Lake Garda revisited: my experience
Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) is one of the largest lakes in Northern Italy and is worth hitting up for a day or two or even longer. Located between Milan and Venice with Verona being the nearest largest city, this lake has everything from mountains, a lake (of course), beautiful towns, ancient buildings, water-sports, hiking trails, cycling routes, you name it, this lake is the weekend get away for locals and tourists. I was lucky to spend two full days here whilst based in nearby Verona as the city has a good railway line to Peschiera del Garda and Desenzano del Garda and bus routes to the north of the lake. The lake is located in three of Italy’s regions The western and south-western side of the lake is in the Lombardy region, the eastern and south-eastern side is in Veneto and the northern tip of the lake is in Trentino.
I was fortunate to come here during the Spring and before tourist season really hots up so walking around the small pretty towns was an ease, no crowds and eating in restaurants was fantastic as the food was prepared very quickly and into my tummy within minutes. This is my guide on the places which I hit up which I hope will help you in your planning for a trip to the lake.
A lot of visitors stay here as Sirmione is the top place to visit. It has everything, shops, restaurants, gelato stalls, charming streets and a beach. Here is the best spot to check out the sunset over the lake. The top place to visit is Scaligero Castle and is one of Italy’s best-preserved castles. Nearby at the top of the narrow strip of land which Sirmione is located on is the archaeological site of Grotte di Catullo. These ruins are named after the most famous Roman poet, Catullus. The ruins are of a Roman Villa and there are plenty of olive trees around here. My favourite thing to do here is to check out the gorgeous view over the lake. Sirmione is also a great place to get a boat to other towns along the lakeshore.
Riva del Garda
At the northern end of the lake is the small, quiet town of Riva del Garda and to be honest, this is where a lot of people do windsurfing. There is a different feel to this town compared to the towns on the southern side of the lake, a more Germanic feel as the town used to be part of Austria. There are a few churches and a clock tower in the square but my favourite thing to do here in my short time was to do a lake shore walk and take in the overlooking mountains.
Located on the eastern side of the lake, I loved walking around the cobbled streets and having gelato here. There are a lot of flowering trees here and I just love the colourful facades of the buildings. The top things to do here as well as anything to do with the lake, is to check out Castello Scaligero which is a beautiful castle perched over the lake. The town itself is overlooked by one of the highest mountains in the area, Monte Baldo, to which visitors can take the cable car near the town to the summit (unfortunately only open in tourist season).
Desenzano del Garda
Located on the South Western side of the lake, this town is pretty, it’s worth having a walk around and in the hot summer months, have a snooze on one of the three beaches here. I found plenty of restaurants and noticed that this is the town for nightlife. I also thought (as well as Sirmione), the town is the best place to get a view of the Italian Alps.
Peschiera del Garda
On the South Eastern side of the lake is Peschiera and is very similar to Desenzano. As well as restaurants and being the main gateway to visitors who are coming in from Verona and Venice, all I remember is the Braccobaido beach which is a pebble beach. This town is very quiet compared to the others but still worth a wander around.
As mentioned, I only had two days by the lake but I am planning another visit to this region of Italy very soon so hopefully I get to see some more beauty of Lago di Garda. A lot of Europeans do stay here in hotels and villas and use this as a base to visit most of the settlements around the lake and take part in leisure activities. However, the lake is near other cities of interest and within an hour or two’s drive, Milano, Brescia, Bergamo, Verona, Venice and Trento. Me personally, I come here for the outdoor activities and do a lot of hiking in the mountains so I am pretty sure I will be back soon. Have you been to Lago di Garda? If so, I would love to see your suggestions or take some advice.