Peschiera del Garda is a charming old town on Lake Garda that sits in a real Venetian fortress, and is flanked by bright blue canals.
The fortress is a living UNESCO World Heritage Site that you can walk around, and enjoy wonderful dining, drinking, and shopping at the same time. Peschiera del Garda offers beautiful vistas of Lake Garda and a myriad of ways to enjoy the lake, like walking and biking. Near Peschiera del Garda there are more picturesque towns to explore, and even amusement parks!
My guide, which is based on my most recent trip in June 2023, will help you prioritize where to visit and what to do during your time in Peschiera del Garda.
For a 2 day visit, I recommend walking along the lake, biking along the fortress ramparts, taking a swim, and visiting the area’s other picturesque villages on the lake, like Lazise and Bardolino. If you have 3 days, fit in a visit to Gardaland, Italy’s iconic amusement park.
Table of Contents
VISIT PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
First things first:
The pronunciation of Peschiera del Garda is: peh-skee-EH-rah dehl GAHR-dah
Listen to how to pronounce Peschiera del Garda here:
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.
After taking in the various shades of blue in the water and sky, we marveled at the swans and ducks that came right up to the shore! We set off to find the town center, which 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. The site has an impressive history, and was once an ancient Roman colony called Arilica. In the 16th century, canals were built and the site was fortified under the Republic of Venice, making it an important part of the Serenissima’s defense and military system.
You can admire the ramparts on foot, take a guided walking tour, and even go on a boat tour. 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. Cars are not allowed in the old town center, which makes strolling and exploring the narrow streets even more pleasant.
PESCHIERA DEL GARDA BIKE PATH
A fun way to see the fortress is by taking a bike ride along the Euro Velo 7, or E7, bike path. The path is flat, and runs south along the Mincio River, for great views of the ramparts. It’s a fun ride for the whole family, just be advised that there are no barriers or fences to keep you from falling off the path into the water, so it’s best for children with experience.
PESCHIERA DEL GARDA STREET MARKET
Every Monday morning Peschiera del Garda holds an outdoor market in the town’s main parking lot. 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.
If you like sweaty crowds you’ll be fine. Otherwise, plan your day so you’re doing activities outside of town. In late spring and summer, the market and whole town can get packed to the gills on market day. If you’re coming by car, keep in mind that there’s traffic getting in and out of town, as well as more trouble finding parking.
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 if you’ll be moving around the area:
EATING AND DRINKING IN PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
When it’s time for meals or refreshments, Peschiera del Garda has a lot to offer. The town center has cafés, restaurants and gelaterie (ice cream shops) galore!
Along the Canale del Mezzo (the canal on the north side of the town center), you’ll find places to eat and drink right on the blue water. There are also cafés and restaurants by the lake on Via Lungolago Mazzini, the road that runs along the lake’s southern shore.
Since it’s a vacation spot, you’ll see people enjoying drinks at all times of day, especially bright orange aperol spritzes.
Nearby Bardolino produces 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 Peschiera del Garda 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 Peschiera del Garda that don’t involve actually going in the water.
WALKING BY THE LAKE
Make sure to take advantage of Lungolago Mazzini, the promenade that runs along the southern 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 or onto the rocks lining the path. If your child hates their stroller (like mine did) and likes to walk, make sure to hold hands!
In addition to the E7 bike path that runs along the Mincio River, there is a wonderful lakefront promenade that runs up the eastern shore of Lake Garda all the way past Garda town. It 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.
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. A nearby public beach lies west of Peschiera del Garda along the southern lake’s shore, in front of the Camping Bella Italia campground. It is very picturesque, but pebbly, which can be uncomfortable for hours of sunbathing.
In fact, much of the shore on Lake Garda’s southeastern coast is pebbly and/or rocky, and stays shallow quite far out.
You name it, Lake Garda’s got it: diving, windsurfing, sailing, kitesurfing, waterskiing and more.
Along the lake’s southeastern shore in Lazise and Bardolino, 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.
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 companies that offer tours and boat cruises. It is also possible to rent motor boats and sailboats.
VISIT PICTURESQUE LAKESIDE VILLAGES NEARBY
Peschiera del Garda is just one of many lovely villages on the southeastern shore of Lake Garda. I’ll focus on some of the closest and most charming towns: Lazise, Bardolino, and Garda. Just like in Peschiera del Garda, cars are not allowed in the old town centers, so you can stroll to your heart’s content.
Lazise is about 9.5 km north of Peschiera del Garda. 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 burstings 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.
This lovely little hamlet is part of Bardolino and sits on the lake about 12.3 km north of Peschiera del Garda. 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 is about 15.6 km north of Peschiera del Garda. It gives its name to two of the area’s high quality red wines, Bardolino Superiore DOCG and Bardolino DOC. This lovely town also boasts a ferris wheel right on the lake! The old town center is filled with boutiques and cafès for people watching.
More highlights include Bardolino’s long green stretch along the lakeside promenade, which has plenty of grass and shade. 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.
Garda is yet another jewel of a town. It sits 18.2 km north of Peschiera del Garda 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 Peschiera del Garda there are a slew of great amusement parks!
Gardaland is Italy’s biggest, and most famous amusement park. If you’re in Peschiera del Garda 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 10 minute drive northeast of Peschiera del Garda.
Read my Tips for Visiting Gardaland.
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 PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
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 northwest of Peschiera del Garda.
Cavour Parco Acquatico
Cavour is a water park with pools and waterslides about a 20 minute drive south of Peschiera del Garda in Valeggio sul Mincio.
VISIT A SPECIAL ITALIAN PARK
For an experience you can only have in Italy, head to the unique Parco Giardino Sigurtà. This expansive green oasis is located about 30 minutes south of Peschiera del Garda by car. It is rich in history as well as natural beauty, and includes flower gardens, green lawns, water gardens, and even a hedge labyrinth.
WHEN TO VISIT PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
I recommend visiting Peschiera del Garda 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.
WHERE TO STAY IN PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
The lake offers every possible kind of accommodation, from luxurious exclusive hotels to campgrounds. I can only recommend where I’ve stayed personally!
CAMPING BELLA ITALIA
This enormous campground complex on the lake in Peschiera del Garda has a variety of accommodation types, from onsite hotels, to bungalows, mobile homes, and campsites. What it lacks in local charm it makes up for with convenience, especially if you’re staying with kids. Camping Bella Italia has multiple restaurants, pools, and kids activities, and the grounds are well run and maintained by friendly staff.
GETTING AROUND PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
Exploring Peschiera del Garda on foot or bicycle are by far your best options. You can also explore the fortress and canals by boat!
GETTING AROUND SOUTHEASTERN LAKE GARDA
Since the villages along the southeastern shore of Lake Garda span over 18 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 PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
The nearest airport is Verona Catullo airport (VRN), which is about 21 km away from Peschiera del Garda (about a 20 minute drive or taxi ride.). There is train service from the airport to Peschiera del Garda Sirmione station. The other nearby airports, with distance from Peschiera del Garda, are:
- Milan Bergamo/Orio al Serio (BGY), 93 km
- Milan Linate (LIN), 136 km
- Venice Marco Polo (VCE), 145 km
- Treviso Sant’Angelo (TSF), 149 km
- Bologna Guglielmo Marconi (BLQ), 149 km
- Milan Malpensa (MXP), 177 km
Peschiera del Garda 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 from Verona and Verona airport as well. The station is called Peschiera del Garda Sirmione, and it is about a 15 minute walk from the center of town.
Getting to Peschiera del Garda 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.
In Peschiera del Garda, the largest central parking lot is near Porta Brescia, and if you get lucky there’s also street parking along the southern shore of the lake. Just remember, on Monday mornings the Porta Brescia lot hosts Peschiera’s weekly outdoor market.