Lake Garda is an area inhabited for millennia that certainly cannot fail to reserve many ancient towns and villages. In fact, the most famous cities on Garda all have a long history and breathtaking landscapes, as they overlook the shores of the lake.
Let’s discover which are the main centers to visit on each side, from the Trentino to the Brescia, and to the Verona shore among the villages of Garda!
The village of Riva del Garda
It is one of the main cities of Lake Garda, among the largest on the Trentino side. Its structure as we see it today dates back to the medieval era, and in fact, you enter the village surrounded by wallsthrough 3 gates. Once crossed, you reach the shores of the lake where you can enjoy a spectacular landscape, where water and city are surrounded by mountains.
Riva also offers landscapes from the walls that can be walked in some sections and from the Apponale tower that watched over the port. However, you have to climb 165 steps to get there, so it’s better to be in good shape… For peace and relaxation lovers, there are pleasant walks along the lakefront, beaches to relax, and visits to the nearby Varone Waterfall Cave Park.
The center of Torbole
A well-known place for nature lovers, hiking, and water sports, but Torbole also enchants for its historical beauties, with the ancient portin Venetian style and the Casa del Dazio, formerly the seat of the Austrian customs. Tourists often visit the Belvedere, a terrace that overlooks Torbole from above and offers a unique view.
As a city on Lake Garda, it is very popular with those who practice windsurfing and kitesurfing, as it is hit by a constant wind called the Ora, and sporting events are often organized. Beautiful for those who practice it, and also for those who admire it from the always lively beaches in the area.
For those who love mountain hikes, Torbole is the starting point for the famous Busatte-Tempesta trail and the Adventure Park.
Descending towards the Brescia shore comes this village on Garda that presents many different landscapes. The main attraction, however, is the famous Forra Road considered the eighth wonder of the world, which passes through the mountain along the Garda. Up in Tremosine, you can enjoy the Terrazza of Thrill, a legendary place for those who love spectacular landscapes at 350 meters high!
You can see glimpses of the coastal road below up to a frontal view of Monte Baldo and then stroll through the streets of this small but special Garda village.
Limone del Garda
The most visited town on Lake Garda is Limone. A unique gem appreciated by Italian and foreign tourists alike, Limone in the past was a reference point as a lemon cultivation site. Since the seventeenth century, it has been rich in lemon groves and citrus cultivations that make the air and gastronomy of this city on Lake Garda unique. The Limonaia del Castèl, a well-preserved greenhouse open to the public for visits, is famous.
Afterwards, you can get lost in the alleys of the historic center, or on the harbor with its relaxing panorama, or even try the exciting suspended walk on the lake of the most famous cycle path in Italy.
It is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, which houses magnificent buildings such as the Vittoriale and the Heller Garden. If the former is the monumental project of the Italian poet D’Annunzio, the latter was founded by Artur Hruska as a botanical garden in 1901.
Artworks and exotic plants populate it, and the scenery is a pleasant contrast to the Vittoriale degli Italiani, which represents a house-museum. Definitely two places that polarize the attention of this city on Garda, which also has the only recognized “blue flag.”
Salò e Isola del Garda
Known at a contemporary historical level as the center of the “Republic of Salò” (1943-45), it shows several testimonies of World War II. But this center was famous long before, from the Roman era to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance wars for the conquest of these territories.
The Salò Riviera was called Magnifica Patria by Venetian Reign, which occupied it after a period of independence in which, together with 33 other countries, it was adorned with the title Community of the Brescia Riviera of Lake Garda.
Salò is known to aperitif lovers thanks to the presence of numerous kiosks along the lakefront for those who use boats to reach the Isola del Garda, the largest on the lake and much visited by those looking for romantic scenarios.
Desenzano del Garda and its port
In this city, the vitality of the area stands out between the center, the lighthouse, and the port. Desenzano is famous for its bars and the movement of the evenings. Places to see also include historical sites such as the Roman Villa and the Archaeological Museum, the Castle that overlooks the city and its Cathedral.
The port was one of the most important markets for grain and cereals in Lombardy, while today it is a nautical and tourist center that hosts several sailing boats. From here, several ferries also depart for lake navigation, allowing you to visit the main cities on Lake Garda.
Sirmione, the pearl of Garda Lake
The beauty of this village is known all over the world, and for centuries, since Roman times, it has been appreciated for its unique position. It is located on a peninsula that juts into Garda, at the end that pushes it into the middle of the lake, and which can be accessed via a suggestive drawbridge.
You pass through the Scaligero Castle, visitable in the walkways, and then you can reach the Thermal area, among the most famous on Garda. Here you will also find a unique archaeological site, the Grotte di Catullo – the remains of a domus where this Latin poet probably lived. True or false, it is an invaluable place to visit.
Peschiera del Garda, la città sospesa
Fortified, it seems to float on the lake like a mandatory passage at a focal point of Garda. It has been for centuries the connection between the Verona and Brescia shores, and Peschiera still today appears as a city on Garda halfway between Sirmione and the Mincio territories, and the area where Gardaland and other amusement parks are located.
It is the waters of the Mincio that cross the city between the walls, the famous bastions that house shops, restaurants, historic buildings, and among which opens the Fortress of Peschiera del Garda, a Renaissance jewel. Also worth seeing are the Pedestrian Bridge that crosses the outer canal of the fortress and the ancient walkway from which to enjoy the unique landscape of this city on Lake Garda.
Lazise and the spectacle of the lakefront
It was the first free municipality on Garda, a wealthy trading center already in the 10th century: gathered between its walls and the Castle, it still seems an exclusive place.
The lakefront is charming, one of the most beautiful in the cities of Lake Garda, and from the Venetian-style porticos, restaurants, bars, and shops appear, alleys still called calle today. In addition to the beach life, here you can visit the Venetian Customs in the port, drink the excellent wine of the area, or take a visit to the walls of the well-preserved Castle of Lazise – still inhabited.
Also on the Venetian shore is this city on Lake Garda known for its eponymous red wine, which pairs well with the famous oil of the area.
In addition to oenogastronomic delights, Bardolino offers walks between the port and the lakefront, with many bars and restaurants to stop at, shops, and also two museums dedicated respectively to Wine and Oil. If you are looking for artistic stimuli, then a visit to the Romanesque church of San Severo is useful: you will find a cycle of frescoes belonging to the XII-XIII century depicting the Apocalypse, scenes of the life of Christ, and battles.
Garda and its surroundings
The city is located on the Veronese shore of Benaco, and opens at the foot of the Rocca di Garda. This name derives from the Lombard warda or guardia, referring to the Castle built on the mountain, Garda plana. Today, there are the Pieve del Garda, one of the oldest in the area, the famous market, and sports events such as races with Bisse (Venetian-style rowing boats), or the Paio dell’Assunta at Ferragosto.
Nearby, there is Punta San Vigilio, a romantic and spectacular area, famous worldwide for its beauty, where there is an ancient inn and a small church; not far away, you can reach the Baia delle Sirene.
Torri del Benaco
Also, this city on Lake Garda is surrounded by medieval walls, and in Torri del Benaco, even the Castle plays its part in a suggestive setting. Inside the castle, the Ethnographic Museum is hosted, where you can better understand the history of fishing in the lake and also in other non-salty Italian basins. Here you will also find the Serra dei Limoni, the only lemon grove in the Venetian area, dating back to the sixteenth century.
Among the newest features is the Tibetan bridge: a walk suitable even for children up to the 34-meter and about 40 high bridge, which connects two nearby localities in Torri del Benaco, Pai di Sopra and Crero.
Malcesine e il Castello sul Garda
On the Veronese shore, it stands out among the main cities on Lake Garda, this center that winds around the Scaligero Castle, where “fabulous” weddings are celebrated every year. In this setting, Malcesine is considered a romantic place, with narrow alleys and a relaxing atmosphere, especially walking along the ancient walls and then descending to the beach at the foot of the Castle.
From this village, the famous Malcesine – Monte Baldo cableway starts, which allows excursions in the mountains and a ride in the panoramic cabin that rotates 360 degrees!