicolo Campanile 2 in Salò (Brescia).
When – Hours: Mass times: daily at 6:30 pm ; public holidays at 9:30 – 11:00  am to 6:30 pm

Marmitte dei Giganti in Lake Garda

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The Marmitte dei Giganti (Pothole Jiants) are a true wonder of nature; those of Torbole are unique, because they are in excellent condition. Imagine some  huge holes, about 5 meters width and deep up to 12 meters, placed in a kind of canyon in a landscape that looks like the Moon.

Marmitte dei Giganti in Lake Garda
Marmitte dei Giganti in Lake Garda

The name derives from the popular imagination, that didn’t know how to explain these gigantic wells. It’s actually a phenomenon due to the ice age, which dates back more than 130,000 years ago. During the summer, in fact the glaciers used to melt quickly, creating streams and  waterfalls made of water and pebbles, which corroded the rock creating wells and pools still visible today.

A curiosity: the discovery of pottery and arrowheads are the evidence that the Marmitte dei Giganti of Torbole were inhabited in prehistoric times.

Where to sleep in Lake Garda

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Lake Garda is one of the international tourist destination, loved by ordinary people and celebrities all around the world.

Where to sleep in Lake Garda
Where to sleep in Lake Garda

Movie stars, artists, various rich men bought a house here or decide to spend part of their vacation. The tourist accommodation is well organized, with more than 2,100 available properties. During the spring and the summer there are many Italian and foreign tourists and school groups, so you’d better to  book in time. In the autumn the weather is cooler and the hotel are less crowded, so it’s the ideal time to enjoy the Garda Lake in peace and without haste.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lake Garda, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 380 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com