Navigation on Lake Garda

Public water transport service

Paola Tiberio

Graduated in Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Milan, has always been passionate about Travel and with an inexhaustible passion for the Houses, since 2000 freelance and subsequently Property Manager for tourism residences, is the founder of Gardalake Homedesign…

Navigating on Lake Garda is a continuous emotion that is repeated every year and that allows you to experience and get to know the lake from another perspective.

Navigation is possible thanks to the service offered by the company “Navigazione Laghi” which guarantees mobility in the Maggiore, Garda and Como lakes, providing a very efficient, comfortable and safe public transport service on the water line for all ages.

Historical Background

The first news of a navigation service on the lakes as an alternative to ordinary roads dates back to the first half of the nineteenth century, with the advent of steam engines.

The industrial and commercial development of lake areas in the first two decades of the 19th century gave rise to the need for new faster forms of transport, alternatives to those by land. In 1933 the first ferry for the transport of cars entered service.

Navigation on the lakes has seen its importance increase and, currently, the Navigazione Laghi company has reached the endowment of 97 ships including boats, motorboats, car ferries, hydrofoils, catamarans on the three main lakes of Northern Italy.


The historic Boats of Garda Lake

“Arciduca Ranieri”, the first steamboat built in wood, in service on the Garda used for freight and passengers transport, connected Riva del Garda to Peschiera del Garda and Desenzano.

Zanardelli was launched in 1903, with the capacity of 800 passengers and flagship of the lake fleet, still in service today.

Six years later, the steamer Italia entered service, also used today.

These historic boats, modernized in the sixties, have maintained the original Belle-Epoque style and a charm of other times.


Navigation today

Navigate on Lake Garda by boat, hydrofoil and ferries is a great way to get to know the area admiring the landscape directly from the lake.

This service allows you to avoid the coastal roads that are very crowded in the high season and prefer to travel on foot or with your own bicycle. In fact, many boats allow boarding with bicycles.


The company “Navigazione Laghi” at Lake Garda has a fleet of 20 boats which guarantee connection with the main coastal resorts.

Before embarking on a trip using lake transfers it is recommended to plan the day and inquire about sailing times, travel times and some important rules or useful tips, especially in light of the new restrictions imposed by covid-19.

At the boarding pier chosen as the starting point, tickets for ferries and motorboats are purchased. Tickets can be purchased at the port only on the day of departure, twenty minutes before and within 5 minutes from the departure of the boat.

The Free Movement Card that the company makes available to tourists and residents is very interesting and allows you to spend a whole day on Lake Garda in complete freedom without having any limit of routes and stops or times to be respected.

The navigation service is active throughout the summer, during which the entire fleet, including hydrofoils and catamarans, connects the ports with numerous trips and itineraries. The service is suspended during the winter period.


For those who undertake a journey by car, motorbike or bicycle along the coast and want to cross the lake without having to complete the entire perimeter, there are two important crossing points by ferry: the route Toscolano Maderno – Torri del Benaco and the route from Malcesine-Limone, which connect the Brescia and Veronese shores.


The ferry service was then enhanced by adding the Desenzano – Riva route that connects the Brescia coast to the Trentino one.



In 1958 the first hydrofoil in service on the lake was launched, the Freccia del Garda.

In use nowadays, the GOETHE hydrofoil is a fast, modern boat, equipped with air conditioning and numerous seats, which allows you to move quickly allowing the traveler to visit more places on the same day.

The other hydrofoils of the fleet are of the same type: the Galileo Galilei and the Freccia delle Riviere.


Animals on board

Dogs and other pets can be brought on the ferries and boats of Lake Garda respecting some important conditions.


Small dogs (less than 50 cm) travel on the ferries of Lake Garda for free, while medium and large dogs (over 50 cm) pay a reduced rate ticket.

Dogs for the blind travel for free and without restrictions.

Some vessels in the fleet:

The ANDROMEDA motor ship and the BALDO motor ship are the most modern ships that sail the Italian lakes. They are equipped with rooms furnished in a modern style, a restaurant on board and open areas at the bow, aft and on the deck from which to enjoy an exciting panoramic view during the journey.

The Motorboat ITALIA

It is one of the rare period ships that still sail on Italian lakes. The blade propulsion is ensured by a modern diesel engine to replace the original steam engine. It has two large rooms furnished in the Belle Epoque period style, a restaurant area and open areas at the bow and stern. The ship has been repeatedly overhauled over the decades with the utmost care, keeping the appearance and materials that contribute to creating an atmosphere of romantic charm on the cruise as intact as possible.


Equally beautiful and rare, the ZANARDELLI MOTORBOAT has two large rooms furnished in Art Nouveau style and preserves the charm of its history intact by offering a cruise with a very romantic atmosphere.


This type of ship was built to meet the need for public transport of vehicles from one side of Lake Garda to the other and lighten traffic on the Garda roads. The ship has a high transport speed and reduced maneuvering times and can embark about thirty cars or a mix of buses, trucks and cars according to needs.


The TONALE and BRENNERO motorboats are the largest in the fleet. They are equipped with large rooms with air conditioning, with the possibility of having lunch while admiring the landscape from the large side windows; numerous external places on the external bridge and the possibility of embarking vehicles.


The choice of itineraries, boats and daily excursions is very wide.

It is definitely an experience to live to get to know Lake Garda.

Enjoy your trip!


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