Lake Garda, a boat trip

lake-garda-cover-smallGet the complete, up-to-date and detailed instructions, with:

  • Detailed description of the attractions
  • travel schedule and cost for trains
  • travel schedule and cost for boats
  • list of best restaurants, bars and “gelaterias”
  • and all the other details you need to have a wonderful and successful trip:

buy epub format
buy Amazon Kindle mobi format
buy PDF format

Buy the printed version

Lake Garda Boats - Photo © echbremmer

Lake Garda Boats – Photo © echbremmer

This boat trip takes one entire day, with a 2 hours break in Riva del Garda, just enough for a quick lunch. With the low season there is only one run of the boat, and the service is suspended during some months, so check the most recent schedule before going.

Peschiera del Garda

Peschiera del Garda – Photo© Culetto d’oro

Peschiera del Garda

Situated in the strategic point in which the Mincio flows from Lake Garda, Peschera has been important military garrison in various centuries. Already inhabited during the prehistoric era, it was called Arlica under the ancient Romans, it was fortified during the Middle Ages and then militarized by the Venetians in the mid 16th century with walls and rock based on plans by Gudobaldo da Urbino and Sammicheli.

In the end the Austrians made it a headquarters for the famous “quadrilateral” with Verona, Mantova and Lagnano. Today it is a popular tourist resort and industrial center.

Its historical nucleus is still enclosed within 16th walls reinforced by four ramparts at the corners. Of interest is the Palazzina del Comando del Presidio, where a meeting was held the day after of the defeat of Caporetto.

Today it displays relics of the “Risorgimento” era and of World War I. At a brief distance, between the morainic eleveations surrounding the Frassino lake west of Peschiera, stands the 16th century Santuario della Madonna del Frassino. The stretch of territory which extends from this town to the Sirmione peninsula is called “Lugana and it is famous for its wine. Here the Lake’s fleet took shelter in the navy yard of port Peschiera.

Where to stay in Peschiera del Garda

There are hotels, apartments, villas and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.


Departing from the pier “Unita’ d’Italia”, the boat re-ascends the basin along the eastern shore, covered with vineyards and olive trees, and passes the small town of Pacengo with 18th century Camuzzoni Villas, the 19th century Villa Bottonay (now Barbaro).

In less than thirty minutes, the boat brings you to Lazise where you can take in a beautiful view of the Lake with Rocca di Manerba an the left and the Sirmione peninsula to the left.

Glancing inland you will see Peschiera and the Mantuan ramification. In Lazise, the ancient Lastium, there is a castle, reinforced by the Scaligeri in the 11th century, subsequently noblemen from Verona enclosed it into a strategic and military outpost.

While agriculture and breeding made Lazise an active business center, the town has also discovered its tourist “calling”. The historic center has preserved its medieval appearance thanks to the Scaligere walls, which lead to the castle, and the five towers dominated by a high donjon.

Other worthwhile visits are the 12th century Church of San Nicolo’ with its 16th century bell tower near the small port, and the low, long 16th century Dogana (Customs) building which dates back to Venetian rule.

Just beyond Lazise, you pass the villa “La Pergolana” a 19th century edifice which incorporates an ancient convent. Then you will pass Cisano where you can admire the full width of the Lake as well as the 8th century parish of Santa Maria – seat of the Annual Bird Fair (September the 8th).

Where to stay in Lazise

There are hotels, apartments, villas and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.


Bardolino – Photo © agus_denz

Bardolino – Photo © agus_denz


After doubling at Punta Mirabello, you land in Bardolino. A business center and tourist resort, it is renowned for its esteemed namesake wine. It has been a prehistoric site, a Roman village and during the Middle Ages, a Scaligero protectorate.

From this era two gates and an ancient crenellated tower of the old Lakeshore castle remain. There are two important monuments: the 9th century Church of San Zeno, which is among the most prominent Italian edifices from the Carolingian Era; and the 10th century Church of San Severo, restored in Romanesque style in the 12th century, that houses 13th and 14th century frescoes.

On the vast inlet of Bardolino face the parks of the villa Giuliani-Sanfilippi and the villa of Bottagisio, both from the last century.

Where to stay in Bardolino

There are hotels, apartments, farm stays and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.


A brief ten minutes ride brings you to Garda, the charming resort town situated in the center of a gulf enclosed by the slopes of Mount Baldo and the morainic elevations.

Already inhabited during prehistoric times (proof of which may be found in the necropolis and the rock engravings found along the path leading to Torri del Benaco), it became an important center for the Romans, the Longobardo and the French.

A story is tied to the no longer existing “Rocca” (rock): Berengario II, Marquis of Ivrea, supposedly held prisoner the Queen Adelaide, widow of King Lotario, guilty of having refused the marriage proposal of Berengario’s son. She was eventually able to escape and take refuge in Canossa.

In the ancient core of Garda there is a medieval village facing the three lined Lakeshore with the English-style park of Villa Albertini at the end. This is one of Lake Garda’s largest complexes, and despite various transformations over the course of time, it has still preserved the look of a medieval castle with four crenellated towers

It was here on the 10th of June, 1848, that Carlo Alberto received the act of annexation of Lombardia and Piedmont. A walkable distance from Garda is the Eremo dei Camaldolesi (Camaldolesi Heritage) just near the famous “Rocca”.

Where to stay in Garda

There are hotels, apartments, B&Bs and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Lake Garda, Salo' Photo /

Lake Garda, Salo’ Photo /


Immediately after the Punta del Corno, sheltered by hills and thick vegetation, the boat enters the narrow gulf of Salo’. Here you land in Portese – with its beautiful view of the Brescia shore from Salòo’ to Gargnano.

A ten minute ride from Portese brings you to the well frequented resort of Salò. Enclosed at the end of the inlet, this town was the center of the western shore during the 16th century, evidence of this may be found in the architectural level of the center.

The Duomo (Cathedral), in late Gothic style (XV) with a rich Renaissance portal, contains three naves decorated with works by Romanino and other 16th century painters. The modern Salò may be found on the Zanardelli lake-front opened in 1906 following the reconstruction of buildings destroyed during the 1901 earthquake.

Along this strip of coast rises the 16th century palace Magnifica Patria, the meeting-point of the communites of the Brescian Riviera and part of the Val Sabbia, of which Salò was the seat of the council. Inside of the palace is the Ateneo library (1560) and the museum “Nastro Azzurro”, with its collection of historical documents and relics from the “Risorgimento” (Italy’s movement for political unity during the 19th century) to the Second World War.

During this latter period, from the middle of 1943 to April of 1945, Salò was also the seat of the “Repubblica Sociale Italiana” (Italian Social Republic), the state setup by Mussolini and his fascist party.

Where to stay in Salò

There are hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Gardone Riviera

Just after the departure, along the shore, is Palazzo Martinengo. This manneristic style palace was built in the mid 16th century by the marquis Sforza Pallavicino, General of Venice.

Ten minutes later, the boat sets shore on the internationally renowned tourist spot Gardone Riviera. Situated on a shore rich with villas, hotels and gardens, the town is sheltered from westerly winds by and ample crown of hills and mountains.

It has possible Barbaresque origins, eventual ownership by the bishop of Brescia, then by the Ugoni family. Gardone Riviera is composed of two distinct nuclei. The first, Gardone di Sotto (or Lower Gardone), houses along the Lake-shore the Hruska Botanical Garden (created in ‘900 by the botanist explorer and doctor of the same name) with its collection of alpine species arranged in a mountainous setting inspired by the Dolomites, and the neo-classic Villa Alba with a vast 43 sq. Meter communal park filled with rare and precious essences.

The touristic development of Gardone dates back to the end of end of 19th century with the opera of the German Luigi Wemmer. Another plus for the town came during the period of 1921-1938 when Gabriele D’Annunzio resided at Gardone di Sopra (Upper Gardone) in the celebrated complex of Vittoriale degli Italiani (which the poet donated to the State in 1923).

Situated in a vast park which extended to the slopes of the Gargnacco hills, it was comprised of a collection of structures arranged by D’Annunzio himself with the help of architect Gian Carlo Maroni.

Worthy of mention are the Teatro all’aperto (open theater), the Mausoleo (mausoleum), the Mas ’96, the bow of the ship Puglia, and above all the Prioria, the poet’s residence; an interesting and unique combination of library, archive, various collections, stage settings, curiosities, and both authentic and copied art.

Where to stay in Gardone Riviera

There are hotels, apartments, B&Bs and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Malcesine view - Photo © carlo chiopris

Malcesine view – Photo © carlo chiopris


Returning to the Verona shore, the boat coasts along Cassone. Here, from a rock in the gardens of the Villa Rizzardi, flows a spring of water called Ri, which in turn forms a small lake before rushing into Garda after a brief 150 meter run.

Continuing along the face of the steep rocks of the Brescia shore – which support the Tignale and Tremosine basins- and beyond the small peninsula with the town “Val di Sogno”, rests Malcesine.

Situated on the slopes of the Baldo mountain chain, it is the most important center on the eastern shore. This popular resort town, located in part along the banks of the Lake and in part along the slopes, has been frequented by such illustrious personalities as Goethe.

At Lakeshore there are hotels and cafe’s, then further up is the town’s historical nucleus crowned by the Castello (castle) constructed by the Scaligeri in the 13th century and a rocky spur by the Lake. Modified in the 17th century, the castle has various crenellated constructions on which stands the high donjon – host of a museum of ancient weapons, archeological finds and relicts from Italy’s “Risorgimento” period.

Another must-see is the 16th century town hall, Palazzo dei Capitani; for two centuries this Venetian Renaissance style palace was host to the magistrates in charge of border defence. A cable-way from the town brings you up to the Tratto Spino (1780 meters), a popular winter stop on Mount Baldo connected between the summit of Mount Altissimo (2087 meters) and the summit of the Pozzette (2128 meters).

Almost in front of Malcesine, on the opposite shore, Campione del Garda is visible. An example of working class residences with late 19th century barrack-like structures, it is connected to a cotton-spinning mill which since 1930 has been accessible only by Lake.

Where to stay in Malcesine

There are hotels, apartments, villas and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Limone sul Garda

Limone sul Garda – Photo © By Zorro2212

Limone del Garda

A twenty minutes ride across the Lake from Malcesine brings you to Limone sul Garda, an appealing resort town surrounded by rocky walls. Limone is famous for its pleasant climate, (praised even by Ibsen and Lawrence) that encouraged the cultivation of olive, lemon and cedar trees along the shore and nearby hills giving the town the title of “Portofino del Garda”.

At the end of the Lake-shore, where the are many hotels, there is the characteristic historical center of the town with its old structure.


Just beyond Limone the Lake shore touches on Trentino territory. The boat re-crosses the upper tip of the Lake and docks in Torbole – an elegant resort town with panoramic views which is linked to the Sarca plain.

During the wars between the “Serenissima” (Venice) and Filippo Maria Visconti, Torbole, and the hamlet of Nago, were stages of historic exploits and battles between the two fleets.

In 1439, the Republic of Venice, coming to the aid of Brescia – which was at the time besieged by the Viscount’s troupes – transported six galleys and 25 armed ships to the Lake.

This incredible undertaking was made possible by sailing up the Adige until Mori (near Rovereto). Then on from here by way of land with the help of 2.000 oxen, hundreds of men, winches, and rollers beneath the keels.

The fleet arrived at the Lake after having crossed the pass of San Giovanni, but the voyage had for the most part damaged the boats – Venice was defeated in the Battle of Maderno.

The following year, reorganizing the fleet with boats constructed in Torbole, Venice conquered the Milanese in the northern waters of the Lake. The outcome was the Peace of Cavriana in 1441 under which a series of Garda’s centers, Peschiera and Riva, were passed on to Venice.

Practically in front of Torbole on the opposite shore, you will find the waterfall of Ponale stream. Affluent of Garda and emissary of the Ledro Lake, it is an important prehistoric settlement.

Where to stay in Torbole

There are hotels, apartments, B&Bs and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda – Photo ©

Riva del Garda

A ten minute ride from Torbole brings you to Riva del Garda which is closed in on the right by Mount Brione (376 meters) and in the distance by Mount Stivio (2059 meters). Blessed with a climate which is mild in winter and temperate in summer, Riva is an esteemed resort which was also popular center of European tourism during the 19th century.

With many hotels and first rate service, it is a fashionable stop. The town is distinguished by its ancient center which faces the Lake, and its modern half which extends to the Sarca Plain.

During the Roman Era it was the seat of a college for the helmsmen who ran the port; during the Middle Ages, Riva entered the Sacred Roman Empire and passed under the control of the Trento bishopric. During this period, two of its most well known monuments were built: La Rocca (The Rock – 12th century) and the Apponale Tower (13th century).

The first, a massive structure originally adorned in Ghibellini-style merlons, is entirely surrounded by water and connected to land by a drawbridge. Eventually restructured, it was transformed into barracks by the Austrian in the 19th century. Today it houses the archeological and naturalistic collections of Lower Trentino in the Civic Museum.

Apponale Tower symbol of the city and facing the port, was retouched by the Viscounts and then raised again by two thirds by Trentino Princes.

Other worthy visits: the Palazzo Pretorio (Magisterial Palace – 14th century), the Palazzo Municipale (Municipal Palace – 15th century) and outside of the wall, the elegant, octagonal plan baroque church Inviolata.

There are other sights to see around Riva: the “Bastrione”, a 16th century cylindrical fort constructed by the Venetians on the rocky pike of Mount Rocchetta; and the Varrone Falls four kilometers from Riva) formed by an 85 meters drop along Magnone Stream.

Where to stay in Riva del Garda

There are hotels, apartments, villas and condo hotels available, check them out and make a reservation here.