Last September, we travelled to Italy and chartered a boat for a sailing trip on Lake Garda.

As mentioned in the earlier blog post, Lago di Garda is a great sailing destination with very pleasant climate, steady wind conditions and amazing mountainous scenery. Furthermore, there are also many beautiful towns along the coastline.

However, one thing that bothered me on Lake Garda sailing was the lack of information (in English) for a cruising sailor about the marinas and harbours. There are many idyllic small towns along the coastline and some of them also have small harbour basins with breakwaters and mooring facilities. However, without a pilot or harbour book or a decent website in English, it was almost impossible to have information whether there are guest berths and more importantly, if there is a sufficient depth for a sailing boat.

Thus, here is a blog post about the marinas and harbours that we visited during the week. Although this is not attempting to be a comprehensive marina guide to Lake Garda, this information might be valuable to someone, planning a sailing trip there.

Torri Del Benaco

We started our cruise on Lake Garda on Friday the 23rd of September and picked up our charter boat (Bavaria 31) from Torri Del Benaco, which is located in the middle part of the lake. Torri Del Benaco was definitely one of the most idyllic little towns that we visited and there are some nice restaurants by the shore with a spectacular view over the lake . The moorings in the harbour basin seemed to be occupied by the local boats, but there were some berths for visiting boats at the entrance (an alongside mooring on the left-hand side, when coming in to the harbour basin from the lake). Torri Del Benaco is a public town harbour so there are no facilities (e.g. toilets, electricity).

Torri del Benaco

Marina di Bogliaco

On Friday afternoon, we cast off at the Torri Del Benaco, and sailed the short distance across the lake to Marina di Bogliaco on the western side of the lake. Marina di Bogliaco is a private marina with good basic facilities (e.g. showers, toilets, electricity). However, it was also the most expensive marina during our stay (we paid 85 euros per night) and although everything was tidy and clean, the surroundings are not that idyllic as it is basically a boat yard. However, there is a short walk to the small town of Bogliaco. Upon arrival, we were directed to the guest berths (Mediterranean mooring / mooring lines), located on the left-hand side after the boat crane.

Fraglia Vela Malcesine

On Saturday the 24th of September, we continued north from Bogliaco. The wind conditions are generally better on the northern part and also the landscape is higher, so we decided to cruise the week on the northern part of the lake. We tried first to find a berth from the Malcesine town, but could not find any information on the depth and guest berths, so we decided to head for Fraglia Vela Malcesine, which is located about 2,5 nm north of the town. It was Saturday afternoon and the harbour office told us on the phone, that the main marina was already full. Thus, we decided to moor alongside the long pontoon which is located on the southern part of the marina. The main marina facilites (toilets, showers) were available in the club house, but there was no electricity on the pontoon. The town of Malcesine is definitely worth seeing and there is a fairly frequent buss connection to Malcesine from Fraglia Vela Malcesine harbour.

Long pontoon at Fraglia Vela Malcesine

Malcesine seen from the lake

Porto San Nicoló

From Malcesine we continued to Riva del Garda on the northern end of the lake. The marina Porto San Nicoló was mentioned in the information leaflet that we got with the boat, so we motored confidently into the marina, which turned out to be full of local boats. We were directed to the alongside berth close the boat crane. After a while the harbour master arrived and seemed to be quite pissed off that we had arrived without a prior notification. I had actually called the harbour multiple times during the day without getting an answer, but the harbour master said that the berth should be reserved weeks earlier. He said that the marina is full as it only has a few guest berths, but he can let us stay by the crane for one night. We eventually paid about 40 to 50 euros for the stay.

Porto San Nicoló has only a couple of guest berths. 

Fraglia Vela Riva del Garda 

On the following day, we sailed a short distance to Fraglia Vela Riva, which is another marina in Riva del Garda. And yes, we sailed the whole leg as it is prohibited to use the engine in the northern part of the lake other than when entering or leaving a harbour. When sailing at the lake, the southerly Ora wind rose quickly up to 26 knots, so it was a bit challenging to maneuver in the small marina. I had called and checked the availability and the location of the guest berths before hand.

The Fraglia Vela Riva is a better choice of the two marinas in Riva Del Garda: there is only a short walk from the marina to the city centrum, there seems to be more guest berths and also the marina fee was less expensive than at Porto San Nicolo.

Fraglia Vela Riva – All the guest berths were vacant so we decided to moor 
alongside the pontoon. There are also mooring lines for high season. 


On Tuesday the 27th of September, it was time to head back south. The northerly morning wind Pelér was very weak that day so we had to motor almost the whole leg to Garda located in the eastern side of the lake. Garda was yet another harbour where it was difficult to find the guest berth. Eventually we found a pier marked with a P sign, but as we did not have any information on the depth, we moored elsewhere and I walked to check the depth with a boat hook. There turned out to be sufficient depth for our boat so we moved the boat there. The guest berth is operated by the town and there were no facilities. However, there was ridiculous expensive hourly rate, which had to be paid to a parking machine, which was very difficult to use since it did not accept any bills. We eventually gave up with the bloody machine, decided to book a hotel for that night and hoped that the officials won’t remove our boat during the night. 

 Garda – pier for visiting boats. There was sufficient depth for our boat at least in the outermost berth. It gets shallower closer to the shore. 

The last night at Garda. On the following day, it was time to head back to Torri del Benaco.