In this article, we will look at Where to stay in Lake Garda without a car, best areas to stay in Lake Garda without a car (with a map), how to get around without a car, and best hotels in Lake Garda for all budgets.
It is possible to get around Lake Garda without a car. Lake Garda, located in northern Italy, is a popular tourist destination, and there are several transportation options for visitors who prefer not to drive, including buses, ferries, cycling, walking, taxis, shuttle services, and trains.
Lake Garda, known as “Lago di Garda” in Italian, is the largest lake in Italy, nestled between the regions of Lombardy to the west, Veneto to the east, and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol to the north.
Lake Garda is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. Surrounded by picturesque mountains, lush vineyards, and charming towns, the lake offers breathtaking views at every turn.
Numerous charming towns and villages dot the shores of Lake Garda. Some of the most popular ones include Sirmione, Bardolino, Lazise, Malcesine, Riva del Garda, and Garda. Each town has its own unique character and attractions.
The lake is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, mountain biking, sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and swimming. The mild climate makes it an ideal destination for year-round outdoor pursuits.
Lake Garda is home to several historical sites and landmarks, including ancient castles like Scaliger Castle in Sirmione and Arco Castle near Riva del Garda. These fortifications provide a glimpse into the region’s rich history.
The area around Lake Garda is known for its thermal spas and wellness centers. Visitors can relax and rejuvenate in the natural hot springs and thermal baths.
The region produces excellent wines, particularly Bardolino and Valpolicella. Local cuisine features fresh seafood, olive oil, and a variety of pasta dishes.
Gardaland is one of Italy’s most famous amusement parks and is located near the southern shores of Lake Garda. It offers a wide range of rides and attractions for visitors of all ages.
The lake is crisscrossed by ferries and boats, making it easy to explore different towns and enjoy scenic cruises on the water.
While having a car can be convenient for exploring the region, it’s not essential, as there are plenty of options for getting around without one. There are several towns around the lake where you can stay without a car and still enjoy the beauty of the area.
Where to stay in Lake Garda without a car?
The best areas to stay in Lake Garda without a car are Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda, and Peschiera del Garda, but there are also other places worth noting for car-free travelers including Riva del Garda, Malcesine, Bardolino, and Garda.
These towns offer a range of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options, so you can find one that suits your needs. Additionally, the ferry services and public transportation options around Lake Garda make it relatively easy to explore the region without a car.
Overviews of best areas to stay in Lake Garda without a car
Here is an overview of recommended areas in – for first-time visitors:
|Best areas in Lake Garda without a car
|Why should you stay in this area?
|Sirmione is a beautiful town located at the southern tip of the lake. It’s famous for its thermal bath and medieval castle like the Scaliger Castle. You can easily explore Sirmione on foot, and there are ferries and buses that take you to other lakeside towns.
|Desenzano del Garda
|This town has good train connections and is a great base for exploring the southern part of Lake Garda. It has a picturesque waterfront promenade, shops, restaurants, and easy access to ferries that can take you to other towns on the lake.
|Peschiera del Garda
|Located at the southern end of the lake, Peschiera del Garda is a historic town with a fortified center. It’s connected to the train network, making it easy to reach, and has ferry connections to other towns.
|Riva del Garda
|Located at the northern tip of the lake, Riva del Garda is surrounded by dramatic mountains. It’s well-connected by bus and ferry services, and you can explore the historic center, waterfront promenade, and nearby hiking trails without a car.
|On the eastern shore, Malcesine is a picturesque town with a medieval castle and stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. While it’s hilly, you can explore the town on foot and use ferries to travel to other destinations.
|Bardolino is a charming town on the eastern shore of the lake. It has a lovely old town, a variety of accommodations, and is well-connected by ferry to other lakeside towns.
|Garda is a lovely town that shares its name with the lake itself. It’s centrally located, making it a convenient base for exploring the surrounding area. You can use buses and boats to travel to other towns on the lake.
How to get around Lake Garda without a car?
Getting around Lake Garda without a car is certainly possible, thanks to various transportation options available in the area.
Here are some options to explore the Lake without a car:
The bus network around Lake Garda is extensive and connects most towns and villages. It’s an affordable and convenient way to travel. Check schedules and routes online or at local bus stations.
Ferries operate on Lake Garda, connecting major towns like Desenzano, Sirmione, Garda, Malcesine, and Riva del Garda. They provide a scenic way to move around the lake and visit different areas.
Many towns around Lake Garda offer bike rentals. Cycling is a popular way to explore the area, and there are dedicated bike paths and routes along the lake. You can even take your bike on some ferries.
Some of the towns and villages around Lake Garda are compact and pedestrian-friendly. Exploring on foot can be an enjoyable way to discover the local culture, shops, and restaurants.
While taxis can be more expensive, they are readily available in most towns around the lake.
The nearest major train station to Lake Garda is Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione. They have train connections to major cities in Italy like Milan, Verona, and Venice. From there, you can use local transportation to explore Lake Garda.
Boat Tours and Excursions:
Consider joining guided boat tours and excursions that depart from various towns on Lake Garda. These tours can take you to different parts of the lake while providing informative commentary.
Cable Cars and Funiculars:
In towns like Malcesine and Riva del Garda, you can use cable cars and funiculars to access higher altitudes and enjoy panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Rent a Scooter or E-Bike:
If you’re comfortable with riding scooters or e-bikes, you can rent them in some towns. This gives you more flexibility and speed compared to walking or regular bicycles.
Plan Your Itinerary:
Research the specific towns and attractions you want to visit and check their proximity to public transportation hubs. This will help you plan your itinerary efficiently.
Use Travel Apps:
Utilize travel apps and websites to check schedules, routes, and transportation options in real-time. Apps like Google Maps or local public transportation apps can be very useful.
Remember that transportation options may vary by season and location around Lake Garda, and it’s advisable to purchase necessary tickets or passes in advance to streamline your travel experience.
7 Best areas to stay in Lake Garda without a car:
Sirmione is one of the best areas to stay in Lake Garda, especially for travelers without a car. It is easy to explore on foot and is home to a bus station and a ferry terminal, allowing you to explore other towns and attractions around Lake Garda.
Additionally, Sirmione is only a short bus/ taxi ride from its nearest train stations at Peschiera and Desenzano, where trains come from Milan, Verona, and Venice airports.
Sirmione is a popular and enchanting town located on a narrow peninsula at the southern tip of Lake Garda. It’s known for its stunning natural beauty, historic sites, and thermal baths.
Sirmione is famous for its Scaliger Castle (Castello Scaligero), a medieval fortress that’s a must-visit. You can explore the castle and enjoy panoramic views of the lake from its towers.
Sirmione is renowned for its thermal baths and spa facilities. The most famous is the Terme di Sirmione, where you can relax in the thermal pools and indulge in wellness treatments.
Sirmione’s charming old town is a delight to explore on foot. You can wander through narrow cobblestone streets, visit local shops, and savor Italian cuisine at its restaurants and cafes.
You can visit the Grotto of Catullus (Grotte di Catullo), the ruins of a Roman villa that offers a glimpse into the area’s ancient history.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade, which offers beautiful views of Lake Garda and the surrounding mountains.
Sirmione is an excellent starting point for boat tours on Lake Garda. You can take scenic cruises to explore other towns and islands on the lake.
There are several small beaches in Sirmione where you can swim and relax by the lake. Spiaggia Brema and Spiaggia Giamaica are popular options.
Best places to stay in Lake Garda in Sirmione without a car:BEST HOTELS IN SIRMIONE
2. Desenzano del Garda
Desenzano del Garda is one of the best areas to stay in Lake Garda without a car as it is a major transportation hub on Lake Garda. It has a train station with regular trains from Milan, Venice, and Verona, as well as good bus and ferry connections to other towns.
Desenzano is a popular destination known for its beautiful lakeside promenade, historic center, lively atmospheres, as well as attractions such as Roman Villa in Desenzano and Castle of Desenzano del Garda.
The picturesque lakeside promenade in Desenzano is perfect for leisurely strolls and enjoying the beautiful lake views. Many restaurants and bars are located along the promenade, providing a scenic backdrop for dining.
Explore the historic center of Desenzano, characterized by charming narrow streets, colorful buildings, and historical landmarks. The Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene (Duomo di Santa Maria Maddalena) is a notable attraction in the town center.
Desenzano has a vibrant nightlife scene with bars and clubs that come alive in the evening. It’s a great place to enjoy some entertainment after a day of exploring.
You can take boat tours and ferries from Desenzano to visit popular places like Sirmione, Garda, and Bardolino without a car.
Best places to stay in Desenzano del Garda without a car:
- Luxury ($$$): Park Hotel
- Mid-range ($$): Hotel Mayer & Splendid – Wellness e Spa
- Budget ($): Corte Trento
3. Peschiera del Garda
Peschiera del Garda is a charming town located at the southern tip of Lake Garda. It’s known for its picturesque setting, historic center, and unique position within the Veneto region.
Peschiera del Garda is easily accessible by both train and bus. The town has a train station with frequent connections to major cities like Verona, Milan, and Venice. Additionally, there are bus services that connect Peschiera to other towns around Lake Garda.
From Peschiera, you can take boat tours and ferries to Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda, and Lazise without needing a car.
The town’s historic center is a charming area with narrow streets, colorful buildings, and a lively atmosphere. Explore the old town, visit local shops, and enjoy meals at traditional Italian restaurants.
Peschiera del Garda is known for its historic fortifications. The town is enclosed by Venetian walls and a moat, which adds to its unique character. You can explore the fortifications and learn about the town’s history.
The lakeside promenade in Peschiera is a wonderful place for a leisurely walk. You can also find cafes and ice cream shops along the promenade.
The town is close to several theme parks, including Gardaland and Caneva World. These amusement parks offer family-friendly entertainment and are easily accessible from Peschiera.
Best places to stay in Peschiera del Garda without a car:BEST HOTELS IN PESCHIERA DEL GARDA
4. Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda is a beautiful town located at the northern tip of Lake Garda. While it may require a bit more effort to reach without a car, it offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere, making it an excellent choice for travelers looking to enjoy the lake and its outdoor adventures.
Riva del Garda is surrounded by mountains, providing a breathtaking backdrop to the town and the lake. You can go hiking in the nearby mountains, mountain biking, windsurfing, sailing, or even paragliding.
Riva del Garda is well-connected by public transportation such as bus and ferry. You can take a bus or taxi from its nearest train station called Rovereto.
You can explore Riva del Garda’s historic center with its charming streets, shops, and cafes. The Piazza III Novembre is a central square where you can relax and people-watch.
Visit the MAG Museo Alto Garda, which features art and artifacts from the region’s history.
The town has several beaches along the lake, such as Spiaggia Sabbioni and Porto San Nicolò Beach, where you can swim and sunbathe.
Riva del Garda is a great starting point for day trips to nearby attractions, including Arco, Limone sul Garda, and the Varone Waterfall.
Best places to stay in Riva del Garda without a car:
- Luxury ($$$): Lido Palace – The Leading Hotels of the World
- Mid-range ($$): Grand Hotel Liberty
- Budget ($): Bellavista Hotel Deluxe Apartments
Malcesine is a fantastic destination for travelers without a car as it is easily accessible by bus and ferry. It is a picturesque town located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda and is known for its medieval charm, stunning views, and outdoor activities.
You can reach the town by bus or ferry from other towns around Lake Garda. The closest train station is in Peschiera del Garda, and from there, you can take a bus to Malcesine.
Additionally, Malcesine is a departure point for boat tours and ferries to Limone sul Garda, Garda, and Riva del Garda.
The town is nestled between the lake and the Monte Baldo mountain range, offering breathtaking scenery. The Scaliger Castle (Castello Scaligero) in Malcesine is a highlight and provides panoramic views of the lake.
Explore the charming historic center of Malcesine with its narrow streets, old buildings, and picturesque squares. You’ll find plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops to enjoy.
A major attraction near Malcesine is Monte Baldo. You can take a cable car (Funivia Malcesine-Monte Baldo) from the town to the summit of the mountain, where you can enjoy hiking, biking, and unparalleled views of Lake Garda.
Malcesine has a few small beaches and swimming areas along the lake. Spiaggia Val di Sogno and Spiaggia Casteletto are popular spots for sunbathing and swimming.
You can visit the Limonaia del Castel, a historic lemon grove with terraced gardens overlooking the lake. It’s a unique cultural attraction in Malcesine.
Best places to stay in Lake Garda in Malcesine without a car:
- Luxury ($$$): Hotel Castello Lake Front
- Mid-range ($$): Hotel Lago Di Garda
- Budget ($): Hotel Dolomiti
Bardolino is an excellent choice for travelers without a car. It is a charming town located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda and is known for its picturesque setting, vineyards, historical sites, and a pleasant lakeside promenade.
You can reach the town by bus, ferry, or boat from other towns around Lake Garda. The closest train station is in Peschiera del Garda, and from there, you can take a bus to Bardolino.
Explore Bardolino’s historic center with its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and historic landmarks. The Church of San Severo and the Church of San Zeno are worth visiting.
Bardolino is famous for its wine production, particularly Bardolino wine. You can visit local wineries and enjoy wine tasting sessions to experience the region’s wine culture.
Bardolino boasts a beautiful lakeside promenade where you can take leisurely strolls, relax by the lake, or enjoy a meal or gelato at cafes and restaurants along the waterfront.
The town has several small beaches and swimming areas along the lake. Spiaggia Lido Mirabello and Spiaggia Lido Bardolino are popular spots for sunbathing and swimming.
Bardolino serves as a departure point for boat tours and ferries to Lazise, Garda, and Sirmione.
Gardaland, one of Italy’s most famous amusement parks, is located just a short distance from Bardolino. It’s a great place for family fun and can be reached by bus.
Best places to stay in Lake Garda in Bardolino without a car:BEST HOTELS IN BARDOLINO
Garda is a great choice for travelers without a car due to its relaxed ambiance, lakeside charm, and accessibility by public transportation. It is a charming town located on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, that can be reached by bus, ferry, or boat.
Explore Garda’s historic center with its medieval streets, quaint squares, and historical landmarks.
Garda boasts a lovely lakeside promenade lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll and enjoying the picturesque lake views.
Garda has several small beaches and swimming areas along the lake. Spiaggia Baia delle Sirene and Spiaggia Corno are popular spots for sunbathing and swimming.
Garda’s central location makes it an ideal base for day trips to nearby attractions, including the charming towns of Bardolino, Lazise, and Torri del Benaco.
Best places to stay in Lake Garda in Garda without a car:
- Luxury ($$$): Regina Adelaide Hotel & SPA
- Mid-range ($$): Hotel Bisesti S
- Budget ($): Hotel La Perla – Bike Hotel
See more: Where to stay in Lake Garda
In conclusion, Sirmione, Desenzano, Peschiera, Riva del Garda, Malcesine, Bardolino, and Garda are the best places to stay in Lake Garda without a car for tourists. In general, all of these towns are accessible by buses and boats. Desenzano and Peschiera train connections from Milan and Verona.
Each town has its unique charm and attractions, so you can’t go wrong with any of them for a car-free Lake Garda experience.