If you are looking for a well positioned town, the best nightlife on Lake Garda, great shopping (the reason I love the town), excellent restaurants and some very good hotels then Desenzano is the best place to stay on Lake Garda.
Desenzano del Garda has been a popular resort town for the rich of Venice and Verona for thousands of years. It is one of the easiest towns on the lake to get to by road or rail, being located on the main Venice to Milan road and rail link.
Boats leave for all corners of the lake - making the town ideal if you would like to explore the lake from the water.
The Palace Hotel is just perfect. You won’t find many foreign tourists here – for some reason they seem not to have discovered it yet. I would suggest that you do if you are visiting Desenzano, or even Sirmione, as the hotel lies between the two towns.
You'll discover a well run hotel with great staff and a lovely location; it's not going to break the bank either. The fact that it's near one of the best beaches on the lake is just the icing on the cake. For more independent reviews, maps and photos click here.
Desanzano has plenty of attractive streets to wander down, a charming lake-front and an interesting old harbour area.
To get an idea of what things used to be like around here before the advent of Gucci, Armani and Fiat visit the Bronze and Stone Age museum. Called the G Rambotti Museo Archeologico it is full of artifacts of the period and provides an interesting insight into what life was like in these simpler times.
For a more modern attraction visit the remains of what was once an enormous 1st century Roman Villa. Located in Via Crocefisso; the villa has superb mosaic floors. The floors and the fascinating artifacts discovered during excavation are the highlights. Both villa and museum are open every day except Mondays.
St Mary’s Cathedral and the town’s castle are the other main tourist sights.
Desenzano has some pretty decent beaches too. Have a look at my beach guide if you would like more on the beaches.
Definitely the best town on the lake for shopping, you'll find a wider selection of shops, more designer stores and a bigger and better market than in any other lake town.
The designer shops are mostly in the town center and prices are sometimes ridiculously high.
My advice is that if you want exactly the same items at a cheaper price try to hold off that shopping bug until Tuesday when the market comes to town. The market has a wide range of items from fashion to food at far less than you pay in the shops.
Kaleidos in Piazza Cappalletti is excellent though a little on the expensive side. For a cheaper alternative, serving home made pasta and great pizza, try the Eclip Pizzeria in Viale Giacomo Motta.