Travel Guide: Lake Garda – Where to stay

Recently I posted about my summer experience living in Italy, on Lake Garda. As you can imagine, there is far too much to talk about to possibly even try and fit it into one post, so here is post number 2.

Working in Gardone, I had the opportunity on my days off to explore some of the other towns around the lake. The frequent ferry routes made this possible and reasonably priced, it’s the best way to travel across the lake. These were all equally beautiful but offered quite different experiences, so depending on what you are looking for, you may find one town a better fit than another. I have picked out a couple of my favourites below.

Lake Garda

Riva del Garda 

Italy, Grand Hotel Gardone 2011 183

Riva is a special place as it is where the lake ends and the Brenta Dolomites begin. Here you can experience rich history & art, the architecture is beautiful (another thing I admire about Italy). There is plenty to do and visit as a tourist and lots of water sports on offer if that is your cup of tea. I really enjoyed Riva but sadly only managed to spend a couple of hours here.


 Famous for the Scaglieri castle perched on a cliff overhanging the lake. Family friends got married here before I went out to work in Italy so this was definitely a destination on my list having seen the wedding pics! Malcesine has so much going on, lots of sightseeing and walks in the mountains, you can take the cable car up to the peak of Mount Baldo and look over the entire lake, it’s magnificent. As with all of the towns, there are great restaurants and bars to relax, it really has everything. And I’ve been told you can ski here in the winter season too!


A somewhat quieter, but large town, the perfect place to relax and wind down taking in the scenery of the harbour and the lake. Locally produced ingredients; wine, oil and fish are used in the restaurants for traditional Italian recipes – gorgeous! If you do go to Italy you must try a Caprese salad, the fresh ingredients just make something so simple, something to die for. I had a great day out here just relaxing in the sun and spending time with friends.


I feel I keep repeating myself, but Sirmione too has so much history behind it that there is so much to see and explore, mainly the stunning views of the peninsula, the fortress and the thermal baths. It’s a very laid back destination, and I would say it has the best ice cream for sure. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon here, I probably wouldn’t want to stay more than one night, but it is definitely a must to visit.


What can I say about Desenzano? Definitely one of my favourite destinations which we visited on multiple occasions. With lots of cars, shopping, restaurants, bars & nightlife it has everything. I loved the layout of the village with the squares and harbours, bridges crossing the water. Utterly picturesque and full of character but it also had that buzz about it. AND it had the best pizza restaurant too (called Kapperi), I was one happy girly. I love the fact that every bar gives you nibbles to snack on while you have your drinks, it’s such a lovely touch and makes your drink that much more enjoyable.


Salo was another favourite place of mine and being next door to Gardone Riviera, very easy to get to. I spent many an afternoon here trying out new cafes and bars, reading my book in the sun or writing an entry in my diary. There are lots of boutiques and shops, restaurants, sports whether it be hiking up in the mountains or taking to the water with windsurfing or renting a boat, it is just a great mix. And not forgetting the all-important nightlife if you are looking to extend your evening further. It was the type of place that you could live in, the dream summer home. Walking along the lakefront promenade as the sun goes down.

So there we have it- six of my favourite destinations across the lake, all for very different reasons, all as beautiful and as picturesque as you can imagine. If you do find yourself travelling to the lake, do make room in your itinerary to visit at least one or two other places as then you can truly experience the magic that is Lake Garda. 

I’d be interested in hearing other people’s opinions and experiences, please share below.

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