The most beautiful villages of Lake Garda, Italy

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy

In the outskirts of Lombardy, just 1.5 hours from Milan, you can find one of the most beautiful natural attractions of Italy – Lake Garda. The blue waters of the lake are surrounded by the lush greenery of Italian nature and the mighty slopes of the Alpine Mountains.

Garda is the biggest lake of the country with 52 km length and 17 km width, and the water surface area – 370 km2 . The lake and the surrounding area is an ideal place for recreation, both in summer and autumn. The mild and warm climate, luxurious views and many options for leisure activities.

Geographic features.

Map-Lake of Garda in Italy

The shape of the lake, when viewed from the sky, resembles that of a Neanderthal axe. The body of water has a distinctly long, narrow “shaft” with a wide “tip” at the end. In times immemorial, glaciers descending from the peaks of the Alps gave the valley such an interesting shape. The Garda is fed by the Aril River, as well as by powerful deep springs. At its deepest point the bottom of the lake is almost 350 meters from the water surface. The unique microclimate is created by the jagged ridge of the Alpine mountains. It looks like a warm scarf, tied by the caring Mother Nature, around the picturesque length. The imposing height of the peaks, reaching into the sky for a kilometer, or even as much as two, ensures excellent windless weather in the lake region.

Where to stay

At Lake Garda you can find accommodation for all budgets. The cost of a night in an inexpensive hotel or camping starts from 50 euros per night. The average cost of a 3 or 4-star hotel is in the range from 100 to 120 euros per night.

See my picks for tips:

The name of the lake.

Such a beautiful corner of Italy at one time was very fond of the viceroys of the Roman Empire. They loved to spend their time on the shores of Benaco (lat. Benacus lacus) – “blessed lake”. Later it received the Italian name Garda. There are two versions of the name “Garda”. According to one of them, the word came from a distortion of the German “Warda”, which translated meant “watch post”. The other is that the lake was named after a town near it in the Veneto region.

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Nature and scenery

Lake Garda Italy

On the map of Italy, Lake Garda connects three neighboring regions: Veneto, Lombardia and Trentino-Alto Adige. The eastern shore of the lake, which falls on Verona, has a second name – the Riviera of Olives . The gentle Mediterranean type of climate allows for the cultivation of olive trees in the valley. The Lombardy part of the lake was named the Riviera of Lemons . Enterprising Italians have arranged on the gentle slope of the mountains lemon gardens in the form of stepped terraces. The region is famous for its winemaking, cuisine and olive oil production. The entire perimeter of the lake is surrounded by a dozen small towns, which are simply bathed in the fragrance of nature and the golden rays of the sun. The clear waters of Garda flow smoothly into the jagged line of the mountain landscape. The terracotta roofs of the houses are buried in the lush greenery of vineyards, fruit orchards and natural groves. The lake valley is filled with incredible colors when the grasses and trees are in bloom. The cocktail of the purest mountain air and divine fragrance of flowers tones you up and makes you feel a little bit dizzy!

Great European writers and artists have been regular visitors to this wonderful place. Such names as Johann Goethe, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce were listed in the registers of inns by Lake Garda. And David Herbert Lawrence mentioned in his memoirs that Lake Garda is as beautiful as the source of creation.

Attractions

Sirmione

Sirmione-Lake Garda Italy

The town of Sirmione (Italian: Sirmione), nestled on the western shore of the lake, is a center of tourism. Initially modest in size (population 6,000) the city has grown as the region has become popular with tourists. Sirmione is home to several interesting sights and healing thermal springs.

The huge fort that protects the city from the lake is the most imposing structure in Sirmione. Its name, Scaliger’s Castle, gives off an unwavering will and the thunder of discharging guns. The fort was built in the 13th century and served to guard the port. The crenellated walls guarding the castle are made of gray stone.

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Castle-Scaliger-Sirmione-Lake Garda

Previously, the only entrance to the interior was a drawbridge. In modern times, the veteran bridge has surrendered its powers to its stationary counterpart. The impregnable walls of the castle hide a museum dedicated to the history of the city and the fort. Other city harbor, equipped with so dense protection in Italy, not to be found. Scaliger Castle looks especially interesting at night, lit by lanterns.

Grotto of Catullus

Grotto-Catulla

The remains of the manor of Roman Gaius Valerius Catullus are known to the modern vacationers as the Grotte Catullo. The poet who glorified the greatness of the Roman Empire lived in the I century BC. Picturesque views of the mountains and the lake valley nourished his muse. Thanks to this, Catullus built his villa on the shore of what was then Lake Benacca. The ruins of the once luxurious house were rediscovered only in the 15th century. At that time they were badly cleared and were water grottos.

The manor house is adjoined by a large park filled with olive trees and time-darkened fragments of a large villa. A walk through such scenery is akin to a short walk back in time.

Boiola Healing Spring

Healing Spring-Boyola-Therms-Sirmione

The Boiola curing spring (Fonte Boiola) is famous for its waters that cure a host of ailments. Bubbling streams of water rich in iodine, sulfur and bromine gush out of the ground at 70° C!

The treatment in the thermal baths of Boiola helps people to get rid of skin diseases, relieve rheumatism and chronic inflammations of the ear. However, the thermal spring located on the territory of Hotel Fonte Boiola invites quite healthy and satisfied travelers. A complex of SPA procedures, as well as extremely useful for maintaining health and beauty, will satisfy the wishes of even the most fastidious client.

Salò, another Lombardy town, is famous for its large variety of water activities. A historical attraction is the villa complex, which hosted members of the government of the Italian Social Republic as well as the Duce Mussolini personally (1942-43).

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Desenzano del Garda

The town of Desenzano del Garda (Italian Desenzano del Garda) fascinates with its views of the lake. You can stroll through the streets of the town and admire the smooth, mirror-like waters of Garda without endless hours.

Desenzano del Garda

For art lovers, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Magdalena is a must-see. Desenzano del Garda has an excellent tourist infrastructure. You can go sailing, surfing and scuba diving. And when night falls on the city, young and energetic people will find something to do, numerous clubs and discos hospitably open their doors.

  • See a review of the best hotels in Desenzano del Garda

Limone sul Garda

Limone-sul-Garda

A small town with the citrusy name of Limone sul Garda (Italian Limone sul Garda) also belongs to the Lemon Riviera. The western shore of Lake Garda is the northernmost point where citrus trees bear fruit and mature. The residents are big fans of the fruit they produce. Could this be the reason for their record longevity? The small town is not subject to hustle and bustle and offers its visitors delicious home-cooked meals, leisurely walks, and an almost rustic pastoral. Limone sul Garda is perfect for families, especially those traveling with children.

Malcesine

Malcesine-Wedding-Castle-Scaligers

On the eastern shore of the lake is a town Malcesine (Italian – Malcesine). It is not only amazingly beautiful, but also closely connected with the life of German poet Johann Goethe. Travelers can visit the city’s museums, climb to the top of Mount Baldo with the help of a cable car. In the evenings, from the hilly area Malcesine offers a beautiful view of the Scaliger Castle, where weddings often take place. By the way, the air currents that run down the slopes of the mountains, allow fans of windsurfing and parachuting to develop perfectly.

Gardone Riviera

Gardone-Riviera

Gardone Riviera is a sort of luxurious holiday destination in the valley of Lake Garda. Luxurious villas, fragrant nature, a huge botanical garden named after Andre Heller, create an indescribable atmosphere. At the time of the tsarist Russia, the rich and powerful often visited this resort.

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Bardolino

The town of Bardolino is full of greenery. It is located on fertile land, the land favored by noble Italians for centuries. There are many villas and palaces dotting the landscape. In the city itself it is worth visiting the church dedicated to the patron saint – Nicholas the Wonderworker. Another trademark of Bardolino is red wine, the taste of which has delighted visitors for centuries.

Hotels in Bardolino on Lake Garda

Arco Castle

Castle-Arco-Lake Garda

Another historical curiosity of Lake Garda is the Castle of Arco (Castello di Arco). According to some information, the castle was built around 1000 AD. The high towers of the structure, towering like candles on a steep mountainside in the region of Trentino. Built by wealthy inhabitants of the province, Arco castle has been in the hands of many noble families, including the Scaligers. Careful restoration of this ancient fortress allowed to put in order numerous frescoes dating back to the Middle Ages.

Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda Ducks

The main attraction of the town of Riva del Garda are the ducks, which can be rightly called the true masters of the local beaches. The beaches themselves are a lawn with a very narrow strip of pebbles. This place is ideal for a measured relaxing family vacation with children.

  • You will need a review of the best hotels in Riva del Garda

Excursions in Russian

At Lake Garda, its author’s excursion along the Lemon or Olive Riviera, conducts a guide from the team ITALY FOR ME – Olga Mursyaeva. Depending on the program chosen by tourists, an individual tour of 8 hours includes a tasting of local wines or a visit to a cheese factory. We recommend!

How to get to Lake Garda

The closest airports to Lake Garda are in Milan Malpensa and Bergamo, Venice – Marco Polo and Treviso, Verona – Valerio Catullo Villafranca

Train stations are in the towns of Peschiera del Garda or Desenzano del Garda, located on the shores of the lake.

From Milan

Regional and high-speed trains depart several times an hour from Milano Centrale to Desenzano station. The Frecciarossa high-speed train takes only 51 minutes, and the ticket costs 26 euros. The regional train takes about an hour and a half and will cost you 9.20 euros.

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Train schedule from Milan to Lake Garda

Also, three times a day in the direction of Desenzano from Milan runs the best trains in Italy – Italotreno. If you take care of the tickets in advance, you can get there for only 9.90 euros.

Italotreno train schedule from Milan to Lake Garda

  • See detailed instructions: How to get to Garda from Milan

From Treviso or Trieste

Treviso is a little closer to the lake. A rental car takes a couple of hours to reach Garda. And if you’re coming from Trieste, the drive should take about three hours.

From Verona

If you choose the point of departure of Verona, you can comfortably travel by train to the south shore of Garda to the town of Desenzano del Garda. Passengers will be able to take the regional train at Verona Central Station. The train will be in transit for 15-20 minutes and the cost of the ticket is up to 4 euros.

  • See instructions: How to get from Verona to Sirmione

To the north of the lake

To the north of the lake, for example in Riva del Garda, you can get from Rovereto by bus. The railway station of Rovereto is connected to Rome, Verona, Florence, Bologna and Milan by high-speed trains.

Cab from Verona to Sirmione to Lake Garda

Also Verona and the Garda coast are connected by bus. Routes number 162 and 163 will go along the winding serpentine for about 45-50 minutes. In doing so, passengers will be able to admire the views and get off at one of the stations: Bardolino, Garda, Lacise, Malcesine, Riva del Garda. This concludes our little stroll along the shores of Lake Garda.

We hasten to assure you that this is far from all the charms of the mountain valley. Believe me, the beauty of the Italian Alps and tender tenderness of the Gardian coast is impossible to describe in words. The cheerfulness of this hospitable region has to be experienced!

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