Short breaks in Lake Garda come with a hefty dose of FOMO. With so many picturesque towns to visit, too many boat trips to choose from and plate after plate of gourmet Italian food to pass on, how do you stack your itinerary in your favour? Firstly, cast aside the question of how many days you need in Lake Garda and replace it with a list of must-sees, places to eat and nightlife essentials. We’ve gathered a few Lake Garda essentials that are all achievable on just a two day stay on Italy’s biggest – and most beautiful lake.
Get on Lake Garda
It’s all too easy to immerse yourself in the region’s nooks and crannies and miss the lake altogether. If you’re limited for time on a short break in Lake Garda be sure to book time on the water. Whether you hop on one of the Lake Garda boat trips, skip from town to town on the ferry system or take to the water on a SUP, kayak or motorboat, is your choice. But seeing the shoreline from the lake itself is unmissable.
Orbzii Insider tip: Lake Garda’s ferry operator Navigazione Lake Garda offers a one day ticket with unlimited trips on any of its services. A fantastic way to see the lake, and tick off as many ports as possible.
Sirmione’s water fortress is one of the lake’s most imposing pieces of architecture – and roaming around the ramparts is a must for Lake Garda itineraries. If the views over the lake and peninsula were good enough for defending troops, they are more than enough for the lakescape-hungry eyes of eager travellers. And, the surrounding streets and attractions of Sirmione add value for anyone short on time. Beaches, stellar shopping and the ruins of Grotte di Catullo allow you to immerse yourself in one of Lake Garda’s best towns, without wasting any travel time.
Orbzii Insider tip: If you’re in the market for more lake fortifications, head over to Peschiera del Garda. You’ll find a walled city to wander that’s about more than medieval warfare. Boutiques and delis highlight the best of the local products and produce.
Take to the skies
Fear not, we’re not about to blow your budget on a helicopter tour. One of the best things to do in Lake Garda is a snip at just €25. The Malcesine to Monte Baldo cable car whisks you up into the mountains for a top-down view of this enormous – and dazzling body of water. At the top – you can grab some panoramic shots, skip into the mountains to spot wildlife, explore a hiking route or hop in the return cable car to cram more into your Lake Garda break.
Where to eat
Tancredi - Sirmione
How many days do you need in Lake Garda? Just enough to secure a table at Tancredi in Sirmione. Clinging to the shoreline of the peninsula, this fine dining nook delivers on exquisite dining with unmissable lake views. And, rather than focus on whatever the local fishing boats are pulling from the lake, Tancredi compiles its menu from the best ingredients from around the world. Lobster, Argentine beef, guinea fowl and cuttlefish are the stars of the precise plates created by chef Roberto Stefani.
Ristorante Gardesana - Garda
If you’re basing your short break in Lake Garda around a central base, you might want to pick the small town of Garda. Not least because it affords you access to Ristorante Gardesana. The first storey terrace overlooks the small marina – and the lake beyond. Though your eyes will most likely be on the varied tasting menus. Romp through dishes from the lake, the sea or the earth. Or plump for the chef’s mix of handpicked dishes that feature the best from each menu. A vegetarian tasting menu is a welcome sight on a lake notorious for its meat and fish laden plates. And, if you can handle the food FOMO, the a la carte menu lets you plot a fine dining course all of your own.
La Terrazza - Torbole
Venture to the northern shores of the lake for a meal at La Terrazza in Torbole. One of the best restaurants in Lake Garda to showcase local ingredients, the menu is unashamedly lake-based. Perch, tench and pike perk up Italian classics – think risottos and raviolis, while mountain fare balances out the fish courses. Ricotta cheese straight from the nearby slopes certainly keeps the food miles to a minimum. If you’re looking to really get an insight into Lake Garda’s regional delicacies and ingredients, this is the place to do it. With lake views added into the mix, it’s a must for short breaks in Lake Garda.
Slink onto a chic sunset cruise
Sail towards the orange hues of Lake Garda’s sunsets to start the night off in the most romantic way. Sirmione Boats offer a suitably Prosecco-packed boat trip that adds a little fizz to the evening. Gliding around the area’s thermal waters may well inspire a spa booking the day after but in the evening, all eyes are on the golden skies over the southern shore. You’ll also tick off a few local sights – which could save valuable exploring time during your two days on and around the lake.
Mix festivals and fireworks
An impressive festival calendar lights up the lake over the summer months. From July through to October, various events end the day with a firework display you won’t want to miss. For floats, fun and fireworks, time your stay to catch July’s Festa di Sant’Anna in Malcesine, For a wine festival, swing by San Martino della Battaglia in August. And, for something a little more whimsical, head to the Riva del Garda where, for the last 60 years, the August bank holiday weekend has seen the town welcome the Fairytale Night. Concerts, shows, stories and games all centre around fondly remembered fairytales and, of course, fireworks.
Party in Desenzano del Garda
Lake Garda’s largest town likes to live life to the max when the sun goes down. But don’t be put off by Desenzano del Garda’s clubbing scene. Yes, this is the lake’s liveliest town, but there’s more to nights here than a twirl on the dancefloor at the legendary Art Club Disco. 133 Sushi Club is the spot to feast on nigiri in the midst of an art gallery that rocks to the beat from the in-house DJ. For something a little more laid back, a sunset cocktail and pizza at Santa Pizzeria comes with lake views as standard.