The beautiful fresh water lake of Lake Garda lies in northern Italy between the cities of Milan and Verona. It is Italy’s largest lake with a wide, exposed southern section lying in beautiful undulating countryside and a narrow northern section surrounded by stunning mountains. The weather here tends to be hot and Mediterranean during the summer months and remains slightly warmer than its neighbouring regions during the cold winter.
It is the physical geography of the lake which accounts for the increased temperatures around its shores, to those of the rest of northern Italy, as the mountains to the north keep the lake water warm throughout the year, pushing up local temperatures. It is also the mountains which are responsible for the daily winds that travel up and down the lake. The Peler Vento (from the north) blows at night from around midnight until mid-morning. The Ora (from the south) is strongest in the spring and summer and blows from around mid-day to sunset. The two winds combine to make sailing and windsurfing popular sports on the lake for much of the year.
View of Lake Garda
The summer is high season at Lake Garda with the warmest average monthly temperatures ranging from 22ºC (71/6ºF) to 24ºC (75ºF) and average highs of 29ºC (84ºF). This is the perfect season in which to enjoy the lake’s pretty beaches, terraced cafés and restaurants and the variety of water sports on offer around the lake with the water temperature reaching an average of between 17-26ºC. Because of the perfect sunny, warm conditions, this is also the lake’s busiest season with both Italian and foreign tourists flocking to the region at this time of year.
The summer is also the season with the most hours of sunshine in which to enjoy the heat, with July being both the hottest month and the month with the most average sunshine – 12 hours a day!
Summer at the lake is not, however, rain-free. Thanks to the combination of mountainous landscape and thermal winds, the lake is prone to heavy short showers and even dramatic thunderstorms in the summer so it is always worth keeping a close eye on the local weather forecast. It is September which is most prone to these sudden heavy downpours making it the month with the most rainfall on the lake, on average 86mm of rain falling across just 9 days, although this is closely followed by June which sees an average of 85mm fall in 12 days.
Even in the rainfall or wind, however, the temperatures around the lake will not fall too far in the summer months with average lows of between 17ºC (63ºF) and 20ºC (68ºF). June is the coldest of the summer months but can still enjoy average highs of 26ºC (78ºF). June is also the wettest of the summer months. Average daily sunshine hours at the lake are 11 in June and August, still plenty to enjoy.
Sailing on Lake Garda
Temperatures at the lake begin to fall in the autumn, although September can still see average highs of 25ºC (77ºF). Following the weather patterns of much of Europe the temperature drops as the season progresses with average highs falling to 15ºC by November. Despite the drop in temperature from the hot summer months, this can still be a great time to visit the lake as the summer crowds tend to leave by mid-October and you are more likely to enjoy a quieter holiday, perfect for taking part in the activities around the lake including sightseeing, hiking and mountain biking.
The water in the lake becomes noticeably colder during the autumn, falling to an average of between 12-22ºC, but water sports are still possible at this time of year including sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. Bear in mind, however, that you will have fewer daylight hours in which to enjoy your activities as the average sunshine hours decrease from 9 per day in September to just 6 in November.
Despite the still warm temperatures, the chance of rainfall does increase in the autumn and September is the wettest month on the lake with an average of 86mm of rain falling across 9 days and a 28% chance of rainfall. October also sees 81mm and November 66mm of rain. It is towards the end of autumn when fog begins to become an issue on the lake with November seeing a 34% chance of experiencing a foggy day, obscuring the beautiful views of the lakes and mountains which visitors come here expecting to see.
Limone, Lake Garda
While it does become cold at the lake during the winter months, with average monthly low temperatures of 1-2ºC (34-36ºF), it remains at least a degree above the average temperature of neighbouring Verona, thanks to the warm waters of the lake. Average high temperatures during the winter months range from 7-9ºC (45-48ºF).
Despite being the coldest season with the lowest sunshine hours of between 5 and 7 per day, winter is also the driest. On average the winter months see only 9 days of rainfall with 52mm of rain in December, 39mm in January and 43mm in February. Of all the months you are most likely to experience rain in December with a 32% chance of a rainy day which falls to 22% in January before rising again to 25% in February. However you are more likely to experience a cloudy day in December and January than in February when the chance of it being overcast falls to just 19%.
Throughout the winter there is always a good chance of experiencing one of those sunny, crisp winter days with a 22-28% chance of a sunny day across the season.
While you are unlikely to experience a winter wonderland around the lake at this time of year, with just a 5-7% chance of snow, you are likely to encounter fog, particularly in December and January when the chance of a foggy day rises to as high as 50%.
Scenery of Lake Garda
Spring is a beautiful time to visit the lake as the temperatures begin to rise to a monthly average of 9ºC (48ºF) in March to 17ºC (62ºF) in May and the lemon groves which line the shore of the lake burst into blossom. Although visitors start to come back to the lake with the spring sunshine it still remains a much quieter time to visit than the busy summer months.
Those choosing to holiday here in the spring can expect to enjoy average high temperatures of 13ºC (55ºF) to 22ºC (71ºF), although lows can still fall to an average of 4ºC (39ºF) in March.
While the beginning of the season is the driest period on the lake with only 35mm of rain falling across 10 days in March, rainfall does start to increase as the temperature warms up in April and May with between 75-78mm of rain falling across 10 days.
The number of average daily sunshine hours also increases this month starting at 8 in March and reaching the summer average of 11 by May. The winter threat of fog disappears during the spring from a 20% chance of experiencing a foggy day in March to next to nothing in April and May.
There are no severe weather hazards at Lake Garda, although visitors in the summer months should be aware that the lake is prone to short, heavy downpours and thunderstorms. These tend to pass quickly but you may need to dress appropriately or take shelter when they occur.