Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. Just like Lake Como, it’s located in Lombardy in northern Italy, within Italy’s lake district, and just like Lake Como it is of glacial origin.
Lake Garda is situated between Venice and Milan and has become a popular holiday destination for residents of both of these large cities. Lake Garda also attracts visitors from the rest of Italy as well as from other countries.
Located on the edge of the Dolomites, Lake Garda is spread out over the Province of Verona to the south-east, the Province of Brescia to the south-west, and the Autonomous Province of Trento (Trentino) to the north.
The lake is wider in the south and narrower in the north. The northern part is nestled among the Gruppo del Baldo mountains.
|In English||Lake Garda|
|In Italian||Lago di Garda
|In Lombard||Lach de Garda|
|In Venetian||Lago de Garda|
The Romans called this lake Benacus. The name Garda, and variations thereof, has been used since at least the 8th century AD, as evidenced by surviving texts from this period. It’s derived from the town Garda, which used to be a place of guard / observation.
Short facts about Lake Garda
|Surface elevation||65 metres|
|Surface area||Almost 370 square kilometres|
|Max depth||346 metres|
|Average depth||136 metres|
|Shore length||Almost 160 km|
Main tributary: The River Sarca
Examples of other tributaries: The River Ponale (fed by Lago di Ledro), the River Varone/Magone (via Cascate del Varone)
Outlet: River Mincio, at 79 metres above sea level
The presence of this large lake makes the weather milder, and this has attracted visitors since ancient times. The Roman poet Catullus did for instance write about how Lacus Benacus had a mild climate vivified by the winds.
Citrus trees, including lemons, grow around the lake, which is very rare this far up north.
The typical Lake Garda wind will blow from the mountains to the plains in the morning, and then from the plains to the mountains in the afternoon.
Lake Garda is home to five main islands and numerous smaller islets.
The five main islands are:
|Isola del Garda||The largest of the five islands
Located off San Felice del Banco on Lake Garda’s western side
|Isola San Biagio / Isola dei Conigli||Located off San Felice del Banco on Lake Garda’s western side; south of Isola del Garda|
|Isola dell’Olivo||Located in the eastern part of Lake Garda|
|Isola di Sogno||Located in the eastern part of Lake Garda|
|Isola di Trimelone||Located in the eastern part of Lake Garda|
The Comunes of Lake Garda
In the Province of Brescia, Lombardy
(listed clockwise; south to north)
- Desenzano del Garda
- Padenghe sul Garda
- Moniga del Garda
- Manerba del Garda
- San Felice del Benaco
- Gardone Riviera
- Limone sul Garda
In the Province of Verona, Veneto
(listed clockwise; north to south)
- Torri del Benaco
- Castelnuovo del Garda
- Peschiera del Garda
In the Autonomous Province of Trento (Trentino)
- Riva del Garda
Examples of tourist destinations
- The town Garda, with its well-preserved old town centre . Towering over the town is the castle Rocca di Garda and the remains of a 15th century Carmelite monstery.
- Gardaland is one of the main amusement parks in Italy. Its located on the eastern shore of the lake, at Castelnuovo del Garda.
- Simione, an ancient fortfied town south of Lake Garda. Among other things, this town is home to the Virgilio & Catullo Spa Complexes. Popular base for exploring Lake Garda since there are plenty of conveniences here in the form of hotels, restaurants and bars.
- Nago-Torbole, a comune (municipality) north of the lake where the windy conditions attract windsurfers and kiteboarders.
Public transport on the lake
The major towns along the shores of Lake Garda are connected by a ferry service. Taking the regular ferry can be time consuming, because it runs in a zig-zag pattern. There is also an express ferry that will take you from Riva del Garda to Peschiera in roughly two hours.