A small village brimming with charm at every turn, and it’s right on Lake Garda! Bardolino offers wonderful dining, drinking, and shopping; beautiful vistas of Lake Garda and a myriad of ways to enjoy the lake, like walking and biking. Near Bardolino there are more picturesque towns to explore, and even amusement parks!
My guide, based on my most recent trip in June 2023, will help you prioritize where to visit and what to do during your time in Bardolino.
For a 2 day visit, I recommend walking and biking along the lake, taking a swim, and visiting the area’s other picturesque villages on the lake, like Peschiera del Garda and Lazise. If you have 3 days, fit in a visit to Gardaland, Italy’s iconic amusement park.
Be sure to check out my top picks for Where to Stay on Lake Garda.
Table of Contents
First things first:
The pronunciation of Bardolino is: bahr-doh-LEE-noh
Listen to how to pronounce Bardolino here:
Once a fishing village, Bardolino sits on the southeastern shore of Lake Garda, in the Verona province of Italy’s Veneto region. The old town center, or centro storico, is filled with boutiques and cafès for people watching.
Cars are not allowed in the old town center, which makes strolling and exploring the narrow streets even more pleasant. Look for the old stone walls of the village center, which are said to date back to the 9th century.
Bardolino is home to a grand total of 13 vacation villas of aristocratic Venetians from the Republic of Venice (15-19th century). Eight are right in the town center and along the lakefront. Even though they’re not open to the public, some you can admire from the outside, and even get a peak of their grounds and gardens.
Bardolino’s charm continues right along Lake Garda. There is a lakeside promenade that runs along the shore of the lake. You can take a small train around town, and there is even a ferris wheel right on the lake at the north of town!
Learn more about Lake Garda with kids.
A big highlight for us is Bardolino beach. It is not a wide sandy beach but a long green stretch with plenty of grass and shade, north of town along the lakeside promenade. It’s a great place to swim and relax. Nearby there is a large parking lot, and a multi-use park set away from the lake with a basketball court, outdoor workout apparatus, and a skate park.
This lovely little hamlet is part of Bardolino and sits on the lake about 2.3 km south of Bardolino town center. If you’re interested in olive oil and how it’s made, visit the local olive oil museum, which sits away from the lake on the SR249 road (it’s called Via Peschiera along this stretch).
Cisano was a strategic spot for us during our June 2023 trip because we discovered Cisano Bike Rent there, a great bike rental place next to a shaded, free parking lot and nice lakefront playground. Cisano became our base for exploring the area by bike.
BARDOLINO STREET MARKET
Every Thursday morning Bardolino holds an outdoor market in the center and along the lakefront. It is packed with stands and people who flock to experience an Italian open air market, or mercato. There are clothes, jewelry, textiles, trinkets, leather goods, food and wine. Generally there are not many local crafts or handmade items.
In late spring and summer, the market and whole town can get packed to the gills on market day. If you like sweaty crowds you’ll be fine. Otherwise, plan your day so you’re doing activities outside of town.
There is a weekly outdoor market in the morning in all of the nearby villages. It’s good to keep the summer market schedule in mind:
EATING AND DRINKING IN BARDOLINO
When it’s time for meals or refreshments, you have your pick of places to eat and drink right on the water in Bardolino. Along the promenade there are restaurants and cafès with glorious front row Lake Garda views.
Since it’s a vacation spot, you’ll see people enjoying drinks at all times of day, especially bright orange aperol spritzes.
Bardolino gives its name to two of the area’s high quality red wines, Bardolino Superiore DOCG and Bardolino DOC. Bardolino Chiaretto DOC is the local rosé, or rosato, which makes a great aperitivo, or before-dinner drink.
Look out for Amarone and Valpolicella, two of Italy’s most prestigious red wines, which are produced nearby. The land surrounding Lake Garda is also a DOP extra virgin olive oil zone, where Olio Garda DOP is produced.
The majority of restaurant menus are geared towards an international tourist clientele. You’ll see a lot of dishes that feature seafood, which doesn’t come from the lake. Be on the lookout for local dishes. Usually wait staff appreciate when tourists are interested in local specialties, and are happy to point them out to you.
Keep in mind that even though most Italians eat dinner at about 8pm, restaurants in Bardolino are often packed for dinner at about 6:30 pm. The people having dinner at that time usually are not locals, but tourists from Germany, Holland, and other parts of northern Europe. To avoid the rush during high season, try having dinner out at Italian dinner time.
ENJOY LAKE GARDA
When you see Lake Garda’s surreal light blue waters, you’ll probably want to jump right in like we did! But there are also plenty of activities to do on the lake in Bardolino that don’t involve actually going in the water.
WALKING BY THE LAKE
Make sure to take advantage of the promenade that runs along the edge of the lake. It is the place to stroll and people watch, enjoy the lake’s stunning vistas, and literally smell the flowers. You can check out all the boats, and even get up close to ducks and swans.
There are families with strollers, groups of friends, elderly couples, and plenty of tourists taking it all in. Whether you like a leisurely passeggiata (stroll), a brisk power walk or a jog, you’ll be in good company.
Families with toddlers: be advised that parts of the lakeside promenade run right next to the water and have no barrier to keep you from falling in. There are also sections that run next to the road without a safety barrier. If your child hates their stroller (like mine did) and likes to walk, make sure to hold hands!
The lakefront promenade is fabulous for biking at a leisurely pace while taking in the stunning lake views. I recommend it for older children, or kids who are experienced riders, because parts of the path run along the water with no safety barrier.
Even though plenty of serious cyclists use the path, be warned that if you want to go at a fast pace it can get very crowded and congested.
Make sure you know when market days are, because part of the Bardolino market runs along the lakefront and the path can become impassable when there are crowds.
There are plenty of bike rental places along the lake, as well as in the lakefront campgrounds. We were lucky to find Cisano Bike Rent, with friendly, attentive service and sturdy, well-maintained bikes. They had ebikes, city bikes, childrens bikes, baby seats, a trailer, bike locks, and helmets for our group of 3 adults and 5 children in June 2023.
A major perk of Cisano Bike Rent that it sits right in a shady parking lot on the lake in Cisano (about 2.3 km south of Bardolino town center), so you don’t have to worry about where to park, or paying to park. If you’re not walking to your bike rental from your accommodation, or renting right at your accommodation, make sure that no matter where you rent bikes there’s free parking nearby.
Be on the lookout for fontanelle, or water fountains, where you can get a free drink of mountain water and fill up your water bottle.
SWIMMING AND SUNBATHING
The water in Lake Garda is clear and wonderfully refreshing, as only lake water can be. Much of the shore is pebbly and/or rocky, and stays shallow quite far out. However, the green lakefront stretch just north of Bardolino, or “Bardolino beach”, has plenty of grassy places to sunbathe, as well as some docks that go far out into the water.
You name it, Lake Garda’s got it: diving, windsurfing, sailing, kitesurfing, waterskiing and more.
Along the shore many of the beach establishments rent out SUPs (stand up paddle boards) and pedalòs (paddle boats). You’ll find small and large rental centers where you can go in person, but it’s always a good idea to call ahead for availability. Water Ski Center in Bardolino offers a variety of activities including water skiing and banana boating.
If you have your heart set on parasailing, definitely book ahead of time.
There are many boat options if you’re looking to hop between lakeside villages, or just joyride on the lake. Lake Garda has a system of ferries that go between the picturesque lakeside villages below, as well as Sirmione and other towns on Lake Garda that are well worth visiting. Before booking make sure you can bring your bike or car, if you need to transport them.
There are plenty of companies that offer tours and cruises. It is also possible to rent motor boats and sailboats.
VISIT PICTURESQUE LAKESIDE VILLAGES NEARBY
Bardolino is just one of many lovely villages on the southeastern shore of Lake Garda. I’ll focus on the closest towns, which are Peschiera del Garda, Lazise, and Garda. Just like in Bardolino, cars are not allowed in the old town centers, so you can stroll to your heart’s content.
PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
Peschiera del Garda sits on the southeastern corner of Lake Garda. It was the first town we visited on the lake, and the aquamarine color of the water stopped us in our tracks. The town center sits a bit back from the lake on the other side of a road . . . inside a Venetian fortress!
Peschiera del Garda’s pentagon-shaped fortress, with its impressive ramparts and canals, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take a walking tour, or even a boat tour to learn about the site’s rich history, from the ancient Romans to 16th century Republic of Venice.
Take in the fortress ramparts, wander through the old town’s cobblestone streets brimming with shops, and you’ll come to the lovely Canale di Mezzo, a canal lined with restaurants and cafés.
Lazise is about 6 km south of Bardolino. As you approach by car from SR249, the main road, you’ll see the majestic Scaligero Castle and medieval walls that surround the town. To enter the town center you can pass through one of the old gateways in the ramparts, which feels like you’re entering a fairy tale castle.
Once inside the old town, you’re greeted by charming narrow streets bursting with colors. You have your pick of shops, cafés and restaurants, and there’s a magnificent, wide promenade along the water. Visit Porto Vecchio, or the Old Harbour, to feel like you are strolling along a canal in Venice.
Garda is yet another jewel of a town. It sits 3.8 km north of Bardolino on a wide bay that hosts a harbor full of boats. Along the shore south of town there are beach clubs perched overlooking the water where you can rent umbrellas and beach chairs for the day and take advantage of the trendy bars.
VISIT AN AMUSEMENT PARK
As if the natural beauty of Lake Garda weren’t enough, near Bardolino there are a slew of great amusement parks!
Gardaland is Italy’s biggest, and most famous amusement park. If you’re in Bardolino for at least two days and are a big fan of roller coasters, don’t miss visiting Italy’s version of Six Flags! You’ll need to devote a whole day to the park, which is about a 20 minute drive south of Bardolino.
If you’ll be visiting with kids when it’s hot, consider buying a combined ticket with Legoland Water Park, which is part of the Gardaland resort. Adults are only allowed if accompanying a child 14 or younger (and children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult). You’ll be glad for this fun place to cool off!
OTHER AMUSEMENT PARKS NEAR BARDOLINO
GARDALAND SEALIFE ACQUARIUM
Yes, this aquarium has sharks!
Canevaworld Resort in Lazise has two exciting parks: Caneva Acquapark, full of water slides; and Movieland, a Hollywood themed park. Not only that, It’s also home to the Medieval Times restaurant and tournament show.
PARCO NATURA VIVA
Have you always wanted to go on a safari? See lions, komodo dragons and more at Parco Natura Viva in Bussolengo, about a 20 minute drive southeast of Bardolino.
WHEN TO VISIT BARDOLINO
I recommend visiting Bardolino in the spring, from April until June; or in the fall, in September or October. The summer in July and August is hot and very crowded, which is a deal-breaking combination for me.
By visiting in the spring or fall months, you can take advantage of relatively warm temperatures and avoid peak crowds.
Bardolino hosts a grape and wine festival in the fall, the Festa dell’Uva e del Vino Bardolino. It is usually the last few days of September to the beginning of October.
GETTING AROUND BARDOLINO
Exploring Bardolino on foot or bicycle are by far your best options! There is also a little tourist train that offers a 15 minute tour of town. It leaves from Bardolino harbor (it’s free for children under 2 years old).
GETTING AROUND LAKE GARDA NEAR BARDOLINO
From Bardolino you can walk to Garda (about 3.5 km, at least a 45 minute walk), and Lazise (about 6 km, at least an 1 hr 15 min walk) along the lakeside promenade. Since the villages along the southeastern shore of Lake Garda span over 19 km from Peschiera del Garda to Garda town, exploring on foot is not the quickest way to get to the farther towns. Therefore, I’d recommend biking along the lake if you like cycling, or taking a ferry from town to town.
DITCH YOUR CAR
My main advice for getting around the southeastern shore of Lake Garda: use your car as little as possible. Even though the SR249 road runs up the coast through the little towns I’ve recommended, it gets congested fast. Every evening at 6 pm there is bumper to bumper traffic SR249 between Lazise and Peschiera del Garda when Gardaland closes. Same goes for the areas leading into small towns in the morning on market days.
Driving is not allowed in the center of the old villages, which means you need to park right outside of town, if there are spaces left (arrive early in the day). Parking is expensive and hard to find during high season.
GETTING TO BARDOLINO
The nearest airport is Verona Catullo airport (VRN), which is about 29 km away from Bardolino (about a 30 minute drive or taxi ride.). There is train service from the airport to Peschiera del Garda Sirmione station, and then you can take a public bus to Bardolino. The other nearby airports, with distance from Bardolino, are:
- Milan Bergamo/Orio al Serio (BGY), 110 km
- Milan Linate (LIN), 138 km
- Venice Marco Polo (VCE), 157 km
- Treviso Sant’Angelo (TSF), 166 km
- Bologna Guglielmo Marconi (BLQ), 160 km
- Milan Malpensa (MXP), 190 km
The closest train station to Bardolino is in Peschiera del Garda, about 15.6 km away, which is reachable by bus. The Peschiera del Garda Sirmione station has direct train service from Milan’s central station, which can take as little as an hour if you take the high speed train. There is train service to Peschiera del Garda from Verona and Verona airport as well.
Getting to Bardolino is easy by car, however once you arrive, I recommend using your car as little as possible. Cars are not allowed in the town center. The roads get clogged easily, and parking is an expensive hassle. I recommend the parking lot near Lido di Cisano, and north of Bardolino by Bardolino beach.