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Best things to do in Lake Garda 2024

Simon Calder’s Travel

In a country like Italy, spoilt rotten with fantastic tourist destinations and beautiful sites, from the historic cities of Rome and Florence to the the breathtaking landscapes of the Dolomites and the Amalfi Coast, a place has to be exceptional to stand out.

But Italy’s lakes manage it, sitting pretty in the north of the country, combining centuries-old architecture, riviera colours, and magnificent landscapes – with Lake Garda arguably the most delightful of the lot. Rolling hills, covered with verdant forests and hillside greenery, climb up from the waters, while a slew of pastel-hued towns are scattered throughout.

Hiking, walking and water sports are all ways to fill the day, or you can simply live a bit of la dolce vita among the olive groves, vineyards and tree-lined promenades.

With so many towns on the lake, picking out where to go and what to do may seem tricky, but we’ve rounded up a list of the best things to fill your holiday on this Italian lake.

Visit the lake’s main towns

(Fed Lov)

Lake Garda has a handful of larger towns that are ‘must-see’ destinations along its shores. Riva del Garda and Desenzano del Garda are two of the largest, both filled with russet-roofed, pastel-hued Venetian and Baroque buildings. Both offer water sports, quaint restaurants and a dash of history, in the form of the Desenzano’s well-preserved Roman villa and Riva’s 13th-century Apponale clock tower.

For one of the most peaceful towns on the lake, head to Peschiera, a town dotted with pastel buildings and ornate bridges that is also a popular spot for ferry tours. In the west, the pretty town of Salò, which once served as Italy’s de facto capital under Mussolini, is a colourful blend of Italian history and culture, from a medieval Santa Maria cathedral to the Baroque palace. It is also famed for having one of the longest promenades in the country, making it the ideal spot for a stroll.

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Spend an afternoon on the Isola del Garda

Isola del Garda has a long and varied history, including being used as a Roman burial ground

(Michael Bosma)

The Isola del Garda is the largest island on the lake, and despite being owned by the Cavazza family, it has been open to the public since 2002. Today, this verdant landscape is covered in forest, with one side dominated by the Villa Borghese Cavazza, a neo-Gothic…

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