You are in Garda Lake and you don’t know what to visit? Below find our selection of the 10 things to see, from castles to amusement parks.
This is a big territory that provides a lot of places to see. However it is good to know which one are the most interesting. Below, please find our proposal of the 10 places to not miss if you are going to visit Garda Lake.
The most famous fortress on Garda Lake is Sirmione’s castle buil tin the mid-thirteenth century, for the dynasty of the lords of Verona, the Scaligeri. Still today it remains in splendid shape and one of the best preserved castles on the Italian territory.
Immersed in lake waters, it is the obligatory passage to get in the village of Sirmione, showing crenellated towers and passages in the patrol walkways. This suggestive fortress can be reached from an ancient bridge and allows, at the end of the visit, to access the highest parts to admire the surrounding area with a breathtaking panorama.
The Grottoes (Le Grotte) of Catullus in Sirmione
Always remaining in this village, you can discover an even older dimension of the Garda area. Indeed it was already coveted for its beauty and thermal benefits in Roman times. A Roman domus was built in the first century BC in the extreme part of Sirmione’s peninsula, extending for about 2 hectares and on three floors. It was also equipped with panoramic terraces to dominate the two sides of the lake.
This “domus romana”, always called as “Le Grotte“, was rediscovered in the fifteenth century and identified for many centuries as the villa of the Veronese poet Catullo. In reality, this villa was built after his death. The ruins are considered the most important example of Roman domus in northern Italy, and include a museum with archaeological finds from other Roman villas on Garda Lake.
The Vittoriale degli italiani in Gardone Riviera
This place is renowned among the admirers of Gabriele D’Annunzio as this well-known poet chose it as his home and as his burial place. The Vittoriale citadel in Gardone Riviera was built between 1921 and 1938 by Vate, together with the architect Giancarlo Maroni. The aim was to gather the testimonies of the literary and war undertakings of D’Annunzio, but also to build a patriotic monument.
“La Prioria” is his house-museum, to be visited for the rich decorations and for the external gardens. There is an auditorium that hosts events, and an amphitheater for performances. In the basement of the amphitheater there is the suggestive D’Annunzio Segreto Museum, which displays the objects of the poet’s daily life. The visit ends on the Mausoleum, which hosts the tomb and the Puglia ship – a gift made to the poet by the Royal Navy in 1923.
The Isola del Garda
Also known as Isola Borghese, it is the largest of the islands of Garda Lake and it’s belong to the territory of San Felice del Benaco. It is located at about 200 meters from the coast and can be reached by boat. It is a private island in which guided tours are organized on a regular basis. For those wondering what to see on Garda Lake, this island can be an answer not only for the panorama, the neo-Gothic Ferrari villa and the gardens but also for discovering the remains of votive temples and tombstones as it has been inhabited since Roman times.
Subsequently, the isle has also been a refuge for local piracy, and became an important religious center when St. Francis of Assisi built a small hermitage. Over the centuries it has also been inhabited by Dante Alighieri and Sant’Antonio da Padova.
Limone sul Garda
The village of Limone sul Garda represents one of the oldest and best preserved historic centers in Benaco. It welcomes visitors with a huge range of places to see (Lemon museum, beaches, the bike path,…) and with a lot of specialties to taste based on the famous citrus fruits, the Garda lemons!
Citrus groves dominate the landscape thanks to the Garda Lake microclimate: on protected terraces are cultivated lemons, cedars, mandarins, chinotti and kumquats (Chinese mandarin). One of the best known terraces is the Limonaia del Castel, which dates back to the eighteenth century, and can be visited as one part has been turn into a museum.
In the village you can walk along the ancient alleys, the fishermen’s houses and the historic buildings such as the Renaissance Viscontea Tower and the city Cathedral. Nearby you will also find the oldest Romanesque church of the area, San Pietro in Oliveto (9th century), which also offers an excellent view on the splendid frescoes.
The cycle path of Limone sul Garda
Still in Limone sul Garda, all the cycling lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy the unique bike path. Indeed, there is a new cycle path that runs through this area, giving a view on unique landscapes from Limone sul Garda to the border with Trentino. The new section of the track is cantilevered on the lake, suspended in order to show exceptional panoramas, and become a real attraction for this area of Garda.
The overall cycle path along Garda Lake is 190 km long, and crosses the Eurovelo EV7 (Central Europe) and EV8 (Mediterranean Route) routes, creating a connection with the international cycle network.
Riva del Garda
In the Trentino part of Benaco there is one of the most fascinating places as the atmosphere that is affected by the nearby Dolomites: in this area the lake is narrowing, flowing like a small fjord between the rocky walls of the Monte Rocchetta, and the rarefied air is the background of a village to visit for its beauty and traditions.
The water, the bluest in Garda, can only be crossed in silence (motor sailing is prohibited in this area), which surrounds Riva del Garda and makes it magical, especially in the evening. The village shows in its central part the Apponale Tower of the thirteenth century, the Palazzo del Comune and the Palazzo Pretorio degli Scaligeri, dating back to the end of the fourteenth century. Among the things to see in Riva, don’t forget the medieval district of Morocco, which derives its name from the “marocche”, the heaps of landslides on which the buildings of the time arose!
The Marmitte dei Giganti of Garda Lake (the giant’s kettle)
In Torbole, these spectacular rock formations arise, which hold the pools that are about 5 meters wide, 12 deep and connected in a canyon with a metaphysical landscape.
The Marmitte dei Giganti, imaginatively defined in this way for their size, derive from the glaciations of over 100,000 years ago, in which the melting ice created streams and waterfalls capable of eroding the rock. From here, wells and pools like these are born, which also donate archaeological findings: ceramics and arrowheads found nearby, testify to the presence of prehistoric man in this area of Garda, a more than compelling evocation!
Gardaland and other parks on Garda Lake
For those looking for fun, “what to see” on Lake Garda immediately turns into “what to do”. And for these little ones, in particular, Garda Lake offers a series of thematic amusement parks, most of which are located in the Veneto part of Garda. Renowned is Gardaland, the largest playground in Italy in Castelnuovo del Garda, which offers over 35 themed attractions. Other amusement parks are those of the Caneva World in Lazise sul Garda: Movieland, dedicated to the world of cinema, and the Caneva Acqua Park, consisting of swimming pools with attractions and water games.
If you are looking for a zoo you can find it in Pastrengo, where the Natura Viva Park is located: it hosts over 1,500 animals of 200 different species, for which it represents a center of protection, research and conservation. It aslo includes the Safari Park and an area dedicated to ancient dinosaurs.
The Terrazza del Brivido (cliff-hanging terrace)
To conclude with a “final” look, we advise you to visit one of the most famous and exciting scenarios: the Terrazza del Brivido (the cliff-hanging terrace). It is the terrace of Tremosine sul Garda, which represents a necessary stop for those arriving in the Garda area since the 1960s when it was built in the Hotel Paradiso.
It is located in the hamlet of Pieve, suspended at more than 350 meters in height and therefore it is reserved for those who do not suffer from fear of heights! This panoramic platform allows you to admire the Gardesana from an exceptional perspective, seeing the hairpin bends of the Strada di Forra, the canyon of the Val di Brasa, the Campione center and the imposing profile of Monte Baldo on clear days..