11 things you need to do on the Garda
There are so many attractions on Lake Garda that it is difficult to collect them in a dozen or so points. However, you have to choose something and in our opinion these places are the most noteworthy if you are going to Garda for the first time.
1. See the amazing views from the top of Monte Baldo
To see Lake Garda from a bird's eye view, it is enough to use the cable car that goes up to Monte Baldo at an altitude of 1700 meters. . In just 10 minutes you will reach the summit which offers an amazing view. In clear weather, the lake view is spectacular.
Book a whole day for this trip and be patient, as the lines to the gondolas are quite long.
The carriages also stop halfway to the summit in San Michele, where the local road leads. On your way back, you can get off the cable car at this point and walk back to Malcesine (approx. 1 hour on foot) and discover real farms and areas of Lake Garda that are not crowded with tourists. You can also reach the intermediate station of San Michele by car and from there take the cable car or walk to the top. It is definitely a better option if there is a large queue of people at the starting station.
You will get a map of hiking and biking trails at the information desk. One way ticket from Malcesine to San Michele costs € 6 and two way costs € 10. The cable car to the top costs around 20EUR both ways
Tip: choose a nice day for the hike up. Clouds over the lake will spoil the views or even make it impossible for you to see the lake. In high season, it is worth getting up earlier and being in the queue really in the morning to avoid standing in very long queues. Also remember to bring warm clothes even in summer as it can get chilly upstairs. It is worth buying tickets at information points, at campsites or at other tourist attractions in Malcesine, such as the castle. It is cheaper and you do not have to queue at the cash desk in front of the queue.
2. Walk in Malcesine
Malcesine is situated on the slopes of Monte Baldo and is the site of the bottom station of the gondola that goes to the top of the mountain. The old town with its medieval buildings and narrow streets is very attractive and popular in summer. Castello Scaligero (with its museum) is also a popular tourist destination. The castle owes its popularity to, among others images and descriptions of German poets such as Goethe, which is the main theme of the museum. But it is the location of the castle on top of a rock, overlooking a lake with a beautiful view, that makes the castle so special and has been a national treasure since 1902.
The old town of Malcesine is a great place to relax, eat, drink and eat ice cream. There are 3 main squares in the center: Piazza Turazza, Piazza Cavour and Piazza Vittorio, where you can find many restaurants and cafes.
3. Rent a sailboat, motorboat or go windsurfing
The northern part of Lake Garda is famous for water sports there. Torbole is considered the windsurfing capital and is the venue for many competitions. Further west towards Malcesine and Brenzone are two popular kitesurf destinations.
It is worth adding that in the Trentino region, i.e. in the northernmost part of the Garda, kitesurfing is strictly forbidden, but you can easily go windsurfing, sailing, kayaking or SUPs - all this equipment can be rented at the professional Sailing du Lac rental , which it has several branches in various towns on the Garda www.sailingdulac.com
If, on the other hand, you want to take a motorboat, you can only do it in the southern part of the lake, because in the north it is forbidden to use boats with a combustion engine. The view of the coast from the sea is an unforgettable experience. If you want to visit the cities, I recommend mooring in Peschiera del Garda or Salò, but by boat you will also reach several islands in Lake Garda, such as Isola del Garda, where the beautiful Villa Borghese is located. You can charter motorboats in many places, and we recommend booking them in advance with Click & Boat , which has a very wide range of boat and yacht charter as well.
4. Go wild at the Gardaland theme park
Adrenaline lovers should not miss the Gardaland amusement park. It is the third largest amusement park in Europe. Gardaland was selected by TripAdvisor users as number one in the "Top 10 Amusement Parks and Water Parks in Italy" and number 6 in Europe in the 2014 Travelers' Choice Awards.
The park was founded in 1975 by Livio Furini, who, after visiting Disneyland California, decided to build something similar in Italy. In recent years, the park has been renovated and new attractions have been added to it.
Tip: Reserve some time (approx. 2 hours) to visit the Sea Life Aquarium, located in the parking lot outside the park area. There you can see thousands of sea specimens, including the most amazing ones. Book your tickets in advance or buy them at Altomincio Family Park campsite, for example, to avoid waiting in a long line at the box office and save money.
5. Visit the Sigurta Botanical Gardens
Giardino Sigurtà Park is one of the best in Italy and considered the second most beautiful in Europe. In this green oasis, tourists can stroll along green, endless lawns, old forests, ponds full of lilies, beautiful alleys of roses, orchids and tulips, or relax on the green lawns.
Tip: The park can be explored on foot, by bike or by a special train, but you can also do it with a melex rented on site, to which a tablet with a map and interesting facts is added.
6. Get to know the local delicacies
There are plenty of good places to eat around Garda. Everyone will find something for themselves thanks to the wide selection of Mediterranean dishes.
We highly recommend Leon d'Oro - a restaurant in Riva del Garda on Via Fiume 28 run by the same family since 1939, friendly service serving Mediterranean and local delicacies, and interestingly - the chef is a Pole who has lived in Italy for many years. It's best to book in advance (even in low season) if you want to be sure of a free place for dinner www.leondororiva.it
7. Ship cruise
A great idea for getting to know Lake Garda is by taking a boat trip. Navigazione Lago di Garda offers many connections, including ferries. The basic rule is that ships and ferries run from south to north of the lake or vice versa. If an hour is given in the timetable next to a town, it means that the ship stops there.
Tip: The ticket offices are open approx. 30 minutes before the departure of the ship. Remember, however, that there may be a lot of people willing to travel by boat, so in high season it is better to buy a ticket in advance. You can take your bikes on the ship and return on your own to the shore of the lake.
8. Eat Gelato
In fact, it is a must-see anywhere in Italy ...
9. See the view from Scaliger Castle in Sirmione
Sirmione is a quaint town on a peninsula that extends at the southern tip of Lake Garda. The city is guarded by Rocco Scaliger, a 12th century fortress. There is a moat around the castle, surrounded by huge walls and harbor fortifications.
Today, this castle is in great condition and open to visitors: two towers overlook the lake and the marina. You must climb to their top and admire the view of the entire peninsula and the surrounding area. The entrance to the castle is also the entrance to the historic old town of Sirmione.
Tip: If you don't have time to enter this peninsula, you can also admire Sirmione from the deck of the ship.
10. Discover the Lake Garda region by mountain bike
The landscape around Lake Garda is a paradise for mountain bikers and offers something for everyone with all abilities. Extreme mountain biking enthusiasts will love the mountains in the north of the lake, and the gentle hills in the south of the lake will be better for less demanding cyclists. Traveling by bike is also a great alternative to visiting cities and towns, history and art, and getting to know local food and wine at the same time.
The river Mincio flows from Peschiera del Garda, along which there is a 35 km cycle path. It connects Peschiera with Mantova and is a very important part of the popular Ciclopista del Sole cycle path (eurovelo 6).
Tip: There are plenty of bike rentals on Lake Garda. Renting a bike for one day costs approx. EUR 10. Renting an electrician costs about EUR 50. Remember to take your camera with you on the trip!
11. Riva del Garda
The town of Riva del Garda is situated on the northern shores of Lake Garda and has an incredible charm. This is where the lake is at its narrowest and is located between the two cliffs of Monte Rocchetta. The water here is cooler and bluer, and the landscape is shaped by the bordering Dolomites.
Here you can experience true silence, as motorboating sports are forbidden in this area of the lake. Along the coast from Riva del Garda all the way to Torbole is a beautiful promenade and a cycle path. On the way, you can stop in cafes, restaurants or in the playground if you are traveling with your family. From Riva del Garda, it is worth going the other way on a trip to the famous Via Ponale, which offers beautiful views of the entire coastline of Garda Trentino.
Tip: It's worth going to the edge of the pier next to the conference center. You can see the old city center from it and you can take great pictures of the lake.
Where to stay overnight on the Garda?
It all depends on how you want to spend your vacation. If you like active recreation and want to ride bikes, go hiking, ferratas, climbing, windsurfing, kitesurfing or sailing, then the northern part of the lake is definitely better, especially the Garda Trentino region. Camps in this place are well prepared for active guests. They have water equipment and bicycle rentals. At the same time, the campsites in the northern part of Lake Garda are definitely smaller than those in the south. Due to the limited space at their disposal, these campsites are not huge Family Parks, but small, cozy, family campsites.
You will find such large objects in the south of Garda. There are also 5-star facilities with water parks, animations for children and sports facilities. The south of Garda is also a good place to spend a vacation if you like motorboating. There is no water silence here as in the north of Garda. There are tons of speedboat rentals, and many campgrounds have their own underpants and marinas.
You can find the best campsites on the Garda in our campsite search engine .
We have created the CampRest portal for people who value freedom and travel on their own.