Best Things to Do in Lake Garda – Itinerary
Italy is always a great idea – and so is visiting Lake Garda. If you plan your trip to this lovely region and are planning your Lake Garda itinerary, you will find many tips for the best things to do in Lake Garda – whether you stay one day or longer.
Visiting Lаkе Garda iѕ a treat for уоurѕеlf. The incredible nаturаl beauty, gorgeous scenery, and great Italian food are well worth experiencing. You can сhооѕе from a whole hоѕt оf energetic аnd rеlаxing асtivitiеѕ thаt will bе ѕurе to kеер уоu entertained.
And one оf thе best thingѕ about the holidays iѕ thаt you саn еnjоу аll оf these perks for a much lower price than in Lake Como. There is so much to do in Lake Garda – so many fun activities and fun things to see and do- that Lake Garda is a great getaway in Italy.
And it was love at first sight – not only for me but also for my parents. Viѕiting thе lake exposed us to a spectacular, luѕсiоuѕ environment that is fillеd with a variety оf trееѕ, like palms and cypresses, as well as оrаngе and lеmоn groves.
It took us just a few seconds to bе captivated bу the vibrаnt bluе соlоr оf thе lаkе’ѕ сlеаr water. The area аrоund Lake Garda оffеrѕ tons of орроrtunitiеѕ for fun, rеlаxаtiоn, and recreation. So, Lake Garda is a great place to visit – regardless of your age. There is something to do for kids, teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors.
Along the shores you will find some of the cutest little villages and towns, making it perfect for those who enjoy shopping in boutique stores and marveling at pretty houses landscaped with flowers. Lake Garda is never boring, and whether you have one day or seven in the area, this post will help you plan your Lake Garda itinerary. Find out what to do and Lake Garda´s best attractions and more Lake Garda travel tips.
LAKE GARDA TRAVEL TIPS
Best Time to Visit Lake Garda
With the beaches, and the options of water sport activities, many people flock to Lake Garda in the summer – and it gets busy! If you really like busy and also hot weather, then visit in July and August. If you prefer warm (and hottish) weather, then June and August might be the better options.
It will still be busy but not that crowded. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit in April and May or Septemer or October (keep in mind, that during Easter holidays etc. it does get busier even if you are not visiting in July or August).
If you visit during off-season (always my preferred time of traveling) you should only keep in mind, that some restaurants might be closed and you might not be able to do all Lake Garda attractions and activities.
However, prices will drop if you do not visit during the busy season.
Getting Around Lake Garda
Lake Garda is Italy´s biggest lake, with a shore length of almost 160 kilometers – this means, getting around might take some time. My tip: rent a car, and hop on a boat several times so you can see as much as possible of this gorgeous place.
Public transportation is not fast and driving can be nerve-wracking (to some). Also, petrol is ridiculously expensive in Lake Garda (Italy has one of the highest petrol prices in all of Europe).
There is no toll when driving the shores of Lake Garda, but getting to other cities or attractions, like Verona, costs extra when you use the motorways (about 8 to 9 € for 100 km).
Where to Stay in Lake Garda
I have written a more detailed post about the best places to stay in and around Lake Garda. If you are still looking for the best area and the best accommodation in Lake Garda, click here but you will also find hotel tips under each destination of my post here.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAKE GARDA – 1-7 DAYS IN LAKE GARDA
So, here are seven individual Lake Garda itineraries for each day.
1 Day in Lake Garda
If you have only one day in Lake Garda, most people will probably head to Sirmione.
Famous as “the pearl of the islands and peninsulas,” it is a popular tourist hotspot and a great place to visit in Lake Garda on the first day of your trip.
Located on the southern shores of the lake, it is also close to many other places, like Verona. It is on a long and narrow peninsula that divides the gulfs of the towns of Desenzano and Peschiera. However, this small town has a lot to offer, so you can plan in a full day for Sirmione.
Though it is small, you can get wonderfully lost and visit many of the highlights of Sirmione in one day.
Top tips for things to do in Sirmione:
Castello Scaligero (For an entrance fee of about 8€, you can enjoy great views of the town and lake, and walk the walls of the fortress. You cannot miss the fortress, as it is just at the “beginning” of the old town. Tickets can be bought at the ticket center.)
Villa Romana “Grotte di Catullo – find the Villa Romana in the archeological park at the northernmost end of the peninsula of Sirmione (the entrance fee is about 3€).
Old town – get lost in the old town with its wonderful buildings, which are full of flowers.
Boat tour – spoil yourself with a (short) boat tour around Sirmione (you can book tours in advance, or just go to the boat station before you enter the old town).
Where to Stay in Sirmione:
The most luxurious hotel in Sirmione is the Grand Hotel Terme – the 5-star hotel has thermal pools, and is located close at the lake and very close to most main attractions in Sirmione. You can check out rates and availibility here.
Degli Oleandri looks like a beautiful mid-range hotel perfectly located and with good reviews. Check out rates here.
Bad news: if you are looking for budget-friendly accommodations, Sirmione will make it hard for you but it is not impossible. Check out all accommodations in Sirmione here.
2 Days in Lake Garda
For the second day in Lake Garda, head to the most beautiful town.
Limone sul Garda
Visit Limone sul Garda. This is actually my favorite place in Lake Garda. It is small and adorable. If you don’t mind overloading on cuteness, this is a great place for your Lake Garda itinerary.
Limone is located on the western shores and has a tradition of fishing, as well as olive and lemon production.
The lemon portion of their history is still visible throughout the town – you can even visit the Lemon Museum in Limone. But there is more to do! What makes this place so great are the cute houses that are full of flowers; the small, windy, cobblestone streets; the promenade; the harbor; and more. If you stay in Riva del Garda or Malcesine, you can get here easily by boat.
Best things to do in Limone
Walk (or bike) the newly-opened cyclopath (a one-kilometer long cyclopath that is built just at the base of the mountains and offers incredible views) and I am sure it will become one of the main tourist attractions in and around Lake Garda.
Wander through the old town (plan in enough time to stroll the beautiful streets – you´ll quickly find out why Limone is THAT cute).
Have a lunch/dinner in the “harbor” area – the views…priceless.
Visit the Lemon Museum
Stroll the promenade – for more Limone travel tips click here and also see more pictures.
Where to Stay in Limone sul Garda
There are no 5-star hotels in Limone, but the Du Lac is one of the best-rated hotels in Limone and the 4-star hotel comes with great views. To find out more about the hotel and its rates click here.
3 Days in Lake Garda
Okay, if you have 3 days in Garda you can do a day trip.
Though Verona is not directly located on the shores of Lake Garda, I suggest visiting Verona for a day trip. Even if you stay in Lake Garda for only three days, make sure to add the city to your Lake Garda itinerary.
It is a perfect day trip from Sirmione and located southeast of Lake Garda. The city is so much more than just the setting for Shakespeare´s Romeo and Juliet. It is also one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.
Top things to do in Verona:
Spend time at the colorful piazzas. Verona has some of the most colorful and beautiful market squares – Piazza Bra, Piazza della Erbe, and the cute Piazza dei Signori.
Visit Juliet´s balcony (be prepared to experience a wild crowd in front of it). You can see the balcony for free, but there is an entrance fee if you want to stand on the balcony or visit Juliet´s house.
Enjoy the views from Lamberti Tower (for an entrance fee of 8€, you can climb 365 steps and see Verona from above; or you can take the lift up).
Here are more detailed tips for the best things to do in Verona.
Where to Stay in Verona
The Best Western Hotel Firenze is a good choice if you are looking for a mid-range priced hotel. Located close to some major attractions in Verona it is a good base. Find out more about the hotel and the rates here.
If you want to stay in a hostel you check out The Hostello – this hostel has good reviews and is budget-friendly.
4 Days in Lake Garda
Day 4 in Lake Garda could be spent in the mountains and in Malcesine.
Malcesine and Mount Baldo
Another fun thing to do at Lake Garda is heading to Malcesine. If you have more time at Lake Garda, I suggest one full day for Malcesine and Mount Baldo.
Malcesine is on the western shores of Lake Garda – easily reachable via boat from Riva del Garda or Limone. By the way, traveling by boat to Malcesine is also the most scenic way to arrive.
The old town is as pretty as most other Lake Garda towns and villages. With its harbor, colorful old houses, and cobblestone streets, it is fun to just stroll for a while. One of the best views you can enjoy is from Scaliger Castle. The entrance fee of 6€ is worth it.
Wander through the pretty castles and enjoy the picturesque views. But Malcesine is not only about the old town. It is also a watersport lover´s dream. And what makes Malcesine even more special is Mount Baldo, which you can visit easily from Malcesine.
Things to do in Malcesine:
Head to Mount Baldo (either hike up or take the cable car; a return ticket is about 22€)
Stroll the old town
Enjoy a drink at the “harbor”
Visit Scaliger Castle for the views
Where to Stay in Malcesine:
The Hotel Castello Lake Front hotel looks great – the 4-star property is centrally located and you have free parking. Check out the rates for the hotel.
A more budget-friendly hotel is the Hotel Garni Selene – it is not directly in the town center but might be a perfect choice if you do not want to be where the crowds are. Check out rates here.
5 Days in Lake Garda
If you stay longer than 4 days in Lake Garda, Riva del Garda is a good place to visit.
Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda, located on the very northern shores, is another of the most popular places in Lake Garda. It is especially popular among watersport lovers, as there is a strong wind that is just perfect for windsurfers. But it is also a good destination for those who aren’t into windsurfing.
The colorful promenade and the numerous shops and restaurants (Riva del Garda is one of the biggest cities around the lake) make it a perfect place for those who enjoy a lively location. It belongs to Trentino, a fun province with many other sightseeing destinations. With its lemon trees, palms, olive trees, and laurels, it is a perfect Italian town to visit.
Things to Do in Riva del Garda:
Windsurf or any kind of watersports (If you are into watersports, you probably will spend more than one day doing that.)
Enjoy the views from Torre Apponale (This time, you only have to climb about 165 steps, but there is no lift.)
Relax at the lively piazza, Piazza III Novembre
6 or Days in Lake Garda
If you want to take a rest, but prefer something more hidden and unique (for a day at the beach, I actually recommend Limone), then rent a car and explore a more hidden area in Lake Garda.
For the last two days, I have several ideas – see which one fits your idea of a great way to end your Lake Garda trip best. If you prefer some nice relaxing days (without the driving around and booking of tours), I suggest staying in Limone where you have a great little beach. If you are ready for a bit more action, read my tips below.
North of Lake Garda is another lake – much smaller, less crowded, and compared to Lake Garda, a real hidden gem. Getting from Riva del Garda to Lake Tenno takes about 30 minutes by car. Lake Tenno is a mountain lake, and though the distance to Riva del Garda is only about 10 kilometers, you have to drive narrow and really windy mountain streets.
The drive is not for everyone, but the lake is well worth it.
If you enjoy taking a dip, then Lake Tenno is probably a better choice than Lake Garda.
If you want to be a little more active, head to the village of Tenno (a well-preserved village dating back to the Bronze Age) before or afterward.
Getting there from Riva del Garda or Malcesine takes some time – I admit, it is not around the corner.
Both lakes are quite close to each other, so if you have your own car, you can visit both in one day. While driving there is time-consuming, both lakes have a parking spot just in front of them and there is not much hiking needed to get to either.
Venice is another trip you can take from Lake Garda. I would not necessarily recommend driving to Venice if you stay in Limone – that is too far. But if you stay near Sirmione, you can book a tour or get to Venice by train or car.
Venice is an experience in itself – the canals, the bridges, the gondolas, the colorful houses, the Piazza San Marco…. there are many reasons why Venice should be on your bucket list. Though spending two days in Venice would be better, you can do a day trip if you start early.
GardaLand is one of the most popular amusement parks in Italy. If you are traveling with kids, this might be the perfect way to spend a day.
With more than 30 rides, musical performances, and more, it is a great place for a family trip. Personally, I haven’t visited yet, but I would do so with children.
If you stay in the beautiful region of Trentino (e.g. in Riva del Garda), I highly suggest a trip to Trento in the region of Trentino.
Trento is one of the most authentic and beautiful towns I have come across in Italy. If you stay in one of the hotels in Riva del Garda (or Trentino), you will also get a Trentino Guest Card, which allows you to use public transportation for free in the region. In this case, you don’t even have to get there by car (with your Trentino Guest Card, you can also get access to museums and castles for free).
As you can see, staying in Lake Garda for one week is not boring at all. With a great itinerary, it is just the perfect amount of time to see and experience the many fun activities and places Lake Garda has to offer.
Hopefully, this post has helped you create the best Lake Garda itinerary for your trip to Bella Italia.
READ MORE: BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN NORTHERN ITALY