Things to do in Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano Del Garda

Desenzano del Garda is a charming town in the province of Brescia that overlooks the south shore of the lake. With almost 30 000 inhabitants, it is the largest town on Lake Garda. In the past, Desenzano del Garda was an important trading center during the Venetian era.

Today, this lovely town is perfect for walking, shopping, or sitting in one of the many bars, clubs, and restaurants that are open throughout the year.

Desenzano Del Garda things to do
Things to do in Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano has a picturesque landscape, mild climate, and numerous culinary delights, so it’s no wonder that numerous holidaymakers come to this town every year.

There are many things to do in Desenzano, especially in summer, when this beautiful town comes alive with tourists from all over the world. You can explore ancient Roman remains, visit the castle, stroll on the romantic old port or go to the beach and relax.

Lungolago di Desenzano

Desenzano offers a beautiful lakefront where you can walk with beautiful views of Sirmione, Bardolino, Lazise, and Peschiera del Garda. It is not very long, but it is full of colors and greenery. Along the promenade, there are several bars and restaurants where you can stop and enjoy the view.

Lungolago di Desenzano
Romantic things to do in Desenzano del Garda (Image source: Commune di Desenzano del Garda)
  • How to get there: Less than a minute by walking from Piazza Malvezzi
  • Open hours: Always accessible
  • Ticket price: Free

Piazza Malvezzi

Piazza Malvezzi is the main square in Desenzano del Garda. It is dating back to the 16th century. There are some important monuments, including the statue dedicated to the city’s patron saint, Santa Angela Merici.

The square is the heart of the historic center and the favorite meeting place for locals and tourists. This place is also popular at night because of the many clubs that are located there.

Piazza Malvezzi Desenzano
Cool things to do in Desenzano del Garda (Image source: Viaggia Scrittori)
  • How to get there: Piazza Malvezzi is in a central position of Desenzano, very close to the lakefront and the old port
  • Open hours: Always accessible
  • Ticket price: Free

Castello di Desenzano

Castello di Desenzano is the most popular attraction in the town. It was built around 1400 to defend the territory from the barbarians. Nowadays, this majestic and imposing castle with four towers and the remains of drawbridge attracts many tourists. From the castle’s viewpoint, you can enjoy an enchanting panorama, with a breathtaking view of Lake Garda.

Castello di Desenzano
Castle in Desenzano del Garda
  • How to get there: From Piazza Malvezzi you have to walk through Via Castello, and you will reach your destination in just 3 minutes
  • Open hours: 9:30 AM (9:30 hours) – 6: 30 PM (18:30 hours) in the winter months and 9:30 AM (9:30 hours) – 7:30 PM (19:30 hours) in the summer
  • Ticket price: 3 euros full price and 1 euro reduced price for minors, groups, and residents

Cathedral of Santa Maria Maddalena

Before going up to the castle, you can make a small detour and visit the nearby Cathedral of Santa Maria Maddalena. It was built between 1586 and 1611, and inside, it preserves a painting called the “Last Supper” depicted by the Venetian painter Gian Battista Tiepolo. This Baroque cathedral also has a beautiful and imposing external facade, so it is definitely worth visiting.

Duomo Desenzano
Desenzano del Garda church (Image source: Paesaggio Italiano)
  • How to get there: It is located on Piazza Duomo, which is only a few steps away from Piazza Malvezzi
  • Open hours: Always accessible
  • Ticket price: Free

Porto Vecchio

Porto Vecchio, or the old port, is a truly picturesque corner located next to the center of Desenzano. It is also dating back to the medieval period when it was used to transport food and goods. Nowadays, the port is a wonderful area that looks like a small lake with numerous small boats.

Of particular note are the Venetian bridge, one of the most photographed buildings in the town, and the houses in typical Venetian style.

Porto Vecchio Desenzano
Things to do in Desenzano del Garda for couples
  • How to get there: Piazza Malvezzi is practically overlooking the Porto Vecchio so you can reach the port in a minute
  • Open hours: Always accessible
  • Ticket price: Free

Roman Villa

The Roman Villa, built at the end of the 1st century BC, is one of the most significant late antique villas in northern Italy. The villa is located in the historic center immediately after the Castello, and it was found accidentally.

In 1921 excavations for the construction of a house began in Desenzano, but they were soon interrupted when contractors found polychrome mosaics. Today, the Roman villa is popular among archeology enthusiasts who are coming to see polychrome mosaics with hunting scenes, wild animals, running chariots, and harvesting tools.

Roman villa Desenzano
Cultural things to do in Desenzano del Garda
  • How to get there: Starting from Piazza Malvezzi, you will have to walk about 3 minutes, crossing Piazza Duomo and then following via Crocefisso
  • Open hours: 8:30 AM (8:30 hours) – 7:30 PM (19:30 hours) every day except Monday
  • Ticket price: 4 euros full price and 2 euros reduced one

Archaeological Museum

Another great place to visit in Desenzano del Garda is the “Giovanni Rambotti” Archaeological Civic Museum. You can see numerous artifacts found along the banks south of the Benaco and belonging to the prehistoric era.

The museum focuses on the prehistoric pile dwellings of the lower Garda area of ​​Brescia, or the “houses on the water” where the men of that time lived. However, the museum’s highlight is the Lavagnone Plow, which is also the oldest found plow in the world.

Archaeological museum Desenzano
Museums in Desenzano del Garda (Image source: Musei Archeologici)
  • How to get there: Archaeological museum is located in Via Agnelli so starting from Piazza Malvezzi and passing the port area, it is possible to reach it on foot in about 6 minutes
  • Open hours: Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 AM (9:30 hours) – 1:00 PM (13:00 hours), Friday, Saturday and Sunday 9:30 AM (9:30 hours) – 12:30 PM (12:30 hours) and 2:00 PM (14:00 hours) – 7: 00 PM (19:00 hours), closed on Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Ticket price: 4 euros full price, 2 euros reduced price

Lighthouse of Desenzano

During the walk on the lakefront, you will come across a typically seafaring structure, the lighthouse. It was built at the end of the 1800s and worked thanks to a large oil lamp and the supervision of an employee who lived a few steps from the port. Today, the lighthouse has almost completely lost its role, but it is an incredible testimony of the past.

Desenzano Lighthouse
Beautiful things to do in Desenzano del Garda
  • How to get there: From Piazza Malvezzi, walk towards the lake along via Porto Vecchio. Passing the small port, you will arrive in the modern part of the port where you will find the lighthouse
  • Open hours: Always accessible
  • Ticket price: Free

The Pond Park

Another beautiful location you should not miss in Desenzano is The Pond park, especially if you are traveling with children. This small green area is ideal for relaxation while strolling along an adorable artificial lake, but also for having fun.

There are basketball courts, tracks for skateboarding, a playground to entertain the kids, and even a bar for the parents. It is not uncommon to see many athletes and families who enjoy a picnic on the lawn on weekends.

The Pond Park Desenzano
Things to do in Desenzano del Garda for kids (Image source: Restaurant Guru)
  • How to get there: The park is located in Via Michelangelo, which is around 25 minutes walking distance from the center. If you want to travel by public transport, take bus 1 or 2 from Piazza Malvezzi
  • Open hours: Every day from 8:00 AM (8:00 hours) – 8:00 PM (22:00 hours)
  • Ticket price: Free

Desenzanino Beach

It would be a sin to come to Desenzano del Garda and not visiting one of the beaches. There is nothing better than enjoying the sun and swimming with friends or family on a hot summer day. You can choose between Desenzanino beach, Feltrinelli beach, Rivoltella beach, and Golden beach. Desenzanino beach is the most popular among the locals because it provides the best service and has a lot of different activities.

Overlooking the beach, you will find many bars and restaurants, while a large paid parking lot nearby will allow you to leave your car near the beach.

Desenzanino beach
Beaches in Desenzano del Garda (Image source: Garda Post)
  • How to get there: Walk along the lakefront for around 10 minutes or take bus 3 from Piazza Malvezzi
  • Open hours: Always accessible
  • Ticket price: Free

Visit Sirmione

Right next to Desenzano del Garda, there is a beautiful picturesque town Sirmione. With around 8 000 inhabitants, it is much smaller than Desenzano. The town is situated on a peninsula, and at the entrance, you will see the magnificent Scaliger Castle from the 13th century. Also worth visiting is “Grotte di Catullo” or Roman villa and thermal baths. You can come to Sirmione either by ferry, bus or taxi.

Sirmione near Desenzano del Garda
Desenzano del Garda to Sirmione

Read more: Sirmione Travel Guide

Shopping in Desenzano del Garda

Every Tuesday in Desenzano, there is one of the largest markets on Lake Garda. You will find numerous stands that offer various clothes, shoes, bags, housewares, vegetables, fruit, music, fish, Italian specialties, and much more along the picturesque promenade. The great thing about this market is that you can try your bargaining skills and catch some really good deals.

Desenzano market
Fun things to do in Desenzano del Garda

For fashion lovers, there are many small boutiques with elegant clothes in the center or nearby. Those who are hunting for cheaper deals should visit shopping outlets where you can find Italian designer names at discount prices. Some of them are Outlet Mantova, Outlet Franciacorta, Leone Shopping Center, and Le Vele Shopping Center.

Nightlife in Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano is not only popular for historical attractions and beautiful nature. The town is alive at night and offers various alternatives for young people and anyone who wants to spend a fun evening with their friends. The best area for that is around the center, where you will find many trendy bars with delicious cocktails and live music.

Desenzano at night
Desenzano del Garda nightlife

For live performances, you should check Bianca Caffè, located in Via Nazario Sauro, and Mariky Terrace, located on the lakefront. Those who want to go wild until late at night should go to Art Club Disco, which is very popular among young people.

How to get to Desenzano del Garda

Desenzano is easily reachable by car along the A4 Milan-Venice motorway (Desenzano exit). It is also possible to reach Desenzano by train. From Milan, it takes around 50 minutes with Frecciarossa or Italotreno, and from Venice an hour and a half.

If you travel from Verona or some other town on Lake Garda, you can travel by bus too. Furthermore, some towns on Lake Garda have a ferry transportation service to Desenzano del Garda, like Moniga del Garda, for example.

Parking in Desenzano del Garda

Especially in summer, it is very hard to find available parking spaces in Desenzano. The best option is probably the parking lot at the intersection of Via Vighenzi and Dolarici. It is located a bit outside the center but can be reached easily with a comfortable 15-minute walk.

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