Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, is an absolute must-visit when in the Northern region. While one of its famous (lake) sisters, Como, is well-known for the glitz, glam and celebrities, Lake Garda has a much more laidback vibe to it. Dotted with charming towns and villages around its circumference, with vineyards and mountainous scenery stretching into the backdrop, it is certainly one of Italy’s most picturesque places. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Lake Garda.
We would recommend staying in Peschiera del Garda. This town is located on the southern end of Lake Garda and is a central spot for you to venture out and about from. There are plenty of local trattorias for you to choose from for a relaxed dinner. Some local specialties of the area include sardines with bigoli pasta or risotto with Amarone wine.
Fuel up with a typical Italian breakfast of a cappuccino, a pastry, and some fresh bread and jam – there is a day of exploring ahead for you! Depending on your budget and travel style, you may choose to hire a car or bike to get around Lake Garda. Alternatively, there are buses that run on a frequent schedule between the towns.
Whatever your transportation, head north to Malcesine. This colourful town is a Northern Italy favourite! Malcesine is the gateway to the Monte Baldo mountain range that form part of the Italian Alps. We recommend an early start here to beat the queues for Monte Baldo’s cable car. This trip takes you to the top of the mountain, a whopping 1,760 metres above sea level! Once here, you can choose one of the hiking trails for your return journey or take in the views across Malcesine and Lake Garda before returning via cable car.
Head to Malcesine’s lakefront promenade to find a bite to eat that suits your budget and hunger levels.
From Malcesine, it’s time to catch the ferry across to Limone sul Garda. As the name suggests, this gem is all about the lemons! With steep, cobblestone streets and references to the yellow fruit found everywhere, Limone is perfect for an afternoon of whatever takes your fancy. For the active adventurers, head to the hills for one of the walking trails amongst beautiful olive groves. For those who prefer to explore at a more relaxed pace, pull up a chair for an afternoon espresso at a local café and dabble in some window shopping.
It’s been a big day of ticking off two of Lake Garda’s towns, so enjoy another dinner and night cap in your home base, Peschiera del Garda.
This morning, we recommend travelling a short distance to Sirmione. This town is just 20 minutes by car or 30 minutes by bus from Peschiera del Garda.
Built on a strip of land that stretches out onto Lake Garda, Sirmione is surrounded on three sides by the blue waters of the lake. Combined with its popular Scaligero Castle and Roman ruins, Sirmione is certainly one of the most beautiful towns of Garda. It is also well-known for its thermal baths and healing waters.
Fun fact: while most castles have a moat, Scaligero Castle’s moat is Lake Garda itself! This gives the illusion of the castle rising from the depths of the waters.
It’s time to head out on the water to truly take in the jaw dropping beauty of Lake Garda. There is a half-day cruise that leaves from Sirmione onboard a historic sailboat. Sit back, relax and enjoy taking in the views from the water. This is the perfect way to round out your weekend in Lake Garda, one of the most beautiful lakes in italy.