Where is Lake Garda?
Lake Garda is situated in northern Italy, about halfway between Brescia and Verona, and between Venice and Milan, on the edge of the Dolomites. The lake and its surroundings are divided between the provinces of Verone (south-east), Brescia (south-west) and Trentino (north).
How did Lake Garda form?
Lake Garda and the whole region was formed at the end of the last Ice Age, about 1.5 million years ago. A huge piedmont glacier (they occur when steep valley glaciers spill into relatively flat plains) flowed down from the Brenta Dolomites, creating this valley and eventually the glacier melted away, creating Lake Garda.
Best places to visit and photograph in Lake Garda
My favorite part of the lake is the Trentino region, with the beginning of the Dolomites surrounding the narrow side of the lake. For photographers and mountain lovers this is the best place to be. It is wise to rent a car while you are visiting Lake Garda to easily get around and enjoy the beautiful places without too many tourists.
1. Riva del Garda
Our hotel was situated in Riva del Garda and we were really happy to have chosen this town as our base. There are plenty of things to see in the town itself, plenty of trails, beautiful landscapes of the mountains and lots of birds!
On the west side of Riva del Garda there is a really nice trail where you can go walking or biking, with really steep cliffs and reminders of the World War I.
On the east side you can walk along a beautiful beach, again while admiring the great mountains.
Malcesine is considered by many the most beautiful place in Lake Garda and it's not without a good reason. The castle in Malcesine called Castello Scaligero is the most important landmark.
The castle has 13th-century fortifications and an older medieval tower in white natural stone, which you can visit. The view from up there is absolutely stunning!
After you are done with admiring the castle you can take a cable car to my 3rd destination of the list...
3. Monte Baldo
Behind Malcesine rises Monte Baldo, a 2 218 m high peak. The cable car from Malcesine goes all the way up, where there are trails you can go hiking on and you can see Lake Garda in its full glory.
4. Lago di Ledro
I thought it's not possible to see a more beautiful lake than Lake Garda, but just half an hour drive away there is Lago di Ledro, which is even more stunning. You can drive all around the lake, there are also hiking trails and you can easily spend one day here.
I haven't found this place in the most popular places to visit when I checked where to to go in Lake Garda and I think that's not fair. Lazise is a small and quiet comune and it's a great place to walk and admire the landscape!
I bet you are wondering why Sirmione is so low on my place to visit list. After all, on all the other websites it's on top place. Well, if you like peace and quiet I believe this is not the best place for you. Because Sirmione is on top of the list everywhere, guess what... it's also full of tourists! If you ignore the crowds and the fact that you need to walk with the pace of a snail, it is a truly beautiful place.
While this picture above looks really romantic and quiet, a closer look will unfold huge amount of flies :) It does make a great holiday picture though...
The main attraction of Sirmione is the castle and it's also called Scaligero Castle, like the one in Malcesine. It's one of the most complete and well-conserved of Italy's castles.
From up in the towers you can observe the tight stretch of land that this place is build on and that makes Sirmione unique.
7. Parco Natura Viva
If you like animals or have kids that like animals, Parco Natura Viva is a really nice place to spend a couple of hours. It has some unique animals that you don't get to see in other zoos like the maned wolf, spectacled bear, tapir, great curassow, kia parrot and many others. The park is also an important breeding center for endangered animals, which explains the unusual selection of animals that you can see here. They also have a car safari where you can see from up close a lot of animals, including lions, hyena, wildebeest, the white rhino and others. I took some of my best bird pictures in this park.
There were probably other beautiful places around Lake Garda, like Limone sul Garda, however in just one week I didn't have time to visit all. There are ferries going all around Lake Garda and that would have been very interesting to try out. Hopefully I will get to visit the rest of the places next time.