One of the fortunes of Lake Garda is that it is located a short distance from some of the most beautiful cities in northern Italy, and is well connected with all of them.
From the romantic Verona to the lively Milan, from the uniqueness of Venice to the hidden gems of Brescia and Mantua: a trip out of town is really worth it.
These are the most beautiful towns near Lake Garda and the reasons why we fell in love with them.
Made famous by the Shakespearean tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Verona is just a stone’s throw from Lake Garda. It is a city on a human scale: since the old town is not very large, all the main attractions are quite close to each other.
The real heart of the city is certainly the Arena, the ancient Roman theater that still today is the picturesque setting for theater performances, concerts, opera and ballet. The Arena overlooks Piazza Bra‘, the central square of Verona: from here you can walk along Via Mazzini and get to the famous Juliet’s House, which also includes a museum.
Walking through the center, you can not miss Piazza delle Erbe, the other very famous square of Verona, and the Lungoadige, the avenue that runs along the river that crosses the city. Getting to Verona from the lake is very easy, and you can do it by bus or train.
There are no words to describe an absolutely unique city like Venice, and it would not be enough a year to know all the secrets of its calli (local name for alleys), its campi (squares) and its canals.
This city is literally situated on about one hundred islands, and can be reached from the mainland via Ponte della Libertà (“Liberty Bridge“), accessible only by train or bus, or by boat of course.
The richness of the artistic, architectural and historical heritage of Venice is unparalleled: you can not miss St. Mark’s Basilica, which overlooks the Square of the same name, the Doge’s Palace, the promenade on the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, the Gallery of the Academy… Around every corner there is a unique glimpse of rare beauty.
To get to Venice from Lake Garda the best choice is undoubtedly the train, but be careful of the day you choose for your visit: you might run into acqua alta!
Acqua alta is a typical Venetian phenomenon: in particular climatic conditions, usually in autumn and spring, the tide rises and floods the city, invading streets and squares. A unique event in the world to see, but rather uncomfortable!
The best experiences around Lake Garda
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Milan is the European capital of fashion and design, and without a doubt one of the most vibrant cities in Italy. In addition to boasting an enviable artistic heritage – from Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper to the Duomo, passing through Castello Sforzesco and Museo del Novecento – Milan is a city full of bars, restaurants, clubs, and events.
Since it is a big city, the car is a bad idea: much better to get there by train (one hour journey thanks to the high speed service). If you only have one day, we suggest to take the subway to get around the city, because some places of interest are distant from each other.
For example, in the heart of Milan there are the Duomo, the Palazzo Reale, the Teatro Alla Scala, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Castello Sforzesco and Brera Art Gallery. Further south are the Colonne di San Lorenzo and the Navigli, perfect for a walk or maybe an evening aperitif in a truly evocative setting.
Brescia has a very ancient history, and is widely displayed among Roman temples, Lombard churches, the medieval castle, Renaissance squares, theaters and museums. Once you arrive by car or by train, you’ll find out that the city center is quite small, and you can easily walk around.
If you want to retrace the long history of this city, you can start from the Capitolium and the theater, two well-preserved Roman buildings, then go to the Old Cathedral, a rare example of a Longobard church.
You can then climb up the medieval castle that dominates the city, where you can enjoy an enchanting view, then descend to Piazza della Loggia, the main square of the city, in Renaissance style.
If you happen to be in Brescia in May, you can attend the famous Mille Miglia: it is a race reserved for vintage cars that run from Brescia to Rome and back. A unique opportunity to get a close look at these historic cars!
Mantua is probably the least known city near Lake Garda, but if you choose it for your out-of-town trip you will not be disappointed. In fact, it is a small but very characteristic town, surrounded by artificial lakes, pervaded by an enchanted atmosphere that brings us back to the glory it experienced during the Renaissance under the rule of the Gonzaga family.
In fact, it was the Gonzagas who built the two most beautiful palaces in the city, Palazzo Te and Palazzo Ducale. Walking through the old town there are many other places of interest, such as Palazzo della Ragione or the Basilica of Sant’Andrea.
Unless you have a car, the best way to get to Mantua from Lake Garda is by bus with Line 46. If you come to Mantua in the winter season, don’t forget to taste the most famous dish of the city: pumpkin tortelli!