If you are planning your Lake Garda itinerary, this post will help you. Whether you stay 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, or even 10 days in Lake Garda- here are tips for your trip.
Visiting Lаkе Garda is 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 уоu entertain you for sure.
And you cаn еnjоу аll оf these perks for a much lower price than in Lake Como. There are so many fun things to do – which makes the area one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy.
IS LAKE GARDA WORTH VISITING?
Yes, Lake Garda is worth visiting.
The area аrоund Lake Garda оffеrѕ tons of орроrtunitiеѕ for fun, rеlаxаtiоn, and recreation. There is something to do in Lake Garda for kids, teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors.
You will find some of the cutest little villages and towns along the shores, making it perfect for those who enjoy shopping in boutique stores and marveling at pretty houses landscaped with flowers.
FAQ: LAKE GARDA TIPS FOR YOUR ITINERARY
Before talking about your Lake Garda itinerary, here are some travel tips.
Best Time to Visit Lake Garda
With the beaches and the options for water sports activities, many people flock to Lake Garda in the summer! Then it gets busy! If you really like busy and also hot weather, then visit in July and August.
If you prefer warm (or hottish) weather, June and September 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 October (but avoid the Easter holidays, etc.)
In the winter months, it gets quieter but also restaurants and hotels might be closed. This is really the time if you want to experience Lake Garda without many people. There are Christmas Markets and events – plus you might even see some snow.
If you visit during the shoulder 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 the activities. However, prices will drop during the shoulder season.
Getting Around Lake Garda
Lake Garda is Italy´s biggest lake, with a shore length of almost 160 kilometers. This means getting around can be time-consuming.
- Public transportation is not fast and buses do not run frequently.
- Driving can be nerve-wracking around Lake Garda. Also, petrol is ridiculously expensive. Italy has one of the highest petrol prices in all of Europe. On the other hand, there is no toll when driving Lake Garda’s shores, but getting to other cities or attractions, like Verona, costs extra when you use the motorways (about 9 € for 100 km).
- So, there is no great way to get around Lake Garda. However, driving might be the better option to get around.
- Hop on a boat several times to see as much as possible of this gorgeous place
ITINERARY FOR LAKE GARDA – 1-7 DAYS AT ITALY´S BIGGEST LAKE
BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAKE GARDA IN 1-10 DAYS
Whether you stay in Lake Garde for one day, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days, or even 10 days – you will find enough activities to fill your days.
1 Day in Lake Garda
Most people probably head to Sirmione if they have only one day in Lake Garda. There are many reasons to do so.
Famous as “the pearl of the islands and peninsulas,” Sirmione is a popular tourist hotspot. It is a great place to visit on the first day of your trip.
Located on the lake’s southern shores, it is also close to many other places, like Verona. It is on a long and narrow peninsula that divides the gulfs of Desenzano and Peschiera’s towns. However, this small town has a lot to offer, so you can plan a full day for Sirmione.
You can get wonderfully lost and visit many of Sirmione’s highlights in one day.
THINGS TO DO IN SIRMIONE
- Castello Scaligero – For an entrance fee of about 6€, you can enjoy great views of the town and lake and walk the fortress walls. You cannot miss the fortress, as it is just at the “beginning” of the old town. You can buy tickets 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 full of flowers.
- Boat tour – Spoil yourself with a (short) boat tour around Sirmione (you can book tours in advance or go to the boat station before entering the old town). For a different tour, including some wine tasting click here.
- Find more pictures of Sirmione and travel tips.
WHERE TO STAY IN SIRMIONE
- Luxury: For a luxurious experience, stay at the Grand Hotel Terme, which offers great amenities and a full English buffet.
- Mid-Range: If you are looking for a mid-range option, the Champagne Rooms would be a great choice, with helpful staff and a nice location. They also offer family suites, perfect if you’re traveling with your family.
- Budget-friendly: Located right by Lake Garda’s shore, the lovely Hotel Porto Azzurro makes a good budget option.
2 Days in Lake Garda
If you have two days in Lake Garda, head to the most beautiful village/town on your second day.
Visit Limone sul Garda – which is actually my favorite place in Lake Garda. It is small and absolutely 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 and 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 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 SUL GARDA
- Walk (or bike) the newly-opened cyclopath, which is about four kilometers long. It has been 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 lunch/dinner in the “harbor” area. The views are …priceless.
- Visit the Lemon Museum.
- Stroll the promenade and admire the scenery.
- For more Limone travel tips, click here and also see more pictures.
WHERE TO STAY IN LIMONE
My personal favorite place in Lake Garda was Limone. The place is tiny but yet my favorite place in the region.
- Luxury: Hotel Splendid Palace is a lovely accommodation that offers many amenities and beautiful views from its rooftop pool.
- Mid-Range: Garni Gianmartin provides a savory buffet and lovely lake views. A favorite among solo travelers.
- Budget-friendly: Hotel Cristina has a nice location and offers lake views, a pool, and friendly staff.
3 Days in Lake Garda
Okay, if you have 3 days at Lake Garda, you can do a day trip to a beautiful city – Verona.
Fall in Love With Verona
Though Verona is not directly located on the lake´s shores, I suggest visiting Verona for a day. 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 because it is 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
- Vista Palazzo is one of the best-rated hotels in Verona. This 5-star hotel seems to offer a lot. Check out the rates here.
- 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 budget-friendly hostel has good reviews and there are even family rooms available.
4 Days in Lake Garda
With four days in Lake Garda, you could spend it in the mountains and Malcesine.
Explore Malcesine and Mount Baldo
I suggest spending one full day in Malcesine and Mount Baldo if you have 4 days at Lake Garda.
Malcesine is on the western shores of Lake Garda. It is 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. It is fun to stroll with its harbor, colorful old houses, and cobblestone streets for a while.
One of the best views you can enjoy is from Scaliger Castle. 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. This mountain has an elevation of 2,218 meters above sea level and belongs to the Italian Alps – which basically guarantees great views.
THINGS TO DO IN MALCESINE
- Head to Mount Baldo. You can either hike up or take the cable car; a return ticket is about 22€.
- Stroll the old town and explore the pretty buildings and walk the narrow streets.
- Enjoy a drink at the “harbor” – you can choose from one of the numerous cafes.
- Visit Scaliger Castle for the views. The entrance fee of 6€ is worth it.
- Check out my detailed Malcesine travel guide
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 5 days in Lake Garda, Riva del Garda is a good place to visit.
Discover 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 is a perfect Italian town to visit with its lemon trees, palms, olive trees, and laurels.
Riva del Garda belongs to Trentino – a fun province with many other sightseeing destinations.
THINGS TO DO IN RIVA DEL GARDA
- Windsurf or any 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.
WHERE TO STAY IN RIVA DEL GARDA
- The Rivacentro is a popular, luxurious apartment hotel with helpful staff, modern rooms, and great amenities.
- For a mid-range hotel, you could stay at the Parc Hotel Flora, which offers spa access, views, and breakfast.
6 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 off-the-beaten-path area in Lake Garda.
For the last two days, I have several ideas for you. 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.
Tenno & Lake Tenno
North of Lake Garda is another lake. It is much smaller, less crowded, and a real hidden gem – Tenno and Lake Tenno. 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 roads. 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 from Riva del Garda to Lake Tenno takes about 30 minutes by car.
7 Days in Lake Garda
Lake Garda has many more cute towns to explore, like Desenzano del Garda, but with one week in Lake Garda, I suggest doing another trip away from the lake.
If you ask me, I would do whatever it takes to head to two more stunning lakes in the Dolomites, namely Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) and Lago di Carezza (Karersee).
Getting there from Riva del Garda or Malcesine takes some time – I admit, it is not around the corner. But once you are in the Dolomites, both lakes are quite close to each other. So you can visit both in one day if you have your own car.
While driving there is time-consuming, there are parking spots just in front of them, and there is not much hiking needed to get to either.
- You can read my more detailed post on the Dolomites here.
- If you want to do a guided tour, check out this excursion here. The itinerary is less flexible but includes some very pretty places in the Dolomites.
10 Days in Lake Garda
Okay, these places are a bit further away but consider adding these places to your Lake Garda itinerary if you have 10 days in the area.
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 there 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 from Lake Garda if you start your day early.
- Here is a guided tour from Lake Garda to Venice.
- Check out my Venice itinerary for more tips on things to do and see.
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. This is a place where you will spend a day.
Trento & Trentino
If you stay in the beautiful region of Trentino (e.g., in Riva del Garda), I highly suggest a trip to Trento.
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 – they are pretty and reason enough to visit this colorful town.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON LAKE GARDA ITINERARY
As you can see, staying one week in Lake Garda (or even longer) is not boring at all. With a great Lake Garda 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 find out about the best places to visit- whether you have 1 day or more time to spend here, it definitely is worth a trip.