The Ultimate 12-Day Road Trip Guide to Lago di Garda

Lazise Uncovered

Discovering Italy‘s largest and arguably most picturesque lake, Lago di Garda, is a dream come true. Nestled between Veneto, Lombardy, and Trentino Alto Adige, this lake offers enchanting towns, fascinating historical sites, and an array of outdoor activities. Let’s embark on a 12-day road trip guide to uncover the charm of Lago di Garda and its surrounding towns. I’ve been visiting this beautiful lake every year since I was a baby with my parents so I have enough tips for you for a life time!

Road Trip Guide to Lago di Garda

Day 1-2: Peschiera del Garda

Start your Italian road trip in the lively town of Peschiera del Garda. This fortified town brims with history, evident in the Medieval walls and the 16th-century fortress. Visit the Parco del Mincio and enjoy a boat trip on the canal. For accommodation, there are numerous hotel options catering to different budgets, or you could try a stay at the camping grounds for a unique experience. Make sure to order ice cream here!

Where it’s located: Southern tip of Lago di Garda.
Known for: Its charming old town, fortified walls, and canal system.
Stay: Enjoy a comfortable stay at Hotel Bella Italia – centrally located with beautiful lake views.

» Tip: Don’t miss a boat trip around the lake from here; the views are unbeatable! Read more: The Charm of Peschiera del Garda Travel guide

Peschiera del Garda travel guide
Boats and the bridge in port on Lake Garda, Peschiera del Garda, Italy

Day 3-4: Sirmione | Road Trip Guide to Lago di Garda

Just a 30-minute drive from Peschiera is the romantic town of Sirmione. Known for its thermal springs, impressive Scaliger Castle, and the ruins of Grotte di Catullo, Sirmione is an alluring mix of relaxation and culture. Walk around the Old Town, savor some gelato, and don’t miss a chance to swim in the lake.

Known for: Its medieval castle, thermal baths, and the Grotte di Catullo ruins.
Stay: Hotel Marconi offers both luxury and proximity to major attractions.

» Tip: Treat yourself to the thermal baths, which have been popular since Roman times. Discover more: Hidden Gems of Sirmione at Lago di Garda

Hidden Gems of Sirmione

Day 5: Lazise

Next on the itinerary is Lazise, a quiet town just a short drive from Sirmione. It’s the perfect place to unwind with its lovely harbor, ancient city walls, and beautiful beaches. A walk through the town will take you to the quaint San Nicolò Church and the Dogana Veneta.

Known for: Its medieval walls, harbor, and weekly market.
Stay: Hotel Classique – Excellent food & secret pool is a treat for those looking to relax.

» Tip: Wander the weekly market for local produce and crafts. Delve deeper: Lazise Uncovered

Day 6-7: Bardolino | Road Trip Guide to Lago di Garda

Drive up the eastern coast of Lago di Garda to reach Bardolino. This town is known for its vibrant atmosphere and the famous Bardolino wine. Visit the Wine Museum and the Olive Oil Museum to learn more about these local products. Then, explore the historic center and relax by the lakeside promenade.

Known for: Wine! Especially the Bardolino DOC.
Stay: Aqualux Hotel Spa Suite & Terme is a luxury choice with an outstanding spa.

» Tip: Visit the Wine Museum. Entry costs around €10 and includes wine tasting. Explore: On the move to Bardolino

Day 8: Malcesine and Limone Sul Garda

Continue your journey to Malcesine, famous for its majestic Scaliger Castle and the rotating cable car that takes you to the peak of Monte Baldo. Afterward, visit Limone Sul Garda, known for its charming lemon groves, narrow cobblestone streets, and breathtaking lake views.

Known for: The Scaliger Castle in Malcesine and Limone‘s terraced gardens.
Stay: Hotel Castello Lake Front in Malcesine offers stunning lake views.

» Tip: Take the cable car from Malcesine up to Mount Baldo for panoramic views.

Day 9-10: Riva del Garda

Drive to the northernmost point of the lake to reach Riva del Garda. Surrounded by mountains, this town is perfect for hiking and windsurfing. Explore its medieval towers, visit the Museo Civico, and take a stroll around the bustling Piazza III Novembre.

Known for: Its windsurfing, 12th-century fortress, and the nearby Varone Waterfalls.
Stay: Hotel Luise is a chic choice close to all major sights.

» Tip: For adventure seekers, try windsurfing or sailing in the lake’s northernmost tip.

Road Trip Guide to Lago di Garda

Day 11-12: Salo and Desenzano del Garda

Head towards the western shore to the sophisticated town of Salo. Visit the Italian Social Republic Museum and the lovely promenade. Lastly, end your trip in Desenzano del Garda, the largest town of the lake, where you can enjoy beautiful beaches, a picturesque harbor, and a vibrant nightlife.

Salo is known for: Its elegant promenade, the Duomo, and being the gateway to the western shores.
Stay: Hotel Bellerive offers luxury and easy access to the lakefront.

» Tip: Visit the MuSa (Salò Museum) to dive deep into local history.

Desenzano is known for: Its vibrant nightlife, ancient harbor, and archaeological museum.
Stay: Hotel Bonotto is right at the heart of all the action.

» Tip: Explore the Roman villa ruins for a touch of history. Learn more: On the move to Desenzano del Garda + tips

Road Trip Guide to Lago di Garda

Renting a Car in Lago di Garda

Renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore Lago di Garda at your own pace. In Italy, you need to be at least 21 years old with a minimum of one year driving experience to rent a car. Keep in mind that many cars in Italy are manual transmission, so specify if you need an automatic when booking. Make sure your navigation is set to ‘Avoid Highways’ to enjoy the most scenic routes.

Costs of Traveling

The costs of traveling around for your road trip guide to Lago di Garda depend on your choice of accommodation, dining, and activities. Average daily costs are as follows:

  • Hotels: €65 – €300 EUR
  • Food: €20 – €80 EUR
  • Car Rental: €50 – €150 EUR
  • Activities: €20 – €45 EUR

» Remember to always have travel insurance for peace of mind during your trip.

The End of the Road Trip Guide to Lago di Garda

After 12 days of scenic drives, breathtaking landscapes, ancient townships, and tranquil moments by the lake, your road trip Guide to Lago di Garda adventure concludes. As you head back home, let the warmth of the Italian sun, the aroma of the vineyards, and the gentle lapping of Lago di Garda’s waves become treasured memories. This journey has not only provided you with countless stories to recount but also instilled an undeniable yearning to return.

The charm of Lago di Garda’s enchanting towns and the experiences you’ve immersed yourself in have been a testament to the Italian saying, “Il bel far niente” – the beauty of doing nothing. They’ve taught you to appreciate life’s simple pleasures – a glorious sunset, a leisurely stroll, a delicious gelato.

As you navigate the winding roads leading away from the tranquil blue of the lake, you’ll find yourself leaving a piece of your heart behind. This is not a goodbye but a “see you later.” After all, the road that leads you away is the same one that can guide you back to the unforgettable beauty of Lago di Garda.

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