The lake is situated at the border of the Po River plain, with the northern part stretching into the mountains.
The north of the lake seems to be more suitable for the people who enjoy a quiet, peaceful holiday, but a bell rings from the northernmost town of Riva Del Garda often early in the morning. The south has a theme park and a few man-made beaches so is for the more outgoing person.
There is a handful of small towns scattered all around Lake Garda. Some of the towns from the north clockwise to north-west are:
- In Veneto
- 4 Malcesine – for Monte Baldo – a ski resort in winter, and trekking site in summer
- 5 Brenzone sul Garda
- 6 Torri del Benaco
- 7 Garda – among its attractions: Villa Albertini – one of the most splendid villas on the lake
- 8 Bardolino – a home for homonymous vines
- 9 Lazise – a small picturesque town with a tiny old harbour and a medieval castle
- 10 Peschiera del Garda – see an old Austrian fortress, and the river Mincio – the main outlet of the lake
- In Lombardy
- 11 Sirmione – located on the peninsula to the south is has a 13th-century castle and the ruins of a Roman villa, attributed by some to the famous Roman poet Catullus
- 12 Desenzano del Garda – the largest town on the lake. It has good ferry connections to other destinations on the lake
- 13 Salò – is a nice lake-side town notoriously known for being a capital of the Republic of Salò at the end of WWII
- 14 Gardone Riviera – a small town known for Vittoriale – an eccentric (like its former owner) estate of Gabriele d'Annunzio with a large park. Giardino André Heller is another place worth a visit.
- 15 Toscolano-Maderno
- 16 Gargnano
- 17 Limone sul Garda – gets its name from lemons! Lemon trees grow throughout it, and is a lovely view
All people speak Italian as a first language but basic English is known. Many locals also speak fluent German as this area is a popular tourist destination for Germans and Austrians. As with anywhere in the world, it is good manners to learn some basic phrases in Italian.
Verona Airport is the nearest airport, located 15km away to the south. Brescia-Montichiari is 30km to the south-west. Bergamo airport is 80km away. Milan Linate Airport, Milan Malpensa Airport and Venice airports are 100km away. Brescia-Montichiari is served by charter flights, while the others have many regular connections.
- Northern shore is connected by a number of bus services with Trento and other destinations in Trentino including the railway station of Rovereto. But also some buses from the eastern and western shores arrive to Riva del Garda, Arco, Nago-Torbole.
- 204 - Trento, Vigo Cavedine, Riva del Garda
- 205 - Trento, Vezzano, Sarche, Dro, Arco, Riva
- 211 - Riva, Tenno, Fiave', Ponte Arche
- 301 - Trento-Besenello-Calliano-Rovereto
- 332 - Trento, Rovereto, Mori, Riva, Arco, (Bolognano)
- Urbano Alto Garda:
- 861 - Linea 1 - Riva -Varone -Arco -S.Giorgio-Brione-Riva
- 862 - Linea 2 - Riva-Brione-S.Giorgio-Arco-Varone-Riva
- 863 - Linea 3 integrata - Nago-Torbole-Riva-Arco-Bolognano
- Eastern shore is mainly served by ATV Verona. In Verona buses towards destinations on the lake leave from the railway station Porta Nuova or from Corso Porta Nuova (the boulevard just south of Piazza Bra). It takes about 2–3 hours, depending on lakeside traffic (which can be heavy), to reach pretty towns of Malcesine or Torbole. Get a timetable (orario) from the tourist office or from the ATV website (see also mobile version. Tickets can be bought from a tobacco shop down the road or on the bus.
- 160 - Verona - Sommacampagna - Valeggio sul Mincio
- 161 - Verona - Lugagnano - Sona - Salionze
- 162 - Verona - Bussolengo - Pastrengo - Garda
- 163 - Verona - Bussolengo - Palazzolo - Colà - Lazise - Garda
- 164 - Verona - Peschiera - Garda
- 165 - Verona, Garda
- 170 - Garda - Costermano - Castion - San Zeno di Montagna
- 173 - Verona - Caprino Veronese
- 179 - LN007 - Desenzano - Portese - San Felice del Benaco - Salò
- 180 - LN027 - Desenzano - Salò - Gardone Riviera - Riva del Garda
- 183 - Peschiera - Lazise - Garda - Malcesine
- 184 - Garda - Malcesine - Riva
- 199 - Aerobus - Verona (Stazione P.N.) - Villafranca (Aeroporto)
- X05 - Verona - Lazise - Garda
- X06 - Caprino - Verona
- Western shore is covered by Trasporti Brescia. In Brescia buses towards the lake depart from Autostazione SAIA. For schedules check Arriva site or use a route planner at the Muoversi in Lombardia.
- S202 - S202m - Brescia, Salò, Gargnano, Riva del Garda - Brescia, Salò, Vestone
- LN004 - Gavardo - Calvagese della Riviera - Gavardo
- LN005 - Salò - Gardone Riviera - San Michele
- LN006 - Desenzano del Garda - Cunettone - Salò
- LN007 - Salò - Portese - San Felice del Benaco - Desenzano del Garda
- LN008 - Carpenedolo - Sirmione
- LN009 - LN009a - LN009b - LN009d - Brescia - Padenghe sul Garda - Portese (San Felice del Benaco)
- LN011 - LN011a - Gargnano - Tignale
- LN012 - Gargnano - Tremosine - Limone sul Garda
- LN015 - LN015a - Gargnano - Magasa
- LN020 - Armo di Valvestino - Capovalle
- LN026 - Brescia, Desenzano, Sirmione, Peschiera, Verona
- LN027 - Riva del Garda - Limone del Garda - Salò - Desenzano del Garda
- LN034 - Castellaro Lagusello - Brescia
- A few locations at the south could be also reached by bus from Mantua. See APAM site for further details.
- 46 - Mantova - Peschiera del Garda
- 36 - Mantova - Ferrara di Monte Baldo (in season on Sundays)
- LN08 - Carpenedolo - Sirmione
Click at the [Expand] links above on the right to see the lists of the bus routes.
Perhaps this is the most convenient kind of transportation for the locations along the lake shores. Gestione Navigazione Laghi provides regular ferry services in the area. A fast ferry takes about 2½ hours to cross the lake from the South to North. For schedules and tariffs check their online search service or get a schedule from the download page.
Boat taxis are also available. Perhaps it's a better option than a regular taxi, as the later one will cost you more money and it will take longer to travel.
See Get in section for connections by bus around the lake.
Rental bike service companies, easy biking itineraries at Garda Lake Region. The northern part of Lake Garda offers Europe's probably most spectacular offroad trips, mostly on rough military roads from the First World War. Riva del Garda is a fine starting point, with trips ranging from easy to the most demanding and rewarding, like Tremalzo.
There are many historical places and buildings around the lake. The architectural style is mostly traditional Italian vernacular, which is very picturesque. There are also many classical-style churches, grand houses and castles. There is a large church is located at the northernmost end of the lake.
Pedal boats or pedalos are available to rent throughout the lake although there are boundaries you must stick to as you are given a certain amount of time and that life guards are regular throughout the water.
In Malcesine take a cableway to Monte Baldo. Beautiful views can be seen from the top, and a small shop/restaurant is there. For those who get a re-instated fear of heights going up at the start, fear not, as there is a halfway stop.
On the south of the lake in the vicinity of Peschiera del Garda there is big theme park Gardaland. It is a theme park for everybody, whether it be thrill-seekers, kids at heart, or just stressed out parents.
As per usual, fine Italian cuisine is sold. This consists of pasta, pizza and many other traditional Italian dishes. Other options are also available, such as German, American and British foods. Italian ice-cream is fresh and homemade – great for those who have a sweet tooth. Ice-cream shops are common, with some sprouting out of shops and restaurants. Some "gelato" (ice-cream-like treat usually made in the shop) shops have 50+ flavours. Smaller shops with only a half dozen flavours might be more enjoyable. These seem to focus on the flavours they offer, and making the decision on which flavour to choose will take much less time. Breakfast is not the same as English or American breakfasts so be careful when you ask for full board. Breakfast at Le Paul in Sirmione, has English and American style foods. They even offer cereal.
Always drink plenty of water or other fluids as weather can be very warm.
One of the most popular summer drinks in the area is the Aperol Spritz. Obtained by mixing Aperol, Prosecco wine and sparkling water. Usually served in a glass with ice cubes, and a straw. Can be garnished with a slice of orange, and served with green olives.
Many shops have outdoor stands and stalls, even if a shop is indoors, so always carry the receipt with you. Bag theft is not uncommon in theme parks, as lines often have a bag drop off point, which is left unattended. If your bag is stolen it is usually left in the street with just your wallet or camera/phone missing.
- Verona is the most obvious destination for a day trip.
- Mantua, famous for Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Te, is also quite close.
- Castel Goffredo – one of the capitals of the states of the Gonzaga.
- Somewhat off the beaten path are Brescia and Bergamo, but the both worth a visit.
- Venice, Milan and Bologna are possible destinations to continue your voyage.