Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, located in between the provinces of Verona, Brescia and Trentino. Surrounded by mountains with a gorgeous Mediterranean climate, Lake Garda was a beautiful surprise to me!
When it was suggested a visit there and I started researching, I realized it was too beautiful to miss it and with only a few days to visit I knew a road trip would be the best option to make the most of all the little towns and villages.
GETTING TO LAKE GARDA
There a lot of options either you’re flying directly to Lake Garda or you’re coming from other city in Italy.
The nearest airports are Verona (approximately 15km) and Brescia (approximately 30Km), south of Lake Garda. Then you have other airports like Milan and Venice that probably have more flights each day (approximately 100km).
There a lot of train connections from other cities in Italy. You can check some of them here. For the southern part of the lake look for the stations of Desenzano and Peschiera del Garda and northern of the lake, Rovereto. Once in the stations you can easily get buses to other main locations.
There are several options of buses directly from the airport to Lake Garda and some of them stop in more than one location. Check some of the companies, here.
If you need further transport from some of these stops check these local buses timetables, here.
This was the option I decided when visiting and we rented straight from the airport. Driving around Lake Garda is the easiest option to go around the villages, on your time. Sometimes you may get lucky and park for free but in most towns we just thought it was safer to leave the car in paid car parks.
PREPARE YOUR ROAD TRIP
The road trip around Lake Garda has many things to offer as each village has something unique and different from the previous. You can go from the beach and ice creams to explore the ancient history of some very well preserved churches or even jump to a sport activity.
The important thing to do before is to make sure your car has all the appropriate insurances and plan how long you want to spend in each village so you can book your accommodation, as for example, during the summer a lot of them get fully booked.
It’s also not a bad idea have a car with a GPS if you can. I must say that Lake Garda was easy to drive around and lots of signs to guide you.
Have a look on the map and the villages around the lake and mark it as you like to visit.
I started over from Moniga del Garda where I was staying in a beautiful villa (book yours here) with a pool and I it was perfect to recharge before the road trip.
ROAD TRIP AROUND LAKE GARDA
I visited almost all towns and villages around Lake Garda during last summer which made everything even more beautiful. It’s a really relaxed environment and things in general around the lake are affordable.
Sirmione it’s a city that transports you to ancient times as soon as you arrive. Located on the south of the lake, the city centre it’s inside fortified walls with narrow streets and cute little houses.
As you walk along it’s hard to miss all the cosy restaurants, typical Italian and all the ice creams vendors!
There is lot of history around with some sites to see like the Roman Villa Grotte di Catullo, the church of S. Pietro and the impressive Scaliger Castle that dates back to the 13th century.
A popular place to see here it’s the Virgilio & Catullo Spa that brings people because of the thermal water and healing properties of its water.
RIVA DEL GARDA
The perfect town for sports like sailing, surfing or canoeing. All of this with a jaw dropping scenery of the intense blue water of the lakes surrounded by beautiful flowers and the mountains.
Garda is very charming with its colourful buildings and lots of little restaurants where you can stop for a traditional lunch watching the world go by. You can go for a swim during the summer in the clear crystal water from the lake.
Near Garda it’s the famous theme park, the Gardaland.
Malcesine is on the east side of Lake Garda where you can stroll around the beautiful medieval Palazzo dei Capitani little square.
It’s also the point of access to Mount Baldo. You can go up there by cableway and enjoy the breath taking views on the top and even ski during the winter.
PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
Peschiera has a really relax environment and I remember having lunch there in a little bay near the river just thinking how lucky I was to be there.
It’s also enjoyable to walk around the large streets and check out the Sanctuary of Madonna del Frassino from the 16th century.
LIMONE SUL GARDA
This picturesque town with the beautiful mountains in the background it’s the perfect place to sit and contemplate nature.
Go for a swim if you can! Don’t forget to go for a walk around the town to see the typical lemons, common for this area and the fishing port.
DESENZANO DEL GARDA
Walking around Malvezzi Square is one of the highlights of this town. You quickly realize why: the charming little harbour surrounded by quirky restaurants will want to make you stay there a whole afternoon enjoying the marvelous food served there.
If you have time check out the panoramic views from S. Martino della Battaglia tower.
MONIGA DEL GARDA
During the first days in Lake Garda I stayed in a villa in Moniga del Garda and was able to soak up the atmosphere in the area.
This little town does not disappoint if you’re looking to spend a couple of days in the same place. It’s sunny and you can easily go for a swim as the waters are really nice.
THE BEST THINGS TO DO
Lake Garda has a lot to offer when it comes to activities and things to do. You can easily spend two weeks there always doing something different.
The most obvious are soaking up the sun and swimming in the clear waters of the lake. Then you have all the water associated activities like sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, canyoning and even diving. For the most adventurers it’s possible to do paragliding from Monte Baldo or mountain bike trails.
There are numerous excursions around if you don’t want to venture on your own and ferries you can take from town to town if you want to avoid driving or taking the buses. Check out the timetables here.
Alternatively you have a lot of theme parks to spend some days of fun. Gardaland, Movie Land Studios or Medieval Times are just some of the options.
EAT AND DRINK
The region of Lake Garda is known for their delicious local cuisine and wine.
There are two typical products that you will want to bring home. The olive oil which is known to be very light and the Italian lemon liqueur, the limoncello.
On top of that if you have a lot of the traditional Italian dishes everywhere and a lot of dishes with sardines.
Lake Garda it’a a place where I would go back easily for a relaxing time with my family. You can spend some really calm holidays as there are a lot of villas to rent everywhere making it more private for a group of people like friends or families.
The beauty of the villages and towns are different from other areas in Italy with most of them still preserving very well their ancient buildings, churches and streets.
There is a lot to see and you can be guaranteed some unforgettable memories!
Have you been to Lake Garda or have plans to visit? Let me know what was your favourite town!