An Easy Verona to Lake Garda Day Trip: How to Do It

Are you considering doing a Verona to Lake Garda day trip?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I have visited Lake Garda from Verona and am excited to share my experience.

In this article, I’ll discuss your options for getting from Verona to Lake Garda, the best places to visit and how to make the most of your time there.

harbour in lake garda viewed through a giant red love heart

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Day Trip from Verona to Lake Garda at a Glance

  • Distance from Verona to Desenzano (southern shore): 27 miles
  • Journey time by train: 19-25 minutes
  • Cost of train ticket: From €4.50 one-way

Why Do a Verona to Lake Garda Day Trip?

There are enough things to do in Verona to keep you busy for at least a few days. That said, it’s good to escape for a day to see a different side of Italy.

Thanks to its proximity and excellent transport connections, Lake Garda is one of the easiest day trips from Verona. And if it’s epic scenery you are after, Italy’s largest lake will not disappoint.

Desenzano or Peschiera del Garda?

Most visitors head for Desenzano or Peschiera del Garda from Verona. These two towns on the southern shore of Lake Garda have train stations with direct rail connections to Verona.

Known as the “Venice of Lake Garda,” the UNESCO-listed Peschiera has canals, criss-crossed by bridges, and a pretty harbour. Thanks to its proximity to Gardaland Theme Park, it attracts families in their droves.

I opted to visit Desenzano which has a picturesque old port, a castle, Roman ruins and boat connections to the impossibly beautiful Sirmione. More about this later.

Lake Garda is a popular weekend getaway. I visited Desenzano on a Saturday and it was very busy. If possible, plan your day trip for Tuesday – Friday (some places are shut on Mondays).

How to Get From Verona to Lake Garda

Verona to Lake Garda by train – the easiest way to get there

exterior of green and white trenord train in italy which is the easiest way to get  from Verona to Lake Garda

Direct trains depart from Verona Porta Nuova and arrive at Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione station. The journey time is no more than 25 minutes.

Take a look at prices and timetables for Trenitalia / Trenord here and for Italo here. However, it may be easier to check fares and times across both operators here.

Trenitalia and Trenord trains from Verona to Lake Garda

High-speed Frecciarossa trains and regional (Regionale) Trenord services operate between Verona Porta Nuova and Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione.

Your best bet is to jump on one of the regional services. Fares are cheap – in 2023 a single ticket is €4.50 – and as they are fixed there is no need to book a ticket in advance. Simply buy your ticket from one of the self-service machines at the station when you are ready to travel.

You can reckon on one regional train service an hour.

Taking a Frecciarossa train will only shave six minutes off your journey time and typically cost three times the price of a ticket on a Regionale service. And you need to book tickets for these high-speed services in advance to bag the best prices.

Italo trains from Verona to Lake Garda

Italo runs around seven services a day between Verona Porta Nuova and Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione.

As you need to book in advance to get the best fares and the journey time is the same as that provided by Trenitalia, there is no advantage in choosing this operator. Fares tend to be more expensive than Trenitalia regional services on this route.

Getting to Verona Porta Nuova train station

Verona’s Porta Nuova train station is a 15-minute walk from the Roman Arena.

Getting from Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione train station

From Desenzano del Garda-Sirmione station it’s a 15-minute walk downhill to the lake.

small boats in a harbour in lake garda italy

Verona to Lake Garda by bus – for a greater choice of lakeside towns

It’s also easy to get from Verona to Lake Garda by bus.

Services 162, 163, 164 and 165 leave from Verona’s Pizza Bra, next to the Roman Arena, and from Porta Nuova train station.

Buses 162 and 163 run between Verona, Lazise, Bardolino and Garda Town. The 165 bus also serves Bardolino and Garda Town

The 164 service will take you from Verona to Peschiera.

Journey times depend on your final destination and range from 40 minutes (Peschiera) to just over an hour (Garda).

The fare will depend on the distance travelled. In 2023, this ranges from €3.90 to €6.70. Good-value day passes are available.

The ATV site has all you need to know about routes and timetables as well as a useful map.

sculpture of a giant lime green rabbit on the waterfront at lake garda

On an organised tour – a hassle-free way to get there

I’m a big fan of day tours.

All of your transfer and sightseeing arrangements are made by someone in the know and you benefit from the knowledge of a local guide. Day excursions can also be an excellent way to meet other travellers.

Here are a few highly-rated day tours from Verona to Lake Garda to take a look at.

Sirmione and Lake Garda Tour from Verona

This popular day tour of Lake Garda includes a minibus transfer from central Verona, a boat tour and a guided walking tour of enchanting Sirmione. I like that the group number is capped at eight people.

Lake Garda E-Bike tour

If you fancy something a little more energetic, take a look at this app-guided e-bike tour along cycle paths and small roads. Transfer from Verona and a lakeside are included.

Customer reviews are stellar.

East Lake Garda Private Day Trip with Wine Tasting

bunch of red grapes on a vine

Wine tasting around Verona is amongst the best in Italy so why not combine this with the scenic splendour of Lake Garda?

This private day trip visits two wineries and makes stops along Lake Garda, including Punta San Vigilio and Garda-Lazise. The price includes a private transfer from your hotel in Verona.

Taxi from Verona to Lake Garda – the most comfortable way to get there

Depending on which town you are heading to, a taxi from Verona to Lake Garda will set you back between €35 and €60 for a one-way trip. The journey time is 20 – 30 minutes.

By car – the most flexible way to get there

If you have your own set of wheels, you can easily reach the main towns on the shores of Lake Garda by taking the toll road from Verona. Depending on traffic, you are looking at a journey time of 30 – 60 minutes.

Once you have reached Lake Garda, its waterfront is your oyster. Two roads hug its western and eastern shore – Gardesana Orientale and Gardesana Occidentale respectively – making it easy to do a circuit of the lake.

What to Do During Your Day in Desenzano

So now that you know how to get to Lake Garda from Verona, how should you spend your day in Desenzano? Make the most of your time in this pretty town with my pick of the best things to see.

1. Desenzano Castle

tower and rampart of castle in desenzano italy

Dating back to the turn of the 11th Century, the castle keeps watch over Desenzano del Garda from its lofty position on a hill. Stroll along its ramparts for panoramic views of Lake Garda and the town.

red rooftops of desenzano with lake garda in distance

A modest admission fee applies and you can check Desenzano Castle’s seasonal opening times here.

2. Archaeological Museum Giovanni Rambotti

Desenzano’s Archaeological Museum showcases the ancient history and archaeology of the area. Its star attraction is the Lavagnone Plough, dating back to 2000 BC, making it the oldest plough in the world.

exhibit of an ancient wooden plough in museum
Lavagnone Plough

The museum is housed in the former 16th Century Carmelite Monastery of Santa Maria de Seniorbus. The monastery’s cloister remains.

cloister of old convent in italy

A small admission fee applies. Find out more about opening hours and ticket prices here.

3. Desenzano’s lakeside promenade

tree lined promenade alongside lake garda in italy

Desenzano has a lovely lakeside promenade, lined with Italian magnolia trees and majestic pines. It’s perfect for a leisurely walk.

4. Beaches at Desenzano

2 people sitting on a gravelly beach at lake garda

If you want to soak up the sun, Desenzano has several beaches where you can swim, sunbathe or relax by the lake. Spiaggia d’Oro and Lido di Desenzano are popular options.

5. Little Harbour (Porticciolo)

pastel coloured buildings alongside a harbour with small boats

Built in the 16th Century under the rule of the Republic of Venice, Little Harbour is picture-perfect. Also known as “the Old Harbour,” it continues to be used by fishermen and boatmen.

6. Desenzano Lighthouse

stone lighthouse at the end of a breakwater mole

One of my favourite things to do in Desenzano was to walk along the breakwater mole to the town’s lighthouse. This octagonal rubblestone tower with lantern and gallery dates from 1895 and is still active.

7. Roman Villa of Desenzano del Garda

roman mosaic of naked cupid figure

The town’s historical roots are in clear sight at the Roman Villa of Desenzano del Garda.

This is one of the most important and best-preserved late antiquity villas of northern Italy and one of three around Lake Garda. It extends over a hectare of prime lakeside land and was located just north of the Via Gallica, which connected Bergomum, Brixia and Verona.

Originally built in the first century BC, it is famous for its exceptional mosaic floors. These depict various scenes such as fishing and hunting and include ancient spiritual symbols and allegories of the four seasons.

A modest admission fee applies and you can scan a QR code for a (very) wordy guide.

8. Piazza Malvessi

square in desenzano italy with porticoed building and statue of a saint on a plinth

Built in the 16th Century by the Brescian architect Giulio Todeschini, this charming square is the beating heart of Desenzano.

Piazza Malvessi was the site of the most important grain markets in northern Italy. Warehouses sheltered by the porticoes that line the square stored the grain.

As you head towards the port, you’ll find a statue of St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline Order and the patron saint of the city.

9. Santa Maria Maddalena Cathedral

exterior of cathedral in desenzano italy

The early 17th Century Duomo of Desenzano was also built by Giulio Todeschini. Inside there are works of art by Giovanbattista Tiepolo, Andrea Celesti and Pietro Calcinardi.

10. Boat trip to Sirmione

blue and white pleasure boat in harbour

Desenzano is the best jumping-off point for a boat trip to the gorgeous town of Sirmione. It takes 20 minutes to make the crossing and boats leave multiple times a day.

And That’s a Wrap!

I hope that this guide helps you to create wonderful memories in Lake Garda. If you would like to learn more about what to do if you are staying in Verona, take a look at these articles: