Lake Garda: what’s it like?

“Mountain landscapes, vineyard-covered countryside and an abundance of picture-perfect villages”

It’s easy to see why Lake Garda is the most popular of the Italian Lakes…

  • Lake Garda: what’s it like?

    Mountain landscapes, vineyard-covered countryside and an abundance of picture-perfect villages. It’s easy to see why Lake Garda is the most popular of the Italian Lakes.

    Right in the heart of northern Italy, Lake Garda lies between Milan and Venice. A rich yet turbulent history has left behind ancient castles, towering above medieval harbours and charming villages. The dramatic mountainous backdrop in the north gives way to rolling hills in the south.

    Each of Garda’s lakeside towns is full of culture and history. Four Scaligeri castles sit proudly on the shores – dating back to the Scaliger Lords of Verona in the 13th and 14th century, these fortifications stand prominently in support of the Roman Empire. Ornate churches and bell towers take centre stage in peaceful piazzas, alongside winding cobbled streets lined with restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours.


    Malcesine Castle, Lake Garda

    Rocky outcrops, hillside villages and harbour towns line the narrower, northern end of Lake Garda. There are ample opportunities for exploring, whether on a walk in the hills above Malcesine or simply a stroll along the promenade of Limone. Known for its breezier climate, Torbole is a favourite for watersports – and even if you’re not taking part, you can spend hours watching from the lakefront with an ice cream or spritz. Historically under Austrian rule, architectural reminders of the centuries-old invasion threats appear in the most northerly towns of Riva and Torbole and are great for exploring.


    Punta San Vigilio, Lake Garda

    The other end of Lake Garda is much flatter and wider, with the Sirmione peninsula protruding from the southern shore. Known for its mild Mediterranean climate, an array of olive trees and lemon groves flourish here. Vineyards also surround Bardolino and Lazise, producing a collection of world-renowned wines. The pebble beaches of Desenzano and Garda town slide into the clear waters and provide a relaxed setting for a day of soaking up the sun. The charming harbour of Peschiera, fortress walls of Torri del Benaco and surrounding castles stand in honour to the Veronese and Venetian rulers, offering lots of opportunities to wander, admire and learn.

    Sirmione, Lake Garda


    Slip into the relaxed way of life and wander along by the water. Many towns around Lake Garda have a flat lakefront walkway, with the promenade between Garda town, Bardolino and Lazise being one of the longest. The surrounding hills and mountains are great for a more active hike with panoramic lake views. In the early evening, join the tradition of passeggiata – part of the lakeside culture, and a great way to build up an appetite before dinner, it’s almost a ritual to take a gentle stroll around town as the sun sets.

    Lazise Harbour

    Experience the north of Lake Garda in all its glory, with a stay at the Hotel Splendid Palace, Limone or the Hotel Savoy Palace, Riva. If you prefer the idea of relaxing on the southern shores, Hotel Eden, Garda or the Hotel Caesius Thermae & Spa, Bardolino could be just what you need.

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Author: Ben Dent