A Guide to Garda: Where to Go, Eat, and Stay by the Lake

One of Italy’s best destinations is undoubtedly Lake Garda. Italy’s largest lake is a haven with everything for everyone - swimming, hiking, shopping, spas, incredible food, and - of course - wine! Lake Garda is surrounded by fantastic wine regions producing delicious wines, from white to red to vibrant rosé like Bardolino’s famed Chiaretto.

Lake Garda's massive size can make it seem a little daunting to figure out where to go (Garda is so large that it rests between two regions!) That’s precisely why we put together your ultimate guide to Garda, highlighting the places to see, eat, and stay (yes, that includes wineries too.)

Towns You Must Visit

Desenzano del Garda

Night image of coastal town of Desenzano del Grada in Italy

At the southern end of the lake lies Desenzano del Garda, sheltered by moraine hills with magnificent views of the lake. The best part is: it’s the most convenient town to reach without a car. Multiple regional and high-speed trains arrive in Desenzano daily, making it a great day trip.

What’s fun about Desenzano del Garda is its history. The town itself brings a fascinating mix of new and old architecture - some reminiscent of Desenzano’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s when it was considered practically the Ibiza of Italy!

Of course, there is plenty of ancient history here too. Desenzano is a place for history lovers, home to an extraordinary castle, archaeological museum, and Villa Romana, a 2000-year-old villa with beautiful ancient Roman mosaics.
As you can see, Desenzano has it all. History, food, views, shopping, beaches, and more! Our suggestion is to have a picnic at one of Desenzano’s wonderful lakeside beaches. We suggest Rivoltella or Dezananino - both easily accessible and with stunning lakefront views. When aperitivo time rolls around, you can head to Cafè Bosio by Porte Vecchio to relax, sip a spritz, and enjoy excellent people-watching.


Spa lovers - rejoice! Sirmione is the peninsula of your dreams, with thermal baths and dreamy lake views. It's just east of Desenzano, accessible by bus or by car. Sirmione is a luxurious destination great for a day trip or weekend getaway. With stunning hotels, spas, and even Michelin-level restaurants, Sirmione brings a lot in just 10 square miles. Did we mention there’s a castle, too?

Sirmione is an excellent pick for the warmer months, as you can take advantage of all the outdoor activities. The historic center of Sirmione is quite the charmer, with little shops and places to eat. We advise taking a stroll after a morning at the thermal baths. Then, spend the afternoon visiting the Rocca Scaligero, Sirmione’s famous medieval castle built back in 1278. As dusk eases in, head for a boat ride around the peninsula and savor the fantastic panoramic lake views before heading to Trattoria Antica Contrada for a marvelous seafood meal.



Home to fabulous wines, the town of Bardolino boasts much to love. Before you head for a glass, note that this town is a gateway to natural heaven. There are boat tours, hikes, and enchanting overlooks, like Punta San Vigilio.

Bardolino is an ancient town with a rich history that you can see as you stroll through its historic center. Chiesa di San Severo will send you 1200 years back in time with its relics and antique stone facade. But then, a quick trip to any of the fabulous wineries just outside the center will give you a real taste of Bardolino’s terroir and wine history through their famous Chiaretto rosato.

After a beautiful day of site-seeing and wine drinking, you must indulge in the local food. Ristorante Da Beppina is a go-to seafood spot. Or, if you’re feeling casual, Ristorante Pizzeria is great for a no-frills meal. Just don’t forget to take a walk on the Lungolago di Bardolino to catch the sunset or for a post-dinner passeggiata, the Italian way!

Limone sul Garda

Call it the Amalfi of Lake Garda if you wish, Limone sul Garda is quite the stunner. It is on the northwestern side of the lake, where Garda shows more of its glacial lake colors. The town gets its name from - you guessed it - lemons. For years, Limone sul Garda has produced citrus. Between the picturesque village, the flowers, and the endless lemon trees, it doesn’t get more magical (and romantic) than this place.

Pro tip: If you have a group, it’s best to arrive at Limone sul Garda by boat. It gives you a complete panorama of the town and all its citrus glory. Plus, you will have majestic panorama views of the Alps and the lake.

Wineries to Visit

 Italy, Garda, Wine Field

Cà dei Frati

One of the lake’s larger wineries, Cà dei Frati is conveniently located in Sirmione. They produce fantastic wines exemplary of Lugana, a beloved Italian white wine denomination. Their tasting room offers flexible hours, allowing you to savor their wines and potentially even tour their winery. It’s best to book ahead.

Ca’ Lojera

Located in Peschiera del Garda is Ca’ Lojera - a fantastic winery producing delicious Bardolino Chiaretto and Lugana wines. However, this winery is also up to some magic when it comes to its sparkling wines. Ca’ Lojera uses local grapes to create some excellent bubbly. At their cozy tasting room open, you can experience their unique wine selection and a private tour of their winery. Be sure to book ahead - their tasting room is only open Thursdays and Saturdays.


Want to know a secret? The famous Valpolicella wine region isn’t that far from Lake Garda. We suggest stopping by Bertoldi - a historic winery with wonderful hospitality and location. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Bardolino and a half-hour drive from Sirmione or Desenzano, making it an easy addition to your trip itinerary. While they offer excellent Valpolicella wines, they also make Custoza, a signature white wine of the area you must try while in Lake Garda.

Where to Stay on Lake Garda

Quellenhof Luxury Resort Lazise

Just south of Bardolino, you find the town of Lazise and the Quellenhof Luxury Resort. This hotel is the complete spa package in an elegant, contemporary atmosphere. Its modern design contrasts the green, olive tree-studded landscape that you can gaze at from Quellenhof’s serene natural pool, a gorgeous extension of the lake. It’s luxurious yet welcoming - this hotel & spa is open to families, which includes your four-legged friends.

Locanda San Vigilio

For those craving historic charm, Locanda San Vigilio has it and so much more. This locanda (or inn) has been around for over 500 years. It's welcomed figures you may be familiar with, like Napoleon or Vivian Leigh. With its lakefront location and cozy rooms fit with antique furniture, you will feel transported to another time when you might have been royalty of Lago di Garda.

Villa Cortine

This hotel is a combination of old-school elegance and modern extravagance. With gorgeous gardens, a private pier, and endless lake views, Villa Cortine emanates only one thing: luxury. It’s the place to stay for a special occasion and undoubtedly worth it. Their rooms are fit for a Queen, with marble-accented bathrooms, columns, and sprawling terraces.

Ready to plan your trip to Lake Garda? We don’t blame you - with so much to do and this guide in your pocket (or shall we say saved in your smartphone!) you are ready to have one of the most unique, wine-driven Italian vacations in lake paradise.

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