Pizza, pasta, and wine. You can guess what my favorite European holiday destination is… Italy. I have come here since I was a child and especially the area around Lake Garda was always popular. My parents are still coming here on holiday, so for me the perfect excuse to go for a few days or even weeks to visit them and the beautiful Italian places. After all those years I have collected a lot of favorite places where you definitely have to go when you’re around Lake Garda. Let’s go!
Beautiful places around Lake Garda
Do you really want to go to a picturesque (but busy) village? Then you have to be in Lazise. Small but also cozy within the walls of the big castle. Perhaps the smallest, but the coziest village, where you can not entertain yourself for a long time and which can also be very busy, but still is worth a visit. Do you want to sleep a night or two? By coincidence, I ended up in Lazise and when I ate a bite in a nice restaurant Classique in the center, with a great view, I found out that it was actually a hotel. We decided to see the rooms and fell for a gigantic suite with jacuzzi (a few years ago for a super good price, nowadays more expensive). You will not find a more romantic stay. Don’t want to stay overnight? Try the restaurant with a great view of Lake Garda and great food for a good price.
Real romantics know this place around Lake Garda certainly. This was the battle scene of the world-famous Romeo and Juliet. Only this is of course already a reason to visit this romantic town. And yes, the balcony where Romeo was singing for his Julia is still there. Now a bit busier. I also carved the name of my (now ex-) boyfriend and me in the wall years ago in the corridor leading to the balcony. Is it great, grand and compelling? Nope. Is it very busy? Yes (especially around the balcony of course). But don’t let that hold you back. You want to walk at least through those streets of the most romantic love store ever, right? In addition, the town is typically Italian (in 2000 the city is even included in the World Heritage List), with nice little streets, beautiful squares, churches, and bridges. The city also has a great Roman Amphitheater, the Arena. Every summer there is an Opera festival.
This city is a lot bigger than most places on this list. After Milano, it is even the largest city in Lombardy. Maybe a little less romantic and picturesque, but also a bit bigger and more to see. If you want to shop, you’re in good place in Brescia. Nice shops and shopping centers but certainly beautiful historic buildings such as the new cathedral, Duomo Nuovo and the old cathedral, Duomo Vecchio. The monumental area Roman Forum is also included in the World Heritage List.
Peschiera del Garda
Not enough of nice fortresses? Hello Peschiera! Through the old city gate, you enter the historic center. And when you walk up to the wall, you also have a beautiful view over the town. If you are crazy about flowers, then you should go to Peschiera. Already at the bridge to the city gate, you will be surrounded by beautiful flowers and this just continues in the center. The town has all its charm, of course, but you can see what many beautiful flowers can do. Have a drink on one of the many terraces on the water.
Here it all happens around the castle and the moat of Rocca Scaligera. A small harbor and the main street leads you to the highest point of Sirmione. Very cozy for an afternoon wandering and a bite or drink.
A holiday around Lake Garda is always accompanied by a day in Salo for me. Why? The city is small but has a super nice boulevard and nice shops. There is also live music at various bars in the evening. Grab a bite? Then you have to be at the waterfront at Ristorante Pappilon, at the end of the boulevard (or start, depending on where you start). A great view and the fish soup is the tastiest fish soups you have ever had, I promise.
Desenzano del Garda
Afternoon Desenzano? On Tuesday morning you will find a large market that is definitely worth a visit (good food and bags and scarves!). Skip this place when you don’t like crowds, because even in the low season this market is very busy. Then you just go on another day because Desenzano itself is also a wonderful place to walk along the boulevard with an ice cream. Or what to eat or to shop, of course.
I hope I helped you out with a few beautiful places around Lake Garda. Please let me know if you have some other recommendations!