lake garda
50 kilometres at its widest point, Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. With panoramic views of the Alps which are consistently in sight, it only points to a magical setting. The area is also one of the more evolved tourist eco systems with over a 1000 hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostel rooms, camp sites offering plenty of accommodation options at various price points. Known for wind surfing and not very far from Munich, Lake Garda is thronged by German tourists wanting a fun weekend off. 

Lake Garda is adorned with many small and mid sized towns at its edges. While there are plenty and all of them offer something unique in their own right, the most prominent from a tourist point of view are Malcesine on the eastern edge, Desenzano at the southern edge, Sirmione which juts out in a peninsula like setting at its bottom most edge,  Limone at its western edge and Limone at its northern one. 

must do on lake garda

1. Malcesine for the mountains and castles

2. SIRMIONE FOR ITS THERMAL BATHS

3. DESENZANO FOR ITS PROMENADE AND SHOPPING

4. RIVA FOR ITS AUSTRIAN ATMOSPHERE

5. GARDALAND FOR ITS THEME PARK

Riva on Lake Garda is the northern most tip of Lake Garda. A part of Austria till 1918, Riva is unlike any Italian place and boasts of a completely different atmosphere than other Lake Garda resort towns

The waterfront (Promenade) of Desenzano - a great place to take a walk and shop around

Sirmione is a fine place on Lake Garda - the best place to relax in the thermal baths. Imagine an outdoor heated pool with views of the mountains and enjoying fine Italian wine

The town on Limone at the north-eastern edge of Lake Garda

Pescheira on Lake Garda is a fine place to get resorts at a much cheaper price

A map of Lake Garda - Desenzano and Pescheira are the only rail links on the Milan - Venice line and your gateway to Lake Garda. But we would in particular recommend stay in Malcesine  or Sirmione

LIMONE AND RIVA - THE NORTH OF THE LAKE 

For another lake town excursion, consider Limone. Located at the north - east end of the Lake, with rocky cliffs rising behind the town centre, Limone is a picturesque place to stay and a good base to explore the other destinations on Lake Garda.  The heart of the old town is the old harbour or the Porto Vecchio. Here narrow lanes are lined with tourist shops continuing till the slopes behind. There are plenty of places to eat and drink while admiring the fine lake views. At the other end of the lake is the more modern part of the town with more bars, cafes and more hotels.

A little further north of Limone, at its northernmost tip is Riva - where the lake dramatically ends. Riva is the second largest town on Lake Garda, after Desenznao and was a part of Austria till 1918. Hence Riva looks more different than any other Lake Garda resort town. Explore the town's centre protected by the fortress surrounding the lake. The heart of Riva is an atmospheric network of tall buildings and narrow lanes. One of Riva's startling features is the Clock Tower which dates back to the 13th century and climbing up the narrow steps may be a good way to work off the calories gained by eating the pizzas and the gelatos. Also, opposite the waterfront is a chain of cafes where one can indulge himself with fantastic coffee, ice cream and gourmet food. If time permits, Riva is not to be missed.

gardaland 

If with family, always consider a detour to Gardaland - the largest theme park in Italy and only 15 minutes by cab from Desenzano and hardly 5 minutes from Pescheira. What distinguishes Gardaland from other theme parks is that it is a lot cheaper. Entry tickets into Gardaland start from Euro 27.5 per person (discounts for families) a far cry from the Euro 50 one would pay for the Disney Park in Paris. However there are a vast array of rides, enough to keep anyone interested for a full day, even two. For further information check on http://www.gardaland.it/park-en/ATTRACTIONS/Energy-en/

how to get to lake garda

Lake Garda is right in between Milan and Venice and only thirty minutes from Verona. Only two cities on Lake Garda have direct lake connections with Milan - Desenzano and Pescheira. While driving in northern Italy is not complicated and always a pleasure, if using public transportation, taking the train out of Milan or Venice is the most practical and fastest way of getting to Lake Garda. The ride from Milan lasts between 1-1.5 hour and costs about Euro 9 per person on regional train. 

Once in Desenzano, access to other Lake Garda destinations can be done either by boat (schedule and prices can be found here http://www.gardainforma.com/en/welcome/Navigarda.html) or by bus.  On the ferryboat, day ticket for the entire lake costs Euro 35, while that for the lower lake costs Euro 23 while that for the upper lake costs Euro 20. 

desenzano and sirmione - south of lake garda 

In most probability, Desenzano would be your entry point to Lake Garda. Desenzano is one of the larger towns on Lake Garda with well developed tourist eco system of hotels, cafes, bars, an old town full of shops and medieval looking houses and a fine promenade to take a longish walk on. For the shopaholics, Desenzano is a fine base. All kinds of shopping is possible in Desenzano but in particular be on the lookout for perfumes and clothes. Fine Italian made shirts are available for reasonable prices (Euro 20 - 30 per piece). 

For perfect relaxation, take a small 10 minute bus ride from Desenzano into Sirmione. Sirmione is a traveler's delight. Jutting out into the Lake Garda akin to a peninsula, the views of the Alps from Sirmione is breathtaking. That apart, visit Sirmione for the thermal baths. Imagine sitting in an outdoor, heated pool with the mountains in your sight with Italian wine brought to you at regular intervals, Sirmione is the perfect relaxing destination on Lake Garda. 

malcesine - europeunexplored's pick on lake garda

If you have time to visit only one place on Lake Garda, Malcesine it would be. With an enviable location, Mount Baldo (a peak with height of 1770 metres) on one side and the Castle Scaligero built by the Della Scala royal family of Verona in the 13th century used, restored for military purposes right upto the 19th cntury as well as the numerous bars, restaurants, trattorias clustered around its harbour area, Malcesine is for sure the most attractive destination on Lake Garda. 

Mount Baldo, also known as the botanical garden of Italy for the large number of plant species it has, is great for mountain biking in the summer and just to have a sip of Italian wine at its peak in winter and gazing at the Alps in close proximity and the lake in winter. Mount Baldo has great slopes for skiing and snowboarding. One may even go up the castle for a piece of history of the Della Scala family. Combined tickets for the castle and the cable car are cheap - approximately Euro 20 per person, quite reasonable when compared to other cable car rides that one may have right across Europe. With more time to spare, take the small boat cruises all along the Lake Garda (operational from March - November every year) to any other destination on the Lake. For more information on the time tables, check this link - http://www.gardainforma.com/en/welcome/Navigarda.html

lake garda OR LAKE COMO - which is better??
An eternal conundrum!! For the uninitiated - Lake Como lies one hour north of Milan - with parts of the Lake bordering with Switzerland. In terms of natural beauty Lake Como is second to none - panoramic views of Alps, resort towns with fine flowers, peaceful and very green, maybe more scenic than Lake Garda but potentially also very sleepy in off season! George Clooney, Madonna, Richard Branson and Versace - all own villas on Lake Como!! 

However, Lake Garda is more dramatic and offers terrific diversity in experience! For example, the southernmost part of the Lake is serene and peaceful and the northernmost part hugs the mountains. The Lake Garda also has castles and even Roman Ruins. The westernmost edge allows excursions into the mountains while Riva prides itself in not being of Italian heritage. Excursion to Verona is easily possible and for people touring with families and young children, a day trip to Gardaland - Italy's largest theme park! 

For the sheer diversity of experience, we prefer Lake Garda over Lake Como!

The Italian Lake District
With deep history, fashion, arts and architecture and azure beaches and plenty of other exotic destinations, the Italian Lake District is a rather understated and under appreciated part of Italy. Located at the south of Alps with turquoise lakes, colourful houses, mountain trails and fine cuisine this area is good for travelers all year round. Tourists know Italy as the land of the Roman empire, charming Venice, the cradle of Renaissance - Florence but the Italian Lake District is not to be missed. 

The Italian Lake District is located in the northern part of Italy, all within easy access of Milan. The Lake District consists of four lakes - Lake Como - right at the border of Italy and Switzerland, Lake Garda - almost halfway between Milan and Venice, Lake Maggiore - west of Milan closing in on the Swiss border and finally a much lesser known but equally beautiful - Lake Orta  - just half an hour from Lake Maggiore. The Italian Lake District is definitely an Off the Beaten Path Experience. 

LAKE garda, italy
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with a rich heritage, deep history, incredible culture and to add to that fine music, arts and arguably the finest food in the world, the italian lake district is a rather understated and much under appreciated area of italy.

nestled exactly halfway between milan and venice, only thirty minutes from verona, right at the foothills of the snow clad alps with an option to go up the mount baldo, in the midst of turquoise waters, colourful home, winding roads all running parallel to fine promenades and an eco system full of cafes, bars, fine restaurants and sheer vibrancy and closeness to the mountains lake garda is europeunexplored's favourite lake destination in the italian lake district

  Contents
  1. THE ITALIAN LAKE DISTRICT
  2. LAKE GARDA
  3. LAKE GARDA OR LAKE COMO?
  4. must do on lake garda
  5. how to get to lake garda
  6. malcesine - best pick on lake garda
  7. desenzano and sirmione
  8. limone and riva
  9. gardalanD
  10. TWO DAY ITINERARY TO LAKE GARDA


Europe off the Beaten Path!!

Desenzano del Garda at night!

two day itinerary in lake garda

There are three principal tourist activities on Lake Garda. Take a boat ride to Sirmone, Malcesine or Riva, take a walk along the twisty, medieval, stone paved lanes or go up the cable car to Monte Baldo. And depending on where you want to stay, these principal tourist activities is what your vacation in Lake Garda will surround. 

DAY 1: Malcesine and Mount Baldo

If starting at Malcesine, your first and foremost priority may be to go up Mount Baldo - the cable car runs from a height of 100 metres right up to 1770 metres offering excellent views on the way. Once at the top, there are plenty of options. Unlike other peaks, Mount Baldo is not that high and hence the view of the lake and Malcesine's huddled rooftops is a sight to behold. For the walkers, you can walk as far as 15-20 minutes in two specific foot path marked directions. 

On the way down, for a tryst with some history, consider an excursion at the Castle Scaligero, built by the Della Scala family, the erstwhile rulers of Verona in the 13th century. 

Day 2: Sirmione, Limone and Desenzano or Gardaland

How about a dip in a heated, thermal pool with fine views of the mountains and a regular inflow of fine Italian wine. Sirmione is the quintessential Lake Garda destination if one wants to relax.  

For another lake town excursion, consider Limone. Located at the north - east end of the Lake, with rocky cliffs rising behind the town centre, Limone is a picturesque place to stay and a good base to explore the other destinations on Lake Garda.  The heart of the old town is the old harbour or the Porto Vecchio. Here narrow lanes are lined with tourist shops continuing till the slopes behind. There are plenty of places to eat and drink while admiring the fine lake views. At the other end of the lake is the more modern part of the town with more bars, cafes and more hotels.

For the shopaholics, get to Desenzano. Desenzano has all the brands and a fantastic shopping ambiance. Shops, interspersed between cafes, trattorias and pizzerias and colourful houses, Desenzano can provide all kinds of shopping - high end as well as on the lower end. Enjoy your day in Desenzano!!