There are many places to visit on a weekend on the lake: enjoy history, nature, and shopping – find out what to see in Desenzano del Garda.

Overlooking the lake’s calm waters, Desenzano del Garda is a destination that enchants tourists from all over the world with the beauty of its landscapes and the fascination of its history. A history that recounts many dominations – first Venetian, then Brescian, continuing with the annexation to the Kingdom of Sardinia and finally to the Kingdom of Italy – and consequently an incredible wealth of remains and artifacts.

If you are planning a trip to Desenzano del Garda and you’re wondering what there is to see, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many attractions for all tastes. We have selected seven in particular, absolutely unmissable: discover them with us!


gita sul garda peschiera e desenzano

What to see in Desenzano? Porto Vecchio – The Old Port

Let’s start from the heart of the city, from the point where it meets the lake: the first stop of our visit is the Porto Vecchio, a small port with ancient origins (it is mentioned as early as 1274), enlarged at the time of the Venetian Republic to support intensive trade, especially in grains. The pier and lighthouse, dating from the 19th century, are in the Nordic style, while the Venetian-style bridge was built in the 1930s. Here you can see the “stone of the unemployed”, on which town criers and those convicted of bankruptcy used to stand.

Downtown in Desenzano del Garda: Palazzo Todeschini

Overlooking the charming little harbor, Palazzo Todeschini is a majestic building with fifteen stone arches, the former municipal offices. It is named after the architect Giulio Todeschini, who designed it in the late 16th century. Today, in its various internal halls (whose names recall the winds that blow across Lake Garda), it hosts conferences, exhibitions, and temporary shows.

Must see in Desenzano del Garda: the Duomo

The Cathedral of Desenzano, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is a cathedral with Gothic and late Renaissance features built on the remains of an ancient parish church and also designed by Giulio Todeschini. In its interior, you can admire fine works of art such as Tiepolo’s “The Last Supper” and Andrea Celesti’s large “Resurrection”.

The suggestive Castle of Desenzano: a site you must see

You cannot visit Desenzano without seeing its Castle, which dominates the town: today, all that remains of the imposing fortification from the communal period are the walls, the four towers, and the entrance keep with the remains of a drawbridge. You should climb it if only to experience the atmosphere of yesteryear and enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Lake Garda. And speaking of spectacular views, if you’re wondering where to eat in town, for you we have drafted a selection of the best lake-view restaurants in Desenzano!

Dove mangiare a Desenzano del Garda - Rose e Sapori 2

© Rose & Sapori

Desenzano del Garda, things to do Walking, shopping, and nightlife

Definitely a must is a high-quality shopping stroll from Piazza Malvezzi along the inner street that runs parallel to the lakefront, following Via Castello and Via Roma to Capolaterra. Here you will find many outlets of major brands and prestigious designers, all on par with the top-tier stores of Italy’s largest cities. In addition, Desenzano is a lively, mundane city all year-round. You can experience the vibe at the many establishments scattered around the downtown quarter that offer cocktails, apéritifs, and good music.

Nature trails at the San Francesco del Garda Oasis

The lakeside town is also an ideal destination for a nature trip. If you would like a little  more than enjoying some relaxation on the most beautiful Desenzano del Garda beaches you should note that bordering Sirmione, there is a protected reserve of about ten hectares of great naturalistic value and incredible scenic beauty. Take the opportunity to walk in the St. Francis of Garda Oasis to observe and learn about the local flora and fauna.

What to visit in Desenzano del Garda? The archaeological museum!

The last stop on our visit to Desenzano is the “Giovanni Rambotti” Archaeological Museum, which preserves an interesting collection of pile-dwelling artifacts found in the area around the lake and dating from a period ranging from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age. You can see a plow from 2000 BC, considered the oldest in the world.

Aratro preistorico del Museo Rambotti

© Città di Desenzano del Garda via flickr

In Desenzano del Garda with Italo

We’ve given you some interesting ideas for your next trip to Lake Garda, useful, aren’t they? The Lombardy shore is closer than ever thanks to Italo, which offers many high-speed trains to Desenzano every day: so you can reach this charming town in no time, and without stress, from anywhere in Italy!


Cover photo: © Salvatore Tardino via flickr