Majestic Lake Garda, Italy
Charming harbor towns embellish the shores of Lake Garda, Italy, the largest Italian lake that has welcomed famous people over the centuries, people like the Roman poet Catullus, the writer of the Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri or St Francis of Assisi, who founded a monastery in Isola del Garda in 1220.
Benàco, as the lake is also called, is on the edge of the Brenta Dolomites, spreading across three distinct regions, Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Lake Garda is not far away from Venice, Milan, and Verona, which makes it easy to combine your stay in Lake Garda with visits or day trips to these attractive Italian cities. And a drive a little over two hours eastwards takes you to elegant Lake Como
The northern part of the lake is narrow and encircled by imposing mountains while in the south it widens considerably and is surrounded by hills and vineyards that make the landscape sweeter.
What to Do in Lake Garda, Italy
Covering an area of about 140 sq miles / 370 sq km, Lake Garda’s shores are dotted with picturesque, interesting towns and villages full of history and traditions that will give you lots of things to do or see, probably more than you can handle in a single vacation.
If you are the adventurous type, you may want to combine lakeside town visits and relaxing lake swimming with sailing, windsurfing, climbing, sailing, hiking or mountain walking among other sports activities.
On the southern shore, Desenzano del Garda is a good base to explore the towns. Besides the railway station that connects to Milan and Venice, several ferries connect it to other lakeside towns. Desenzano itself has grand views of the Alps, four beaches, and several hotels. It has a lively nightlife, open-air cafes, good restaurants and a 12th-century castle towering above the port.
Sirmione and The Castle Of Lake Garda
On the southern shore of Lake Garda, Sirmione is renowned for the healing properties of its thermal waters, the Roman Grotta di Catullo and the 13th century Scaliger Castle.
The Lake Garda Castle of Sirmione is a fortress from the Scaligeri era, a dynasty that ruled the city of Verona from 1262 to 1387. The castle is bathed on all sides by the waters of Lago di Garda and its construction began around the middle of the 13th century, probably on the remains of a Roman fortification, as protection against enemies and the locals.
The castle of Lake Garda stands at the entrance to the Sirmio peninsula where the historical center of Sirmione is located. It is surrounded by an intact moat and two drawbridges, which still are the only way to enter the fortress. It houses a small museum with local finds from the Roman era and a few medieval artifacts as well as a panel exhibition with fundamental information about the castle.
This fortress nicknamed the Sinking Castle is a point of access to the historic center of Sirmione and it is one of the best-preserved castles of Italy and a rare example of lake fortification.
Visitors to the castle can roam the grounds of the fortress on their own and if you walk the one hundred and fifty steps to the main tower you will be rewarded with a splendid view of Lake Garda and the city of Sirmione.
Charming Malcesine on Lake Garda, Italy
Againts the impressive Monte Baldo, Malcesine on Lake Garda is mainly renowned for the Palazzo dei Capitani and the 13th-century Castello Scaligero. It was here that a local magistrate questioned the great German writer JW Goethe on suspicion of being an Austrian spy because he was seen drawing sketches of the Scaligero castle.
Whether you visit Malcesine in winter or summer, if you want to have impressive views and provided you are not afraid of heights, we advise you to take the cable car Malcesine – Monte Baldo that will take you to about 5,500 ft / 1,700 m above sea level. This cable car is one of the most modern in the world. It has rotating cabins that will allow you to fully enjoy the majestic panorama of Monte Baldo and Lake Garda, Italy.
More Attractions and Lakeside Towns
In Riva del Garda on the northern tip of Benaco you can admire the Cascate del Varone, a deafening waterfall almost 330 ft / 100 m high, at 1.8 mi / 3 km from Riva. Worth visiting are also the Tenno Lake and the Ledro Lake regarded as one of the cleanest in the Trentino region. It features four beaches and quite a warm water temperature for a mountain lake.
Also in Trentino, Nago-Torbole are two lovely villages in one, so to say. On the slopes of Monte Altissimo, Nago offers stunning views and lakeside Torbole rises as an amphitheater surrounded by the mountains of the Monte Baldo range.
There is a 2.5-mi / 4-km long panoramic walking trail of recent construction with a balcony that overlooks Lake Garda and connects Torbole to Tempesta, the ancient border between Austria and Italy. It has fabulous views and it only takes a little over one hour.
In Gardone Riviera, on the western shore, you’ll want to visit the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the former residence of the controversial poet-soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio and the botanical garden maintained by the André Heller Foundation.
Known for its lemon groves, excellent olive oil and the longevity of some of the locals, picturesque Limone sul Garda is also worth a visit. When you see so many people flocking to this small town of a little over 1,000 permanent residents it is hard to grasp that until the 1940s there was no road and it was reachable only by boat or through the mountains.
Stunning Isola del Garda
Although privately owned by the noble Cavazza family, Isola del Garda has been open to guided tours since 2002. It is a rare opportunity to be able to visit a private island. Don’t miss it if you can.
Boats depart from San Felice del Benaco, Salò, Gardone Riviera and Sirmione but not every day, so it’s advisable to plan ahead.
The largest of the five small islands in the lake is covered by a luxuriant park and the Venetian neo-Gothic Villa Borghese Cavazza stands in the place of the former Franciscan friary I mentioned above.
A short distance away is the second largest island, the island of San Biagio, also known as Rabbit Island because in the 16th century there were numerous hares and rabbits. The island is a short distance from the coast and in dry periods can be reached on foot.
Discover Amazing Pictures of Lake Garda
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