Things to do in Lake Garda

Top Things to Do in Lake Garda

things to do in lake garda

Sun-kissed shores, sparkling waters, and a sprinkle of Italian charm – welcome to Lake Garda, the crown jewel of northern Italy.

Based at the foot of the Dolomites, Lake Garda is surrounded by stunning views with a mild climate - perfect for exploring and visiting local vineyards.

Of course, the food here is delicious (as you’d expect in Italy), but when you’re not indulging in delicious cuisine or relaxing by the lake, there’s no shortage of things to do in Lake Garda during the summer.

This destination is packed with fun and surprises, from lively festivals and markets to ancient Roman ruins and medieval castles.

Windsurf across the water, walk through vineyards or simply soak up the sun and relax on a lakeside beach.

Planning a trip and wondering how to fill your days? Read on to discover the top things to do in Lake Garda.


Things to Do in Lake Garda

Lake Garda's calling, and it's not just the gelato that's waiting for you. Explore charming towns like Limone, where you can stroll or bike along the easy Ciclopedonale trail with stunning lake views.

Feeling adventurous? Hit the mountain trails for a challenge. Lake Garda has it all.

Arco Town | Cascata Del Varone Waterfall | Villa Canale | Villa Dei Cedri Spa | Isola Del Garda | Heller Botanical Gardens | Malcesine | Monte Baldo | Watersports | Food & Drink | Walking | Cycling

Arco Town and Castle

things to do in lake garda

Arco, a charming mountain town on Lake Garda, is easily accessible from Riva. Known for its medieval tower and botanical gardens, Arco has attracted visitors for centuries with its mild weather and beautiful scenery.

And let's not forget the medieval castle, perched on a cliff like something out of a fairytale. The castle has a rich history and hides a few secrets, like the recently discovered medieval frescoes.

But Arco isn't just about admiring ancient art and soaking up the sun. It's also an outdoor lover’s playground. Whether you enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, or sailing, Arco has activities for everyone.


Cascata Del Varone Waterfall

things to do in lake garda

Located near Riva del Garda, the Varone Waterfall is a breathtaking natural wonder that's worth a visit. This unique waterfall cascades through a limestone tunnel rather than over a cliff.

The name "Cascata Varone" comes from the nearby village of Varone. Its waters flow from Lake Tenno through the underground torrent Magnone.

For years, the waterfall was only accessible to experienced climbers, but thankfully, paths, stairs, and bridges have now been built, allowing everyone to experience its beauty.

Colourful lights brighten the tunnel, and a beautiful garden grows on the cliffs outside.

It’s nature at its finest, and the surrounding park is simply lovely, thanks to the hard work of those who maintain it. This makes it a lovely place for a family walk and day trip from Riva.

So, if you're after a little adventure and want to see something truly spectacular, make sure you add the Varone Waterfall to your list of ’things to do in Lake Garda.’

However, it’s important to note that the waterfall can get crowded during peak season. If you prefer a quieter experience, plan your visit for early morning or late afternoon.


Villa Canale in Trentino

Villa Canale things to do in lake garda

Villa Canale, a treasure tucked away in the hills above Riva, is a charming medieval village just waiting to be explored.

With its ancient stone buildings and cobblestone streets, it's like stepping back in time.

This charming village, recently named one of Italy's most beautiful villages, is a haven for history buffs and art lovers alike.

Once almost forgotten, Villa Canale was brought back to life in the 1960s by artists who fell in love with its charm.

The village offers amazing views of Lake Garda and the mountains and it’s easy to reach the beautiful Lake Tenno.

If you're looking for special things to do in Lake Garda, then this enchanting village is a must-visit.


Villa Dei Cedri Spa

thigns to do in lake garda


For the ultimate relaxation, visit the Villa dei Cedri Spa in the pretty town of Colà, a short drive from Bardolino and Garda. The amazing man-made lakes around this big Italian villa are warmed by natural hot springs that come from deep under Lake Garda and nearby mountains.

Inside the villa, a world of pampering awaits at the spa, with a variety of treatments to melt your stress away.

Step out feeling rejuvenated, ready to soak in the beauty of the surrounding gardens and admire the Winter Pavilion overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Garda.


Isola Del Garda

Isola del Garda

Looking for a magical day trip on Lake Garda? Look no further than Isola del Garda, a charming island with gardens so beautiful they’ll leave you reaching for your camera.

At the heart of the island is the Villa, a stunning private residence owned by the Borghese Cavazza family. While it’s their home, they generously open its doors to visitors during the summer.

For the best experience, book a guided tour. You'll learn all about the island's rich history and fully appreciate its beauty.

So, if you’re up for a day that’s both magical and luxurious, Isola del Garda is calling your name. It's a little slice of Italian heaven you won’t want to miss.


Heller Botanical Gardens

Heller botanical gardens

Plant fans, the André Heller Botanical Garden is calling your name. Don’t miss this green paradise during your Lake Garda holiday – your inner gardener will thank you.

This amazing garden in Gardone Riviera is filled with plants from all over the world, from tiny alpine flowers to huge Himalayan blooms.

Explore winding paths that lead you past hidden grottos, steams, and ponds filled with colourful fish.

But there’s more to see than just plants. This garden is also home to sculptures by famous artists like Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, and Mimmo Paladino.


Visiting Malcesine

malcesine lake garda

Malcesine, one of Lake Garda’s prettiest towns, has a romantic vibe with its 13th century castle, cobbled streets and cosy cafes.

History buffs will love exploring the iconic Scaligero Castle, where climbing the tower rewards you with incredible lake views – a photographer’s dream.

The harbour and lakeside are dotted with cafes and bars serving up delicious local dishes and wines. Grab a glass of the region’s best, order a plate of food, and simply soak in the lively atmosphere and stunning views – pure holiday heaven.


Cable Car to Monte Baldo

Monte Baldo things to do in lake garda

For the best views of Lake Garda, head to Monte Baldo, a mountain range on the northeastern shores. Hikers and mountain bikers love its five peaks and many trails.

Want a relaxing way to see the views? Take the cable car from Malcesine. You'll get amazing views of the lake, hills, and olive groves. From the top, you can walk back down on easy trails.

cable car monte baldo


It’s perfect for relaxing and enjoying the view, with trails for all skill levels, making it great for families. The cable car also stops at San Michele, where you can walk back to Malcesine on a scenic mule track.

From May to September, the cable car up Monte Baldo provides a cool escape with beautiful scenery.


Water Sports

Things to do in lake garda

We love hitting the water on Lake Garda. Lake Garda is an aquatic playground for all sorts of water sports enthusiasts.

Windsurfing is popular in Riva, and you can often catch the action right from the piazza. The Garda Trentino area is a haven for windsurfers too, thanks to the ban on motorboats.

Why not give it a try yourself? You can even take sailing or kite surfing lessons while you're there.

If windsurfing sounds a bit too extreme, don't worry. Paddleboarding in Malcesine is the perfect way to soak up the sun and scenery at your own pace. You'll also get a unique view of the town.

Malcesine and Riva offer fantastic diving opportunities. And if you prefer to stay above water, most towns have sailing clubs and facilities for canoeing, kayaking, and water skiing.


Food and Drink

things to do in lake garda


Wine is a big deal in Lake Garda. Every year, Bardolino hosts two wine festivals, making it the perfect place to stay if you want to visit vineyards and enjoy some tastings.

There's nothing quite like savouring a lakeside lunch with a glass of local wine. You'll find many restaurants to choose from, many of which feature freshly caught fish from the lake.

Local olive oil and citrus fruits are staples in almost all the restaurants. Regional favourites include chickpea polenta, homemade pasta, risotto, and venison.

And for dessert, don’t miss the best gelato in the area, found in Sirmione.

Read our Guide to Traditional Italian Food to get a spoonful of Italy.


Walking in Lake Garda

walking in lake garda

Lake Garda is a walker's paradise, with countless trails for every level. If leisurely strolls are more your style, Garda or Bardolino offer beautiful promenades where you can enjoy the scenery while getting your steps in.

For those seeking a challenge, head north to Riva. The mountain trails there offer breathtaking views of the lake, making you feel like you're on top of the world (or at least, on top of Lake Garda.)

To make the most of your walking adventure, join our included guided walks in Bardolino, Garda and Limone.

Limone is one of the best resorts for walking in Lake Garda, with gorgeous cobbled streets leading up to several great viewpoints, and spectacular views of the lake from almost everywhere.

In Bardolino, you can explore trails through vineyards, olive groves and old sites, with great views and ancient rock carvings.

In Garda, enjoy easy lakeside walks, or challenging mountain paths with stunning views. You can also see ancient rock carvings on Monte Luppia or visit the Sisan Museum to learn about local birds and water life.



cycling in lake garda

If you're serious about cycling, you'll love Lake Garda. Many of the promenades are traffic-free, so you can relax and enjoy the views.

For a scenic ride or walk, try the Ciclopedonale Limone trail, a two-hour route that starts at the Limone Centro Ferry Port. It features a breathtaking section that overhangs the lake, offering stunning water views.

Don't forget to stop for a gelato and snap a photo at Limonaia, where you'll have panoramic views of Limone, the lake, and the mountains.

If you're up for a challenge, you can even cycle around the entire lake in a day. For the best off-road thrills, head to Riva del Garda or Malcesine.


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