A visit to Lake Garda offers solutions for every pocket, including activities at zero cost! From castles to chapels and churches, from museums to panoramic paths, there are the dozens of beautiful destinations at no charge in the Lake Garda area.
We have chosen 10 free destinations that are a must when on Lake Garda.
These four routes around northern Lake Garda offer splendid and unparalleled views. We start with the path from Busatte to Tempesta that winds along the eastern shore of northern Lake Garda. It leads from North to South down a 11 km path with a difference in altitude of about 300 m. Still on the northern shore is the Ponale road, now used as a foot- and cycle path, which links Riva del Garda with the Ledro Valley over a 9 km distance and a difference in altitude of 650 m. The path leading to Punta Larici from Pregàsina, a picturesque part of Riva del Garda, offers a similarly spectacular view. After a walk of roughly 3 km on the forest road with a difference in altitude of about 370 m, you reach Punta Larici which offers a unique view of Lake Garda. Last but not least, we recommend the “strada della Forra”, a route suitable for motorcycles,that goes up to the high plateau of Tremosine.
Archaeological Nature Park in Manerba
The archaeological nature park in Manerba del Garda, along the paths of which visitors can explore different flower varieties. houses a museum. The building, which boasts a view of the lake and the surrounding countryside, offers two different exhibition paths. The first is mainly archaeological and gives visitors the chance to admire excavation finds from the area. On the second, naturalistic path, visitors can see the various flower varieties and animal species from the surroundings of Manerba and Lake Garda.
Aril, the Shortest River in the World
Malcesine’s district Cassone has set a record: it is where the shortest river in the world flows. We are speaking of Aril, which after only 175 m, in the course of which it also forms a small waterfall, flows into Lake Garda – of which it is the shortest tributary. Despite its moderate length, Aril does not lack in bridges, in fact, it is crossed by three.
Pilgrimage and Other Churches
The Lake Garda area, with is landscape characterised by tranquillity and contemplation, is rich in pilgrimage and other churches of high artistic and cultural value, some of which are spectacular constructions, unique in the world. The late medieval “Madonna della Corona” pilgrimage church is situated in Ferrara di Monte Baldo and is unique due to its construction on a natural rock face. To get there, visitors have to go up the stairs which lead to a panoramic terrace with a café. On the western shore or Tignale, the “Madonna di Montecastello” pilgrimage church is situated. The church, also known as “Madonna della Stella” and recently restored, faces the lake and offers a breathtaking view. It can be reached on foot or by bike (mountain bike) and boasts a bar and a panoramic terrace. But that’s not everything: you can also visit the “Madonna del Frassino” pilgrimage church in Peschiera del Garda and, in Bardolino, the San Giorgio herimetage, situated on a promontory of its namesake mountain, and the San Severo church, a Romanesque masterpiece.
There are various markets in the municipalities and localities on Lake Garda. Every day of the week, from Monday to Saturday, a market is held. From the southern end of Lake Garda (Peschiera, Bardolino and Lazise, among others) to the western shore (Sirmione, Desenzano, Salò and Gardone Riviera to name only a few) and the northern end (e.g. Torbole, Riva and Arco), tourists can mix with locals to explore and acquire wine and food from the region, as well as antiques, clothes and accessoires.
Olive Oil Museum
The museum of the Cisano oil mill (Oleificio Cisano) is dedicated to olive oil, a product of the Lake Garda area that equals wine in its importance. The exhibition illustrates the history of olive growing from antiquity to modern times and machines used during the process from the 18th to the beginnings of the 20th century are on display. Among these, an oil mill with a water engine and lever press made from oak timber stand out. At the museum, visitors can also acquire products from the “Oleificio Cisano”.
Since antiquity, the history of Lake Garda area has witnessed the construction of many castles, villas, strongholds and fortresses, which can still be visited today. The editorial staff of GardaConcierge here presents the most important castles on Lake Garda – a must during the holiday! At this point, we remind you that access to the buildings is almost always at a charge. We start in the North with the castle at Arco, the construction of which dates back to the 6th century AD. What is special about the castle is its location; it is set on a steep rock spur and offers a spectacular view: from Monte Stivo to Monte Brione with Torbole and Riva. Further south is the Scaliger castle at Malcesine, dating back to Lombard times, which later became a residence for the Scaliger family from Verona, taking on its name. Set on a ledge above the lake, it offers a fascinating panoramic view – not only of the water, but also of the impressive mountains in the back. Another building taken over by the Scaliger family, but of earlier date (in this case, Roman times) is the castle of Torri del Benaco. The castle, which has been recently restored and blends in perfectly with its surroundings, houses a unique building with the lemon house or “limonaia” (there is a charge for entry). Further on the western shore of Lake Garda, the drawbridge of the castle of Sirmione is the only access to the city. The walled port basin of the well-preserved water castle once harboured the Scaliger fleet. Further north, the late medieval castle of Padenghe sul Garda stands on a hill and offers a unique view of Lake Garda and Sirmione. Further north still is the castle of Moniga del Garda, which also is one of the best-preserved fortresses. Like the one in Padenghe, Moniga’s castle has never been a residence, but only a defensive fortification of the city.
Petroglyphs in Torri del Benaco
The slopes of Monte Luppia show an exciting series of petroglyphs; most of these are found in the area of Torri del Benaco. It is assumed that the drawings, which were discovered in the second half of the 20th century, are the work of hunters and shepherds. They used the technique of “bushhammering”, i.e. hitting the rock with a stone. The ideal moment to come and see the petroglyphs is in the morning, because they are more clearly visible in the morning light when wet.
The Terrace of Thrill
From Tremosine, inside the protected nature reserve, you can reach the so-called Terrace of Thrill: it is a 350 m high lookout above Lake Garda. When they take in the view from this vantage point, even the most reckless visitors will get a shiver down their spine because of the height, but first and foremost because of the feeling of floating in the air above the crystal clear water of Lake Garda.
The “Cantina Fratelli Zeni” winery in Bardolino houses the wine museum, the structure of which is subdivided in subject areas that focus on individual aspects of the production chain – from winegrowing to vintage, from grape processing to bottling. Inside the wine museum, machines of today and yesteryear for the harvesting, transport and processing of the grapes are put on display. There is also a selling point where visitors can acquire wines and more drinks (grappas and brandies) produced by the winery.