Located in Northern Italy between Venice and Milan, Garda - the largest lake in Italy - is a holiday destination known to delight travellers from all over. Those wanting to experience Italy's natural beauty in a picturesque, luxurious area, while still having the conveniently furnishings and amenities of a typical tourist resort will be more than happy here.
With a rare combination of breathtaking mountain ranges, gorgeous lake vistas and a plethora of top-notch restaurants, Lake Garda holidays are a wonderfully charming place to kick back and relax. From the vibrant lemon groves to the lush green hilltops, there is a scenic delight waiting at every turn. The life here moves leisurely, with the saying ‘dolce far niente’ – the sweet idleness of life – being the local’s motto. The most you’ll need to worry about are cable cars and ferry timetables!
Tourists spending their 2019 / 2020 holidays near Lake Garda will find it conveniently well-connected to Italy's main cities. But there's no need to travel far for a chance to take in the beauty of medieval towns, historical sites, and natural attractions. Towns like Sirmione, once the residence of the Roman poet Catullus, offer views of architectural and historical interest, like the Scaglier Castle and natural beauties like the Grotte di Catullo, alongside the modern comforts of restaurants, hotels, markets, boutiques, and fashion stores.
And for a day of children-friendly fun and adventure, you'll only have to go as far as Gardaland, Italy's most famous theme park!
At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 2h 30m
When to go
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With a perfect breeze blowing perpetually across its surface, sailing is one of the top things to do in Lake Garda. Quick, crafty dinghies and stately yachts set sail from shore to horizon, and with over 50km to travel from north to south, it’s one of the prettiest ways to discover this region of Italy.
The area is also situated within easy reach of the major North Italian cities, so if you feel like leaving the vicinities of your hotel, there is plenty to do. In Desenzano del Garda, the lake's largest and most active town, the crowd is composed by shoppers, gourmands taking their evening promenade through bars and ice-cream places, locals in search of an active nightlife, and tourists looking to find a boat ride. From its castle, the town offers a scenic view of the entire lake.
Sirmione is the place to head off to if you're in search of archaeological sites. Dating back to the 16th-century B.C., Sirmione is home to a 15th century castle, to the residence of Maria Callas, to the church of San Pietro in Mavino, and to natural beauties like the Grotte di Catullo.
On the south-east side of the lake lies Lazise, which, with its narrow streets, medieval atmosphere, and countless shops, bars, and restaurants, has proven to be a favourite destination among tourists.
Wine enthusiasts spending their 2018 holidays in Italy should make sure to check out Bardolino. Already famous for its wine during the Roman era, Bardolino hosts two annual wine festivals where visitors can sample local wines and admire the fireworks! Away from Bardolino's main square lies a landscape of vineyards, valleys and olive groves ideals for cyclists and walkers.
And if you are in pursuit of active sports you should make sure to check out Riva del Garda. Its high mountains, hills, and lakes make it a favourite of adventurers and rock-climbers, while tourists looking for more leisurely activities can indulge in a simple stroll along the lakeside.
Lake Garda guarantees exquisite meals and fine wines in an unforgettable setting. For a five course menu in a sophisticated venue, hop off to Le Gemme di Artemisia. Ideal for intimate lunches and refined ceremonies, Le Gemme di Artemisia specialises in fresh fish and fine wines, with meat available upon request.
For more charming venues, take a stroll along the Desenzano lakeside and reach the Esplanade. This romantic restaurant offers a wide variety of refined dishes, its own garden, and a terrace overlooking the lake.
Osteria del Pescatore offers a cosier ambience, Italian cuisine, and fresh food. Fish is caught daily by the staff itself, and there is no set menu since the cuisine depends on the daily catch.
Finally, for a Michelin restaurant, head off to La Veranda del Color. Part of the Color Hotel, La Veranda reserves a special eye for design and presentation. The choice is between Italian dishes and more sophisticated courses, with gluten-free options available upon request.
Families visiting Garda during their 2018 holidays will find the lake the perfect place for both relaxation and adventure. Sightseeing and market shopping can be combined with excursions down mountains and hills, boat rides, and sun-bathing.
But be sure not to leave Garda without a visit to Gardaland! Known as the third best theme park in Europe, Gardaland offers a variety of rides, tours, and thrills sure to amuse both children and adult. Only here you'll have the chance to take a 16-meter dive inside the Atlantis ride, descend wild rapids, jump on a rubber dinghy and dive down dizzying heights!
Action & Adventure
To travellers seeking to turn their 2018 holidays into an outdoors adventure, Garda offers a wealth of natural and archaeological sites worthy of exploration. The Grotte di Catullo, once the residence of a wealthy Roman family, are now a site of historic interest. Visitors can take a stroll through the ruin of the villa's ancient frescos and mosaics, walk beneath arches dating back to the 1st century, and take in roman relics, ceramics and coins.
Windsurfers, kite-boarders and sailing enthusiasts will want to head off to the north side of the lake. The winds that blow through the town of Torbole have made it a well-known spot of interest among sports-lovers.
Finally, should you want a shot of extreme adrenaline, book a canyoning tour! The tour includes a wealth of different activities, and expert guides will help you climb your way up mountains, dive down rivers, and trail the Via Ferrata of the lake.
People wanting a unique beach experience from their 2018 holidays will not be disappointed by Garda. Most of the beaches here are made of pebble, but tourists wanting a stretch of fine sand will have to venture no further than Lazise.
Sirmione's beach is a favourite among tourists. Its blue-green waters are the clearest around the lake, its pebbly shore is the ideal spot for encountering swans, and its large expanses of uncrowded space make it a perfect spot for families with children.
At the Strand Cola both sun-bathers and sports-lovers will be entertained: the beach's vegetation allows visitors to relax on sunbeds and deck chairs while the wide varieties of boats for rental will be sure to entertain active sports-lovers!
Nightlife at Lake Garda kicks off with an aperitif and a cocktail, buffet and wine.
At the Classic Rock Beach Café visitors are welcomed to use the private beach with its volleyball court, tennis court, deck chairs, and umbrellas both night and day. The bar offers local wines, beers, live sports and television—with classic rock and pizzas available on Friday and Sunday
The Hollywood Dance Club, in Bardolino, offers live music, techno music, and international DJs in one of the more sophisticated discos around the Lake. The club offers aperitifs and dinners, as well as all-night dancing. Inside its garden, a pool surrounded by palm trees and a restaurant make The Hollywood Dance Club one of the classier disco choices around the lake.
Considering the lake's natural beauty and romantic scenery it is not surprising that Lake Garda is often the chosen location for weddings and engagements. Couples spending their holidays at the lake will be delighted by the many sights the towns offer—from picturesque antique markets to the magnificent Arboreto di Arco, to the breath-taking views of the Valvestino Lake. The lake's relaxing atmosphere, romantic scenery, and privacy make it an ideal choice for lovers of every age.
And if you're traveling to Garda with your partner, make sure not to skip a lunch at Gemme di Artemisia! After an intimate lunch, you'll have the chance to book a cooking session specifically tailored to your level of expertise, and then end the day with a food and wine tour that includes visits to the Valpolicella and Amarone wine estates.
Garda offers a unique insight into Italy's history. Don’t skip a visit to Sirmione! Renowned for its thermal centre just as much as it is for its historical heritage, Sirmione's ancient Roman villa is one of the main sites of interest of locals and tourists alike, along with the Scaglieri castle and the church of San Pietro in Mavinas. Sirmione's Archeological Museum exhibits artefacts and fragments dating back to prehistoric times, as more recent works dating to the Roman period and the Middle Ages.
Head towards Desenzano Castle, this amazing building was responsible for defending the town from barbarian invasions throughout the centuries. Visitors are allowed to climb up the tower's entrance and take in a stunning view of the lake.
To take in one of the most characteristic sights around the lake head off to Arco Castle. Sitting on a high spur above the Sarca valley, it is reachable through three different paths all leading through hills and olive groves.