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Top things to do in Lake Garda

See all 21 things to do in Lake Garda

Things to Do in Lake Garda

Lake Garda is Italy's largest lake, nestled between the cities of Brescia and Verona. Formed from glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, the lake is a beloved holiday destination thanks to its pure blue waters and breathtaking natural scenery. A mild and temperate climate contributes to Lake Garda's popularity throughout the year, and powerful winds draw sailors and windsurfers to its shores. Enjoy outdoor activities such as smooth boat rides across the lake, hiking in the Monte Baldo range, or simple treks along the water's edge, and explore in thousands of years of history and leisure in lakeside towns filled with ancient architecture.

Areas & Neighborhoods

Lake Garda is surrounded by many comune, Italian municipalities that enjoy the idyllic scenery and mild climate of the area. The lake also features 5 main islands and numerous smaller ones, and is fed by many rivers that lend to its alluring environment.

Garda - Located on the eastern shores of the lake, Garda is best known for its incredible views and historic city center. Garda was once a Roman town and many of its ancient streets and structures are still intact. The Santa Maria Assunta church dates back to the 6th century and features additions from throughout the ages, and examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture can be seen around the town. Enchanting views over Mermaid Bay and its proximity to the Gardaland theme park make Garda a popular holiday destination.

Sirmione - The comune of Sirmione is famous for its thermal waters and the Grotte di Catullo, ruins of a Roman private villa built around the first century AD. Other landmarks in town include the Scaliger Castle, a medieval port fortification used by the Scaliger fleet in the 13th century, and the church Santa Maria Maggiore, a 15th-century cathedral in the center of town. Sirmione has been lauded throughout history by writers and poets for its beauty, and its thermal baths such as the Virgilio and Catullo Spas still draw visitors today.

Riva del Garda - Also known as simply "Riva", Riva del Garda sits at the northwest corner of Lake Garda and enjoys cooling breezes off the waters in the afternoon. Its main sights include the Castle of Lonato or Rocca—a medieval fortress that now contains the Museo Civico Ornitologico—the Torre Apponale tower and the church Chiesa dell'Inviolata. Riva del Garda features 2 harbors, making it a destination for sailing, windsurfing, fishing, and other water activities.

What to See in Lake Garda

Lake Garda has been treasured for its natural and artistic beauty throughout the centuries, with many writers including Alfred Tennyson, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound having stayed there. Venture out to Isola del Garda, the largest island in the lake, where the Venetian neogothic Villa Borghese Cavazza stands tall over lush parks and gardens. The northern part of the lake is bordered by the Monte Baldo mountain range, where you can catch a cable car up the slopes for fantastic panoramic views of the Lake Garda region.

Things to do, Landmarks & Attractions

The most popular things to do around Lake Garda take advantage of its gorgeous nature and Mediterranean climate. The lake is surrounded by trails perfect for trekking, and the nearby Monte Baldo range of the Italian Alps offers a variety of challenges for hikers. The powerful winds in Riva del Garda and Torbole have attracted sailors and windsurfers for years, with kitesurfing picking up popularity in recent times. The tip of the Sirmio Peninsula, where Sirmione is located, is blessed with thermal waters that contain minerals used to promote wellness and cure physical ailments.

Lake Garda is home to incredible cuisine and wine, with extra virgin olive oil being its most typical and traditional product. The Alto Garda area is also unique for its lemon houses, tall structures made to shield the citrus trees from cold winds. The lemon houses, whose origins date back to the 13th century, can be seen in the city of Limone at the Castèl lemon house, and at the Lemon House Museum in Villa Boghi. The 3 regions overlooking Lake Garda—Trentino-Alto, Lombardy, and Veneto—provide the area with an incredible selection of wines as well.