There are countless things to do and see in Peschiera del Garda. This picturesque village on Lake Garda is home to several architectural and cultural beauties. And not only that, Peschiera also offers the opportunity to do numerous activities and events; Infact, you will find something interesting every month. After my short introduction, you will find my list of, what I think, are the three best things to do and see in Peschiera del Garda!
Peschiera del Garda is a fortified town in the south of Lake Garda with a long history and ancient traditions. It is located at the mouth of the River Mincio, the only emissary of Lake Garda. Peschiera del Garda is often chosen because it is an excellent starting point to explore the rest of the lake, whether by bus, ferry, bike or car!
Wondering about places to visit on Lake Garda? Peschiera is one of the must-see towns on this lake and offers unforgettable views to capture at every corner.
How to reach Peschiera del Garda
There are several ways to get in Peschiera del Garda and it might be interesting to know that also the ancient Gallic Way during the roman period ran through this town. Nowadays things did not change really. Infact, Peschiera del Garda still is an important town, in terms of infrastructure.
- You can reach this town easily by train and car as it has a the railway station and highway entrance connecting Milan and Venic.
- If you arrive by plane to Verona, Peschiera is just 23 km from the airport. And it is also quite easy to reach with the public transportation coming from Milan – Bergamo Airport.
- Are you a cycling or hiking enthusiast? Peschiera is connected to the city of Mantova by a very nice bike path along the river Mincio. But there are also other cycling routes, for example along the lake to Lazise, Bardolino and Garda. More information and details about this and other cycle routes in the dedicated article “Cycle paths on Lake Garda“.
- If you are in another town on lake garda, you can reach Peschiera by public ferry as it has a harbour.
So what are the main things to do and see in Peschiera del Garda? Find it out in the next part of this article.
1. Peschiera del Garda Fortress, UNESCO Heritage
One of the main points of interest in Peschiera del Garda are the Venetian walls, which are included in the list of Venetian Defense Works between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of UNESCO heritage.
Due to the strategic position where Peschiera is located, it is not surprising that this village has been characterized by numerous dominations throughout history. And the beauty of Peschiera del Garda is that all these eras have left visible traces in the center.
The existence of this village seems to have started with a Bronze Age stilt-dwelling settlement. This settlement later became part of the Roman Empire where Peschiera got the name “Arilica“. The reason why the inhabitants of Peschiera are still called Arilicensi!
Subsequently it became the seat of the castle and fortress of the Veronese Scaligeri family in the thirteenth century. And it was only during the domination of the Serenissima Republic of Venice that itassumed the aspect that it still possesses today of a pentagonal fortress with five ramparts. A feature that made it famous worldwide as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
The Pentagonal Venetian UNESCO Fortress is one of the places you should visit on Lake Garda!
Many people do not know that also Peschiera has a medieval castle, or better said, a big part of what is left of the original castle. You can find the castle, named Rocchetta, inside one of the ramparts of Peschiera del Garda, known as Bastione Cantarane. Its the rampart in the direction of the river Mincio.
To help you imagine the kind of castle that Peschiera had, you just have to visit Lazise and Sirmione as it had the same architectural style as these two castles. Infact, the medieval fortifications of Sirmione, Peschiera del Garda and Lazise formed a defensive triangle in the south-east coast of Lake Garda. Now you probabibly wonder why and who hid the castle inside the rampart of the Venetian Fortress?
This happened under the domination of the Republic of Venice and their need to make the pentagonal shape around the towncenter. The castle of course was set right between the end of the lake and the beginning of the river so it had to become “part” of the Venetian Defense System. To fully admire the magnificence of the venetian fortified complex, we recommend taking a walk on the different ramparts and walls. *Not all parts are open to public.
Crossing the Porta Brescia bridge that crosses the Fossa Reale, (the right branch of the Mincio river) you can see Bastione Feltrin on the right and Bastione Tognon on the left. It is interesting to know that the optical telegraph, used during the last years of the domination of the Habsburg army, was located on Tognon. This allowed to connect the town of Peschiera with the military fortress of Pastrengo and command center of Verona.
There are many places to visit on Lake Garda, if you are going up to Bastione Querini you can have a beautiful view of the lake and the port, access route for all the boats that reach the city.
Bastione San Marco instead is an excellent vantage point and strategic control of the homonymous gateway. From this you can also admire the Bastione Cantarane, the second built and the southernmost of the Fortress. Inside this one there is the Rocchetta, seat of the Scaliger castle and the remains of the ancient Roman tower of the Via Gallica. *At the moment this part is not visitable because subjected to restoration.
In August, the traditional Palio delle Mura competition takes place around the walls of the fortress. The event begins with a parade of rowers on the canals around the Venetian walls, the boats are a faithful reconstruction of those of the sixteenth century. The most important part of this sporting event are the different types of competitions on the water accompanied by live music shows.
2. Things to do and se in the historical center of Peschiera del Garda
The historical center is surrounded by four channels that flow from the lake into the Mincio River. Peschiera del Garda is connected to the land by two bridges. Both have flowers hanging all year round, so it is a good place to take colorful photographies. These two bridges lead to two entrance gates; Porta Brescia, also called countryside-gate; and Porta Verona; the main gate.
Porta Verona is recognizable by the majestic Venetian lion of San Marco, which watches over the entrance. The original lion was destroyed by Napoleon’s army as a sign of contempt. The lion you see now was placed in 2019 to give this gate back its splendor. Thanks to the faithful reconstruction carried out by the Academy of Fine Arts of Verona.
What makes Peschiera del Garda completely different from other villages on Lake Garda is the fact that you can see sights from different eras while walking in the center.
After the Venetians, the Fortress of Peschiera del Garda was also used during the Napoleonic and Habsburg eras. From 1800 it became a Habsburg stronghold, and part of the defending Quadrilateral in northern Italy; il Quadrilatero. Left by the Habsburg Empire, in Peschiera del Garda we find the Palleria and the Caserma d’Artiglieria, the latter completely restored and now home to the town library. In the inner square of the Caserma you can also find the town museum; Museo della Pesca e delle Tradizioni Lacustri.
Crossing the green Catullo Park you can see the Caserma Franciscus I and Palazzo degli ufficiali. Within the historical center you find a square with fountains known as Piazza Ferdinando di Savoia, once called Piazza Armi. Next to this square you find built the imposing Caserma XXX Maggio; the Austrian Military Hospital. Also, in the square, you find the Church of San Martino with next to it the Roman remains of Arilica dating back to the 1st-4th century A.D.
Few know that Peschiera del Garda played a significant role in the fate of the First World War. In 1917, the Palazzo del Comandante, now called Palazzina Storica, was chosen as location for the inter-allied conference to decide how to react to the defeat suffered at Caporetto. Also the Italian Kind Emanuele III was present.
To discover and enjoy this town to the fullest, I invite you to join our Peschiera Walking Tour. A guided visit of 40 minutes to learn interesting details about Peschiera del Garda.
We have already mentioned the two bridges leading to the entrance gates, but there is one third bridge, symbol of Peschiera del Garda. The Ponte dei Voltoni crossing the Canale di Mezzo. You can recognize this bridge by the 5 arches.
Many events take place on and around the Voltoni Bridge:
- Every year, at the beginning of November, Peschiera celebrates its village saint San Martino. During this event, a spectacular firework show is organized to the beats of music known as the “Incendio dei Voltoni”.
- Another folkloric event in the city is the Games on the Canal that are done in July. Three days of fun and a little madness. Participants will engage in bizarre disciplines such as the cycle dive and the inflatable race on the Middle Canal, laughs are assured.
You can walk through the city and the Venetian fortress along with a guide with the Peschiera Walking Tour. Or independently with the audio guides that you can rent at Tourism Peschiera Infopoint
Starting from the historical center and in my list of things to do and see in Peschiera del Garda are also the two lake side promenades; Lungolago Mazzini and Lungolago Garibaldi. The ideal places to empty your mind and just enjoy the colors and sounds of Lake Garda.
3. Cycling-and walking trail along the river Mincio
As third among the things to do and see in Peschiera del Garda we recommend the bike-and walkingpath connecting Peschiera with the city of Mantua. A spectacular 44 km long pedestrian and cycle path that winds along the banks of the Mincio, the river that separates the Veneto region from Lombardy.
The route is mostly flat and therefore easily accessible for everyone, experts and amateurs. For this reason it is also suitable for families who want to explore the natural environment with their children far away from road traffic. The trail starts at Bastione Feltrin.
The route not only offers the pleasure of a quiet and relaxing ride in nature, but also leads to other sights that are very beautiful. Among these, definitely worth a stop in Borghetto sul Mincio, a mini-village included in the list of “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy“. Borghetto is located on the river Mincio and is popular for the water mills on the houses.
This village is part of the municipality of Valeggio sul Mincio, another charming town not far along the way. Dominated by the majestic Scaliger Castle, the city is also famous for its traditional dish; tortellini of Valeggio. If you are in the area at lunchtime you can not miss a good dish in one of the many typical trattorias of the place!
Valeggio is also home to the most beautiful botanical park in Italy, second in Europe: Parco Giardino Sigurtà. A park of 600,000 square meters home to hundreds of plant-and flowerspecies. You can also access the park with your bike.
After this enchanting stop between nature and history, the cycle path from Mincio continues towards Mantua. Once outside the Parco Naturale del Mincio, the landscape changes in appearance until you will be able, finally, to see the crenellated towers and palaces of Mantua in the distance.
These were the things we consider best to and see in Peschiera del Garda, but there would be many more! Every visitor who comes to our town falls in love with a different place or landscape. You just have to come and decide your favourite corner by yourself.