The largest of the Italian Lakes, Lake Garda forms part of the border between Lombardy to the west, Veneto to the east, and Trentino-Alto Adige to the north. The scenery surrounding the lake is quite varied, ranging from Alpine meadows backed by snow-capped peaks to olive groves, and pine and cypress forests.
Lake Garda is one of the cleanest lakes in Italy, and Riva del Garda is a popular windsurfing destination. There are several Lake Garda resorts to choose from, each with a distinct ambience.
Most of the better Lake Garda hotels have access to the lake, a swimming pool, water sports equipment rentals, tennis, and other activities. And most close between October and May.
Gardone Riviera hotels and attractions.
Best known for Villa il Vittoriale, the home of poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, Gardone Riviera is on the western shore of the lake. The ornately decorated Villa is one of the few must-see attractions in the area. D’Annunzio lived here from 1921 until his death in 1938. He spent years working with architect Giancarlo Maroni to transform the estate into a very singular place. You’ll see Liszt’s piano, Beethoven’s death mask, a boat protruding from a hillside, and countless works of art.
Gardone has a lower town on the banks of the lake and an upper town on a rolling hillside above the lake. The two are joined by the Giardino Botanico Hruska, the beautiful gardens owned by artist Andre Heller. The gardens were first laid out in 1910 and there are more than 2,000 species of plants.
If you’re in the area on the weekend, there’s a lively market at the Piazza dei Martiri della Liberta in the town of Salo, on Saturday mornings.
There are several good hotels in Gardone Riviera.
Dating from 1903, Villa Fiordaliso is the most architecturally interesting Lake Garda hotel. The pink-and-white Liberty style villa – as Art Nouveau is known in Italy – has hosted many notables over the years, and was once the home of Mussolini’s mistress. It’s a member of the Relais & Chateaux chain. With just seven rooms, it’s one of the most exclusive Lake Garda resorts, and the most expensive. The restaurant has received a Michelin star and when the weather’s fine, you can enjoy your meal right at the water’s edge. Each of the rooms is elaborately decorated with marble, antiques, parquet floors, and frescoes ceilings. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place to stay.
One of the most photographed spots in Gardone, the Grand Hotel Fasano began life in the 19th century as an Austrian hunting lodge. Not only does it enjoy a wonderful lake-front setting, it also adjoins a 12,000-square-mile private park. There’s a small pier for swimming, and a series of nicely landscaped terraces and gardens. There are several restaurants and even a sushi bar. The breakfast buffet served on the terrace is a great way to start the day, and the public areas are undeniably grand. Many of the 75 rooms have terraces, and all have modern bathrooms. For a more exclusive experience, you can upgrade to one of the 12 units in Villa Principe, which are slightly larger and set away from the main complex in small grove.
Winston Churchill was a frequent guest of the Grand Hotel Gardone, which was built in 1884. The lovely Liberty style bar here is named for him, and it’s still a smashing place for a cocktail. One of the larger Lake Garda hotels, the Grand has 143 well-furnished rooms and 23 large suites. Most of them have views of the lake. And they’ve been updated with minibars, satellite LCD TVs, Internet access, and safes. The Wellness Zone offers every imaginable health and beauty treatment. And the lovely terrace is practically at lake level. The Grand is an excellent choice in Gardone.
One of the few Lake Garda hotels that’s not on the lake, five-star Villa del Sogno has gorgeous views of the lake nonetheless. Set in a beautiful private park punctuated with neo-Classical temples and surrounded by woods, Villa del Sogno is one of the most romantic places on Lake Garda. The public areas and rooms are furnished with turn-of-the-century antiques. Guests can swim in the beautiful pool, sunbathe on the roof-top terrace, or play tennis. During the summer, concerts are often held on the terrace and full moons are a special occasion here.
Located in a park on Lake Garda, Villa Maria Elisabetta is a monastery that offers simple accommodations, many of which have lake views. Most of the 47 rooms have private baths. And there’s a TV room, a dining room, bar, and sun deck. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value in Gardone.
Riva del Garda hotels and attractions
At the north end of Lake Garda, Riva del Garda is backed by steep, wooded cliffs that rise dramatically from the water. When it’s breezy, you’ll see lots of windsurfers on the lake. The town has several lake-front parks and pebbly beaches, and the waterfront is lined with boutiques, cafes, and gelati shops.
The striking medieval tower rising from Riva del Garda’s main piazza is the 13th-century Torre d’Apponale. If it’s open, climb it for spectacular views of the lake and surrounding hills. La Rocca Castle and its exhibition of local art is also worth a visit. The tourist office has walking tours on weekends. But a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade is equally rewarding.
Although the name implies a historic property, the Hotel du Lac et du Parc is a modern hotel with 159 rooms. The private-park setting is the big draw here. And there’s a beach with water sports rentals. The large pool is especially appealing, and the wellness center offer a variety of treatments. The 45 new Murialdo Suites include kitchenettes. And there are also 33 bungalows in the park. Hotel du Lac certainly isn’t the most romantic place around, but it’s a good choice for families.
Hotel Sole enjoys the best location in Riva del Garda. The main piazza is on one side, and the lake is on the other. Located in a 15th-century palazzo with a grand staircase, ornate antiques, and Persian rugs, it’s a slightly formal place. But the rooms are warm and comfortable. The ones with balconies are worth the extra cost. And there’s no better spot in town for a drink than the rooftop terrace. Sole offers good value for money in Riva.
Budget accommodations are few and far between here, but Montanara – a popular local trattoria – has nine rooms above the restaurant. The old town location is convenient, and the rooms, though basic, are clean. Both private and shared baths are available, so if you care, make sure you know what you’re getting.
Limone sul Garda hotels and attractions
One of the most attractive towns on Lake Garda, Limone sul Garda has narrow, winding streets, quaint fishermen’s houses, and groves of lemons and olives. The olive oil produced here is excellent — be sure to try it.
If you’re serious about windsurfing, Capo Reamol has it’s own school where you can learn the basics. Other water sports equipment is available to rent, as well as mountain bikes. Most of the 58 spacious rooms here have lake views. B rooms have balconies, and A rooms have large terraces with deck chairs for relaxing. The pool is on a terrace that looks out over the lake. The bar and restaurant offer panoramic views.
Surrounded by palms and featuring a lovely terrace restaurant right on Lake Garda, Le Palme is one of the nicest hotels in Lake Garda. Because there are only 28 rooms here, Le Palme often fills up quickly. But others can be accommodated at the Splendid Palace, a sister hotel. Guests of Le Palme can use the large pool there. Many rooms have lake views, and a few have small balconies. There’s a small swimming pool on site and a beach that’s within walking distance.
Find our recommended Sirmione hotels.