The great guide to your holiday on Lake Garda

In this article you will get an exciting and different overview of the countless hidden gems that are to be found around Lake Garda.

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Lake Garda in 20 seconds

Lake Garda is located in northern Italy, where it is divided into the three regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.

At 370 square kilometers, it is the largest lake in Italy. It is possible to enjoy a trip around the lake by car – or perhaps more pleasantly – on the many tourist-friendly ferries that show the lake at its best.

Lake Garda is located in north Italy

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Holiday in Lake Garda

The great guide to your holiday on Lake Garda

We would like to recommend a holiday to Lake Garda on this site, despite concerns about it being a tourist hell, due to it undoubtedly being one of the most popular resorts in all of Italy.

In this article you will get an exciting and different overview of the countless hidden gems that are to be found around Lake Garda. Those that are not so well known by tourists, but loved by the locals.

And what about the tourist traps on Lake Garda? Well, some of them you will just have to experience regardless, because it simply is worth it!

Which city should I choose?

Lake Garda covers a very large area, from Tignale which lies high in the mountains to the north, with the most stunning views of the lake, to Bardolino and Lazise, the tourist meccas in the south.

Lazise Lake Garda

Lake Garda has it all.

There are huge campsites with parties for families with children, with activities such as archery for the kids and all the swimming pools you could possibly wish for.

For a more quiet and relaxed holiday, you can choose apartments that lie away from the mass of tourists, but still within walking distance of the local restaurants and small town centers where you find the local macelleria and forneria (butcher and baker).

You can also choose to enjoy your holiday in one of the many agriturismi, which are small country houses that double as B&Bs but make everything from scratch from their own home-grown vegetables and often even their own meat, dairy products and wine!

There are many different reasons to visit Lake Garda, so depending on what you wish to experience on your holiday, you can easily drive around and see many beautiful and exciting sights. In this case having a homebase is important.

There are an incredible number of unique and exciting towns. Here we offer some suggestions on which city to choose for your stay, depending on what you want from your homebase.

Popular holiday resorts on Lake Garda


Located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, Lazise is known for attracting large numbers of tourists each year, as evidenced by the many hotels and campsites in and around Lazise. The city and the surrounding area have a lot to offer tourists and visitors. Here you can enjoy delicious food, concerts and plenty of shopping opportunities in the beautiful old streets.

Lazise also features a great marina to stroll around, an active nightlife with many open cafes and late-night dance venues, as well as great campsites with all kinds of entertainment.

Despite this, Lazise is actually a very quiet town, which benefits from its beautiful streets, a spectacular 12th century wall, and amusement parks and the like located just outside the center of the city.

Lazise gardalake

Autumn holidays in Lazise

Lazise is a popular holiday destination for all ages. It is obvious why. It is also a city where the climate is so mild, so pleasant and so great, that you can visit the place most of the year. We recommend visiting from the very early spring such as March, and all the way through the summer months and into the late autumn, so around the beginning of November.

I have been to Lake Garda several times during the autumn holidays in week 42. We have stayed and visited several different towns during these trips. The last time we visited Italy we were delighted by really amazing weather, and this was no exception in Lazise.

If you are a seasoned tourist in Italy, and perhaps especially here on Lake Garda, you may already know this. But if you are not, and if you are considering visiting northern Italy and Lake Garda for the autumn holidays, but wondering if the weather will be good, then do not worry. 

The weather is amazing here. We have experienced well over the low 20’s on several visits, and when everything is completely still and you are standing or sitting in the sun, the temperature reaches in excess of 25 degrees. 

Lazise Gardalake


Bardolino is known for many things, but mainly its many great campsites and its world famous wine; Chiaretto.

Thousands of tourists flock to the Bardolino area every year, to enjoy a stay at the many luxury campsites, as well as the beautiful beaches of Bardolino.

If you are lucky enough to visit Bardolino in October, you can experience one of the traditional, local and very popular wine festivals; the Grape Festival.

Bardolino itself has many ancient and interesting sights, from various small Palazzi, to the Romanesque church of San Severo, and of course the remains of the family 

Bardolino Lake Garda

Scaligero Castle


Sirmione is a stunning and almost medieval little town, featuring a castle, fortress walls, beautiful gardens, as well as restaurants that have tables so close to the lake you can almost sit in the water.

You are not allowed to drive inside the old center, which in turn is dotted with countless little shops; everything from home-knitted clothes with names on them, to genuine baby Gucci shoes, local glass art and carpentry shops are all tucked away in shady alcoves of the old buildings.

This town is not known for its many accommodation options, but it is a divine sight on a late afternoon, perfect for a stroll through the narrow passages with shopping options a little different from those you would normally find in the typical shopping malls and supermarkets.

Castello Scaligero in Sirmione

Moniga del Garda

Moniga is a small town that is still hugely local, despite a number of smaller campsites and holiday apartments being present.

The town and locals are very keen to support the culture of the lake and town, which means there are many small events, such as local concerts, evening markets (on Thursdays) and free wine tasting from local producers in the town square.

Moniga also has a great location, as it is situated right on the waterside, close to the larger towns of Desenzano and Salo, making it a cozy and local, yet convenient homebase.


Tignale is a small town that lies high up in the mountains. However nowadays there is a very driveable road leading up there now, and the beautiful holiday apartments up there all feature some absolutely spectacular views.

From here you will get a view of the whole northern part of the lake, Monte Baldo, Limone, and in cloudless weather you can almost see the whole lake, very impressive! Local life in Tignale is active, as local concerts are held in their small square in the city center, and their restaurants emphasize local produce, meaning everything is “fatto in casa”.

They also take an enormous pride in their local produce, and they offer up some sublime wines for next to no money. This is a town that oozes authenticity, with a minimum of tourists, and at the same time is not a long drive away from the many activities Lake Garda has to offer.

Plaza Hotel Catania has an amazing variety of stunning hotels on Lake Garda

Hotels on Lake Garda

We recommend early booking if your aim os to secure a great hotel for your holiday. is our choice when it comes to choosing and booking your stay in Italy. It’s super easy and it comes with some great advantages

  • Price Match, so you get the best price available
  • 24/7 customer service
  • No booking fees.


Salo is one of the smaller towns on Lake Garda. But despite its size, the town has a lot to offer any tourists visiting.

The promenade at Salo is the longest anywhere on Lake Garda, and is an almost idyllic sight, filled with swans, ducks, boats, woodwork and small cafés. In addition Salo also has a small shopping street, and an absolutely fantastic museum, “MUSA”, which is definitely worth an experience.

The museum focuses on the history of Lake Garda and Salo in particular, with many rare and interesting finds. Salo is also one of the towns that has a very large market on Saturdays, where you can find everything your heart desires, and much more.

Salo Lake Garda


A love for lemons with a modern twist

Limone is an incredible sight. Until 1932 it could only be reached by boat, but today you can discover the beautiful side road adorned with flowers that leads right down to the lakeshore. On either side of Limone high mountains tower of the city, and everything catches your attention. From the green shine of the lake, to the rope courses on the hillsides, to the small and unique properties on the hillsides.

Limone means lemon in Italian, and it is also here that you will find an incredible love for lemons in the city, from the limoncello to countless depictions of lemons around town.

As well as its almost picturesque beauty, Limone also shines as an ideal location for many watersport activities. Limone is situated close to the very deep part of Lake Garda, and as such does not have many beautiful beaches. On the other hand, windsurfing, water-skiing, paragliding and boating are sublime activities to engage in here, and they are very entertaining experiences to say the least.


Lake Garda from another time

Malcesine is preserved in such a way that you feel like stepping several hundred years back in time.

The town is located at the foot of Monte Baldo, the highest mountain on Lake Garda, and with its many cobbled streets and small passages, the experience is both adventurous and hugely reassuring at the same time. Malcesine oozes tranquility and beauty in a way that will make you slow down your rhythm.

We highly recommend the scenic cable car ride up to Monte Baldo, and the unforgettable views from the summit of Monte Baldo are something that you will always carry with you. Many people revisit Malcesine and Monte Baldo year after year, perhaps because this town in a way encompasses the essence of Lake Garda at its most splendid.

Lake Garda Riva del garda

Weather in Riva del Garda

There is a reason why this is where all the surfers go to surf, whether we are talking spring, summer or autumn. You will find the wind blows well up here, yet it does not feel bothersome as you are walking inside the town. 

But once you get out on the water, however you do it, you can feel the wind breezing through the beautiful surroundings.

On our holiday we could feel the difference between Riva del Garda and the southern part of Lake Garda. The temperature was around 28-30 degrees, but when we were on trips further south, like at Lazise and over on the west side at Limone sul Garda, the temperature could easily jump to 34-35 degrees.

In our case we had no problems with either climate. It may not sound like much of a difference either, but when you are there in person you can actually feel the difference. Maybe the wind at Riva del Garda, and the lack of it in the other towns, is what makes the difference. It probably is.

Riva del Garda

Now we are in the Trentino-Alto Adige region, which lies in the very northernmost part of Lake Garda. Here the town curves beautifully, following the mountains all around and the lake gently sloping in front of it.


If you are traveling by car and you are visiting during summertime, you should expect to spend extra time driving the roads around the lake, but also when headed out towards the highway. 

We experienced huge queues into the town when on our holiday to Riva del Garda, but certainly also on our way out from there and back to the highway, which if I remember correctly, is about 10-15 kilometers away.

The problem is that there are no roads you can take other than the main one, regardless of whether you are headed towards other towns along the lake, or towards the highway. Naive as I was, I was actually a bit surprised that the traffic was so intense here.

This should surely not keep you away, but  it is something you should be aware of when heading down here. This is of course mainly applicable during the worst months, ie. from June to August.

Shopping in Riva del Garda

The town has about 7,000 inhabitants, so there are obviously all opportunities to get a good deal when shopping. And if you are a woman there will probably be several days set aside for this endeavor. Inside the town center you will find that it is the small shops that make up the bulk of it. Here you can buy local wines, pasta and bottles of olives to bring back home, among many other things. 

The town is long, really long. So once you move out of the center and follow the main street out of town, you will find larger shops out here, and also places where you can buy what I would call garbage. Or put another way, there is something for everyone.

Lake Garda restaurant

Restaurants in Riva del Garda

Although there are many restaurants in the town, it can sometimes be difficult to book or find an open table. Especially if you are traveling during the busy season. This was an experience we had, but we were still lucky to find a table for the four of us, both in the old town, and even without having to look for a table for several hours.

I remember being served an excellent meal, as you can see in this picture, which might look like a round of goulash without being that. But I still have to give a shout out to Osteria degli Artisti, for their friendly staff and formidable food. The restaurant is located at Via Disciplini 30.

I can sometimes feel a little old and be a bit critical when dining out in cities like these. Sometimes I suspect that most of it is about getting some customers through, without thinking much about the quality of the food. But we can not complain about the food we had here, nor the restaurants we visited, or their service and the food we were served.

Active holiday on Lake Garda

Active holidays

Lake Garda is a fabulous holiday destination for thrill seekers who love to get their pulse racing while on holiday. Especially so if you appreciate a marvelous vista while being active. We will provide you with some of our top picks for hiking and biking routes, some that will make you lose your breath – in more ways than one.

For hikers and bikers

A great experience for hikers and bikers. This historic panoramic route with exquisite views is reserved for hikers and bikers. 

The route starts in Riva town, and then passes through small tunnels and hillsides, where it splits into a biking route and a hiking route, and then joins up back together at Lake Ledro.

At which point you can then fittingly enjoy an ice cream on your way back!

Garda Lake

Rocca di Manerba

This destination features high climbs, sharp turns, and an absolutely stunning view with beautiful ancient ruins at the top. This is a great experience if you love hiking or cycling, especially as the last long stretch is closed off to cars completely.

A picnic basket on your back or in hand is just the thing after a taxing ride that guarantees sweat on your brow and views you will not soon forget.

Activities on the lake

As a tourist you often get caught up in what to see and what experiences are close to your homebase.

But Lake Garda itself offers up hours of fun for tourists, with options on both the cheap and slightly more expensive end of the spectrum.

You can rent a waterbike all around the lake, and compared to the ones you see in Northern Europe, here you will have the option of many fun variations, complete with everything from slides to sun decks.

If you are feeling in the mood for speed, then you can try your luck on the so-called “banana boats” featuring doughnuts and bananas on the back of the inflatable rafts. They are really fast and a guaranteed hit with the slightly older kids.

There are also ferries that sail all around the lake, some of which you can hop on and off as you please (a really nice way to get around the lake and get a great view). For example, there is a catamaran ferry which actually sails very fast, making it an exciting experience for adults and children alike.

Family activities

The area around Lake Garda offers a wide range of activities that can bring smiles to the faces of the whole family. So many activities in fact, that it can sometimes be difficult to choose – especially as you will also wish to avoid the so-called tourist hell of day-long queues. 

That is why we bring you some suggestions for what to do, as well as how and when to visit the places that simply must be experienced, despite their reputation for being tourist hotspots.

Gardaland is the biggest theme park in Italy, if not in all of Europe. In terms of size it even beats Disneyland in Paris, and everything about this makes it a completely unforgettable experience.

It features more than 4 massive attractions that focus on speed, but there is also a small area for the little ones, playgrounds, a giant pirate ship, Kung Fu Panda Land,  and a huge sea life park attached. Could it get any better?

Gardaland has a reputation for being a tourist hellhole, but if you are prepared to visit at specific days and times, you can almost have the park “to yourself”.

Here are some tips.

Avoid the queues

The trick here is to visit on either Tuesdays or Thursdays, because the Italian schools (which do not have summer holidays at the same time as us tourists) usually visit the park on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is not entirely fool-proof, but has worked as a strategy for yours truly for many years.

The school kids leave by bus around 3pm, and the Italians who come in the evening tend not to arrive until 7pm, so this really is the time to try the more popular attractions featuring speed and action.

Heeding this advice, you will virtually encounter no Italians between 3pm and 7pm, which does a lot to help keep the queuing times to a minimum. At the same time, it can be a good idea to buy your tickets from home beforehand, which also saves you a bit of money.

Do not forget to make the most of your evening

The various areas of Gardaland are huge, with plenty of walking space and countless stalls in between, so you never have to wait long in line for either food or drinks, which are surprisingly cheap.

Enjoying your evening at Gardaland is a simply spectacular experience, with beautiful lights everywhere, dance shows, small stalls with everything your heart could desire and the big Gardaland parade that will make both you and the kids speechless.

Goodbye Disneyland!

Parco Natura Viva

This unique animal park offers up a welcome break from all the wild activities you usually get yourself into as a family holidaying at Lake Garda.

The animal park is split into two sections; first you drive in your own car through a beautiful animal park where the animals roam free on small islands out in a lake. The animals are easy to see and it really feels as if you are on safari, but thankfully there are no monkeys to wreck the cars.

The other part of the park is a giant zoo, which is especially known for their large numbers of macaws that fly freely in the trees, and are generally very friendly. The park is shady and offers up a genuine family experience that you will be talking about for years to come.

And lastly, it is actually a pretty cheap zoo, which means you can afford to buy even more gelato and good local wine!

Caneva World

Caneva World is a large water park that is located near Bardolino. It is full of fun activities and countless water slides for young and old alike.

This is a water park that has thought of every kind of play with water, and which is also age-grouped, offering plenty of sun loungers for a relaxing time, after having had hours of fun on the slides.

Discover the beautiful churches of Lake Garda


A day trip to the area of Gargnano and Tremosine may well be an experience you will want to relive again and again.

With only a few kilometers between the locations, you can first enjoy the two very different and beautiful town churches of Gargnano, followed by lunch at the harbor while being presented with really beautiful views.

Once you have had a nice meal, you can then head to the Santuario della Madonna di Monte Castello, where the views are absolutely unbeatable and where the frescoes are the exact thing that you would associate with the most beautiful ancient churches of Italy.

Then we recommend going for an ice cream at the kiosk next to the church, before moving on to Eremo San Michele, the mysterious and very different ghostly church from the 800s, which is now run by Franciscan monks.

Experience stunning vistas, as well as free, local experiences far from the common tourist traps.


Chiesa di San Pier d’Agrino, Chiesa della Santa Trinità and Chiesa dei Santi Martiri at Gargnano

There are many very different churches worth a look in the small suburb of Bogliaco.

Chiesa di San Pier d’Agrino is characterized by its beautiful bell tower, and it is beautifully positioned slightly up a hill. It is a classic and beautiful Catholic church inside, featuring 7 altars and many different paintings done by Celesti and others.

Just opposite this church is another amazing experience, the Church of Santa Trinita. The church dates back to the 1600’s, and has an impressive wooden crucifix that is beautifully displayed. Every 5 years the church holds a great procession in honor of the “legend of the miraculous crucifix.”

You will find the “ugly duckling” just below the hill. For the Chiesa dei Santi Martiri is not particularly spectacular from the outside, but inside it hides, among other things, a golden altar and canvases painted by Celesti. This makes for a great walk before or after enjoying a panino with an accompanying lake view.


Eremo San Michele at Tremosine

This church is very special, and just the thing for the adventurous whether young or old. The church is completely gray, and was built way back in the 800’s. And during later renovations they showed great respect for its origins and original style.

From the outside it almost looks like a haunted house, featuring many interesting small nooks and almost cave-like openings.

Today the Franciscan monks take care of the place, which is dedicated to the Archangel Michael who was also the protector of the many workers that worked with various forms of fire – something you will agree is appropriate considering its appearance.


Santuario della Madonna di Montecastello – The roof of Lake Garda

We saved the best for last.

This marvel of a church is something truly unique. Many people refer to it as the roof of Lake Garda, and this is a truly unique experience, especially for those who wish a real and authentic experience of Lake Garda, away from the tourist traps. You will park at the bottom of a beautiful staircase that leads you up to the church, which in turn is situated at the very top of a mountain. 

The view is fantastic even on your way up to the church, and of course even more so once you reach the church itself. There is woodwork and railing all around, so you can really get the experience of standing and looking out over the whole of Lake Garda. The church itself is also really cute, recently restored but dating back to around 800 AD, even containing some amazing frescoes.

In order to get there, you should drive to the town of Gargnano, then up towards Tignale, and then right towards the town of Tremosine, where you will find there are signs the rest of the way. It is located right between the small mountain villages 

Plaza Hotel Catania has an amazing variety of stunning hotels on Lake Garda

Campsites on Lake Garda

We recommend early booking if your aim os to secure a great hotel for your holiday. is our choice when it comes to choosing and booking your stay in Italy. It’s super easy and it comes with some great advantages

  • Price Match, so you get the best price available
  • 24/7 customer service
  • No booking fees.