Marina Di Pietrasanta
Desenzano has a number of pleasant beaches. We recommend walking about 2.5km towards Sirmione to the Rivoltella area. While not sandy, it’s a free pebble beach, which has sun loungers and parasols available to hire, plus toilets, cabins and showers available. Feeling active? There are pedalos, canoes and boats to hire, and a volleyball pitch, too. The nearby bar and restaurant offers drinks and food at a reasonable price.
If you're after something a little more exclusive and trendy, it’s just a 3km walk, cycle or taxi ride to the Coco Beach Club. Known as the ‘total summer club’ for its beach, lounge bar, restaurant and nightclub, Coco is open daily. You can listen to music as you relax on the white sands, under the palm trees and in the clear lake waters. Drinks and food are available all day from the bar and restaurant.
While some beaches have been man-made using sand, it’s often pebbly underfoot when you're in the lake itself – so we recommend taking lake shoes if you plan on going into the water. In the height of summer, the surface temperature of the lake can get as warm as 26°C in the south – that’s approximately 6°C warmer than the north, and perfect for a refreshing dip.
Desenzano hosts the largest market on Lake Garda, along the lakefront promenade. This takes place every Tuesday morning and people come from miles around to pick up a few bargains. The quality of the products is generally quite high, but this does mean that the prices are not as cheap as you might imagine a market to be.
The Il Leone Shopping Centre is located around 5km south of Desenzano. This air-conditioned mall has over 120 shops with international brands, to keep any shopaholic busy for the day. Stores including Aldo, Guess, Apple Store and Zara open their doors from 9am to 10pm daily. There’s also a large hypermarket, too, for picking up treats, sweets and snacks to take home.
Desenzano has excellent train links to nearby cities that are great for browsing higher end shops. With Brescia less than 20 minutes away, and Milan only 1 hour 30 minutes away, designers such as Gucci, Armarni, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana are on your doorstep, oozing glitz and glamour.
Desenzano is a great resort for laid-back evenings. Wandering along the lakefront promenade, there’s a number of bars, cafés and restaurants where you can sit and watch the world go by. The original harbour is also picture-perfect, with the lights twinkling over the calm waters of the lake. Take a stroll up to the castle and see Desenzano glowing from above.
From June to September, Desenzano is home to the famous White Night party, which runs every Wednesday from around 8pm. Known locally as Notti Bianche, the town becomes a bustling hub of entertainment when the sun goes down. It’s common tradition that everyone dresses in white for an evening of live music, street performances, shows and markets.
If you’re a foodie, Desenzano is the place to be. Here you’ll find everything from gourmet restaurants, to cheap and cheerful pizzerias that sell large pizza slices for as little as €2. Most restaurants are spread along the lakeside promenade, but these can be expensive because of their location, so head towards the backstreets for something slightly cheaper.
With an outdoor courtyard so you can watch the stars, Ristorante Corte Pozzi is extremely popular with the locals. The food is tasty and the service is charming, and there are inside tables if you don’t want to sit outside.
Tucked away just around the corner from the Venetian harbour, this hidden gem with al fresco dining is the place to come for fish specialities and other local favourites. Small and intimate, Gattolardo serves traditional cuisine with a contemporary twist.
With pretty views of Lake Garda from both the outdoor terrace and inside the restaurant itself, Ristorante Rose & Sapori is the ideal spot for a romantic meal. This Italian fine-dining restaurant has a sophisticated menu which includes gluten-free options, and lovely staff who try their utmost to make your experience a special one.
Desenzano town is a maze of narrow streets but there’s also open piazzas, a harbour and a lakeside promenade that runs along to shingle beaches either side of town.
The most relaxing way to get around the lake is by water – motorships, catamarans and hydrofoils all run from Desenzano to most of the other towns around the lake. Visiting the other southern towns is quick and easy, but the longer trips north are more expensive.
The train station is in Piazza Luigi Einaudi, 15-20 minutes’ walk from the centre of town - or it can be reached by local bus or taxi. From there, you can catch a direct train to Venice (from 2 hours 30 minutes), Verona (30 minutes) or Milan (1 hour 30 minutes).
An efficient bus service runs to most other towns around the lake, all the way up the west shore to Riva. However, though it’s very useful for short journeys, it’s not as reliable for longer trips.
The large and bustling town of Desenzano is a fantastic place to get lost in. Explore the narrow streets and then emerge in the harbour to spectacular lake views. Follow the 2km promenade along the shore and you’ll come to lovely shingle beaches either side of town, where you can spend the day sunbathing and watching the boats on the water. Head in the other direction for country trails that wind through the Lugana vineyards. If you want to go further, follow the paths to the San Martino della Bettaglia and climb the memorial tower for fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
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