A Garda lake 1 week itinerary to discover one of the most charming Italy destinations. Disclose Garda lake must sees such as Sirmione, Garda SPAs, Gardaland
Spending 1 week at Garda lake will give you enough time to visit this beautiful areas and the surrounding region, and to enjoy a number of local experiences.
Garda lake is the largest Italian lake and, in my view, the most beautiful and interesting one to spend one week. First, the sights: you are in the Dolomite region, and the light grey-pink cliffs plunging in the lake are just breathtaking. Second, the history: Garda lake was part of the Serenissima, and you can see everywhere in the ancient hamlets the influence of the Venetian beautiful architecture. Third, you are close to a number of great day trip destinations, such as Verona, Mantova and Trento. Fourth, food and wine are great, from Amarone to Prosecco, and wine tasting at a local estate is an unmissable experience. Fifth, the theme park, such as world known Gardaland. Sixth… well, you’ll need to read the post to know more…
Even though in one week you can visit most Garda lake on public transportation, I would suggest you hire a care, to provide you with full flexibility. Assuming you have your own car, these are the destinations you may visit in your Garda Lake 1 week itinerary. Click on the image to access the underlying Google map.
I would chose Desenzano or Peschiera as your hub, especially if your Garda lake stay is part of a wider Italy tour. Both are conveniently located and offer great accommodations and access to the theme parks. Desenzano has more hotel choice, while Peschiera is on the Milan-Venice train line.
So here is your Garda lake in 1 week day by day itinerary
Garda lake in 1 week – day 1: Sirmione and South Garda lake hamlets
This is Garda lake most crowded area: better to avoid week ends and holidays. You don’t need a car, just take the many ferry boats that link the main hamlets. Highlights of the day will be:
- Boat tour to visit Sirmione and Lazise (Peschiera, Garda and Bardolino optional) – it’s an experience on its own!
- Sirmione: this lovely small town is Garda lake main destinations. Enjoy the old town, the nice beaches and the Grotte di Catullo (impressive remains of a huge Roman villa). You can easily spend there half day (or more!). You can find many SPA and shores to sun bath and to swim in the lake. It’s a beautiful place, unfortunately very touristic and likely crowded.
- Lazise: less impressive but still has a lot of charm, and it’s definitely less touristic than crowded Sirmione. It has a lot of restaurants and cafés to have lunch and to rest and enjoy life.
- Peschiera, small but lovely town where the MIncio river starts its path to Mantova
Garda lake in 1 week – day 2: Mantova, Borghetto sul Mincio and Sigurtà park
Day 2 will let you discover two off the beaten path destinations: Mantova, Unesco site heritage, and delightful Borghetto sul Mincio
- Mantova is a renaissance jewell, home of the Gonzaga dinasty. It’s beautifully build on the Mincio river. I strongly recommend a boat cruise: you can take the standard 1,5 hours tour, or the 3 hours tour with lunch. Her is the link to reserve. The palazzo ducale with its Mantegna frescoes shouldn’t be missed either.
- Borghetto sul Mincio is a delightful hamlet, with the highest amount of water mills I ever seen. Have a look at my post to see what it looks like. Note that you can get from Peschiera to Borghetto by a lovely cycle lane which goes along the Mincio river.
- The parco Sigurtà is an amazingly beautiful garden, full of flowers and nice view. Good place to relax after so many visits. Here are some pictures.
Garda lake in 1 week – day 3: Verona and wine tasting tour
Day 3 will let you discover romantic Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. Wine tasting in a Valpolicella estate in the afternoon.
- Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. The city center is almost pedestrian, so you can visit this lovely town at your own pace, without any hassle. For a complete one day tour have a look at my post: Verona in one day
- Veneto produces some of the most famous wines in Italy, such as Prosecco, Amarone and Valpolicella. I suggest you stop in one of the main cellars to get an explanation on how the wine are produced, visit the estate and, of course, taste them. I selected the Tenute Savaterra estate, 15 KM from Verona. They are located in a pleasant environment and their wine tasting include the main wines of the region. Here you can get more info and access to the reservation page.
Garda lake in 1 week – day 4: Avio Castle, Ponte Alto water falls, Trento
Once again, 3 destinations that most foreign tourists have probably never heard of. These destinations are perfect if you are travelling with your kids, they will surely enjoy them (my son was enthusiast!)
- Avio castle: it overlooks the valley, and is a perfect example of medieval castle. Inside, amazing frescos. It’s on your way to Trento
- Orrido di Ponte Alto: it’s a deep canyon with 2 amazing water falls, children love it. It’s really spectacular!
- Trento: beautiful town, with Venetians and Austrian influences. The cathedral and the castle of Buonconsiglio are unmissable. They also recently opened the MUSE (natioral history museum), project by archistar Renzo Piano. It’s new and interactive, youngest travelers love it.
Garda lake in 1 week – day 5: Gardaland park
What to say? This is one of the best parks in Italy, great fun is ensured! Here is the web site: https://www.gardaland.it/en/ and here is the map https://www.gardaland.it/en/useful-info/gardaland-resort-map/
Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00, entrance tickets (adults): 36 € if purchased online.
Don’t miss the shows, your son will love them: https://www.gardaland.it/en/memorable-experiences/show/
Garda lake in 1 week – day 6
This is a full day Garda tour. It’s feasible, but the day will be long! Depending on your motivation you can skip some destinations, such as the Vittoriale, or just go to Malcesine on the Eastern shore. Whatever you choose, the road is very enjoyable, with nice views on the lake.
- Gardone Riviera Vittoriale: eclectic villa build by one of the most famous Italian writer, Gabriele d’Annunzio
- Riva del Garda, to farther North town of the lake
- Malcesine is a lovely hamlet on the Eastern shore. From here you can take the panoramic cable car to the Monte Balbo, and enjoy astonishing lake views
Here are the distances and the estimated transfers duration.
- Desenzano – Gardone Riviera: 35 minutes , 25 Km
- Gardone Riviera – Riva del Garda: 46 minutes, 41 Km
- Riva del Garda – Malcesine: 45 minutes, 25 Km
- Malcesine – Lazise: 1 hour 10 minutes, 45 Km
- Lazise – Desenzano: 25 minutes, 30 km
Garda lake in 1 week – day 7: free day to relax and experience
A free day just to relax or to allocate to your own destinations (by now you should be a local expert!).
My suggestion would be to spend at least half day in wonderful Centro Termale del Garda (Villa dei cedri) . It’s an unmissable thermal lake amidst a botanical garden. They provide changing rooms, sun beds and a cafeteria, so you can easily spend there half a day or more. Have a look at my post Garda Lake natural Spa.
Alternatively, you can pick one of the many experiences available at Garda lake and have a wonderful day, just follow the link to know more.
Enjoy your week at Garda lake!
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