Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. It is popular with holiday-makers for its diverse scenery – think mountains, beaches and citrus groves – and for its historic sites and lovely towns and villages. The south of the lake is on the main railway line across the north of Italy, making it ideal for day trips from Milan. It is also very easy to get to from the cities of Verona and Trento. Here are some of the most beautiful towns of Lake Garda that you need to visit.
Bardolino is an attractive town on the south-eastern shore of Lake Garda, famous for the vineyards and olive groves which line the roads leading towards the town and the lakeside. The town is located on a small headland between the shoreline and the main road which links the north and south of the lake.
Visitors with an interest in culinary matters can take a trip to the Olive Oil Museum just south of Bardolino at Cisano, and there are several vineyards which offer tastings of the local Bardolino specialities. Late summer is the time for the Bardolino Wine Festival, where thousands of visitors head for the tents and stands laid out along the lakeshore towards the neighbouring town of Garda.
The lakeside promenade along the Rivalunga north to Garda is just under four kilometres and is a popular walk at other times of the year. More active hikers can climb the Rocca di Garda, the hill between the two towns with lovely views over the southern part of the lake. Back in the centre of Bardolino, there is easy access to the other southern towns on Lake Garda from the ferry landing stage. Nearby, with views of the small harbour, is the friendly Hotel Catullo.
(Contributed by Steve Rout of Bardolino Italy)
The one-time Roman resort of Sirmione has one of the best locations on Lake Garda. At the end of a long spit of land jutting out from the southern shore of the lake, it is surrounded by water on all sides. Visit for the historic centre, magnificent Scaliger Castle and the Roman Grotte di Catullo.
Read more: A Day In Sirmione, Lake Garda.
Riva Del Garda
Riva is a popular resort on the far north of Lake Garda, just 40 km from Trento. Surrounded by tree-covered mountains, it is ideal for both hiking and water sports. Riva is often used as a base for exploring the lake and the surrounding area. However, the town itself boasts a wealth of history, art and architecture.
The main sights include the Rocca Fortress (an ancient castle now housing the civic museum), the Palazzo Pretorio (a grand 14th century palace) and the Torre Apponale, a medieval clocktower.
There are many unique towns to visit along Italy’s largest lake, but the small town of Malcesine is one of the prettiest. Located on the north-eastern part of the lake, Malcesine is backdropped by the towering Monte Baldo and surrounded by lush vineyards. What’s more, it has stunning mountain views across this narrow stretch of the lake. While it’s one of the quieter Lake Garda towns to visit, there are plenty of things of things to see and do in Malcesine. As for getting there, that’s an easy drive from Veneto or Lombardy with a rental car. Public buses do run here but service is limited given its more remote location.
A great way to explore is by walking or biking the paved path that runs the entire length of the town. This will take you into the historic town where you can visit the Malcesine Castle (also known as Scaliger Castle), do some souvenir shopping or maybe a wine tasting at one of several enotecas.
One thing you should absolutely see is a bird’s eye view of Malcesine from the summit of Monte Baldo, and there’s a cable car station in the centre of town to buy tickets and catch the car. The ride up is worth the trip alone, but once you arrive at the top, you can buy lunch and some cold drinks, listen to live music, and enjoy the view. If you’re up for a bit of a hike, there are several trailheads you can pick up that wind all along the ridge top above Malcesine.
(Contributed by Lori Sorrentino of Travlinmad)
Limone Sul Garda
One of the prettiest – if not the prettiest – towns of Lake Garda is Limone sul Garda, located on the north-eastern shores of the lake. If you approach Limone by boat (for instance, from Malcesine or Sirmione) you will see the rocky cliffs rise up behind the village, making it picture-perfect.
You will find an abundance of flowers, narrow and winding streets, colourful houses, and small shops to fall in love with. Enjoy its promenade with its little harbour house and a large number of restaurants – there is no better way to watch people than from here.
If you prefer more action, you can cycle the Ciclopista del Garda which is a beautiful cycle lane around Limone sul Garda, offering fantastic views of the lake, And after visiting some museums, like the La Limonaia del Castel, spend some time at the beach. Limone may be a small village, but it is a perfect place to visit because it offers something for everyone.
(Contributed by Arzo Nayel of Arzo Travels)
Situated on the railway line between Milan and Venice, Peschiera is one of the best places on Lake Garda for history-lovers. Enjoy wandering the historic centre with its stone houses, canal and lakeside views. Explore the magnificent Venetian defences that are a part of one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Veneto region. Then there are shops, restaurants and the site of a Roman villa.
At the Museo della Pesca you can learn about the Pile Dwellings Around the Alps (another UNESCO site), and there are two of these ancient dwellings in the surrounding countryside (on Lake Frassino and at Belvedere). Peschiera is also at the centre of a wine-growing region and there are lots of opportunities for vineyard tours.