Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda is a stunning mish-mash of jagged mountains, beautiful beaches, pastel-coloured towns, sweeping valleys, historic castles, and exciting attractions. If you’re looking for things to do on your holidays to Lake Garda, you won’t have far to go! Those travelling with kids can spend a fun family day out at Gardaland, the nearby theme-park which is packed with rollercoasters, rides, and its own aquarium.
Thrill-seekers can try their hand at windsurfing across the lake, or test their skills against some of the mountains on the north coast. For a more laid-back outing, take a trip to the Hruska Botanical Gardens, where you’ll see over 3,000 different species of plant, with works of art dotted around the grounds. Whatever your interest, the things to do Lake Garda has to offer will help you make your holiday exactly what you want it to be!
If you’re travelling with the family, you’re going to need to be able to pull some entertainment out of the bag. With rollercoasters, rides, and slides, you’ll quickly understand why Gardaland is one of the most popular things to do in Lake Garda. This theme-park is perfect for kids of all ages. If you’ve younger children, there are loads of age-appropriate attractions, including the thrills of the Kung Fu Panda Master rollercoaster and the craziest farm in town: Doremifarm. You’ll even find a fairground-style aeroplane ride for toddlers!
For older kids, the bar rises to white-knuckle levels. For those who want to get their adrenaline pumping, enjoy the spine-tingling Raptor, Oblivion Black Hole and whirling Blue Tornado rollercoasters. Gardaland’s newest addition, The Shaman, is a VR rollercoaster ride, combining all the heart-stopping action of a modern rollercoaster, with futuristic technology, to create a ride that involves a virtual flight into the mysterious world of the spiritual realm of the Native American Indians.
Fancy chilling out after all that adventure? Take a relaxing ride on the monorail to see the scenic views of the park and surrounding nature. There’s a variety of entertaining shows and performances during peak seasons, and a Sea Life aquarium next door.
There’s a great variety of restaurants, cafés, and souvenir shops throughout the park, so you won’t have to worry about keeping your brood fed and watered!
Although the origins of this outstanding castle go back as far as the first millennium, it didn’t take its name until the 13th century, when it fell under the ownership of Alberto della Scala. Today, it’s one of the most fascinating things to do in Lake Garda, particularly if you’ve got an interest in history. Even if you’re not keen on history, a trip to this ancient fortress is well worth it, just for the spectacular views.
The experience is much more than merely wandering around an old building, thanks to the on-site Natural History Museum. If you’re holidaying with children, this helps to make your visit to the castle completely immersive. Touchscreen technology and a sprinkling of multimedia magic allows visitors to not only see how life was lived hundreds of years ago, but to feel, smell and hear aspects of the past too.
Highlights of the castle include the gunpowder magazine, its own prehistoric amphitheatre, and the looming tower. The gunpowder magazine has been turned into what is now known as ‘The Goethe Room’. Here, you’ll find drawings, sketches, notes and writings from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German writer. The amphitheatre is actually the site of a prehistoric settlement. Today, it’s used as a 400-seater amphitheatre, and puts on musical and theatre events during the summer months. Make your way up to the 31-metre-high Tower and you’ll rewarded with one of the most beautiful panoramas in Italy!
An easy and interesting day out, you can walk around the rest of the well-preserved castle to see delicately painted rooms, artworks and exhibitions dedicated to the lakes and its habitat.
Hruska Botanical Gardens
A visit to the Hruska Botanical Gardens is one of the most peaceful places that Lake Garda has on its shores. Perfect for couples, families and garden lovers, the Hruska Botanical Gardens has a universal appeal. It’s much more than just a few pretty shrubs! You’ll find over 3,000 different species of plants from across the world, rubbing shoulders with hidden works of art.
The inspiration for the gardens came from Arturo Hruska, who was so struck by the beauty of Lake Garda that he decided he wanted to build a little slice of paradise for everyone to enjoy. After purchasing 10,000 square metres of land on the slopes of Mount Lavino, Hruska was finally able to put his plan into action.
During the early 1970s, Hruska landscaped the area, putting in artificial lakes and streams filled with fish and littered with lily-pads. However, his masterstroke was to create a miniature rendition of the Dolomites mountain range, using Japanese bonsai trees to recreate the stunning countryside. Over the following eighteen years, the gardens became popular, but it was a man called Andre Heller who took the gardens to the next level.
Art and nature side by side
Heller, a multimedia artist, bought the gardens and used them to showcase works by established and up-and-coming artists. Tucked away behind ferns and lush greenery, you’ll find modern works by greats such as Roy Lichtenstein, Mimmo Paladino, and Keith Haring.
Each area of the park, from the ticket office to the greenhouses, has been specifically designed by contributing artists with the senses in mind. Enjoy brightly coloured paintings, musical sounds, and fragrant scents as you wander through the park. There’re also spiritual elements included, with Buddhist and Tibetan symbols and statues of deities fixed into the green foliage. The botanical gardens are a tropical paradise and the perfect place to kick back and relax.
Something for Everyone
Whether you’ve come to relax or to immerse yourself in the local culture and history, there’s always plenty of things to do in Lake Garda. Families will find there are some great, fun days out to be had, couples can enjoy each other’s company in picturesque surroundings, and the lake acts as a high-speed playground for those interested in the thrills of water sports.