How to get around Lake Garda

“Boats, bikes and buses”

There are so many ways to explore Lake Garda…

  • How to get around Lake Garda

    Whether you use boats, bikes, buses or your own two feet, there are plenty of ways to get around Italy’s biggest lake. And its location in northern Italy means it’s also a great base from which to visit some of Europe’s best cities, like Venice and Verona. Here’s a quick guide on the best ways to explore Lake Garda and its surroundings…

    On the lake

    There are so many amazing boat trips on Lake Garda. Passenger ferries are a popular way to get around, and make it easy to visit lots of different towns during your holiday. Many of the journeys take less than an hour so you can hop between towns like Malcesine and Limone in the north, or Garda, Lazise and Bardolino in the south – you might even find a base for your next stay.

    You can also spend a few hours travelling the whole length of the lake, from northern Riva to southern Sirmione, soaking up views of the sparkling water and soaring mountains along the way. Or for a really special experience, book a trip from Bardolino on the San Nicolò, a traditional wooden yacht that’s been sailing Lake Garda’s waters since 1925.

    Aerial view of Garda and Lake Garda

    If you fancy taking a turn as captain, you can rent a motor boat from most towns around the south of the lake, including Bardolino, Peschiera and Garda itself (private boats aren’t allowed north of Malcesine). If the engine’s small enough, you won’t need a special licence to drive it, and the rental company will kit you out with life vests and show you how to work the controls. Then it’s off to explore at your own pace, chugging between towns or just enjoying the scenery.

    Aerial view of Bardolino on Lake Garda

    On the road

    Prefer to stay on dry land? Roads run the whole 150km around Lake Garda and the public buses are cheap and regular – so sit back and enjoy the views.

    Separate services run along each coast. On the eastern side, you’ll drive past rolling hills and vineyards around Bardolino, and up to medieval towns and castles around Malcesine and Torbole. And the western shore is home to one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world – the Strada della Forra, which has starred in plenty of car adverts and was even the site of the car chase in the 007 film, Quantum of Solace. It winds around hairpin bends and through tunnels cut right into the mountains, several hundred metres above the lake. To see it for yourself, you can take the bus from Limone to Tremosine and then on to Gargnano.

    Road near Riva on Lake Garda

    On the lakeside promenades

    No holiday to Lake Garda would be complete without taking a stroll along a lakefront promenade. Most towns have one, and there’s no better way to unwind than walking along the path, feeling the breeze off the water and stopping in pavement cafés along the way for an ice cream or spritz. The stretch between Garda, Bardolino and Lazise is the longest on the lake – a flat 8km route that’s a beautiful walk from end to end. In the evenings, you can join the locals on the lakefront for a passeggiata, the traditional pre-dinner walk.

    If you’re up for something a little more active, swap two feet for two wheels and cycle along the promenades instead. You can hire a bike from most hotels around here.

    Cycling on Lake Garda

    Beyond the lake

    From Peschiera, you can catch a train to some of Italy’s most famous cities in under two hours – so you can spend the day falling in love with the sights of Verona or diving into the history and glamour of Milan.

    Or let us show you the best bits by booking an experience with TUI. Choose a guided tour of the islands and canals in Venice, wander around one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe, Sigurtà Park, or head up into the Dolomite mountains to see outstanding scenery and get a taste of local Trentino produce like cheese, honey and grappa.

    Aerial view of Verona

    See it all for yourself on your next holiday to Lake Garda, and take a look at our ultimate guide to learn more about the lake.

    Pssst. Head to the Discover homepage for our latest articles.

Author: Courtney Sparham