Top 10 Things To Do – Lake Garda Attractions

//Top 10 Things To Do – Lake Garda Attractions

After a consultation with it’s 50 members the Tourist Coop of Valtenesi has produced this list of the top ten attractions in a Lake Garda holiday.

This beautiful little private island is steeped in a history which includes kings, queens and emperors, St Francis of Assisi, Dante Alighieri and Benito Mussolini. Until recently it was only possible to view the magical island from a boat, but now guided tours run from April through to October. Click here for more information.

Three of Italys 20 wine producing regions have borders on Lake Garda each of which uses grape varieties that are very localised, and so a diverse range of red, white and rose wine is available . The wine produced in the Lake Garda region is exceptional quality and the wine producers love to show it off. Anyone visiting Lago di Garda, whether an enthusiast or just with a passing interest should not let their holidays pass without visiting at least one of the many wine cellars. Click here for a details of the cantina’s. Click here to find out about wine tasting every Thursday evening at a cantina in Portese. Wine tasting tour in the Trentino wine region.

The water of Lake Garda is clean, clear and fresh and just the tonic on a hot Lake Garda summer day. There are beaches in all the towns around the lake, each with their own unique atmosphere, each with different different things going on. Some are very quiet where you can just lay out and relax and top up your tan, maybe a dive off the jetty when you need to cool down; some with water-sports, pedalo’s and kayaks, and some with music bars if you fancy it a bit more lively. My personal favourites are Salo, where at the end of the day I like to sip my apertivo and watch the sun slip down behind the mountains, or Portese, which has a pretty little port and a fantastic fish restaurant.
For anyone with a passing inteerst in history, for anyone who enjoys walking, for anyone who is interested in nature and ecology, or for anyone who just enjoys a beautiful views, the Rock of Manerba is a place you have to visit. Recently designated a nature parkLa Rocca has a visitors center where you can learn about it’s history and find out information about the sentieri that run through the park. Click here for more information 
The landscape around Lake Garda is a mountain bikers paradise and offers something for everyone. Extreme sportsmen will love to tackle the mountains to the north, but the gentle rolling hills further south are perfect for those seeking something less strenuous. A cycle ride is the perfect way to explore the countryside and villages, the art and the history, the food and the wine. Click here for information. For more ideas on cycle routes visit bresciainbici, piste-ciclabili and stradadeivini. 
The aperitivo original concept was a pre-meal drink taken to stimulate the appetite, and that still may be the case for traditional Italians or those not living in areas of tourism. But walk through any town around Lake Garda at any time from 11 in the morning until late into the evening, you will see people sitting outside the cafe’s and bars enjoying their aperitivo. It is easy to spot because the most popular aperitivo is the Pirlo, a brightly orange or red coloured drink, which is a a spritz made with Aperol(orange) or Campari(red), prossecco and sparkling water (with ice and a slice of orange). My favourite place to take my aperitivo is Cafe Bloom in Salo, but wherever you are in Lake Garda you have to try this Italian tradition.)
Lake Garda is populated by a large number of medieval castles, the most famous being Castello degli Scaliger in Sirmione which is considered one of the most important moated castles in Europe. Another well know castle is in Malcesine, others include Castello di Polpenazze, Castello di Soiano, Castello di Puegnago, Castello di Pozzolengo, Castello di Sirmione, Castello di Lazise, Castello di Torri del Benaco, Castello di Desenzano,  Rocca di Lonato, and Castello di Padenghe.
Lake Garda is surrounded by beautiful country side and there is no better way to see it than on horse back. There a many riding stables scattered around the lake such as morso46 in Gavardo, which also has an agriturismo so you could visit there and cross 8 and 9 off your list of the top 10 things to do in Lake Garda
The true meaning of an agriturismo is an Italian farm, although it may not be a farm with animals or a farm that grows crops, it could be a wine farm or an olive farm. Agriturismo’s usually offer accommodation and food at a very good rate, in most cases you don’t need to be a resident to enjoy the food in the restaurant. An agriturismo is the perfect place to enjoy home-cooked traditional food, so next time you see a sign don’t drive by… in.
Thanks to the mild climate olive oil has been produced in the region since the days of the Romans and it is a little known fact that Lake Garda produces some of the best olive oil in the world. The best quality oil is given the DOP accreditation, which requires that the full process from growing the olives to putting the label on the bottle has taken place in the local area. The olive oil must also meet strict characteristics regarding the smell, taste, colour and acidity. By visiting one of the many oil mills in the region you will not only get to taste the sumptuous Lake Garda oil but also gain a comprehensive insight into olive oil production.
20 Places To Visit Lake Garda

Is your favourite attraction in Lake Garda on the list? If not we would love to hear from you in the comments box below……

About the Author:

I have been visiting Lake Garda since 1998 and have grown to love the region so much that when I come here it is like coming home. Needless to say I am very familiar with the region and I would like to share what I know with you. As you may from my pages my particular passions are the local food and wine.


  1. Jan Czekirda June 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    My trip to Isola del Garda is booked for our next visit so really looking forward to it after all these years of seeing it ever day from our terrace!
    I also love walking around the Botanical Gardens in Gardone, I would put them on my list of favs. Defo agree with the Aperitivo time, we love Bar Italia in Salo!

  2. Simon July 23, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

    If you are looking for a professionally managed riding stables close to Garda on the east side of Lake Garda try Benaco Horses.
    They have horses for all abilities and organize fantastic rides out into the beautiful countryside,where you get wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding area.

    • admin July 24, 2013 at 6:50 am - Reply

      Hi Simon, thank you for sharing that info with us, we look forward to you sharing more information that may be of use to our readers. Ciao Roy

  3. Horse Riding In Lake Garda - May 29, 2014 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    […] Tourist Cooperative of Valtenesi as one of the top ten things to do on a Lake Garda holiday. Click here for the full […]

  4. Una September 30, 2014 at 11:56 am - Reply

    We are going to Sirmione for 3 days this weekend – from Saturday to Tuesday flying into Verona airport.
    what do you recommend is the best things to see during our short stay to make the most of it? i booked hotel in Sirmione for 3 nights. Thank you.

    • admin September 30, 2014 at 12:47 pm - Reply

      You will definitely want to spend a day exploring Sirmione. I would recommend a wine tasting trip to one or three of the nearby Cantinas in the Lugana region. A taxi should be reasonable enough in cost to transport you. Then maybe a ferry ride to some of the other lakeside towns. Salo is our favourite but you could easily do Garda, Bardolino and Lazise all in one day.

  5. Elizabeth June 5, 2015 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Can you recommend the best way to travel from Verona airport to bardolino, please?

    • admin June 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Elizabeth, the best way to travel would be by taxi transfer. Send me a contact form if you would like me to arrange this for you.

  6. Ann June 12, 2015 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    My husband and I are going to Lake Garda in September – what price would a taxi be from Verona to Garda ? would we be better to hire a car ? thanks

    • admin June 14, 2015 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Hi Ann, taxi transfer is around €50 each way. Car hire is a good idea especially in September as the crowds are gone and you can explore more. You can check out car hire prices on our booking portal here. Let us know if you prefer the taxi as we can put you in touch with our partner who we believe has very competitive rates.

  7. Lisa July 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    We are traveling with 5 adult children to lake Garda in August spending 3 days there.
    Can you reccomend your top 4 “must see”
    Spots…wineries being one of them? As well as if we were to chose 1 beach day… Where would you reccomend.
    Thank you! Can’t wait!

    • admin July 16, 2015 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Hi Lisa,
      It really depends where you are staying. I know the west coast better than the east, I am based in the Salo area.
      My favourite beaches are Portese and Salo, also Dusana near Manerba. You can check them out on the map. If you are on the east side I heard that La Baia delle Sirene is a great place to visit, I haven’t managed to get there myself yet.
      As for ‘must see’, it really depends on your personal tastes. You can check out our 20 places to visit map and see what takes your fancy. Personally I love a walk on the Rock of Manerba followed by lunch.
      Don’t forget to check out and subscribe to our Events Calendarto find out what’s going on around the lake during your stay (you can search by town).
      One of my favourite things to do is to rent a boat, I think this will keep your whole party happy. You can check the places to rent a boat here.
      Don’t forget to sign up to our social media platforms so that you receive all updates directly.
      Also subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
      Hope this helps
      Buona vacanza.

    • admin August 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa, can you tell me which part of the lake your accommodation is please.

  8. Nicola August 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Hi we are looking at booking Bella Italia going with a 4 year old and 17 year old is they things to do and explore round lake Garda please

    Nicola Fenwick

    Please can you email me Nicola. [email protected]

    • admin August 18, 2015 at 8:10 am - Reply

      Dear Nicola, there are far too many things to do and explore around the lake for me to list in a reply, you need to look around our website and see what kind of things attract you. Here are just a few tips that may interest a family with the age differences like yours.
      A day or evening at Gardaland
      A day out on a boat.
      A day on the beach.
      I hope this helps, have fantastic holiday.

  9. Norma September 6, 2015 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    hi we are hoping to come to Garda in april /may 2016 would like to stay close to or in Garda but i would also like to visits verona and maybe sienna are these to far to go for the day from Garda ? or ca you recommend anywhere else? i would love to visit florence . we can use the train or we cannier a car we really don’t mind which way we travel .

    • admin September 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Norma, you can use the train to get to Verona or Venice, probably Florence too, I’m not sure about Sienna. Verona is just half an hour away from Garda. There are some great sight seeing from Lake Garda to Venice, Florence, Verona or the Dolomites. If you click on the text in the link it will show you details of the tours. With a hire car you of course have more freedom to go where you want, but remember there are so many things to do on the lake that you don’t want to spend all your time away from it.

  10. Michael Fegan September 14, 2015 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Hi, My wife and I are staying for a week in Riva, first week in October. Now that our children are no longer children and very nearly at the stage were we can kick them out into the big world. We would like a few ideas as to were we can go and chill, drink wine and then drink some more wine. Is there any good areas close by for sightseeing and relaxing lunches. Thanks for your help with this, much appreciated.

    • admin September 25, 2015 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Michael,
      Sorry I took a while to reply….technical problems with my website.
      I have to admit that I’m not an expert on Riva, but I do know that the nearby town of Arco is a must as you will be so close.
      There are so many beautiful places to see in Lake Gatda but I think that sometimes visitors spend so much time travelling to other parts of the lake that they miss whats on their doorstep. I recommend a ferry trip to Malcesine, which is not too far away, it is a pretty town which is best known for it’s medieval castle. Frome Malcesine you can take the cable car up Monte Baldo, the highest mountain on the lake. If you have good weather it’s the perfect time of the year to go up.
      Limone is also not too far away, another short trip on a ferry, to be honest I wouldn’t go too much further south, save that for another trip and stay around the Gulf of Salo.
      If you can afford it, rent or charter a boat and head down to Brenzone (a bit futher down from Malcesine)and have lunch at Ristorante Umberto…..amazing food and service is as feindly as it gets.
      The rest of the time you should probably explore Riva and Torbole.
      Hope this helps.
      Have a great holiday

  11. Alet February 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Hallo, Any recommendations regarding hiking routes. I will be there in June Kind regards

    • admin February 17, 2016 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      I have given details of some walks on my website and I recommend a guide map that can be purchased from one of my favourite restaurants Hotel Colomber, they may post you one if you write to them.

      The routes are marked up very well in Lake Garda, I recommend you go down to your local Tourist info or Proloco office and ask them to recommend some walks near to you….they usually have some printed of routes in the office.

  12. Cherry March 6, 2016 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Hi me and my husband with our 2 kids(5 yo,&1 yo) will have a holiday in lago di garda this end of june . Do you know what is the closest olive oil mill from pescheira? Thank you

    • admin March 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      Hi I believe the nearset Olive Oil mill is Museo dell’olio Via Peschiera, 54 37011 Cisano VR. You can find information on the map on our 20 places to visit page.
      Hope this helps

  13. Tas July 2, 2016 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Hi. We are visiting lake Garda for 3 nights in August. We will be staying in Brenzone and plan to spend a day in Garda and 1 day in Malcesine. I am keen on a wine tasting tour, could you recomend one that will be close to the places we will visit.

  14. Zoe July 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Hello, there are lots of websites saying don’t visit Lake Garda in August because it’s too busy and crowded. Unfortunately, that’s the only time this Summer we can go – the other date being in October but would have to be for a shorter period.

    Would you say it’s still worth going in August or to leave it for another year when we may be able to go at a better time? Very keen to visit the island but don’t want to waste it!


    • admin July 28, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Zoe, sorry for the late response. It is true that Lake Garda is very busy in August. My advice would be that if you are not planning to travel around the lake too much and just want to stay local to the town you have chosen, then go. All the lakeside towns have a full event calendar, there are so many restaurants that you will always get a table, you may have to book if you find a favourite. The tourist industry of Lake Garda is very well prepared for August, but if you want to visit the top attraction be prepared to queue, and if you want to travel around the lake be prepared to queue.
      October can be amazing if you get lucky with the weather.
      Hope this helps

  15. Sue Pitkin January 4, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    We have booked 10 days in Limone. Best suggestions to see and do. We do not drive. Thank you.

    • admin January 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Sue, you should take the ferry to discover some of the other Lake Garda Towns. Riva and Malcesine are within easy reach and have lots to offer. Whilst in Macesine you could take the cable car up to Monte Baldo. In Limone you should visit La Limonaia del Castèl (Lemon Museum-Limone). To give you more ideas I would need to know what time of year you are visiting.

  16. Lucy March 30, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Hi, Im travelling to Peschiera in May. Will weather be warm enough to tan?

    • admin April 10, 2017 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Lucy, I got back from Salo and wweek ago with a very nice tan. The is never guaranteed but you’d be very unlucky not to have some sun.

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