Our unrivaled Lake Garda, the largest in Italy, so rich in beauty and activities that you don’t know which ones to choose … maybe too many and this is your dilemma, right? You may be wondering, “If I only have 24 hours, what can I do? What to choose? “
Don’t worry, this article is specially designed for these situations. I’ll take care of advising you about the main things to do on Lake Garda in a day.
First of all, being a very large territory, I would suggest you choose the area you would prefer to visit.
But if you don’t want to miss anything and see as much as possible, you can take a complete tour of the lake. After all it’s “only” 140 km. You can choose where to stop, perhaps at the two opposite poles, Riva and Sirmione, and why not combine the visit with a lunch and/or dinner. Is it too tiring to drive all the time? No problem, here is a solution. In summer there is the possibility of taking a complete tour of the lake by bus with 4 stops and one ferry ride. Discover the complete experience
If this whole road still seems like an insurmountable obstacle, let’s go back to the original idea, choose an area and enjoy it. As you know there are many places to visit on Lake Garda, you just have to decide where to start.
Your needs may depend on various factors: the weather, if you are with children or with a group or with your partner.
I show you some tips, dividing the experiences into categories, in order to make the reading as clear as possible.
1. WHAT TO DO IN A DAY WITH THE BOAT
Let’s start with a great classic.
One of the most requested activities by visitors arriving on the lake is a nice boat ride, especially in a beautiful sunny day.
The catch lies in the timing. As they are scheduled boats, they stop in all the main ports of the lake, thus making the crossing a real trip. For example, if you want to go around the entire lake by boat, from Peschiera to Riva and back, you will need the whole day. You can stay on the boat for the entire route and get off at Riva for an hour, then go back up and enjoy the return.
If, on the other hand, you are tempted by the idea of trying this experience but taking advantage of shorter routes, I will show you 3 recommended itineraries.
If you like the landscapes of the Upper Lake, I suggest you do not miss the triangle that connects Malcesine, Riva and Limone. In just one day you can touch 3 different regions, enjoy a breathtaking landscape and you will also have tried the experience of the boat.
If, on the other hand, you prefer the Veronese area, you can travel along the south-east coast, touching the towns of Peschiera, Lazise, Bardolino and Garda. For the return you can go directly to Peschiera or from Garda to Sirmione, another top location, and from there return to Peschiera.
Another option is for the Brescia side lovers. If you leave from Desenzano you can enjoy the wonderful landscapes of the whole Lower Lake, comfortably aboard the boats. From Desenzano the ferries will take you first to Sirmione, then to the Veronese side, and lastly cross again and the lake to Salò. It is worth even taking advantage of the Desenzano-Sirmione section, believe me.
In short, the boat routes are highly customizable, you just have to keep an eye on the timetable and that’s it.
Before continuing with the things to do on Lake Garda in the day, there is one last advice I want to give you.
Have you ever considered the idea of taking a different boat tour than usual?
I am no longer talking about small routes on large and crowded ferries, but organized tours in private boats, usually for up to 20 people. Even better, what about personalized trips?
It is an excellent experience if you are in a group or even for couples. Imagine the reaction of your sweetheart in discovering such a surprising and unexpected gift.
We have arrived at the fateful moment. We are about to discover the most recommended destinations and activities to discover these wonderful places to visit on Lake Garda in a day.
2. WHICH LAKE GARDA COUNTRIES TO VISIT IN THE DAY
IN THE UPPER LAKE
First, let’s start with the most recommended villages in the northern part of our beautiful lake. If you decide to visit this area, you certainly can’t miss the 3 main towns: Limone, Riva with the nearby Torbole and Malcesine.
Each of these places has to offer different activities, city views and breathtaking landscapes.
My advice is to manage your times well and try to visit all three. Because? Well, in addition to the reasons mentioned above, you can pass through 3 different regions in just one day, covering only about 30 km!
My advice is to start from Limone, an extraordinary town, characteristic for this very fragrant citrus fruit, which gives that extra touch of color. In this regard, I will reveal to you a curiosity: did you know that this is the northernmost area in the world where lemons are grown? Knowing this, you can’t miss a trip to one of the town’s lemon houses, such as the famous Limonaia del Castel.
After getting lost in the streets of the historic center, after numerous selfies and stocking up on local products, it’s time to go. You can take your car back, or take the ARRIVA company bus 27, and head towards Riva del Garda.
Here a walk through the historic center, rich in history, art and life, will allow you to discover the many beauties of the country.
You can climb the Apponale Tower, symbol of the city of 34 meters high, but also visit the Rocchetta, or the circular Bastion. You can reach it by car or along a beautiful scenic trekking route, but since you have little time, you can take advantage of the inclined lift. It is a panoramic glass cabin that will take you to the bastion in a few minutes, where you will also find a bar-restaurant. You could take advantage of it for a good lunch or even just an aperitif with a view, what do you think?
Once you have visited Riva, it’s time to move towards the last stop of the things to do on Lake Garda in the day. Get back in your car and go to Malcesine, but along the way you can also enjoy the beautiful Torbole, another little gem of Lake Garda.
Once you arrive in Malcesine, stop for a few minutes to admire the view that this town offers. I recommend that you get lost in the beautiful historic center and fully enjoy this village, certified “Orange Flag” by the Italian Touring Club. After that you can go to the two symbols of the town: the Scaliger Castle and the Palazzo dei Capitani.
The first one, dating back to the sixth century, will give you a breathtaking view. The Palazzo dei Capitani, on the other hand, is an ancient palace in the Venetian-Gothic style, now home to the Town Hall and the library. A gem of this place is the portal located on the east wall, which leads to a wonderful garden by the lake.
If you are a lover of the Veronese coast, let’s see which are the places to visit on Lake Garda in this area. Keep reading.
ON THE VERONESE SHORE
Did you know that the towns with the highest number of visitors are concentrated in the south-east area of Lake Garda?
We are talking about beautiful countries, very close but at the same time different from each other.
Being an area rich in activities and beauties, I propose two itineraries to choose from.
The first itinerary is a visit to the towns of Peschiera del Garda, Lazise and Bardolino.
Located on the same coast, at a distance of 16 km in total, they are among the 3 most sought-after villages on the lake. They are also connected to each other by a beautiful cycle-pedestrian path.Peschiera del Garda, with its Venetian fortress, UNESCO heritage site since 2017, is the easiest to reach, thanks to the motorway connections. It can certainly give you many beautiful views and a full immersion in Italian and local history and culture. You can visit the famous historic building, see the Roman remains of ancient Arilica and much more. Maybe walking with the audio guides or, why not, taking advantage of the Peschiera Walking Tour.
Lazise is the first free municipality of Italy, as well as the most visited town on the lake. With its small historic center enclosed within the walls, this small village offers romantic and characteristic views in every corner. Visit the pretty church of San Nicolò, stroll along the characteristic Lungolago Marconi and in the suggestive streets of the center.
Finally, Bardolino, with its beautiful lakefront and its Ferris wheel, will allow you to enjoy all the scenic beauties that this area has to offer. As we know, however, Bardolino is also the land of the homonymous wine. So you cannot miss a trip to the Wine Museum or some tasting.
But now let’s see the second itinerary I promised you.
This combines history, nature and relaxation in a single visit. I’m talking about the town of Garda, which with its pretty historic center will attract you to typical restaurants and shops. A beautiful lakeside walk will lead you to Punta San Vigilio, a famous corner of paradise which, thanks to its position, will make you feel immersed in the surrounding landscape.
Last but not least, a nice hike up to the Rocca di Garda is what it takes, especially for nature lovers. Once you get to the top you will feel the master of the world, with a breathtaking view of the lake seen from above.
Of all these wonderful places to visit on Lake Garda you can find the related articles in the upper blue section. Go and check them out.
Let’s not forget the southwestern coast of the lake. This is also full of villages to be discovered. Here are some tips on the things to do on Lake Garda in the day in this area.
ON THE BRESCIAN SHORE
If you prefer the landscapes of the Brescia coast, I suggest 3 itineraries to choose from.
The first suggestion is to sees Salò, protagonist of part of the Italian history, and Gardone with its famous Vittoriale.
In Salò you can spend an enchanting morning, perhaps starting with a good breakfast overlooking the lake, and then strolling through the center among history and current events.
Among the most important buildings, I would like to mention the Palazzo della Magnifica Patria, connected to the Palazzo del Podestà. It is a single structure, divided by a small covered loggia, perfect for artistic and different photos.
After enjoying the town to the full, move to nearby Gardone Riviera. A coffee in the center or lakeside and then straight to the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the famous complex built by Gabriele D’Annunzio in 1921. Among the wonders that you can visit in this fairytale place, I mention the Museum “Automobile is Female”, the Amphitheater, and the beautiful Park.
The second itinerary starts from Sirmione, the pearl of Lake Garda, and leads to Desenzano, the center of Lombard lake life.
To visit Sirmione, you can park just a few steps from the historic center, which will immediately welcome you with the Scaliger Castle. Take the opportunity to visit it.
If the day is sunny, enjoy a nice ice cream until, walking through the streets of the center, you arrive at the famous Grotte di Catullo. Take your time to visit them, it’s really worth it. Then stop in one of the restaurants in the center for a good lunch and finally calmly return to the car, it’s time to go to Desenzano.
The second part of the day is dedicated to this vital town. In addition to the wide choice of bars, cool clubs and lakeside kiosks, Desenzano also offers moments of peace thanks to walks and beaches. With a beautiful day I suggest you take a walk along the lakefront until you reach the lighthouse, one of the symbols of the town.
Taking a few photos, then reach the nearby characteristic marina, convenient as it is right in the center of Desenzano. Cross the picturesque Venetian bridge and enjoy the view of our wonderful lake.
If you are passionate about history, visit the castle of Desenzano, from which you can enjoy a splendid panorama, and the remains of the Roman Villa. With only € 4 you can visit the most important archaeological evidence of the great late ancient villas in northern Italy.
The third itinerary concerns the area of Manerba del Garda.
You cannot come here and not visit the Rocca and Sasso Nature Reserve. It is an entire naturalistic area that offers routes of all kinds, with the constant of a breathtaking view.
You can also visit the Archaeological Museum, organized on two floors. On the lower floor you will find an archaeological exhibition with finds from the surrounding areas, while the upper floor is dedicated to the naturalistic aspect.
Finally, you will surely be attracted to the nearby San Biagio Island, also known as Rabbit Island, which you can reach by boat or on foot for about 150 meters. If you decide to visit it in the summer and the water reaches your knees, as well as being a nice experience it is also a great way to cool off.
Let’s now see together which places to visit on Lake Garda in the day if you are with children.
3. THINGS TO DO ON LAKE GARDA IN A DAY WITH THE CHILDREN
IN THE UPPER LAKE
If you decide to take a nice day trip out of town with your children, Lake Garda has many solutions to offer you.
If the weather is warm, a short boat ride is always an experience that even the little ones appreciate. For example, you can choose to make the crossing from Malcesine to Limone, which takes only 20 minutes. Also, in the height of summer you can enjoy the beaches and, if the kids are grown, take advantage of the wind for some water sports.
Another super recommended option is a dip in nature and local landscapes. In Limone you can ride a bike along the Ciclovia Sospesa (suspended cycle path), which is not too long, so even your children can do it peacefully. Also, can you imagine their emotion in finding themselves next to a large mountain, suspended over the lake?
An idea could be to choose between the boat and the cycle path in the morning and spend the afternoon visiting the famous Varone waterfalls. A few kilometers from Riva del Garda they are a natural spectacle always loved by everyone, with wild gorges, splashes and colored lights.
ON THE VERONESE SHORE
Looking for an easy win?
The Veronese shore of the lake is home to the major amusement parks in the area.
From Gardaland to Movieland, from the animals of the Natura Viva Park to the fun slides of Caneva, there is always a solution to spend a happy day. You just have to choose which park to enjoy, based on the age and preferences of your children.
If you are in the Peschiera area, I remind you that a few kilometers away there are the Cavour water park and the splendid Sigurtà Park. You can take advantage of the beautiful days to spend a day surrounded by greenery or cool off in the water between games and laughter.
There are so many places to visit on Lake Garda that you can get lost. Visit the section reserved for parks for all the info and prices.
A quieter alternative that I can suggest is a nice lakeside walk.
Between Lazise and Garda you can enjoy a simple and wonderful path, which will help you relax and forget bad thoughts. You could consider renting bicycles and making the journey with the children in tow, perhaps after a good ice cream cone.
ON THE BRESCIAN SHORE
For a day with children in this area I give you two suggestions.
The first has a more didactic character: you could go together to discover how paper is made at the Toscolano Maderno Paper Museum. In the afternoon, after a good lunch and some relaxing, you could take a nice walk in the middle of nature in the Valley of the paper mills.
Another thing to do on Lake Garda in a day is a beautiful union between art and sport.
My proposal is to go in the morning to visit one of the castles in the area. I suggest that of Padenghe or Sirmione. Imagine how happy your children will be when they feel a little like princes and princesses.
After a good lunch and some relaxation on the beach, you can choose to spend the rest of the afternoon having fun together. A match of minigolf, a ride on a SUP or some other water sport are ideal solutions.
There are many activities to do, but even a simple afternoon on the beach in one of the many places to visit on Lake Garda is always popular.
4. THINGS TO DO ON LAKE GARDA IN A DAY IN A GROUP
School, company or friends, if you are part of a group Lake Garda will welcome you with open arms.
Sure, you can take advantage of the options mentioned so far, but I’ll give you some other ideas, surely you can add it to the list of things to evaluate.
But first I remind you that personalization is the key to everything.
You can contact us for any particular request, and we will be happy to prepare something ad hoc for your needs. Some examples could be private guided tours, accompanied excursions or team building experiences.
IN THE UPPER LAKE
An addition to the suggestions already given so far is certainly a visit to some museum.
Among the must-sees of this area I highly recommend you visit the MAG and the Hydroelectric Plant in Riva del Garda.
The first one, located inside the Rocca, manages spaces reserved for temporary exhibitions and workshops also aimed at children and families.
The second one, on the other hand, provides a multimedia and very engaging tour. A historic place, dating back to the 1920s, where you can discover how to transform water into energy.
Moving towards Limone, I remember you not to miss a visit to the Limonaia del Castel, but there is another place that might interest you. I’m talking about the Fishermen’s Museum, inside the Municipal Park and near the Limonaia. Here you and your group can discover the ancient local rural customs and the transformation of this fishing village.
Finally, we cannot forget the beautiful Malcesine and all the charm it can offer. Here you should definitely visit the Natural History Museum of Monte Baldo and Garda. It is located inside the Casermetta of the Scaliger Castle and offers a path of 9 rooms. You will discover the territory of Malcesine and the lake and deepen the themes of the mountains and the landscape.
ON THE VERONESE SHORE
The southeastern part of the lake is teeming with activities that you can do as a group. On the other hand, we find here some of the most famous places to visit on Lake Garda.
I would start with the guided tours of two important towns: Peschiera del Garda and Lazise.
These are walking tours with a local guide, who will take you to discover the history and culture of the city. The duration is relatively 45 minutes for Peschiera and 90 minutes for Lazise.
An alternative, especially in the summer, is the possibility of taking a nice boat trip. You can choose to take advantage of those already recommended or to create a personalized one, based on your wishes and needs.
If the days are so beautiful that you want to fully enjoy the landscape, why not rent a bike and take the Mincio cycle path? It moves away from the lake, but I assure you that it is just as deserving. It can lead you to Borghetto, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
One last idea if in the group there are good wine lovers: a visit with tastings in one of the many wineries in the area. Seeing and tasting the typical local products are the best way to discover the area.
The Verona area is famous both for the production of extra virgin olive oil and for its wine. As for the first, do not miss a visit to the Cisano Oil Museum, admission is free! As for wine, however, you will be spoiled for choice among the various specialized companies. I recommend that you taste the Chiaretto and the famous Bardolino wine, typical of this area.
ON THE BRESCIAN SHORE
As mentioned for the Verona area, the Brescia area is also full of farms that produce excellent quality wine.
Wine tastings are popular in these areas, thanks to the strong presence of local producers. We are talking about labels exported all over the world.
If you are in the eastern part of Lombardy, do not miss the Lugana, a truly delicious white wine.
On the other hand, in the westernmost area, Franciacorta is a must, to be tasted absolutely.
In addition, especially on sunny days, boat trips cannot be missed. We can organize tailor-made proposals based on the number of people and interests, in order to satisfy everyone.
Among the most popular boat tours I can suggest a ride in the Sirmione-Desenzano-Manerba triangle.
There is one place, however, that you and your group absolutely cannot miss if you are on this side of the lake: Isola del Garda.
Located a few strokes from San Felice del Benaco, this island with its imposing neo-Gothic villa and its gardens will leave you speechless.
In addition to the majesty of the villa itself, from its terraces you can enjoy one of the most spectacular views of Lake Garda.
Being a private island, the visit is only possible by booking through private tours. Visit the dedicated section.
5. THINGS TO DO ON LAKE GARDA IN THE DAY IF IT RAINS
IN THE UPPER LAKE
As mentioned in the section dedicated to groups, an excellent solution to choose when it rains is to visit the various museums and castles.
The Limonaia del Castel in Limone remains a must, as well as the hydroelectric plant in Riva, which also offers educational workshops for children. A great way to spend a few hours with them and let them have fun on a rainy day, combining an educational experience.
In addition to the museums mentioned above, let’s not forget that Malcesine boasts a wonderful castle to visit. Take advantage of it!
But still on the cultural theme, you can evaluate a small shift and go and visit one of the most important galleries in Europe: the MART in Rovereto. It is a Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, founded in 2002. Just think that the building itself is an architectural masterpiece.
So many places to visit on Lake Garda, isn’t it? Don’t miss any, read the other articles to discover all the main things in each city.
ON THE VERONESE SHORE
If the good weather has not helped you do not despair, in this area you have more opportunities to take advantage of.
What do you think of going to discover the magical underwater world with Gardaland Sealife?
Everything is indoors and you can get lost among colorful fish, jellyfish and seahorses and take lots of selfies in the blue underwater tunnel.
Finally, to end the day in style, book a good dinner in one of the Canevaworld restaurants. At Medieval Times you can enjoy a truly engaging dinner show. If, on the other hand, you feel you have a rock soul, there is the Rock Star Reastaurant. Those who want to play it safe can choose pizza with a huge and explosive dessert at Safari Pizza.
La Grande Mela Shopping Land offers an excellent solution for an alternative day. With its several shops will make you lose track of time. But that’s not all … the top floor is the realm of fun. Various restaurants and a rich game center with bowling and a multiplex cinema. What more could you ask for?
ON THE BRESCIAN SHORE
If you have decided to spend a day on Lake Garda but the weather is not the best, you can always rely on the nearby Leone Shopping Center. If you arrive from the Brescia side, in Lonato you can get lost among the various shops of this mall.
Otherwise, a nice visit to the castles in the area is always an original idea and here you are spoiled for choice. You can visit Padenghe, Lonato, Desenzano, Soiano and obviously the most famous one in Sirmione. True, many are outdoors, but places like these have their own charm even in the rainy day.
Finally, while you are in Sirmione, treat yourself to a day of relaxation at the famous Aquaria thermal baths. Even if it rains you can enjoy face and body treatments, large spaces for relaxation and a circuit of saunas and steam baths. There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of the renowned thermal waters of Sirmione.
Here is the overview of the things to do on Lake Garda in the day.
So, what are you waiting for?
All the wonderful places to visit on Lake Garda are just waiting for you!