The city of Garda is a little gem set in a picturesque bay on the veronese side of the lake, between Bardolino and Torri del Benaco.
This small town is a place with an ancient history, but still teeming with life. Thanks to its magical atmosphere and its natural beauty, Garda is one of the main destinations of tourism on Lake Garda: come discover it!
Map of Garda
Since the Middle Ages, Garda has always been a centre of great strategic importance. This little town was historically protected by a fortress, called Rocca, which is still visible today south from the city center.
The town center of Garda is dotted with many villas and historic houses: the most important one is surely Palazzo dei Capitani, an example of venetian gothic. The name is due to the fact that this palace was home to the Captain of Lake Garda, the magistrate of the Republic of Venice who was in charge of the area; at the time, the palace faced directly onto the lake, so that the boats could moor directly at the entrance.
The best way to appreciate all the beauty of this small town is definitely a walk along the lakefront. If you proceed south from the center, towards Bardolino and the Rocca, do not forget to make a small detour to the village to visit the ancient Pieve of Santa Maria Assunta: it’s one of the oldest churches of the area, dating back to the 10th century, and even if it was partially rebuilt over the centuries, still retains all of its charm.
If you happen to be in Garda on a friday morning, don’t forget to visit the local market, that takes place in the streets of the town center from 7 am to 2 pm and where you can find local delicacies such as cheese or the popular Bardolino wine.
As mentioned, Garda undoubtedly boasts one of the most beautiful beaches of Lake Garda. To the north of the town center you can find Punta San Vigilio, a splendid peninsula owned by the Counts Guarienti di Brenzone, that hosts a the Villa with its park, a little church, an inn, a small harbour and the Mermaids’ Bay.
You can access the Peninsula walking or biking along the lakefront, but also by car, and once there visit the beautiful Villa Guarienti (also known as Villa Brenzone).
If you happen to be in Punta San Vigilio in the summer, don’t miss the chance to dip into the blue water of Mermaids’ Bay Beach, that is open from May to September.
Since the beach is private, to access Mermaids’ Bay you must pay a ticket, and includes parking, toilets, sunbed and beach umbrella. The best moment to visit Punta San Vigilio is surely the sunset: let yourself be fascinated by the romantic landscape that enchanted Alexander of Russia, Princess Diana, Vivien Leigh and many others!
The best experiences around Garda
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A little south from the city center is located the ancient Rocca, the fortress on a small promontory overlooking Garda (to the north) and Bardolino (to the south) from a height of about 300 meters.
The Rocca was probably built in the 5th century by the Lombards, as testified by many traces in the walls, but some finds date back to Roman times.
We can understand how important this castle was from two facts: first, it was named Garda, germanic for guard, meaning that at the time it had a great strategic importance; second, the name of the fortress then passed to indicate the entire lake, formerly called Benàco and now known as Lake Garda.
To fully appreciate the fortress and the surrounding landscape, you can walk from the center of Garda on the path that goes up to the promontory. If you pay attention, you will also notice some remains of the fortifications of the First World War among the lush nature.
The route takes about an hour and a half, but the breathtaking view of the lake will reward you for your efforts.
Garda is close and well connected to all the amusement parks around Verona: fun is guaranteed for children and grownups!
The most famous and biggest amusement park in Italy is Gardaland (half an hour by car from Garda) with roller coasters, 4D shows, trains and a whole area dedicated to younger children. With the attractions of the park and the Gardaland Sea Life area, Gardaland will satisfy the tastes of all family members.
Nearby you will also find Movieland, the Hollywood themed park where you can see Cinema turning into a 3D adventure and you can try Pangea, the first attraction where you are the driver!
If you happen to be here in the summer, find relief from the heat in Caneva Aquapark, the park with water slides and swimming pools for the whole family. Take a look to our guide to the amusement parks on Lake Garda!
Your visit to Garda is not complete if you don’t take a boat tour on the blue water of Lake Garda.
You can take one of the many ferry boats of the local public transportation service, that cross the Lake every day. Many other private boat tours, such as Garda Escursioni, will take you to the opposite side of the Lake. If you want, you can even make the full tour of Lake Garda by boat, for example with Bertoldi Boats.
Garda boasts the most beautiful beach of the whole lake, Mermaids’ Bay Beach in Punta San Vigilio. But not everyone knows that near Punta San Vigilio there is another beautiful naturist beach, bordering Torri del Benaco.
But if you are traveling with your children, you may prefer Spiaggia La Cavalla, to the south of Garda: it’s a small beach with a bar, that offers a beautiful view on the surrounding hills.