12 Astonishing Facts About Lake Garda

This is arguably one of the most famous lakes in all of Europe, and you’ll understand exactly why after reading this article.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Lake Garda, one of the most astounding lakes in Italy.

1. It’s located in the north of Italy

Lake Garda is one of the most famous lakes in Italy and is located in the northern part of the country. Its southern shore lies between the major cities of Verona and Brescia.

Further away, it lies exactly in between the famous Italian cities of Milan and Venice, and Lake Garda is part of 3 Italian provinces, those of Verona, Brescia, and Trento.

facts about lake garda

2. It lies on the edge of a famous mountain range

The lake is located in a mountainous area, especially the northern part of the lake, which is much narrower than the southern part. It borders the famous mountain range the Dolomites, which is part of the southern limestone Alps and known for its peculiarly shaped peaks.

Its shape, which is typical for a moraine valley, makes it likely that Lake Garda was formed during the Old Stone Age or Paleolithic due to the movement of a massive glacier.

Lake Garda from the air
Aerial of Lake Garda / Wiki Commons

3. It’s the largest lake in all of Italy

Lake Garda is pretty big and is the biggest lake in all of Italy. It has a maximum length of 51.6 kilometers (32.1 miles) and a maximum width of 16.7 kilometers (10.4 miles). It has a total surface area of 369.98 square kilometers (142.85 square miles).

The area is a perfect place to hike, but you wouldn’t be able to walk around the entire lake in a single day as it has a shore length of 158.4 kilometers (98.4 miles).

Even though it’s only the 36th largest lake in all of Europe, it’s the second-largest lake in southern Europe as well!

Lake garda size

4. Lake Garda is pretty deep as well

Even though the lake borders a massive mountain range, its surface is located at a height of just 65 meters (213 feet) above sea level.

It’s pretty deep though as it has an average depth of 136 meters (446 feet) and a maximum depth of 346 meters (1,135 feet), giving the lake a total volume of 50.35 square kilometers (19.44 square miles).

That’s nothing compared to the deepest lake in the world though, Lake Baikal in Russia, which has a maximum depth of 1,642 meters (5,387 feet)!

5. The lake only has one outlet

One of the most interesting facts about Lake Garda is that even though it has numerous inlets, it only has 1 outlet. The largest tributary to the lake is the Sarca River.

The only outlet of the lake is the Mincio River in the utmost southern part of the lake.

Lake garda amazing view

6. It got its name from a town with the same name

In Roman times, the lake was referred to as “Lacus Benacus,” and it was even the site of a famous battle referred to as the “Battle of Lake Benacus.” In this battle, which was fought in the year 236 A.D., the Romans defeated the Alamanni, a collection of German tribes, on the shores of Lake Garda.

Its current name is derived from a mention of Garda in the 8th century of the town, so the lake was given the same name. Ironically, the name is derived from the Germanic word “warda,” which means “place of guard” or “place of observation.”

Lake garda fantastic views

7. There are 5 large islands on the lake

Apart from numerous very small islands, there are 5 major ones called:

  • Isola del Garda
  • Isola San Biagio
  • Isola dell’Olivo
  • Isola di Sogno
  • Isola di Trimelone

Isola del Garda is the biggest of the five and is located on the western shore of the lake.

Isola del Garda
Isola del Garda / Wiki Commons

8. There’s a magnificent 19th-century building on the largest island

The largest of the 5 islands already got developed in the year 1220, when St. Francis of Assisi founded a monastery on it. It’s also believed it had been used earlier as a Roman burial ground.

Not much remains of this original structure as it has been replaced by a residential villa in the 19th century in the amazing Venetian neogothic style.

The Villa Borghese Cavazza is owned by the family who also owns the island and still lives on it. The island has been opened as a tourist attraction since the year 2001 as well.

Villa Borghese Cavazza
Villa Borghese Cavazza / Krzysztof Mariusz Bieganski / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

9. It has an endemic fish that only survives in Lake Garda

One of the most fascinating facts about Lake Garda is that a fish lives in it that apparently doesn’t like any other location. The “Salmo carpio” is endemic to the lake and is also sometimes referred to as the “carpione.”

Because of overfishing and pollution, the fish is now considered to be an endangered species, and attempts to distribute it to other lakes have all been proven unsuccessful so far.

Yes, Lake Garda is its home and will forever be it seems!

Salmo Carpio
Salmo Carpio / Domenico Collini / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

10. A 13th-century castle stands on the south of the lake

One of the most amazing facts about Lake Garda is that one of the best-preserved castles in Italy can be found on the south shore of the lake. The Scaligero Castle is located in a commune called Sirmione.

This little town has a historical center and is located on a peninsula that divides the southern shore of Lake Garda. The castle is the centerpiece of the town and dates back to the 13th century.

It’s really a wonderful place to visit!

Sirmione and castle
Sirmione and castle / Diego Bonacina / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

11. There’s also an ancient Roman Villa at the south of the lake

If you thought the historical center of Sirmione breathes history, then the Roman Villa located on the northernmost end of the same peninsula certainly does as well!

This structure was built during the reign of the first Roman Emperor in history, Augustus Caesar, at the end of the 1st century B.C. and the 1st century A.D. It was more of a “Roman Spa” and is called the “Grottoes of Catullus.”

Unlike the castle, the Roman Villa hasn’t been preserved as well as only its ruins remain.

Roman villa sirmione
Roman villa / Eleiezzi / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

12. Lake Garda is a very popular tourist destination

Lake Garda is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Italy. An estimated 22 million people visit the lake and its surroundings every year.

The northern part of the lake, near the towns of Riva and Torbole, is perfect for surfing, sailing, or kiteboarding. That’s because a special type of wind blows down the slopes of the Dolomites which creates the perfect conditions.

One of the most popular theme parks in Italy, fittingly called “Gardaland,” is also located along the southwest shore of the lake.

All of this in combination with the most stunning views, picturesque villages, and fresh mountain air, make Lake Garda one of the best places to spend your holiday!

fun facts about lake garda