Things to do in Lake Garda: Attractions and places to visit

Lago di Garda dal Monte Baldo (Siegfried Rabanser)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake and a popular tourist destination. The Lago di Garda, as it is called in Italian, is located in Northern Italy. It lies between the Alps and the southern Po Valley. The northern shore of the lake is framed by the mountains of Lake Garda. These include two thousand metre peaks such as Monte Baldo.

In the lake there are 5 islands, the largest of which is the Isola del Garda. The island of San Biagio is also a popular excursion destination. The places around Lake Garda, such as the mountain village of Bagolino or the city of Verona, contribute to a varied holiday with their attractions.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights at Lake Garda.

Riva del Garda am Gardasee (vencav / stock.adobe.com)  lizenziertes Stockfoto 
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Torbole (David Schiersner)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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Hafenhäuschen (David Schiersner)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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1. Villa Borghese (Isola del Garda)

The villa, built in Venetian style, is located on the Isola del Garda. It is surrounded by lush, colourful gardens, which gave the island the nickname “Mainau am Gardasee”. The villa is one of the most beautiful sights on Lake Garda and one of the most visited places.

During a guided tour you can visit exotic plants such as palms, magnolias, orange and lemon trees as well as some of the magnificent rooms of the villa. The boat trip, which is offered by various towns on Lake Garda, is part of the island’s itinerary. A tour lasts about 2 hours.

2. Old town stroll in Sirmione

The old town of Sirmione is characterised by narrow streets and quiet squares. Cafés, restaurants, antique shops and boutiques attract many visitors. One of the sights is the Rocca Scaligero from the 13th century. The castle is situated on the shore of Lake Garda.

With its ring walls it shields the city from the mainland. Only over the drawbridge can visitors reach the interior of the fortress via the moats. The towers of the castle do not only offer a view of the harbour of the small town. Lake Garda can also be seen from here.

3. Leisure park Gardaland

In the Garda Lake municipality of Castelnuovo del Garda, the Gardaland theme park was opened in 1975. Since then it has been one of the most popular sights on Lake Garda and is visited by up to 3 million visitors annually. The park is divided into different theme areas and offers numerous rides.

These include roller coasters, freefall towers as well as whitewater and ghost coasters. But there are also carousels for small children. In addition, various shows are offered several times a day. Circus performances with acrobatics can be experienced as well as musical shows with dancers and singers. Light and laser shows and weekly fireworks complete the attractions of the park.

4. Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium

Since 2008 there is also the Sea Life Aquarium in Caselnuovo del Garda. The natural habitats of sea dwellers from the freshwater and saltwater zones were recreated in 40 theme-related water basins. The aquarium is home to about 100 different species. They include sea lions, clown fish and starfish.

Visitors can go on a dive of a special kind in a transparent tunnel. Imposing rays and colourful tropical fish swim directly past you. The feeding of the sharks is a special highlight. An interactive tank and documentaries complete the aquarium’s offer.

5. Mountain village Bagolino

The Italian municipality of Bagolino is located about 60 kilometres northwest of Lake Garda. It lies at an altitude of about 780 meters. The townscape is characterised by farms and houses that support each other. Architectural elements such as arcades, terraces, underpasses, balconies and wrought-iron grilles complete the architectural ensemble. Wall frescoes with mostly religious motifs and sacred buildings are among the sights of Bagolino.

The parish church of San Giorgio can already be seen from a distance. The cathedral in the mountains, as it is also called, is enthroned on a hill above the upper part of the village. The church dates back to 1636 and the mountain village is also known for its carnival season, which is celebrated with processions lasting several days and folkloric dances.

6. Botanical Garden Gardone

The Gardone Botanical Garden is open to the public from March to October. It is located in the municipality of Gardone Riviera and has a size of about 1.5 hectares. Its beginnings go back to the years between 1910 and 1914. During this time, his founder created the core of the garden from a vineyard and an olive grove.

In the course of time many other exotic plants were added and made the place an important sight at Lake Garda. The garden is now home to more than 2,000 plant species. In addition, small streams were created. They eventually developed into a real network of lakes and ponds.

7. Excursion to Monte Baldo

The ridge of Monte Baldo belongs to the mountains of Lake Garda. He’s more than 2,200 meters tall. From Malcesine the cable car “Funivia Malcesine – Monte Baldo” leads to the mountain station. The journey takes about 8 minutes. This is where downhill riders and paragliders prefer to start their tours.

But also hikers and visitors who simply want to enjoy the wonderful panoramic view over Lake Garda will get their money’s worth. Both at the middle station (1,187 metres above sea level) and at the top station (1,760 metres above sea level) of the cable car there are restaurants inviting you to linger.

8. Cascate del Varone (Waterfall)

The Varone waterfall is located in the town of Tenno. It has a height of about 100 meters and springs from the river Magnone. It is fed by Lake Tennosee and flows below the Ravizze valley to Lake Garda. The waterfall was opened to the public in 1874.

Since then it has been a must for most tourists and one of the natural attractions in the Lake Garda region. Renowned visitors such as Emperor Franz Joseph I, Thomas Mann or Franz Kafka already attended this natural spectacle. Especially in early summer the water level is the most impressive.

9. Sightseeing and shopping in Verona

The historic city on the Adige River has many sights to offer. The old town of Verona has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Verona is world-famous as the location of the Shakespeare tragedy “Romeo and Juliet”. The Casa di Giulietta with its balcony is a popular photo object. There are also several churches, the Castelveccio Castle and a Roman amphitheatre.

In this arena the famous opera festivals take place during the summer months. But a visit to Verona is also suitable for a varied shopping tour. In addition to elegant luxury shops, there are modern shopping centres, antique shops and lively street markets.

10. Riovalli Water Park

In the southeast of Lake Garda, in the village of Cavaion Veronese, there is the Parco Acquatico Riovalli. Among the main attractions of this outdoor pool are several breathtaking water slides. In addition to a large swimming pool, there is also an extensive non-swimmer area.

In the Laguna Bimbi the little ones can let off steam in the cool water. A children’s playground and a large lawn for sunbathing complete the offer of the swimming pool. A pizzeria and a snack bar provide for the physical well-being of the guests.

More things to do and activities for your Lake Garda holiday

Best time to visit Lake Garda

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Lake Garda:

May, June, July, August, and September

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Lake Garda.

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