Excursions

Boating on Lake Garda is a wellness holiday in itself!

4 min. reading time

Enjoy fantastic views on every excursion

Lake Garda is a large lake with fantastic shoreline landscapes, which means boat trips of all kinds are incredibly popular. When viewed from a ship or boat, the landscape of Lago di Garda is spectacularly beautiful. Many of the small towns and architecture, as well as the natural sensations the region is rich in, are only revealed in their full splendour from the water – such as the Grottoes of Catullus on the peninsula of Sirmione.

The best way to get to know Lake Garda by boat is to take a trip on the ships of the “Navigazione Lago di Garda” shipping company. Lake Garda Navigation covers all ports and landing places, from Desenzano in the south to Riva del Garda high in the north. Almost all of the towns on the lake offer a harbour and are connected to the vast shipping network, ensuring it is incredibly easy to get around.

In the past, many places on Lake Garda were only accessible by boat

The roads around Lake Garda did not exist for many years, especially the lake’s western shore, which often rises steeply and roughly out of the water. Even as tourism began on Lake Garda, the best way to reach the famous town of Limone remained by boat. It was not until April 1948 that public passenger transport started on the water as it exists today.

Around the lake with the Navigazione Lago di Garda

With numerous markets in the small towns and villages, there is plenty of shopping opportunities, while one of the many caf├ęs for an espresso or cappuccino offers fantastic views over the lake and bustling harbours. A cooling backpack is an essential accessory for hot days to keep drinks cool on the road or shopping for the home. The excursion boats of the “Navigazione” are more leisurely, and many tourists take advantage of the panoramic views on offer. If you are in a hurry, book a trip on the fast hydrofoils of the Navigazione. Starting in Gardone, the Lake Garda Navigazione boats only make four western shore stops before reaching Riva del Garda at the northernmost point. Twelve more stops are then visited on the eastern shore of the lake.

In the footsteps of Goethe – the Goethe Room in Malcesine

Wolfgang Goethe was already very impressed by a boat trip on Lake Garda. Among the most popular places visited offer a rich history, such as Malcesine, which is renowned for a stay by Goethe. The German poet was in Italy from 1786 to 1788, and he also described a boat trip from Torbole in his travelogue “Italian Journey”, which made it necessary to spend the night in Malcesine due to fierce winds. A Goethe room with memorabilia gives visitors a chance to learn more about the poet. The beautiful views from the ship can hardly be enumerated completely; one could spend days visiting picturesque places and beautiful destinations by boat.

Shore leave in Sirmione: even the Romans appreciated a special lake view with a comfortable villa behind them

If you have less time, you should at least go around the Sirmione peninsula by boat. The view from the lake of the Grotte di Catullo at the northern end is truly wonderful. Private boat trips are also possible, which is the case almost everywhere on Lake Garda. A good tip is to stop here with the excursion boat and take a look at the old town of Sirmione with the famous Castello Scaligero surrounded by water. From there, continue on foot to the end of the island with its many fantastic little parks, villas, restaurants and hotels. In the high season, however, Sirmione can be busy with tourists.

At the end of the peninsula is the Grotte di Catullo, the ruins of a large Roman villa in an excellent location. In Renaissance times, the now somewhat misleading term “grotto” was used for a ruin overgrown with nature, and it was Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (87 to 54 B.C.) who gave the island its name. Although he probably never lived here, he did dedicate some verses to Sirmione, so impressed by the island’s beauty and the place. In gratitude, the town of Sirmione named the famous ruin, which spreads over two hectares after the then prominent visitor. Originally, the area is said to have housed a magnificently built mosaic and fresco-decorated stately residence with thermal baths and outbuildings. Two long, open arcades led to the panorama terrace in the northern porch, and it is still easy to see how breathtaking the views would have been at any time of the day.

Nearby, there is also a museum with a number of well-preserved artefacts that show how luxuriously the builders had furnished the property. Incidentally, in the second century, the thermal baths were fed through lead pipes from the Boiola spring, offering healing water containing sulphate. Today, the thermal baths and many hotels provide similar treatments with the Boiola spring water. For those who are more drawn to the water after a longer walk across the Jamaica Beach peninsula, the bar of the same name brings visitors pleasantly back to the present day!

Our tips:

From the “Eden Reserve Hotel & Villas” it is not far from the port of Gardone. The “Navigazione” boats also dock there regularly on their round trip around the lake, allowing you to visit any of the individual landing stages in the harbours. Tickets can be booked quickly on the website of the Navigazione shipping company.

Alternatively, those looking for an individual and exclusive experience are well advised to use the boat and skipper service of Feltrinelli Nautico. Booking requests for the chic Frauscher boats can also be easily made via the Eden Reserve Hotel by phone: +39 0365 520027.