Visit Desenzano del Garda
Desenzano is a lively town on the shores of south-west Lake Garda. Part of the popularity of Desenzano is that it is close to the A4 motorway that crosses Italy near here so it is very easy to get to and attracts lots of day and weekend visitors from towns including Milan and Verona. It is also a major Lake Garda ferry terminal and important regional railway station.
Explore Desenzano del Garda
Italy This Way comment: although Desenzano del Garda is the largest town on the shores of Lake Garda, the places of interest are close together so a visit is both enjoyable and easy.
As with most of the resorts and towns on the lake it is the area around the harbour that is the main attraction and makes for a pleasant promenade. The harbour is almost completely enclosed (there is a bridge at one end allowing boats to access the lake) so only small boats are found here.
The highlight is the side of the harbour that has Venetian style houses, among the most beautiful to be found around Lake Garda. The other sides of the harbour have colourful houss and an arcaded area, and there are several cafes around the edges which is a charming place to enjoy a meal.
Beyond the harbour you reach the lakefront which has quite a long promenade along the edges of Lake Garda, and a second harbour area surrounded by a harbour wall with a small lighthouse.
The historic area of the town is pleasant to explore with lots of small piazzas and faded old buildings to see, as well as more than enough restaurants, bars and ice-cream shops for even the most demanding visitor. Being a large town and close to Milan also means that Desenzano can be lively late into the night so is well suited to younger visitors hoping to party!
The popularity of the town is also due to the close proximity of three lake beaches: Desanzano beach, d'Oro beach and Porto Rivoltella beach.
There are a couple of notable historic attractions to visit here with Desenzano castle on the hill behind the town being the most popular, mostly because of the lovely views across the lake.
The other is the remains of a substantial Roman villa which has preserved some good quality mosaics, both pictures and patterns and among the best in the Lombardy region, and various other Roman artefacts including some sculptures. The original owner of the villa was called Decentius, which is likely to be the original source of the name of the town.
The 16th century cathedral is quite small but has several paintings from the 16th-18th centuries to be seen. Lastly you might like to visit the small Archaeology Museum: although there are limited number of artefacts to be seen, these include the oldest plough in the world (4000 years old).
A few kilometres north-west of here, you can see the historic castle and village at Padenghe sul Garda.
The most popular attraction close to Desenzano is the peninsula town of Sirmione, just a few kilometres north-east of the town. You will also want to follow along the western shore of Lake Garda to reach Salo and the southern shore to reach Peschiera del Garda (and perhaps visit the Theme Park at Gardaland, just beyond Peschiera).
Map of Desenzano del Garda and places to visit
Places to visit near Desenzano del Garda
See more places nearby in the Lombardy guide