Discover the Villages of Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a great place to explore, especially if you’re seeking a more relaxed pace. Coastal villages, castles, vineyards, and pebbled beaches compose this unique landscape that differs between the south and north. Since the north is at the foothills of the Alps, it’s significantly cooler and quieter, whereas the south is flatter and more popular with visitors. 

Today, explore Lake Garda by ferry or by car, choosing amongst several villages to visit. We recommend using the south ferry line that connects Salo, Desenzano, Peschiera, Sirmione, Lazise, Bardolino, and Garda or the north line connecting Riva, Limone, and Malcesine. Spend an hour or two in each town, explore local life, enjoy delicious food, and sip local wine. Otherwise, drive around the lake using the cross-lake car ferry from Torri del Benaco to Gardone Riviera.

Suggested Villages:
  • Desenzano del Garda is one of the biggest lakeside villages with the most local vibe, which is reflected in restaurants' prices. The old harbor and port are situated in the middle of the town, and from here, you can walk along the lakeside promenade. There are grassy areas, playgrounds for children, and benches. 

  • Sirmione is Lake Garda’s prettiest, most romantic, and busiest village. In Sirmione, you can visit Scaligero Castle for gorgeous views, the house of Maria Callas, “Grotte di Catullo,” a Roman villa of the 1st century BCE, and the thermal Baths Terme di Sirmione for some serious relaxation.

  • Peschiera del Garda can get very busy during summer weekends with Italian families coming to enjoy the beach and water, especially due to the number of decent campsites here. Nearby are Gardaland and Movieland theme parks and the Sea Life Center.
    • In August, the town hosts the Palio della Mura, a race that lasts two days. The race was part of the community's traditions when the government tied the area to the Venetian Republic, which introduced Venetian rowing on the lake. The race takes place around the walls of the fortress of Peschiera and usually hosts about twenty boats.

  • Lazise is smaller and not touristy at all. It has a long shady promenade and a serene harbor full of cafes along the water. It's the best place for lunchtime as it's less populated with large tourist groups.

  • Bardolino is Lake Garda’s wine capital. The gentle slopes surrounding the town create a patchwork of vineyards and wine cellars, stretching from the edge of town right down to the shores of the lake. It's linked to the beautiful walled town of Lazise and Peschiera del Garda by the lakeside path. Visit Cantina Zeni e Museo del Vino, a vineyard, shop, and wine museum founded in 1870. 

  • Visit Malcesine and take a cable car to reach the peak of Monte Baldo. The station is located on Via Navene Vecchia, up from the harbor, and from there, you'll enjoy a peaceful ascent up the mountain. The cable car stops once at San Michele, where you can take a quick photo and change to a larger cabin for the final part of the journey. This cable car has a rotating floor to give all inside equally stunning 360-degree views!

  • Riva del Garda is a perfect place for people who love the outdoors. You can rent various boats and other equipment for watersports, such as stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and jet skis. Along the waterfront, you'll find a designated cycle path and several places to rent bikes. There's also a big harbor with boat tours and excursions leaving from the pier. Or, if you prefer adventures on land, plenty of hiking trails and walking paths (ranging from easy to difficult) start from here.
Read more about unique and interesting activities in the Northern Lakes Region of Italy.

Itineraries with Discover the Villages of Lake Garda

Mountains and Lakes in Northern Italy: The Dolomites, Lake Garda, Verona & More - 15 Days

Spend 15 days traveling through the dramatic Dolomites in Northern Italy to Lake Garda. Enjoy self-guided hikes in Belluno and Ortisei, visit a castle and monastery near Bolzano, and experience scenic Lake Garda by boat. Explore the Old Towns, and the fortresses guarding them, in Malcesine and Sirmione. Finish your trip in Verona by delving into Roman history on a guided city tour and visiting a local winery.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Greece & Italy Road Trip: Lake Garda, Bologna, Tuscany, Olympia, Nafplio, & More - 21 Days

Explore the back roads and small villages that characterize the countrysides of both Italy and Greece on this three-week road trip. You'll visit well-known highlights, like Florence, charming Tuscan hill towns, and the first Olympic site in Olympia, as well as some places a bit off the beaten path: Romeo and Juliet's Verona, the medieval villages of the Peloponnese, the wineries of Nemea, and more. With full control of the daily driving schedule, you'll have time to plan for spontaneous stops for coffee, for shopping at roadside markets, and for late-afternoon beach breaks.

Explore Scenic Lake Garda - 8 Days

Experience the best of Italy's Lake Garda and the surrounding region with this 8-day trip. Spend time in the lively and historic towns of Sirmione and Peschiera del Garda. There are two majestic Scaligero Castles protecting the lake, one in Sirmione and the second further north in Malcesine. Visit both and admire the romantic views of Lake Garda. Ride a cable car up to Monte Baldo and explore the wild botanical garden at the top. From Desenzano del Garda, go on a cycling and wine tasting tour, and take a guided day trip to Verona.

Family Road Trip: Northern Lakes, Tuscany & Italian Riviera - 14 Days

Spend two weeks exploring northern Italy at your own speed with this self-drive itinerary that allows you to choose the stops. You'll start off in the northern lakes, with Lake Como and Lake Garda offering boat tours past villas and amusement parks alike. Then make your way into Tuscany, where you'll ride a horse-drawn wagon through the countryside and explore the medieval walled city of Siena and famous art of Florence. Finish your trip in the Italian Riviera and colorful five villages of Cinque Terre.

Northeast Italy: Trieste, Venice, Verona, Lake Garda, & More - 12 Days

Visit the highlights of Northeast Italy on this 12-day trip. Tour grand palaces and piazzas in Trieste. Take a day trip to Ljubljana in Slovenia. Be serenaded on an enchanting gondola ride in Venice before visiting the iconic St. Marks Square and dining in the former Jewish Ghetto. In Verona, Roman history, Shakespearean inspiration and wine tastings await you. For a sweet ending, spend a day on Lake Garda and take a tour of the charming villages with a local guide.