Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is famous for its scenic mountain backdrop, beautiful beaches, and charming towns.
Covering three Italian provinces and an area of 370 sq km (143 sq miles), it can be difficult to decide where to stay in Lake Garda. Don’t worry though as I’m here to help!
This guide is going to go through the best areas to stay in Lake Garda, and what each one offers. Not only will you get an overview of each town, but I’ve also detailed the pros and cons of staying there, as well as the best hotel options for every budget.
So, let’s take a look at the best places to stay at Lake Garda!
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Table of Contents
Overview of Where to Stay in Lake Garda
Lake Garda is found at the foot of the Italian Alps and as I mentioned previously, it covers three different provinces. These provinces are Lombardia, Trentino, and Veneto.
Located halfway between Milan and Venice, Lake Garda is easily accessible. Many people choose to stay in these cities and take a day trip out to the lake instead, but I highly recommend that you stay here.
There’s so much to do in the area like exploring historic castles, cycling around the lakefront, and tasting delicious wine so it’s best to spend at least 2-3 days at Lake Garda.
With a length of nearly 52 km (32 miles), it’s no surprise that you’ll find plenty of charming lakeside towns to stay in. Many of these towns are found along the Gardenesa which is the coastal road that runs alongside Lake Garda.
Each one has something special to offer and is easily accessible as public buses run all around the lake. You’ll also find plenty of ferries and catamarans (especially during the summer) so getting around isn’t an issue.
However, it’s even easier if you’re planning to hire a car and Lake Garda also fits nicely in a wider Northern Italy road trip itinerary.
The main thing you’ll want to consider when choosing where to stay in Lake Garda is the attractions you want to be close to and your budget.
If you don’t have time to read this article right now, then you can take a quick scan of this table. It covers the best areas to stay in Lake Garda and gives a quick breakdown of what each one offers!
|AREA||BEST FOR||RECOMMENDED HOTEL||MORE HOTELS|
|Sirmione||Sightseeing, transport links, luxury stays, food||Hotel Olivi Spa & Natural Wellness||More hotels in Sirmione|
|Desenzano del Garda||Budget-friendly, nightlife, transport links, sightseeing||Piccola Vela||More hotels in Desenzano del Garda|
|Peschiera del Garda||Relaxing atmosphere, scenic views, theme park, attractions||Le Ali Del Frassino||More hotels in Peschiera del Garda|
|Riva del Garda||Luxury stays, outdoor activities, sightseeing, attractions||Hotel Benacus Panoramic||More hotels in Riva del Garda|
|Limone Sul Garda||Relaxing atmosphere, lakefront walks, food, scenic views||Hotel Du Lac||More hotels in Limone Sul Garda|
|Malcesine||Attractions, scenic views, relaxing atmosphere, family-friendly||Bellevue San Lorenzo||More hotels in Malcesine|
|Gardone Riviera||Luxury stays, sightseeing, attractions, relaxing atmosphere||Grand Hotel Fasano||More hotels in Gardone Riviera|
Best Towns to Stay in Lake Garda
If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide on where to stay in Lake Garda, then don’t go anywhere! All the towns located along this beautiful lake have plenty to offer, so choosing the perfect base isn’t an easy decision.
To make things easier, I’ve researched the best locations to stay in Lake Garda and have used my personal experiences too, in order to help you find the town most suited to you.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at each lakeside town and what they offer!
If you don’t mind the crowds then Sirmione is one of the best areas to stay in Lake Garda! It’s one of the most popular lakefront towns in the area and is full of restaurants, bars, attractions, and quirky stores.
You’ll find plenty of things to do in this area like relaxing on Jamaica Beach, exploring the Grottoes of Catullus, and heading to Aquaria Thermal Spa. However, the most popular attraction is Scaligero Castle!
The town is set out on a peninsula so naturally offers outstanding views of Lake Garda and its scenic mountain backdrop. This is where the historic ‘old town’ of Sirmione is found with its narrow alleyways, pedestrianized streets, and awesome attractions.
Sirmione is also a great place to stay if you’re planning on traveling to other areas of Lake Garda. There are regular bus and ferry services that leave from town, but just make sure you research the timetable information as some of the routes can stop quite early.
With plenty of attractions, beautiful views, and delicious food – Sirmione is a great option. However, it’s one of the most expensive places to stay in Lake Garda so isn’t really suitable for those traveling on a budget.
Pros and cons of staying in Sirmione
- Plenty of attractions in the area
- Great connections to other towns around Lake Garda
- Can get very crowded – especially during the summer months
- One of the most expensive towns in Lake Garda
The best places to stay in Sirmione
LUXURY – Hotel Olivi Spa & Natural Wellness
This hotel is just a few steps away from Lake Garda and has fantastic facilities including an on-site restaurant, a swimming pool & hot tub, and a spa & wellness center. Breakfast is also included in your stay, and is served on the terrace which offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
MID-RANGE – Hotel Flaminia
Hotel Flaminia is located right on the lakefront, and there’s a terrace area where you can relax on deck chairs or head into the lake for a swim. Many of the rooms offer superb lake views, and there are plenty of facilities available too including an on-site restaurant, a bar, and an airport shuttle service.
BUDGET – Hotel Porto Azzurro
If you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodation, then Hotel Porto Azzurro is a great option. With an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant & bar, and a TV room there are lots of awesome facilities. Many of the rooms also have a private balcony and breakfast is included.
2. Desenzano del Garda
Deciding where to stay in Lake Garda isn’t easy, but Desenzano del Garda is the perfect base. It’s one of the largest lakefront towns in the area and has plenty to offer with great transport links, a variety of accommodation options, and lots of nightlife.
Located at the southern end of Lake Garda, Desenzano del Garda is just a 1.5-hour drive from Milan. This makes it a popular weekend destination, so you’ll find plenty of pubs and bars here that stay open early into the morning.
You’ll also find lots of fantastic things to do here like taking a ferry out onto the lake, heading to Castello di Desenzano del Garda, and dining at tons of fantastic Italian restaurants.
Desenzano del Garda is also one of the best towns to stay in Lake Garda for budget travelers. It’s much cheaper than Sirmione and you’ll find plenty of cost-effective accommodation options here.
The only thing to note is that it can get pretty lively here on the weekends, so it’s not the most family-friendly town in the area.
Pros and cons of staying in Desenzano del Garda
- Budget-friendly accommodation
- Lots of fantastic food options
- Can get very lively at night, so may not be suitable for families with young children
- Often gets crowded, especially during the weekends
The best places to stay in Desenzano del Garda
LUXURY – Villa Rosa Hotel Desenzano
If you’re looking for a luxury stay in Lake Garda, then check out Villa Rosa Hotel Desenzano. Located right by the lakefront, this hotel offers fantastic facilities including a restaurant, outdoor pool, a bar, and a hot tub. It’s also just a 10-minute walk from the town center so is in a great location.
MID-RANGE – Piccola Vela
Piccola Vela is just a short walk from the center of Desenzano del Garda and has plenty to offer with stunning rooms, awesome facilities, and a great location. Guests have access to lots of amenities during their stay including a heated pool, a sun terrace with a hot tub, and an on-site restaurant.
BUDGET – Hotel Europa
Hotel Europa is set right on the lakeshore so offers panoramic views of Lake Garda and the surrounding mountains. It’s close to the town center so is within walking distance of many bars, shops, and restaurants. Aside from its beautiful rooms, Hotel Europa offers an on-site restaurant, lounge area, and a TV room.
3. Peschiera del Garda
Peschiera del Garda is one of the most picturesque towns in Lake Garda and gives off ‘Venice’ vibes. It’s one of the only towns that’s located on the actual lake itself, which makes it a magical place to stay.
With stunning architecture, lakeside walks, and plenty of fantastic restaurants, it’s no wonder that this place is such a catch.
It’s one of the best locations to stay at Lake Garda if you’re traveling as a family as it’s close to Gardaland – Italy’s most famous theme park!
There are also plenty of other attractions in the area including Porta Verona, Braccobaldo Beach, and Madonna del Frassino Sanctuary.
Although Peschiera del Garda is only small in comparison to other towns in Lake Garda, it’s one of the most popular. You’ll even find some beautiful beaches nearby, where you can relax on the lakefront and just enjoy your time in this magical place.
If you’re looking for a picturesque fairytale stay, then Peschiera del Garda is undoubtedly one of the best areas to stay in Lake Garda!
Pros and cons of staying in Peschiera del Garda
- Located on the lake itself
- Plenty of attractions nearby
- One of the flattest towns in the area, so no scenic mountain backdrop
- Does have transport links, but isn’t in a central location so expect longer bus journeys
The best places to stay in Peschiera del Garda
LUXURY – Le Ali Del Frassino
Le Ali Del Frassino offers beautifully designed rooms, but it’s the facilities here that steal the spotlight. This hotel has two on-site restaurants, two bars, two swimming pools, and a fitness center. There’s even a spa & wellness center at this hotel if you’re looking for total relaxation.
MID-RANGE – The Ziba Hotel & Spa
The Ziba Hotel & Spa is set in a 19th-century building and is just a 6-minute walk from the lakefront. All the rooms here are designed with space and comfort in mind and are elegantly decorated. You’ll want to visit the spa too as there’s a sauna, hot tub, and Turkish bath there.
BUDGET – Hotel Bell’arrivo
Hotel Bell’arrivo is situated in the historic town center and is close to Italy’s most iconic theme park – Gardaland. There’s also a bus stop right outside the hotel so you can easily get around. Not only that, but this hotel offers a terrace that’s set out on the water and a bar with happy hour discounts!
4. Riva del Garda
If you’re looking for a luxurious stay, then Riva del Garda is one of the best places to stay in Lake Garda. They have plenty of luxurious hotels in the area and many of them offer panoramic views of the lake and its surrounding mountains!
However, you’ll still find lots of mid-range and budget accommodation in this town so it’s suitable for every budget.
Riva del Garda really does have something for everyone with its relaxing atmosphere, historic sights, and outdoor activities.
There are plenty of places to see here including Spiaggia Sabbioni, Torre Apponale, and Riva del Garda hydroelectric plant. The beautiful Cascate del Varone is just a 30-minute walk from town too.
If you’d prefer something a bit more exciting, popular outdoor activities in this area include paddle boarding, sailing, mountain biking, and hiking.
During your stay here, make sure you take some time to relax and enjoy the fantastic views of the lake. If you’re wondering where to stay in Lake Garda make sure you take a look at this place.
Pros and cons of staying in Riva del Garda
- Relaxing atmosphere
- Perfect for adventurous travelers
- Right at the northern tip of the lake, so be prepared for long journeys to the other towns if you’re using public transport
- Can get busy in the summer months
The best places to stay in Riva del Garda
If you’re looking for 5-star hotels in Riva del Garda this is where you need to stay. Offering stunning suites, fantastic facilities, and spectacular views – you won’t find many places like this. During your stay, you’ll have access to plenty of amenities including a spa & wellness center, two swimming pools, an on-site restaurant, and a bar.
MID-RANGE – Du Lac Et Du Parc Grand Resort
Du Lac Et Du Parc Grand Resort is just a 5-minute walk from Lake Garda and has a variety of rooms to choose from. Its facilities include a spa & wellness center, an on-site restaurant, and a fitness center. However, the highlight of this hotel is its outdoor swimming pool as it offers spectacular mountain views.
BUDGET – Hotel Benacus Panoramic
Hotel Benacus Panoramic is one of the best budget hotels in Riva del Garda. It offers panoramic views of Lake Garda, and plenty of great facilities including a swimming pool, restaurant, and a sun terrace. Many of the rooms also have a private balcony and offer stunning views.
5. Limone Sul Garda
Limone Sul Garda is easily one of the most beautiful towns in Lake Garda. The town’s name translates to ‘lemon’, as the area is known for growing lemons and citrus fruits. It’s also famous for its delicious olive oil!
If you’re traveling to Limone Sul Garda in the summer, then I’d recommend visiting one of the beautiful lemon groves in the area.
Other popular attractions here include the old town, the promenade, and Limonaia del Castel. You’ll also want to walk the cycle path during your time here, as the views are incredible.
Although there are many places to visit, Limone Sul Garda is one of the best areas to stay in Lake Garda if you’re looking to relax. With lakefront walks, authentic restaurants, and charming alleyways, it’s the perfect place to take a stroll and just watch the world go by.
However, if you’re wanting to travel to other lakefront towns along Lake Garda you may want to stay elsewhere as Limone Sul Garda isn’t very central.
Located in one of the most mountainous areas surrounding the lake, the views are spectacular making it a contender for the best towns to stay in Lake Garda.
Pros and cons of staying in Limone Sul Garda
- Great place to relax
- One of the most beautiful areas surrounding Lake Garda
- The area is very hilly so if you’re wanting to hike – just keep that in mind
- It’s a very small town and gets packed with tourists.
The best places to stay in Limone Sul Garda
LUXURY – EALA My Lakeside Dream
Eala My Lakeside Dream is an adult-friendly hotel that’s set in a secluded lakeside location. With two swimming pools, an on-site restaurant, a spa & wellness center, and a fitness center – this hotel has every facility you could need. You can get to the center of town via a free shuttle or by walking alongside the lake promenade.
MID-RANGE – Hotel Du Lac
Hotel Du Lac overlooks Lake Garda and offers panoramic views of the area. This hotel has an endless list of facilities including two swimming pools, a spa & wellness center, a fitness center, and a restaurant. They even have an ice cream parlor!
BUDGET – Albergo Ristorante Montebaldo
Albergo Ristorante Montebaldo is one of the best budget options in Limone Sul Garda. The highlight of this place is the panoramic restaurant and terrace that offers stunning views of Lake Garda and the surrounding mountains. Boat tours also depart from the marina right in front of the hotel, and breakfast is included with your stay.
Malcesine is one of the best places to stay in Lake Garda for first-timers! It’s also popular with couples and families because of the relaxing atmosphere, variety of eateries, and lots of sightseeing opportunities.
The most popular place to visit is Malcesine Castle with its striking architecture and the fact that it offers spectacular views of Lake Garda and its mountain backdrop.
Another must-do in Malcesine is taking the cable car up to Monte Baldo. The journey only takes a couple of minutes, but you’ll get to 1,800 meters (5,905 feet) so naturally, the views are outstanding.
Whether you’re looking to stroll through the old town with an ice cream or hike the surrounding trails – there’s something for everyone.
The only thing to keep in mind is that as Malcesine is small, many of the accommodation options are located slightly out of town. This isn’t a problem if you have a rental or you’re happy walking, but may not be suitable for individuals with low mobility.
However, Malcesine is still one of the best locations to stay in Lake Garda with its attractions, laid-back atmosphere, and scenic views.
Pros and cons of staying in Malcesine
- Plenty of things to do in this area
- Great for first-timers
- Many of the accommodation options are located outside of town
- Gets very busy during the summer months
The best places to stay in Malcesine
LUXURY – Hotel Castello Lake Front
Located just a 1-minute walk from the lakefront, this hotel offers panoramic views of Lake Garda and one of its most popular attractions. They offer stunning rooms with a private balcony, and breakfast is included with your stay too. Not only that but there’s a terrace area with stunning lake views.
MID-RANGE – Bellevue San Lorenzo
Bellevue San Lorenzo is an adults-only hotel that offers plenty of fantastic facilities including a spa & wellness center, an on-site restaurant, and a bar. However, the highlight of this hotel is the infinity pool overlooking Lake Garda. The town center of Malcesine is just a 5-minute drive away.
BUDGET – Hotel Vega
Hotel Vega is easily one of the most beautiful hotels in Malcesine. It’s located right on the shores of Lake Garda and offers a private beach, private garden, a terrace area, and a pool with hydromassage jets. The rooms are also beautifully decorated, and many of them have private balconies so you can admire the spectacular views!
7. Gardone Riviera
Gardone Riviera is undoubtedly one of the best areas to stay in Lake Garda! Its central location means that getting around the lake and to other towns in the area is super easy.
However, Gardone Riviera also has plenty of attractions for you to visit too. This includes the famous Vittoriale degli Italiani which was built to celebrate Italy’s victory in the Great War.
There’s also a botanical garden in Gardone Riviera, and you can relax on one of the many lakefront beaches in the area.
Not only that but there are lots of authentic eateries here and boats leave from the central pier if you’re looking to go on excursions. So, if you’re wondering where to stay in Lake Garda then Gardone Riviera is a great option!
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, to visit the attractions or head to some of the nearby towns – this place has something for everyone. However, as its winding streets are so narrow the town can get pretty crowded, so just keep that in mind!
Pros and cons of staying in Gardone Riviera
- Great central location
- Plenty of attractions to see
- Known for its luxury hotels, so you may find fewer budget opinions available
- Can get busy, as the town is only small
The best places to stay in Gardone Riviera
LUXURY – Grand Hotel Fasano
Grand Hotel Fasano is the definition of luxury with a lakefront location, a FREE wellness center, and a restaurant overlooking Lake Garda. If you stay here you’ll also have private access to the lake and benefit from a tonne of facilities. If you want to know more about the hotel, read my full hotel review of Grand Hotel Fasano.
MID-RANGE – Grand Hotel Gardone
This hotel dates back to 1884 and sits right on the shores of Lake Garda. Grand Hotel Gardone boasts a lake-front terrace, a swimming pool overlooking the lake, and a poolside bar. There’s also a gourmet restaurant on-site, a fitness center, and a spa & wellness center.
BUDGET – Hotel Du Lac, Gardone Riviera
Hotel Du Lac is one of the best budget options in Gardone Riviera. It’s also located right on the lakefront and features an on-site restaurant, a snack bar, a lounge area, and a swimming pool. The rooms are reasonably priced, and many of them offer a private balcony!
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