Best places around Lake Garda

Mara Noveni | Live the World

November 23, 2022

It is difficult to call Ga[rda ]( lake, since it is the largest Italian lake, and perhaps it would be right to consider it a sea in the mountains. At least, this is the feeling you get by looking at it. From its shores, in whatever direction you look, you can't see the border. Lake Garda bathes 3 Italian regions: Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino Alto Adige, offering totally different views, from snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, small villages to islands in the middle of the lake. Lake Garda is beautiful at any time of the year.

© iStock/xbrchx

Sirmione and its Scaliger Castle

The historic center of Si[rmione ]( considered one of the most romantic walks in Italy. The ancient walls, small alleys, cobblestones, and especially the castle that dominates the scenery create a fairytale atmosphere. It is a castle dating back to 1250, overlooking the lake. It's one of the best-preserved castles in Italy and can be visited. The castle is accessed via a drawbridge. The entrance to the castle is also the only way to enter the historic center of Sirmione. The inhabited village is full of shops, coffee-shops, and ice cream parlors.

The best way to explore? I highly recommend this 25 minute boat cruise around the Sirmione Peninsula. It's the best way to admire views of the harbour, the castle, all while being guided by a in-the-know capital. 

© iStock/fabiodinatale

Grotte di Catullo

The Grotte di Catullo are actually not caves, but the well-preserved remains of a "Domus Romana," a villa built in the 1st century AD. Today it is considered the most notable example of a Roman villa in northern Italy. The original structure had three floors and long terraces overlooking the lake. Today the villa is open to the public and houses a large olive grove with about 1500 trees and a museum with archaeological finds, from prehistory to the Middle Ages.

© iStock/Simona Sirio

Isola del Garda

Isola del Garda is also known as the Borghese Island. It is located about 200 meters from the coast and can be reached by boat. The island can be visited with a guided tour in the park and the Villa Ferrari, with its Venetian neogothic style. Already inhabited in Roman times, the island was a refuge for pirates for a long time. Later, it was an important ecclesiastical center, thanks to St. Francis of Assisi, who wanted a small hermitage to be built here.

© iStock/meseberg

Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda is located in Trentino and is one of the northernmost towns of Lake Garda. It is a very charming place. The water is cold and blue, the panorama is almost dolomitic, and silence reigns everywhere, as any motor navigation is prohibited in this part of the lake. The center of Riva del Garda is Piazza 3 Novembre, which hosts the Apponale Tower dating back to 1200, and the Palazzo Pretorio dating back to the 400s. The Chiesa dell' Inviolata, in a precious Baroque style, is also worth a visit.

© iStock/dav76

The Vittoriale degli Italiani

The Vittoriale degli Italiani is the place where the great poet Gabriele D’Annunzio is buried. It is a real citadel that he wanted and thus built. Here the poet decided to celebrate his literary, war, and patriotic endeavors. The Vittoriale includes the Prioria, a large museum house full of objects, a park with statues, ponds, and gardens, and an auditorium with about 200 seats. At the top of the hill stands the Mausoleum, which houses the poet's tomb and the Puglia Ship.

© iStock/Hermsdorf

Limone sul Garda

Limone Sul Garda is one of the oldest and best-preserved centers overlooking Lake Garda. The name of the town derives from the cultivation of citrus fruits on terraces, which, thanks to the temperate climate, grow luxuriantly. The most famous of them is the Limonaia del Castel, dating back to 1700. Do not miss a visit to the church of San Pietro in Oliveto, one of the oldest Romanesque churches in the area, with beautiful frescoes. We also recommend a visit to the church of San Rocco, dating back to the 14th century.

© iStock/xbrchx

Gardaland and the other theme parks

Lake Garda hosts many th[eme parks](, suitable for the whole family. First, there is Gardaland, the largest park in Italy, located in Castelnuovo del Garda. The other theme parks are Movieland, dedicated to the world of cinema, and Caneva Acqua Park, a huge water park, both located in Lazise Sul Garda. The Natura Viva park is situated in Pastrengo and is a zoo with more than 1500 animals from all over the world.

A local's tip: For the epic Gardaland, you can easily reserve Sea Life and Gardaland Park Skip-the-Line Ticket in advance (which trust me, it can be quite long to queue). You'll get full access to all attractions, activities, and themed areas on the same or on two consecutive days - without worrying about wait times. 

You can also do a 1.5-Hour Guided Winery Tour with Wine Tasting at a high-end wine estate to discover a more indulgent side of Lake Garda. This is where you'll get to learn about the history of wine and winemaking methods, and take part in an exceptional wine tasting with wines like Valpolicella Classic & Superior, and Amarone.

It must be said that, given the size of the lake and the presence of many villages overlooking it, it would be better to spend at least three days or a whole weekend visiting the lake and its surroundings. And don't miss a boat trip, to admire from the water the splendid views offered to the eyes. We have given only an indication of the best places around Lake Garda, so plan ahead and have a pleasant stay!

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