Lake Garda Nature Parks
Admire nature in all its beauty.
Lake Garda is in itself a natural heritage of rare beauty, consisting of an extensive territory where flat landscapes alternate with high rocky peaks. Perhaps not everyone knows that in the immediate surroundings there are some of the most famous and visited nature parks in Italy, seasonal destinations of a great flow of visitors from all over the world. Listed below are their names, their main features and where they are located.
Parco Natura Viva
Located in the municipality of Bussolengo in the province of Verona, Parco Natura Viva is a state-of-the-art zoological park and one of the most important European centres for the protection of biodiversity. Born from the brilliant intuition of architect Alberto Avesani, the park opened to the public back in June 1969 under the name of Parco Zoo del Garda.
To an initial area of about ten hectares, another was added a few years later called Safari, to be visited by car and reserved for African birds and mammals. In the late 1970s, the Tropical Greenhouse, the Aquaterrarium and the Dinosaur area were added. The latter featured life-size models of prehistoric reptiles, an absolute novelty in Italy for that period.
Today the Parco Natura Viva is divided into two main areas: Safari and Fauna. The Safari section can be travelled in your own car, from which you can admire animals typical of the African continent. The Fauna section is the main and largest part of the park, divided into various sections all to be covered on foot: Europe, Asia, America, Oceania, Madagascar, African Trails, Extinction Park, House of Giants and Farm.
A beautiful journey to discover the animal world that will involve the whole family, to better understand environmental protection and the preservation of biodiversity.
Parco Giardino Sigurtà
Located in the municipality of Valeggio sul Mincio in the province of Verona, the Parco Giardino Sigurtà is a 60-hectare nature park that has already won numerous national and international awards.
The history of this place dates back to the beginning of the 15th century, a time when almost the entire Lake Garda was under Venetian rule. At that time, the land where the Parco Giardino Sigurtà stands today was only used for agricultural purposes, but soon, thanks to various transfers of ownership between a number of wealthy families, began the slow transformation of this splendid area situated close to the river Mincio.
The modern history of the park began in the spring of 1941, when the pharmaceutical industrialist Dr. Carlo Sigurtà purchased the land. Thanks to his considerable efforts to redevelop the park, the entire area began to host lush vegetation, enhanced by the presence of numerous century-old plants and thousands of box trees. Since 19 March 1978 the Parco Giardino Sigurtà has been open to the public and today is certainly one of the most representative tourist attractions in the Garda area.
This is a place that can be described as magical, where the stresses of everyday life remain locked outside the entrance gates. There are many points of interest inside the Parco Giardino Sigurtà and they all deserve to be admired. Among the most representative and photographed ones, it is impossible not to mention the Viale delle Rose, the true institutional symbol of the park, the Labirinto, the Grande Tappeto Erboso, the Giardini Acquatici, the small Gothic-style building of the Eremo, the Castelletto and many others that we recommend you to discover personally during your visit.
Parco Grotta Cascata Varone
Located in the municipality of Tenno in the province of Trento, the Parco Grotta Cascata Varone is only three kilometres from the town of Riva del Garda and can be easily reached by bicycle.
The history of this place begins in a very distant period, following the melting of the great Quaternary glacier of Lake Garda. Thanks to this event, the waters began to flow more vigorously, slowly carving their way through the hard rock. The inexorable work of erosion led to the formation of the gorge that we can admire today. Even now, this work done by the force of the water erodes the rock by about two millimetres a year.
The tour of the Parco Grotta Cascata Varone includes a nature trail divided into three areas: the Grotta Inferiore, the Giardino Botanico and the Grotta Superiore.
You start at the Grotta Inferiore, walking inside a gorge carved into the rock where you can admire the waterfall at the point where its 98-metre drop ends. Continuing the visit to the Grotta Superiore, you climb the steps of a long path through the Giardino Botanico. In this area of the park, you can admire typical Mediterranean plants and high mountain trees, surrounded by a spectacular landscape of surrounding mountains. When you reach the Grotta Superiore, you enter through a narrow tunnel about 15 metres long that leads to an observation platform. From this point you can admire the waterfall in all its magnificence, in a spectacle of nature that continues its course since more than 20,000 years.
Parco delle Cascate di Molina
Located in the municipality of Fumane in the province of Verona, the Parco delle Cascate di Molina is slightly further away from the shores of Lake Garda, but still easily reachable in a few minutes by car.
It is located within the wider area of the Parco Regionale dei Monti Lessini, covering an area of about 80,000 m2. The territory is mainly made up of limestone rocks, carved out over millions of years by the slow and incessant action of atmospheric agents.
In the Middle Ages this particular territory, rich in watercourses, was exploited through the construction of numerous mills, some of which are still visible today.
A trip to the Parco delle Cascate di Molina (Molina Waterfall Park) is certainly the ideal choice to spend a day of leisure, immersed in the uncontaminated nature of one of the most evocative areas in the province of Verona. Accessible only on foot, the Park is organised in three different circular routes. You can choose between: Percorso Verde (Green Route), Percorso Rosso (Red Route) and Percorso Nero (Black Route). The main differences between these routes lie in the length of the route and the difference in altitude.
The Percorso Verde (Green Route) is certainly the most suitable for families with children or for those who prefer only a short hike. The Percorso Rosso (Red Route) is slightly more demanding, but the one to be preferred in order to see all the most impressive waterfalls. Finally, for those who would like to visit the park's most remote corners, there is the Percorso Nero (Black Route), which is suitable for more trained walkers and reaches a total length of about 3.6 km with a difference in altitude of 250 metres.
Giardino Botanico André Heller
Located in the municipality of Gardone Riviera in the province of Brescia, the Giardino Botanico André Heller is a true natural paradise on the shores of Lake Garda.
It is home to around 3000 species of plants from all over the world, and is adorned with numerous works of art belonging to famous international artists.
The history of this place began in 1903 thanks to the love for Lake Garda of Prof. Dr. Arturo Hruska who, right here in Gardone Riviera, created one of Italy's most beautiful and biodiversity-rich private gardens.
In 1988 the property was purchased by the famous Austrian artist André Heller, who used his talent to beautify the garden until the extraordinary result that we can admire today. This is a place suspended in time, where art and nature come together to create an impressive setting that is absolutely worth a visit during your stay on Lake Garda.
How to get to the Nature Parks
Click on the button below to open the detailed map with the main Natural Parks of Lake Garda.