Garda Lake, also called Benaco by locals, is the biggest Italian lake with a surface of 370km². It acts as a veritable hinge between the Lombardia, Veneto and Trentino Alto-Adige regions. In the more Northern area it has a narrow shape comparable to the neck of a funnel, while in the Southern part it widens and is surrounded by hills which gives it the sight of a gentler landscape.
Garda Lake is an important tourist destination, both for those who like spending time relaxing as well as those who desire practicing sports. In fact, thanks to its conformation, it is possible to practice lots of sports such as sailing, windsurfing, SUP, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, climbing, trekking, having excursions, paragliding, bike riding etc.… Every year, thousands of people, from all over the world, visit the lake.
The Northern part of the lake is located in a deep trough that wedges in the NE-SSW direction inside the Alps, while the Southern part is positioned in the large area of Pianura Padana. The most important mountains near the lake are Cima Presanella, reaching 3556m and Adamello, reaching 3554m.
On the lakeshore there are a large number of towns, such as Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda and San Felice del Benaco (Brescia province). Riva del Garda is situated in the Trento province and Peschiera in the Veronese area.
There are 5 different islands, within the lake. The more voluminous is the Garda Island on which stands an elegant nineteenth century building, designed in eighteenth century Venetian style. Close to this island, is the San Biagino Island, commonly called Rabbit’s Island. It is only 200m from the shore and in dry periods, it can easily be reached by foot. Both these islands are located near San Felice del Benaco, on the Brescia part of the coast. The Island third in size is, Timelone, chronicled to have been used to collect numerous unexploded ordnances of the great conflict of World War II. The other two islands: Sogno and Isola degli Olivi, are very small. They are only 20m from the shore, but can also be reached by foot during dry periods.
To the South of Garda Lake, is an amphitheatre formed by a circle of hills and wavy plains created by ancient glaciers. This area is characterised by a great natural value, with a typical Mediterranean vegetation of fruit plants, olive trees and agaves and boasts a temperate winter season. It’s the favourite destination for migratory birds and native species. During springtime, it is not difficult to notice valuable species of wild orchids.
Some green areas near the lake are protected and here, small wild mammals, hares and a large number of ducks including the Heal, Mallard, purple Heron and the Bittern can be seen all year round. Among the more important protected areas are Parco del Mincio and the very large Castellaro Lagusello nature reserve.