If you want to experience a week full of dolce vita, a one week Lake Garda itinerary is the perfect getaway for you. Just a few hours from the German-Italian border lies the almost 52 km long Lago di Garda, surrounded by picturesque little villages along the lake shore. Lake Garda offers plenty of variety, regardless of whether you want to spend a leisurely vacation or a sporty one. In the following sections, we describe a one-week itinerary for a Lake Garda with the best things to do around Lake Garda.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Lake Garda Itinerary – Overview
On the following map you will find our route for a Lake Garda road trip that takes you once around Lake Garda.
Day 1 I Riva del Garda
The small town of Riva del Garda is the first destination of your Lake Garda itinerary. If you have traveled by car from the north to Italy, you will have crossed the beautiful area of the Dolomites before reaching a visually completely new region on Lake Garda. Riva del Garda is the first highlight on Lake Garda, it really has a lot to offer and is more diverse than you might think.
Whether you like a stroll through the town, are sporty, prefer historic buildings or want to go on a hike with a great view. There is something for everyone here. If you spend one or two days in Riva del Garda, you can easily combine the various activities. Here is an overview of the best activities in Riva del Garda:
Stroll through the Old Town
The old town of Riva del Garda is a great place to stroll around. There are some historical sights to marvel at, such as the Rocca di Riva castle, a fortress dating back to 1124 and completely surrounded by water. It has been extensively restored in recent years and now houses a town museum.
Piazza III Novembre, framed by Venetian arcades, is located on the picturesque harbor. The square is also home to Rival del Garda’s landmark, the Torre Apponale. For an entrance fee of 2 Euro, you can climb the 35-metre-high clock tower dating back to 1220 and enjoy the fantastic view of the alleyways of Riva de Garda and Lake Garda.
On the square you will find many stores to browse, restaurants with delicious Italian food and cafés where you can spend a few relaxing hours.
Lake Promenade with Water Sports
The waterfront promenade in Riva del Garda is also perfect for a stroll. During your stroll, you can watch the sailors and windsurfers on the water. If you want to be active yourself, you can hire everything from pedal boats to surfboards and jump into the cool water. To the east of the promenade, you will also find a beautifully landscaped park and the Spiaggia Sabbione beach.
Sentiero del Ponale Hiking Trail
The 6.2 km Sentiero del Ponale hiking and cycling trail (starting point on Google Maps) along the rocky coast of Lake Garda starts in the far west of Riva del Garda. From the hiking trail, there are great views of Lake Garda and the town of Riva del Garda. Along the way, you will repeatedly walk through small tunnels. At the height of the second and third tunnel, there is an old fortress dating back to 1860, which you can discover and from where you can once again enjoy the impressive view of Lake Garda.
Hotel Recommendation in Riva del Garda
If you want to spend a night in beautiful Riva del Garda, we can recommend the Parc Hotel Flora*. In addition to beautiful rooms and a great breakfast, this charming hotel also has an enchanting garden through which you can reach the beach. This is the perfect place to relax after a long stroll through the city.Parc Hotel Flora | Show Prices*
Day 2 I Limone sul Garda and arrival at Toscolano Maderno
On the second day of your Lake Garda itinerary, you drive a little further along the lakeshore and visit the enchanting little town of Limone sul Garda. The charming town is located in the north-west of Lake Garda and can be reached from Riva del Garda (in the north of the lake) in around 30 minutes. As there is only one road around Lake Garda, the question of how to get there is easy to answer. Take the SP115 from the north or south directly through Limone sul Garda and then you have the option of driving to several parking garages.
Parking tip: We would recommend parking in the parking garage on the lake shore (Google Maps link). The parking garage has quite large parking spaces by Italian standards and is perfectly located for a leisurely stroll through the small town.
Limone sul Garda – Things To Do
Although the town is quite small, it has a lot to offer, so you should plan a few hours for a visit. From the beautiful lakeside promenade to churches, small stores to browse or even a hiking trail… there is something for everyone.
The parking garage is located directly on the waterfront promenade of Limone sul Garda, so you can start with a walk to stroll and browse. While the lakeside promenade starts off quite wide and spacious with lots of restaurants and ice cream parlors, the path quickly turns into small, winding alleyways where there is plenty to discover.
After your first little stroll through the town and your first portion of ice cream, you can discover the following sights in Limone sul Garda.
Limonaia del Castèl | The Lemon Greenhouse
The Limonaia del Castèl lemon greenhouse is located on several terraces. Not only do you have a great view of Limone sul Garda from here, you can also learn a lot about the region and the delicious citrus fruits. You walk along the narrow aisles between the lemon trees and can even take part in a tasting on request.
Location: Google Maps Link
Ciclopista del Garda | Spectacular Panoramic Trail in Limone sul Garda
For us, the Ciclopista del Garda cycle and walking path was one of the most beautiful sights near Limone sul Garda. The best place to park is at the northern parking garage (Google Maps link).
From the parking garage or from Limone, you walk approx. 3.5 km and 30-40 minutes to the starting point of the panoramic trail (Google Maps link). Unfortunately, there is not really a parking lot closer.
The path is well and safely developed and leads directly past the outer rock faces, giving you a spectacular panoramic view of Lake Garda and the surrounding area. Here you have views of the lake and the rock face that you can otherwise only rarely experience on Lake Garda. We thought the panoramic trail was pretty spectacular.
The path is approx. 600 meters long and is not a circular route. This means you walk to the end of the panoramic trail (Google Maps link) and then have to walk back the same way. In half an hour you will have walked to the end and then have to turn back. There is also no parking lot at the end, so it is not possible to be picked up there.
Onward Journey to Toscolano Maderno
As the town of Limone sul Garda is really very small, we would recommend that you drive 30 minutes further south to the town of Toscolano Maderno after your visit. There are plenty of places to spend the night here and a very special hike awaits you the next day.
Hotel Recommendation in Toscolano MadernoGarda Friends Apartments We stayed at Lake Garda in a beautiful apartment overlooking Lake Garda. You have everything you need for a great stay here. You can even use the large garden which was really great for us with our dog Aaro. Also at Lake Garda or at the paper mill valley hike you are in a few minutes.
- spacious apartments
- Possibility to use the garden
- own parking place & balcony with lake view
- WIFI & TV
Day 3 I Toscolano Maderno
In Toscolano Maderno, we were particularly impressed by a hike that we only found out about by chance. The hike through the paper mill valley of Toscolano Maderno is probably one of the most beautiful hikes on Lake Garda, even though the description didn’t sound all that spectacular at first.
The Paper Mill Valley on Lake Garda
The origin of the name of the paper mill valley (Valle delle Cartiere) is not far-fetched, as there really were paper mills here in earlier times and paper has actually been produced here since 1381. The power of the Toscolano torrent was used to drive machines and the high-quality paper made the valley, with its up to 60 paper mills, a center of paper production in the Republic of Venice.
Nowadays, the paper mill valley on Lake Garda really is a great recreational area that is well developed for tourism. During our hike in June 2022, we hardly met any other people and had the nature and the beautiful landscape almost to ourselves. Another reason why you should definitely visit this Lake Garda highlight.
The hike takes you through the valley with its ancient ruins, but you can also enjoy the wonderful views of Toscolano Maderno and Lake Garda halfway through the hike. The hike is varied and not overcrowded.
Day 4 I Sirmione
On day 4 of the Lake Garda itinerary, you will visit the beautiful town of Sirmione. The special thing about this small village on Lake Garda is its special shape and landscape. The Sirmione peninsula stretches several kilometers into Lake Garda from the southern shore. And while the southern part of this peninsula (the new town) still looks very modern and is almost paved with numerous hotels and restaurants, the old town of Sirmione presents itself in a completely different light.
The old town is also the part you should visit. The new town is only interesting because of its tourist infrastructure (there are huge parking lots and many hotels).
The old town of Sirmione can also be visited relatively quickly (if you want to) and you will reach the greener and more scenic part of Sirmione, the beaches in the north of the town.
Beaches in Sirmione
The beaches and one beach in particular in Sirmione are among the absolute highlights of Lake Garda for us. Because real sandy beaches are few and far between on Lake Garda. Here in Sirmione there are also a few stretches of sandy beach, but for us the most beautiful beach in Sirmione was the one on the northernmost shore of the peninsula.
The Jamaica Beach in Sirmione
Make sure you pack your swimming trunks when you go to Sirmione, because you should definitely go to the beach here. Even if, like Jamaica Beach, it’s not a sandy beach. The entire beach consists of large flat rock formations that you have to walk over to get to the beach. At high tide, you won’t get to Jamaica Beach without getting your feet wet. There is no real path here, you have to walk along the water or even through the water, at least if you are coming from the eastern side of the peninsula.
However, you can get here from the western side on normal paths by simply walking to the Jamaica Beach Bar (Google Maps link). In our opinion, however, the route from the eastern shore is more beautiful and exciting. You can look for a free spot on the rocks here and then have to walk a relatively long way to actually be able to swim, as the first 100 meters are extremely shallow.
Incidentally, Jamaica Beach is even an official dog beach, so your four-legged friend can go into the water here without a leash. But don’t worry, the beach is by no means overrun with dogs and is also suitable for children.
Boat tour around the peninsula
A boat tour around the peninsula is also very popular. Here you can see Sirmione from a completely different perspective and experience Lake Garda and the peninsula on an exciting boat tour. You can book this from just €25 per person*.
Staying Overnight on Lake Garda
If you want to stay overnight directly in Sirmione, we recommend the following hotels:
The 4**** Hotel Eden
This luxury hotel is located right at the entrance to the old town and has everything you can imagine. The hotel is located directly on the lakeshore, so the rooms also have a great lake view. There is a free breakfast and you can reach all of Sirmione’s sights super quickly
Hotel Charming Sirmione
At the Charming Sirmione you sleep outside the old town in the south of the Sirmione peninsula. However, it is a lot cheaper here and you still have large double rooms with free breakfast and are just a few minutes’ walk from the old town.
Day 5 I Lazise Rocca di Garda
On day 5 of the Lake Garda itinerary, you will visit the town of Lazise on the south-eastern shore of Lake Garda. The medieval old town is surrounded by a well-preserved town wall, through which the narrow alleyways meander, leading you to the lakeside promenade. Here you can spend a few hours exploring the town.
Then continue on to Rocca di Garda. This is a viewpoint in the village of the same name, high up on the mountain at 291 meters, which you can reach after a hike of around 2 kilometers. From the viewpoint, you have a great view of the small town and across Lake Garda. As a starting point for the hike, you can park at the Largo Europa parking lot. The path then leads you first to the Parrocchia di Santa Maria Assunta church before the ascent to the viewpoint (here on Google Maps) begins.
Hotel Recommendation in Rocca di Garda
The beautiful Hotel Casaliva* offers you a fantastic view over Lake Garda from the terrace. In good weather, a delicious breakfast is also served here. The garden and pool are the perfect place to relax after a day in the city and enjoy the great ambience.Hotel Casaliva on Lake Garda | Show Prices*
Day 6 I Malcesine
You spend the last day of your road trip in northern Italy in the beautiful town of Malcesine. From your hotel, it’s a 45-minute drive to the beautiful town of Malcesine on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. Although the town is not particularly large, there is plenty to discover, so you can spend the last day of your northern Italy itinerary here. In Malcesine, you can discover various sights such as the Castello Scaligero, the enchanting old town and, of course, Lake Garda.
You can spot the Castello Scaligero from afar, as it is perched on a rocky outcrop directly on the shore above Lake Garda. The castle is well preserved and can be visited. You can find all the information about opening times, admission prices etc. here.
If you want to go on a spectacular hike on your last day at Lake Garda, you should climb Monte Baldo. The 2000-metre-high mountain is home to a variety of flowers, herbs and trees and is one of the most beautiful hikes on Lake Garda. Numerous paths lead you to the summit of the mountain. You can hike or take the cable car. The best way to do this is to travel to the valley station, where you can buy return tickets for 22 Euro.
After your visit to Monte Baldo, you can continue exploring the town with a stroll through the small alleyways and look for a restaurant with a view of the lake in the evening.
Hotel Recommendation in Malecesine
The wellness hotel Casa Barca* is one of the most beautiful hotels in Malcesine. Here you can relax by the pool or in the hotel’s beautiful wellness area at the end of your trip to Northern Italy. The hotel has a great view of the lake and is just a few minutes from the center of Malcesine.Relax at the wellness hotel Casa Barca | Show Prices*
Day 7 I Return Journey
After 7 days, your Lake Garda road trip unfortunately comes to an end and you have to start your journey home. The return journey will take you the rest of the way along Lake Garda to the northern shore. If you still have some time and want to take a break, you can visit the town of Torbole.
The small town impresses with its historic buildings, which you can discover on a walk through the winding alleyways. Sports enthusiasts can also stop off in Torbole for a spot of windsurfing or sailing.
We hope you enjoyed our itinerary for a Lake Garda road trip. If you have any questions or further tips, please leave us a comment.