Gay Guide • LAKE GARDA | Itineraries, Tips and What to See | Practical Complete LGBT Friendly
GAY FRIENDLY LAKE GARDA
Travel solutions with itineraries to discover all the wonders of this destination, places not to be missed, tips about where to sleep and what to eat, and above all many small special tips to enjoy your journey !
Organizing your trip to visit Lake Garda can be complex as the area is truly immense and touches three wonderful but different Italian regions, Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino / Alto Adige, offering a variety of extraordinary towns and of unique natural wonders.
Without a doubt the Must-See not to be missed are:
The majesty of Sirmione
The colors of Desenzano e Peschiera
The view from Monte Baldo
The flavors of Bardolino e Limone
The mystery of Isola del Garda
Visiting this destination at its best depends essentially on how long you have to fully enjoy it. Here is a solution based on the number of days available to you:
Day 1 - Garda Highlights - Google Maps
Alternatively, if you have more than one day available, we advise you to divide it into these three itineraries, which will allow you to fully enjoy it:
Day 1 - Garda Veneto / Est - Google Maps
Day 2 - Garda Lombardo / Sud-Ovest - Google Maps
Day 3 - Garda Trentino / Nord - Google Maps
(By opening the Maps with Google, you can easily follow our itinerary)
Click'n'Go - Click on the places to find them on the Map
WHAT TO SEE at LAKE GARDA?
10 THINGS TO SEE at LAKE GARDA
At the southern end of Lake Garda where a very narrow piece of land pushes into the middle of the waters. The symbol of the city is the Scaligero Castle, the beautiful perfectly preserved manor that also serves as an entrance to the historic center. Cross the bridge, cross the arch and you will be catapulted into the beautiful Sirmione. If you are passionate about history and archeology do not miss the Grotte di Catullo which are actually the remains of an ancient Roman villa built on the southern shores of Lake Garda. The most important testimony of the Roman era in the area of northern Italy. The name derives from the fact that at the time of discovery it was thought to be a cave. The perfect place for those who love relaxation and beauty treatments are the famous Terme di Sirmione. Outdoor thermal pools overlooking the lake, for pleasant relaxing moments.
Isola del Garda & Villa de Ferrari
The island of Garda, also known as Isola Borghese, is the largest of the islands of Lake Garda and is located about 200 meters from the coast, near San Felice. It can be reached by boat and is owned by the Counts of Cavazza. Guided tours are possible in the enchanting park and inside Villa Ferrari, the only example of Venetian Gothic style on Lake Garda.
Malcesine & Monte Baldo
On the north-eastern shore (Veronese shore) of Lake Garda lies the beautiful town of Malcesine. Also here is the Scaligero Castle which today houses the Natural History Museum of Monte Baldo and Garda. Another point of interest is the Palazzo dei Capitani. The Monte Baldo cable car also leaves from Malcesine to climb the mountain of the same name to enjoy beautiful views of the lake and the Dolomites.
Riva del Garda
One of the northernmost cities on the lake and with a very special charm. Here, in fact, the lake narrows and wedges itself between the high rocks of Mount Rocchetta. Riva del Garda is a tourist center with beautiful, well-equipped beaches (many water sports are practiced) and rich in history. The fulcrum of the city is Piazza III Novembre, where you can admire the Apponale Tower, the Town Hall and the Palazzo Pretorio.
Limone Sul Garda
One of the towns we love most on Lake Garda. Thanks to the lake breeze and its microclimate, lemons and other citrus fruits are grown in this area in the so-called "limonaie". The alleys and squares of the historic center directly overlook the lake. Do not miss the church of San Pietro in Oliveto, one of the oldest Romanesque churches in the area.
Saló & Vittoriale degli Italiani
Almost south of the lake. The Cathedral of Salò, in the province of Brescia, is in late Gothic style and is worth a visit. Near Salò, in Gardone Riviera, it is also possible to visit the famous Vittoriale degli Italiani, a monumental complex erected by the will of Gabriele d'Annunzio who collected works of art, relics, sculptures, books and much more here. On the top of the Vittoriale stands the mausoleum where the remains of d'Annunzio are kept. For more information on the Il Vittoriale Foundation, timetables and visits, check this site.
Desenzano del Garda
Probably one of the best known cities on Lake Garda and with more tourism. It's located in the province of Brescia. In this town you cannot miss the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maddalena, a few minutes from Porto Vecchio and the Castle where we recommend you to go to have a beautiful view of Desenzano from above. Entering the historic center, a few steps from the Duomo, you will find the remains of a Roman Villa with beautiful mosaic floors and the Antiquarium, a collection of materials from the villa. For fans, you can continue to the Archaeological Museum of Giovanni Rambotti, keeper of precious treasures of antiquity. Among other things, the oldest plow in the world.
Peschiera del Garda
This time we move to the province of Verona. Peschiera del Garda is another of the lakeside towns full of life and tourism and home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Fortress of Peschiera, which borders the historic center, and the pile-dwelling site of Lake Frassino, a short distance away. from the city.
Bardolino & Lazise
Here are two of our favorite towns on Lake Garda. Bardolino, known for being elegant and chic. Here it is wonderful to take a walk along the lakefront, explore the historic center and end the day with a nice aperitif overlooking the lake (the famous and delicious Bardolino wine comes from this area). Also, take a look at the Church of San Severo located at the entrance to the town, explore the historic center and take a trip to the Olive Oil Museum (another exceptional product of the whole area) to discover all the secrets. Near Bardolino there is also the wonderful village of Lazise. Undoubtedly, the Scaligero Castle with its walls, one of the best preserved Garda castles, is not to be missed.
Garda & Punta San Vigilio
At the foot of the Rocca di Garda stands the village of the same name. A medieval village with the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta, one of the oldest in this area. A few kilometers north of Garda there is, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful and romantic places on Lake Garda, Punta San Vigilio. Known in the past for having seen the presence of many illustrious guests such as Goethe, heads of state and, more recently, actors and sportsmen. It can be reached from Garda with a beautiful lakeside walk, or by car. Walking along a beautiful cypress-lined avenue you reach Villa Guarienti with its Italian gardens. Continuing you arrive at the small port from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. In this area do not miss the Baia delle Sirene, an equipped beach with crystal clear waters (admission for a fee). In addition, the excursion to Monte Luppia starts from Punta San Vigilio, known for its rock carvings of considerable historical and archaeological importance.
WHAT TO DO AT LAKE GARDA?
BEST ACTIVITIES to DO at LAKE GARDA
Visiting Cellars & Tasting Wine
The mild climate makes Bardolino the ideal place for the growth of splendid vineyards that lead to the production of the famous Bardolino red wine. There are many wineries that offer tastings of wines and local products.
Take a Boat Tour on the Lake
Sailing on the waters of the lake is a truly unique experience. Some of our favorite places are: Isola del Garda, Punta San Vigilio and Rocca di Manerba. If you choose the sunset time, the show is guaranteed. You can find some companies that organize these tours by clicking on Bertoldi Boats or on Sirmione Boats.
Having fun in the Theme Parks of Lake Garda
The territory of Lake Garda also offers a wide range of amusement parks suitable for all needs and almost all of them just a few kilometers from the shore of the lake, in the province of Verona.
Here are the 5 best amusement parks on Lake Garda:
The largest park in Italy, right on the shores of the lake, with many attractions for adults and children that are enriched every year. The park is located in Castelnuovo del Garda, in the province of Verona.
Consisting of the Movieland Film Studios, dedicated to the world of cinema with shows, entertainment and film reconstructions, and the Caneva water park, with swimming pools, slides, Caribbean beaches and water games. Both parks are located in Lazise sul Garda, in the province of Verona.
Parco Natura Viva di Bussolengo
A zoo in the province of Verona with over 200 different species of animals from all over the world. The park is a center for the protection, research and conservation of animals and includes the Safari Park, an aquatic terrarium and an area dedicated to dinosaurs.
Park Jungle Adventure
Immersed in the woods of San Zeno di Montagna, in the province of Verona, you can descend with cableways, cross suspended bridges between trees, tackle obstacle courses and much more.
The adventure park a few steps from the town of Torbole. Air passages up to 15 meters high, five acrobatic routes suitable for everyone and the nature that surrounds you.
See the Varone Waterfall
A five-minute drive from Riva del Garda is another place on Lake Garda that is worth visiting: the Varone Waterfall Grotto Park. An equipped path will lead you into the caves dug by the Magnone stream up to the spectacular Varone waterfall. The route is also suitable for children (to avoid getting too wet while visiting the waterfall, we recommend that you wear suitable clothing).
The whole area of Lake Garda is suitable for those who love outdoor sports. Trekking, cycling, water sports ... it is really impossible not to try some sport.
Trekking to the Rocca di Manerba
The nature trail of the Rocca di Manerba del Garda Reserve is easily reachable from the town of Manerba. Following the path you reach a rocky spur overlooking Lake Garda where the remains of the castle known as "Rocca" are located and from where you can admire one of the most beautiful 360 degree views of the lake.
Visit the Marmitte dei Giganti
Giant pits (4/5 meters wide, up to 12 meters deep) formed due to the melting of the glaciers. Along the way (which starts a short distance from Torbole) you can admire Torbole and the lake from above. A curiosity: The name derives from the popular imagination that did not know how to explain the origin of these gigantic wells.
The most BEAUTIFUL BEACHES of LAKE GARDA
Spiaggia dei Pini (Riva del Garda)
Lake Garda bathes three regions, Trentino Alto Adige, Lombardy and Veneto. In this journey among the most beautiful beaches of the lake we start from those in our region, Trentino. Spiaggia dei Pini in Riva del Garda, also known as Porfina, attracts for its shores of gravel and pebbles and the large portions of greenery. A little further north there is an area for windsurfing enthusiasts who find the perfect conditions for this sport here.
Spiaggia Sabbioni (Riva del Garda)
Also in Riva del Garda, it is one of the largest and best equipped beaches on the Trentino shore of the lake. The spectacle of the mountains that frame the lake is truly splendid.
Spiaggia delle Lucertole (Torbole)
Moving to Torbole you will find this beach, one of the smallest on Lake Garda (think that the car park can accommodate two or three cars at most). With a rock face that falls sheer into the lake, it is a paradise for climbing enthusiasts.
Spiaggia d'Oro (Desenzano)
Let's move on to the province of Brescia. On this shore of the lake, one cannot fail to go to the Spiaggia d'Oro (Golden Beach Club) in Desenzano del Garda. A private beach perfect for relaxing days enjoying the refreshing lake air. In the evening, the Golden Beach Club turns into a nightclub and fun is guaranteed.
Baia Bianca (Manerba del Garda)
A beautiful beach covered with fine white sand. You will feel like you are on a tropical island.
Spiaggia di Paina e Spiaggia di Val di Sogno (Malcesine)
Another mandatory stop on the east coast is Malcesine with its beaches in the shadow of the medieval castle and Monte Baldo. The closest to the town center are Paina Beach and Val di Sogno Beach.
Spiagge di Sirmione
This town at the southern end of Lake Garda has several beaches. Among the best known is Jamaica Beach, the beach of Lido Galeazzi, Punta Gro and Lido delle Bionde. All of these offer great beauty, comfort and relaxation.
Spiaggia Cola (Limone sul Garda)
Limone sul Garda also has its beautiful beach, Spiaggia Cola, pebble and free to access.
Spiaggia La Quercia (Lazise)
In Lazise, La Quercia Beach is one of the few beaches where you can find sand. One part is owned by a campsite, but another part is free to access.
Spiaggia La Cavalla (Garda)
A few meters from the center of Garda you can relax on La Cavalla Beach with small stones and gravel and a water that is considered among the clearest of the whole lake. This beach is an ideal stop for those who take the beautiful promenade that connects Garda to Bardolino.
Baia delle Sirene (Punta San Vigilio)
The pretty beach (for a fee) near Punta San Vigilio. It can be reached with a nice walk through the park of the same name.
BEST EVENTS of LAKE GARDA
All events can be found at this link
Notte di Fiaba / Fairy Tale Night
Every year in the month of August in Riva del Garda the summer is greeted with the Fairy Tale Night between events, shows and fireworks.
Every year in May Lake Garda is greeted by the passage of the historic cars of the most famous race in the world, La Millemiglia.
Festa dell'Uva e del Vino
In October in Bardolino you eat and drink at the Grape and Wine Festival.
Italia in Rosa
On Lake Garda there is also an event dedicated to pink wines. Italia in Rosa is held every year in June in the municipality of Moniga del Garda.
One of the best known events is certainly Vinitaly, the international wine fair held every year in Verona.
Historical Reenactment of Lazise
In Lazise every year there is a beautiful historical reenactment with typical medieval games, historical procession, medieval crafts and flag-wavers to remember the autonomy obtained by Lazise which in 983 became the first municipality of Italy.
Garda Jazz Festival
The Garda Jazz Festival is held every summer for three weeks, a set of concerts held in the most evocative places of various municipalities in the Garda area.
Fish Festival of Desenzano
Unmissable is the Fish Festival in Desenzano with many food stands based on lake fish.
WHERE TO STAY in LAKE GARDA?
BEST LGBT FRIENDLY HOTELS & APARTMENTS in LAKE GARDA
Bardolino (Garda Est) - Aqualux Hotel Spa & Suite Bardolino ****
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Riva Del Garda (Garda Nord) - TreeLodgy - The Tree House
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Garda (Garda East) - Hotel Regina Adelaide ****
Garda (Garda East) - Hotel Excelsior Le Terrazze ****
Garda (Garda East) - Sky Pool Hotel Sole Garda ****
Lazise (Garda East) - Quellenhof Luxury Resort Lazise *****
Lazise (Garda East) - Hotel Principe di Lazise ****
Malcesine (Garda East) - Hotel Malcesine ***
Cavaion Veronese (Garda Est) - Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais *****
Limone sul Garda (Garda Ovest) - Garda Suite Hotel ****
Gargnano (Garda Ovest) - Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda *****
Riva Del Garda (Garda North) - Du Lac et Du Parc Grand Resort ****
Riva Del Garda (Garda North) - Hotel Kristall Palace ****
Riva Del Garda (Garda North) - Hotel Savoy Palace ****
Sirmione (Garda South) - Villa Cortine Palace Hotel *****
Sirmione (Garda South) - AQVA Boutique Hotel ****
Sirmione (Garda South) - Holiday Home Onofria
Peschiera del Garda (Garda South) - Enjoy Garda Hotel ****
Desenzano del Garda (Garda South) - Villa Rosa Hotel ****
Castelnuovo del Garda (Garda South) - Gardaland Adventure Hotel ****
WHERE TO EAT in LAKE GARDA?
BEST TYPICAL RESTAURANTS of LAKE GARDA Quality / Price
Riva del Garda (North) - €€€ - Il Re della Busa
Riva del Garda (North) - €€ - Panem
Riva del Garda (North) - €€ - Ritmo DVino
Torbole (North) - €€ - Ristorante Aqua
Bardolino (East) - €€€ - La Veranda del Color (starred restaurant)
Bardolino (East) - €€ - Al Cardellino
Torri del Benaco (East) - €€€ - Ristorante Esplanade
Malcesine (East) - €€ - Ristorante Vecchia Malcesine
Salò (Ovest) - €€€ - Antica Trattoria alle Rose
Salò (Ovest) - €€ - Trattoria al Cantinone
Gardone Riviera (Ovest) - € - Osteria Antico Brolo
Desenzano del Garda (South) - €€€ - Ristorante Bruschetteria Nose (starred restaurant)
Desenzano del Garda (South) - €€ - Trattoria La Goccia
Sirmione (South) - €€ - Al Boccondivino
Peschiera del Garda (South) - €€ - Osteria Rivelin
WHAT TO EAT and DRINK in SWEDISH LAPLAND?
BEST TYPICAL DISHES and WINES of SWEDISH LAPLAND
Lesso e Pearà
One of the cornerstones of the cuisine of this area, a must on the tables on feast days and on special occasions for Veronese families. Pearà is a very tasty and peppery sauce to accompany boiled meat.
One of the main dishes of Verona based on rice with minced and seasoned pork, the same used to make salami, salamelle, etc. This risotto, in fact, takes its name from the procedure (Tastasal) used to check the salting of the salami mixture.
Bigoli con le Sarde
Traditional dish of the cuisine of Lake Garda. A long pasta cooked in the press seasoned with lake sardines and almost always consumed on holidays.
Luccio e Polenta
Pike is a typical fish of the Garda waters. The one prepared "in Garda sauce" accompanied by polenta is excellent.
Pastissada de caval
That is the stew made with horse meat, a second dish with strong flavors perfect to accompany polenta.
Sarde in Saor
One of our favorite dishes. Fried sardines, dressed with sweet and sour onions, sultanas and pine nuts. A typical Venetian appetizer.
The wines produced on the shores of Lake Garda differ according to the grape growing area. On the eastern coast of the Veneto, the red wine par excellence is Bardolino. On the west coast, on the other hand, always remaining among the red wines, we find Groppello, while on the Mantuan hills closest to the lake, Garda Merlot is produced. Moving on to rosé wines, on Lake Garda we find two: Bardolino Chiaretto on the eastern shore and Garda Classico Chiaretto on the western shore. Finally, among the white wines on the eastern shore of the lake there is the Bianco di Custoza, while further south the Lugana (our absolute favorite).
TRAVEL TIPS about LAKE GARDA by World Mappers
We recommend a visit to Lake Tenno, an easily accessible lake in the northern part of Lake Garda that will captivate you with the intense turquoise color of its waters. From the lake starts a path that leads to the small village of Canale di Tenno. In our opinion this is the most beautiful village in Trentino! You will feel like you are in a medieval atmosphere with stone houses, narrow alleys and cobbled streets. It is located halfway between Lake Garda and the Alps and is now famous for the Christmas market and the Casa degli Artisti, a meeting place for artists from all over Europe.
Another recommended stop for those who come to this area is the Valle di Ledro with the lake of the same name, one of the most beautiful in Trentino and famous for the pile-dwelling archaeological site with the attached museum.
One cannot fail to be fascinated by the Strada della Forra, also known as the most beautiful road in the world and famous for having hosted one of the most beautiful chase scenes in James Bond films. This road crosses the town of Tremosine, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, made up of many small hamlets. Among these, the village of Pieve is the highest town and here is the Terrazza del Brivido, a terrace suspended in the void at 350 meters above sea level with a spectacular view over the whole of Lake Garda. The terrace is part of the Hotel Paradiso but can be visited for free. To get there, follow the signs for the hotel.
Before embarking on any excursion in the mountains around Lake Garda, it is good to consult the weather forecast for your destination. Live images from local webcams can be consulted on the refuge sites. In winter, don't forget to take a look at the avalanche bulletin. Some excursions, especially in the upper parts, can be dangerous or even not feasible if you are not experienced or equipped with the right equipment.
Enclosed between the Val D'Adige, the Lessinia and the Veronese plain is the Valpolicella, a Venetian area a few steps from Lake Garda. Famous for the splendid landscapes and for the production of wine, so much so that there is the Vapolicella Wine Route, a path between wineries but above all an association that aims to promote the territory and local products.
For more information take a look at our
The same project is located in another area of Verona, the Soave area with the Soave Wine Route along which wine bars, cellars, restaurants collaborate to make known the wonders of their territory. Not just wine, therefore, but a beautiful mix of food and wine experiences and culture.
For more information take a look at our
In the upper part of Gardone Riviera (province of Brescia) there is the André Heller Foundation Botanical Garden park. A splendid botanical park with plant species from all over the world (over three thousand) and works of contemporary art perfectly integrated into nature.
A few kilometers north of Riva del Garda another beautiful village to see is Arco, on the slopes of a spur of rock on which stands the beautiful and spectacular medieval castle that dominates the whole of Alto Garda. The houses in the historic center are arranged in an arch around this cliff (perhaps it is from this fact that the name of the town derives).
Just outside Verona, in the Monte Baldo area, we discovered a small wonder, a centuries-old chapel overlooking the valley below: we are at the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Corona. It seems almost suspended in midair! The sanctuary can be reached via a climb of steps that starts from the village of Brentino in Vallagarina (about two hours' walk) or via the road (which can be traveled on foot) that starts from the village of Spiazzi.
Near Mantua we recommend a trip to Valeggio sul Mincio, with a visit to the Sigurtà Garden Park, and to Borghetto. Valeggio, just under thirty kilometers from Verona, is a beautiful village on the banks of the Mincio river. Dominated by the Scaligero Castle, it is a real pleasure to stroll through the narrow streets up and down the bridges and stop to sip some good wine in one of the many cafes directly overlooking the river. With more than 60 hectares, the Sigurtà Garden Park welcomes every year many visitors ready to admire the colors of millions of flowers that, depending on the season, color the park in a different and always wonderful way. Large lawns, ponds and even a maze of plants are just some of the things you will find in this beautiful nature park. The characteristic landscape of Borghetto sul Mincio (fraction of the municipality of Valeggio), on the other hand, will make you take a dip in the past: the Visconteo Bridge, the Scaligero Castle and more will make you breathe a medieval atmosphere. In these areas runs the Mincio Cycle Path, a path of over forty kilometers that connects Peschiera del Garda to Mantua, passing through Valeggio, Borghetto and many other villages.
GAY TRAVEL TIPS
Gay Clubs of Lake Garda
Art Disco Club
The most famous gay nightclub on Lake Garda is the Art Disco Club of Desenzano. To find other gay clubs you need to move to Verona:
Skylight Disco (San Bonifacio, Verona)
On Saturday gay friendly night.
Disco Cruising with theme nights.
Gay Saunas of Lake Garda
Splash Club in Desenzano del Garda
If you are a lover of the genre, you cannot fail to go to the Splash Club in Desenzano del Garda. Saunas, swimming pools and a spa area await you for relaxation and fun.
Gay Beaches of Lakee Garda
On Lake Garda there are some gay beaches, here are the most famous:
La Rocca di Manerba
Province of Brescia, frequented by naturists and gays
Spiaggia dei Canneti a Punta del Vò
Desenzano del Garda, frequented by naturists and almost exclusively gay
Along the road from Torbole to Malcesine, a staircase will take you to the nudist beach.
Garda, in the Baia delle Sirene Park.
WHAT TO BUY at LAKE GARDA?
The MOST BEAUTIFUL SOUVENIRS of LAKE GARDA
Olive Oil of Lake Garda
Among the most prestigious products of the Lake Garda area with DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) recognition issued by the European Community is the oil of Garda. Among the many varieties, our favorite is the Purple Oil produced on the hills of the Bardolino area. A curiosity: did you know that Garda Trentino extra virgin olive oil is the most northerly produced in the world, beyond the 46th parallel? This is thanks to the typical Mediterranean climate of Lake Garda!
Lake Garda Local Wine
You cannot return from Lake Garda without having purchased a good bottle of one of the many wines produced in these territories. Among the many here are some: Bardolino, Chiaretto, Amarone, Recioto, Custoza, Lugana, Garda Classico Groppello.
Limoncello of Lake Garda
The particularly mild climate even in winter allows the cultivation of many citrus fruits (lemons, cedars, oranges). The infusion of lemon peels leads to the delicious and famous Limoncello del Garda.
Olive Wood Products
If like us you are a lover of wood craftsmanship, you cannot miss the creations in olive wood. You can really find everything from household items to kitchen utensils. The thing we like the most is the scent that these objects give off.
What to see near Lake Garda ?