On the Lombardy side
The Gardesana Occidentale road runs along the western shore of the lake, from Sirmione to Riva in Trentino: for a long stretch, from Salò to Limone, the area is also known as the Riviera dei Limoni (the Lemon Riviera), due to the presence and cultivation of these delicious citrus fruits.
With its characteristic towns, pebble beaches and many areas of natural beauty, the west coast is also the best coast to admire the sunrise, with the sun rising from behind the Monte Baldo mountain chain.
Desenzano and the Roman Villa
Situated on the southern shore of Lake Garda, Desenzano del Garda is a town full of picturesque corners, such as its Castle, the Porto Vecchio old port and Piazza Malvezzi.
Desenzano is located in an area that has been inhabited since prehistoric times and this is shown by the artefacts displayed in the Rambotti Museum and at the Lavagnone pile-dwelling site.
One of the most important places in Desenzano is undoubtedly the Villa Romana in the historic town centre, where you can admire exceptional mosaic floors. The Roman Villa is managed by the same museum complex as the Scaligero Castle and the Grottoes of Catullus in Sirmione.
Salò, with its wide gulf and numerous monuments such as the Palazzo della Magnifica Patria, is the town of the violin and home to the MUSA, a museum that carries out important exhibitions.
Manerba and the Rocca
The Rocca di Manerba cliff overlooks Lake Garda, creating an observation point that, on clear days, enjoys a panoramic view from Sirmione to the upper end of the lake.
Today the hill is the heart of the Rocca di Manerba del Garda Archaeological Nature Park and has walking and cycling trails.
The nature reserve also includes an important archaeological site that can be visited on the tip of the Rocca and there are other places of interest in the surrounding area, which have provided finds from various eras and that are housed nearby in the Museo Civico Archeologico della Valtenesi. Visit the Rocca di Manerba website for more information.
The port of Toscolano, the gulf of Maderno and the inland villages that cling to the mountains of the Alto Garda Bresciano are the jewels of the Toscolano Maderno area.
Here you can visit the remains of the Roman Villa, enjoy the charm of the Botanical Garden and immerse yourself in the lemon house and gardens of Villa Lucia.
Various beaches and facilities are available for water sports enthusiasts and the Bau Beach is available for dogs. In addition to the traditional lakeside walks, an unusual stop is the Valle delle Cartiere (Valley of the Paper Mills), which can be explored on foot, and the Paper Museum, which is also perfect for children.
With its charming little streets and squares in the historic town centre, gathered around its picturesque harbour, Gargnano overlooks the lake and enjoys delightful views of the mountainous hinterland of the Alto Garda Bresciano Regional Park.
Attractions in the area include the La Malora lemon house, the Hermitage of San Valentino and Palazzo Bettoni, a villa with a monumental garden that can be visited for most of the year. For opening hours and reservations, visit villabettoni.it.
For sports enthusiasts, Gargnano is an excellent starting point for trekking along the Bassa Via del Garda, as well as being a reference point for sailing and surfing.
Limone sul Garda
Limone sul Garda was once a fishing village and an area for growing olives and citrus fruits. Today it is a delightful town where you can stroll through its narrow streets, past the old houses of the historic town centre and along the lakefront.
The most characteristic attractions of the town are its lemon houses, stone and wood structures that protect the lemon trees: in Limone you can visit the Tesol lemon house, the lemon house in Via Borghi and the Castel lemon house.
As well as its beaches, another major attraction in Limone sul Garda is its bicycle and pedestrian path, which overhangs the lake and is surrounded by the stunning mountainous landscape.
San Martino e Solferino
The towns of San Martino and Solferino lie in the moraine hills of Lake Garda and are linked by a date in history: on 24 June 1859, during the second Italian war of independence, battles took place in Solferino and San Martino between the allied French and Piedmont armies and the Austrian army.
Two towers, museums and a historical re-enactment of the battle of San Martino still bear witness to these events today. Solferino is also remembered as the place where Henry Dunant witnessed the aftermath of the battle and was consequently inspired to create the International Red Cross.
What to visit on Lake Garda: the map
Consult the map below to discover all these places and to plan your lake tour along the Brescia, Verona and Trento shores: