48 hours in Lake Garda, Italy

Scaliger Castle on the waters edge

48hours in Lake Garda, Italy

I recently spent an amazing 48hrs in the Brescia region of  Lake Garda Italy, experiencing some of what it had to offer. If you’ve never been to Lake Garda, Italy before, you are in for a treat with stunning architectural villas and hotels that line the shores, great local family restaurants and wineries, rich history and friendly people. 

Grand lake front hotels

Some of the hotels that line Lake Garda, Italy

Not to mention the breathtaking landscape and mountains as your backdrop that makes for picture perfect postcards.  I can easily see why it is one of the most popular holiday locations in northern Italy. 



Brescia is a city and comune (also know as a municipality) in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, along Lake Garda and at the foot of the Alps. Apart from being the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda is also in a prime position with it being only just over an hour from Verona International airport, making it ideal for a weekend getaway or holiday.

If you’ve only a day or two in Lake Garda Italy, make sure you try the following:

Enjoying a glass of wine on the lakefront

Have a wine along Lakefront promenade in Salo – Lake Garda Italy

Take walk around Vittoriale degli Italiani

You can’t go past visiting Vittoriale degli Italiani, the house-museum of the Poet and Italian writer Gabriele D’Annunzio. It is considered to be one of the most visited museums in Italy and from the moment that you arrive, you can see why.

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It is not just the house that makes this place fascinating but also the objects and contraptions that he has all throughout the gardens, all taking in the views below of Lake Garda. You have the bow of a cruiser (Yes a real ship) nestled in the promontory among the greenery, an open-air theatre (which is still being used), as well as the many sculptures that line the stunning gardens.  

View above Vittoriale degli Italiani

Overlooking Vittoriale degli Italiani Lake Garda Italy Photo Provided By Vittoriale

Not to mention the thousands of objects inside Prioria (the name Gabriele gave his house), the ‘D’Annunzio the Hero’ Museum. Including both a MAS 96 anti-submarine boat and an Ansaldo SVA plane used in 1918 for his propaganda flight over Vienna.

Have you ever visited someone so fascinating and beautiful but strangely weird at the same time? That is the best way to explain my visit to Vittoriale degli Italiani. I was taken back by the whole place and I could have spent hours there exploring all the different areas. Definitely, a place that I would go back too. 

View of Lake Garda through the yellow museum bulding

Looking outside from the museum Lake Garda Italy

Additional Information

Pricing

  • Route A (All areas complete with a guided tour of the Casa di d’Annunzio)
    Full price:€ 16 per Adult And
    Reduced price – Start from € 13 (Students & Children)
  • Route B (Park + Musei D’Annunzio segreto + L’Automobile è femmina without Guided Tour)
    Full price: –  € 10 per Adult
    Reduced price: Start from € 8 (Students & Children)
  • Free – For children under 6years old.
Biplane hanging from the museum ceiling

Ansaldo SVA plane inside house-museum, Lake Garda Italy

Opening times

  • Opened – All year round except for 1 Jan, 24 and 25 Dec and Mondays of Nov, Dec and Jan
  • From  –  Last Sunday of March to 15 October: 9am8pm
  • From –  16 October to the last Saturday of March: 9am5pm
  • Last admission one hour before the closing time

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Tip

  • It gets very busy here and not the type of place you want to deal with crowds. We went late in the afternoon, just before dinner which was the perfect time. 
View of tomb and gardens

Tomb of Gabriele d’Annuzio – Lake Garda Italy

Wander around the Andre Heller Botanical Garden

You do not have to be a lover of gardens to enjoy the beautiful Andre Heller Botanical Garden, known as the Garden of Eden. The gardens were created by Andre Heller and hosts plants from all over the world, combining both art and nature as one. He opened them to the public, so everyone could enjoy.

The gardens are spread across 15000 square meters on the slopes of Mount Lavino and are certainly unusual with their layout, sculptures and the wide variety of plants. It should only take you roughly about 30mins to an hour to get around the whole grounds and appreciate their beauty.

Palm trees in the botanical garden

Wandering around Andre Heller Botanical Garden – Lake Garda Italy

Additional Information

  • Open – Everyday from March to October
  • The walk from the Lake Garda to Gardens is up hill but not steep and should take around 5-10mins.
  • Dogs allowed on a leash and well behaved.
  • Due to the ponds placed around the gardens, there are loads of Mosquitoes, make sure you have insect repellent.

Read the Reviews – Andre Heller Botanical Garden

Pricing

  • Full price:€ 11 per Adult And
  • Children Price:€5 (Age 5 -11 years old)

Tip

  • There is a charming little cafe at the end of the gardens, which sells homemade ice-cream and local products. Definitely a nice spot for a short break for coffee or a drink.
A refreshing orange drink with deck chairs in the background

Having a break at the charming cafe – Lake Garda Italy

Take a boat ride around Lake Garda, stopping at Sirmione.

You can not come all the way to Lake Garda, Italy and not go on a boat tour or take a ferry. Being Italy’s largest lake, it will be no surprise to you that there loads of companies that offer boat tours. Your options are limitless, you can go on a shared boat, private boat or even hire your own boat.

 

Read Reviews and Book a Boat Tours – Boat Ride on Lake Garda, Italy

 

It really depends on your budget, time and what attractions you would like to see and if you want to stop anywhere. I went with Sirmione Boats who took us around such sites as The island of Garda (known as ‘Isola Borghese’) and Grotte di Catullo before making a stop in Sirmione to marvel at Scaliger castle and ending our boat tour in Salo for lunch.

Ornate building on Garda Island

The island of Garda (known as ‘Isola Borghese’) seen from the boat – Lake Garda Italy

Additional Information

  • Duration – from 25mins onwards
  • Groups – You can go on a shared group or book a private boat

Pricing

  • Full price:€ 10 per Adult And
  • Children Price:€5 (Age 5 -11 years old)

Ornate tower on the edge of the lake

Wine Tour

They say that you leave the best to last and I could not agree more, what a way to end the trip than at a local winery and an olive oil family run business in Italy. Two of my favourites things. We went to the Avanzi Wine Cellar and Olive Oil Mill, located just south-west from Lake Garda, Italy. 

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Avanzi is a family run vineyard that produces wine, olive oil and now brews their own beer. The business was started in 1931 by Giovanni Avanzi and it is now run by his sons and his grandchildren, who are continuing with the tradition. They recently received not one, but several wine awards in Europe and the UK. 

Rows of wine barrels in an arched cellar

In the cellars of Avanzi winery – Lake Garda Italy

If you take a winery tour you will learn about Avnanzi’s vineyards, how wines are made, take a tour of the wine cellar tunnels and then finish off with a wine tasting session of some of their popular wines. These tours roughly take about an hour and you can explore the shop before and afterwards.

The only downside was that after I visited the shop, my bags were super heavy from the all the wine and oil I bought.

Additional Information

Tours & Wine tastings

  • Summer 2018. Every week (From June to September)
  • Held every week on Friday at 15:00
  • Be there 15 minutes before
  • Friday tours are held in English

Tip

  • I understand their tours get really busy, so to save disappoint book it in advance.  
A glass of Rosé in front of Avanzi sign

Wine Tasting at Avanzi – Lake Garda Italy

Where to Eat

Lake Garda Italy is a foodies dream and while classics like Pizza and Risotto never go out of fashion, there are plenty of other dishes here to tempt your appetite. Here are few of my recommendations for either dinner or lunch around Lake Garda Italy.

Tourists enjoying lunch

The lovely ladies and guide from my Press trip – Salo Lake Garda

Locanda Agli Angeli

Situated between the Botanic Gardens and Vittoriale degli Italiani is the charming family run restaurant Locanda Agli Angeli. Considered to be a hidden gem of the area and I can definitely see why. The portion sizes are generous, the staff are friendly and you have pretty views of Lake Garda, Italy.

We had a selection of cold starts while we enjoyed our Aperitif and then I had a really yummy Pizza that hit the spot, washed down with some local sparkling wine. Your only problem is to decide what local dishes you are going to try, I suggest start at Pizza!

Tip

  • This is a great place to eat or have a drink when you are visiting Vittoriale degli Italiani
Traditional Italian pizza

My yummy Pizza at Locanda Agli Angeli – Lake Garda Italy

Locanda del Benaco – Salo

There is no doubt that if you are staying in Salo, Italy or just visiting that you stop at Locanda del Benaco, for lunch or dinner. It is an Italian restaurant that serves fresh Seafood and Mediterranean style dishes, which is situated right on the lakefront promenade.

This would have been one of the nicest lunches that I have had in a while and I went away feeling totally satisfied. We had 5 courses which consisted of local fresh products like local fish tartar and my favourite pasta with fish flavours. The chef himself even came out and gave us a visit a couple of times, to make sure everything was okay.

Pasta with red sauce topped with fresh mint

Pasta with fish flavours – Salo Lake Garda

You can enjoy your delicious meal with a cold glass of Italian wine while watching the people pass by. Which to me is the perfect way to spend your day.

Tip

  • My understanding is that this place is also vegetarian friendly

Lemon cake for dessert

Ristorante Al Porto

Situated right on Lake Garda and near the Monig Porto Nautica is Ristorante Al Porto, an Italian seafood restaurant that is vegetarian friendly. The view across the Lake is a great backdrop while you enjoy your meal. 

I had a lovely meal that comprised of crab tartare, paired with some local sparkling wine that hit the spot. It a great way to end the day of exploring and wine tasting.

Tip

  • Apparently, this place is known for their ice-cream, so I suggest leaving yourself room for some!

Three portions of diced seafood

Agriturismo Amea Restaurant

Set in a beautiful farmhouse on the outskirts of  Lake Garda, Italy is Agriturismo Amea Restaurant. The restaurant has both an outdoor and indoor eating area and had a really relaxing atmosphere about it. I notice there were a lot of families eating here and kids enjoying themselves running around with their dogs.

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We had a set lunch of eggplant (Also known as Aubergine) parmesan melanzane alla parmigiana for a starter, which was my favourite and I am going to make it for my husband. Then we had a tasty Risotto for main and a variety of choices for dessert, I don’t eat sweets but they did look good!

Tip

  • If you are taking an afternoon flight, this is a great spot to eat on your way to the airport.

Three pots of various desserts

Accommodation

Villa Sofia Hotel

I stayed at the Villa Sofia Hotel a charming hotel set in a 19th-century building located in Gardone Riviera and in walking distance to Lake Garda, the Vittoriale degli Italiani and the Botanical Gardens. If you have a car, the city of Brescia was only 24.9 miles away. 



The hotel had an outdoor swimming pool set within the gardens, as well as restaurant and bar area. There is also a 24-hour reception and the staff were always happy to help whenever I needed something. The WIFI kept dropping off in the rooms the first day, so they called someone in and had it fixed for the rest of the time we were there. 

Hotel Villa Sofia main entrance

My room was part of a Villa that was located in the gardens of the hotel and overlooked the hotel and the gardens to the side. The room was very spacious and the bed was comfortable, which is always great after a day of exploring. I also had a desk with power points, safe and big bathroom with complimentary toiletries. 

Tip

  • The pool is a great way to relax after a day of exploring and before dinner.
  • If driving, it’s not a problem as the parking on the property is free.

Hotel pool nestled amongst palm trees

Location and How to get there

Lake Garda is in northern Italy and about halfway between Brescia and Verona, and on the edge of the stunning Dolomites.

The closest international airports to Lake Garda, Italy are Verona Villafranca Airport (Also known as  Valerio Catullo Airport)  and then you have Brescia-Montichiari Italy. However, Verona International Airport would be your best option as flights are more frequent and more airline carriers available.

Car Hire

Lake Garda, Italy is easily reached by motorway and most of the roads are highways with tolls and signs. If you do not have a car, I would suggest hiring one at the airport.

Then you can use it to get around the amazing wineries, castles and other attractions around Lake Garda Italy.

Tip

When you get out of the airport, turn right and head over to the separate building where all the Car hire companies are based. 

View of plane wing and clouds from the airplane

Top Tips

  • If you are eating in one of the restaurants in Sirmione, use the bathroom before you leave, as there is only a public toilet in the park but that is 30cents and if you don’t have the correct change, then you can not go.
  • Take the Malcesine cableway to the top of Monte Baldo, for spectacular views over Lake Garda, which reaches an altitude of 1760m.



  • A lot of the attractions like Vittoriale degli Italiani can be booked online in advance, to avoid disappointment.
  • You need at least an hour or two to explore Sirmione and add on another hour if you want to go to the castle.

Castle on the waters edge taken from the boat

Discover more of Italy And Europe

If you are interested in discovering more of Italyorother destinations in Europe, feel free to read my following articles. All are great options for groups of friends or family.

Colourful coastal village of Tellaro, Italy

Tellaro, Italy

Thank you for reading this article‘48 hours in Brescia Lake Garda, Italy’, I hope it helped you to decide what to do and where to eat while in Lake Garda and the Brescia RegionIt is truly a beautiful place to explore, especially for a weekend.

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Have you been to Brescia or Lake Garda, Italy before? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below or if you know any other places to see while in Lake Garda?

Here are some amazing activities that you can book while in Brescia, Lake Garda Italy

Disclaimer:Even though I was invited by the Brescia Tourism.All views are my own and based on my own experience.

Take a Boat Ride Around Lake Garda

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30 Comments

  1. Mel, this place looks amazing. You are making me fall more inlove with Italy. I love that Castle and gardens. Another one for the Italy bucketlist.

  2. This city has retained a lot of natural beauty. I love that you can get both city and nature in one place. A wine tour would definitely be on my to-do list. I also remember struggling with finding public toilets in Italy.

  3. I had never heard of this place – so awesome! I also look soooo pretty! I feel like Lake Como gets all the attention so I love hearing about another lake!

  4. Such a beautiful place. I’ve been to Rome, but no place else in Italy. I’d love to go back and just explore the whole country and eat all the food. I think Lake Garda would have to be included in my places to check out.

  5. I love to take boat rides to view cities on the water – it’s a great way to get a different perspective and, well I just enjoy boat rides, so… 😉 The food choices look amazing, especially that dessert trio with the pistachios and raspberry! And greatly appreciate the added Tips – especially the one to ‘go before you leave’ as it’s torture to realize you don’t have the correct change when you really need to go!!

    1. Lucky I was with the tourist office lady because she is the one that sorted out the bathroom for me. It was still that they had that system them especially with so many people.

  6. Your photos of food left me drooling!
    We skipped Lake Garda for Lake Como and though I don’t regret it, I do want to visit it now after reading your post. The Botanical Gardens and the boat ride sound so very lovely.

  7. Sounds like a great destination, natural beauty in the botanical gardens, exquisite architecture and wine ! couldn’t ask for more

  8. I adore Italy and would love to get to Lake Garda this year or next year. But there seems like there is a lot to see (and eat!), I’d probably end up spending more time than 48 hours. When in Italy, la dolce far niente kicks in 🙂

  9. Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, or Lake Garda. The Italian Lakes District in the Lombardy Region is awesome. Just added Lake Garda to my bucket list.

  10. Wow Lake Garda, Italy looks stunning and I would love to visit this beautiful place. As I was charmed by Lake Como in Italy, this place also looks similar to it. Walking around Botanical Garden must be so beautiful thing to do here.

  11. Wow, this is such a thorough guide! I have visited Lake Como but not Lake Garda and now I REALLY want to! Your hotel sounds lovely, I’d definitely stay there. And a wine tour would be first on my list 😉

  12. Wow Mel, this place looks amazing. So much to do for the entire family. Thanks for all the great detailed info!

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