You are looking for what to see in Riva del Garda? Excellent choice, Riva del Garda is the second largest city on the lake and the true and undisputed capital of adventure!
After my experience here, I wrote this list of what to see and do in riva del Garda, dividing it into different sections: what to see in Riva del Garda Center, what to do if you loveadventure and sport, what to see and do around and also some little place to go for satisfy your taste buds!
What to see in Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda is one pretty town on the northern coast of Lake Garda surrounded by steep cliffs and high mountains, particularly impressive if you get there by boat. Riva has a small historic center with quaint streets and numerous shops and restaurants.
So there are also in Riva itself enough attractions to spend a few days even if the city is above all an excellent base both for experiencing the lake and for exploring the mountains.
Riva del Garda has a more "urban" atmosphere compared to the small neighboring villages and in short, for how many days you decide to stay, you will not have time to get bored: there are museums, easy (and less easy) paths to walk, boat trips on the lake , possibility of shopping in delightful and elegant boutiques and also many day trips to take in the surroundings.
Also I assure you that you will have many difficulties trying to resist buying at least some of the local food and wine specialties.
For more precision, I asked my friend Margherita (who has been here so many times to know Riva as if it were practically her home) also suggestions as a true "local", and in the end I included attractions and activities in the nearby villages of Nago / Torbole e bow, which are not part of the city limits of Riva del Garda, but which are only a short bike ride away from it.
1 - Alto Garda Museum (MAG)
If you are in Riva del Garda on a rainy day or if you are interested in nature and culture, do not miss the MAG - Alto Garda Museum, located in Riva del Garda in an ancient medieval castle, locally known as "Rocca".
The museum is certainly one of the best things to see in Riva del Garda with children: it is divided into sections dedicated to archeology, paintings and life around the lake in the past, and there are whole sections dedicated to the little ones that offer many hands-on exhibits.
Another reason to visit this museum is to climb the Keep, the tallest tower
which offers a splendid view of the lake.
2 - Apponale Tower
La Apponale tower it is located on the eastern side of the main square in the center of Riva, Piazza III Novembre.
It is 34 meters high and was first built in the 16th century before being refurbished in the 20s when Northern Garda became part of Italy, which is why the refurbishment removed the traditional Germanic onion dome and replaced it with a straight roof. .
Sharpen your eyes to observe the small bronze angel waving on the top of the tower: it is called "Anzolim" and is the symbol of Riva del Garda.
3 - Bastion
Another historical symbol and one of the main points of interest in Riva del Garda, especially for history lovers. Built at the northern end of the lake, the Bastion it stands on a hill and offers a breathtaking view of the area and the city below.
The tower dates back to 1508, but the path that leads to it is much more modern and comfortable: it is quite easy to reach with a 15-20 minute hike from via Monte Oro along a beautiful road through the green of the woods.
4 - Walk along the lakefront
Stroll on the lakeside of Riva del Garda it's a great way to spend an afternoon.
It is possible to continue walking along the lake from the city center until you reach Forte San Niccolò at the foot of Monte Brione in about half an hour, even reaching Torbole (but to get there it is better to rent a bicycle).
There are several benches and shaded areas if you want to sit and rest, and according to those who live in Riva del Garda, the best ice cream is that of Eta Beta or Flora!
5 - Beaches of Riva del Garda
Who is visiting Riva del Garda in the summer will be happy to know that it is possible to do the bath in the lake, a great way to cool off after a hike:
trust me, after the 40 km bike ride to the S. Pietro Refuge all I wanted to do was take a nice dip in the lake!
The best time to swim or spend time on the Riva del Garda beach is certainly in the morning, as it is generally less windy.
In the afternoon, in fact, the famous Ora wind begins to blow from south to north. Locals recommend swimming in Sabbioni beach, a few steps from the center, oa Porfine, which also has a nice bar.
What to do in Riva del Garda - Sport and Adventure
6 - Excursion to Monte Brione
Looking at the northern shore of Lake Garda between Riva del Garda and Torbole, it is difficult not to notice the strange wedge-shaped mountain, which cuts the coast in two. This is the Monte Brione, on which there are numerous fortifications dating back to the times of the First World War, which can be easily visited either on foot or by bicycle, with spectacular views of the lake.
7 - Take the Busatte-Tempesta path
I would say that walking on a panoramic path overlooking the lake is one of the most beautiful things to do in Riva del Garda! The Busatte-Tempesta trail it's hard to beat when it comes to views - the route literally hangs over the mountainside, a place of pure beauty surrounded by the sky, lake and green forests that cover the mountains.
The trail reaches Busatte, just above Torbole, and Tempesta, 4 km later. The best way to get to the trail from Riva is to take a bus (or walk) to Torbole, and then you will only have to walk a short climb
on foot to get to Busatte, where you will also find an adventure park.
8 - Go diving in the lake
Riva del Garda is truly an adventurer's paradise - in addition to hiking, climbing and cycling, there is plenty to do on (and in!) The lake itself.
Riva del Garda is an ideal place to learn to sail, or to go out on a sailing excursion around the lake, while nearby Torbole is one of the main points for kitesurfing and windsurfing throughout Europe, thanks to the daily winds of Lake Garda. .
If you prefer something even more adventurous, you can try doing areal dive: the lake reaches a depth of 350 m and there are several points of interest in which to dive.
The highlight of our dive was certainly the "Silent Christ", a three-meter statue of Jesus that mysteriously appears through the depths.
Un special thanks it goes to Andrea who for the whole dive was by my side making me feel safe (even if I consumed too much air and we had to go up again before the others).
9 - Take the Ponale road by bike
Those who know the north of Lake Garda know that the best way to discover the area is by bike!
There are literally hundreds of cycle paths and mountain bike trails, ranging from easy rides for beginners and families to multi-day adventures and downhill trails for the truly daredevil, but certainly one of the most scenic is the Ponale road, which connects Riva del Garda to the Val di Ledro.
Also suitable for families with children and reopened in 2018 after the safety measures, the Ponale road (also called the Ponale path) is a long but not difficult path that can also be covered on foot and offers amazing views of Lake Garda.
For an easy afternoon trip, also try the road from Riva del Garda to Torbole and back or the cycle path from Sarca to Arco, the Italian climbing capital!
If like me you are afraid of not taking the fatigue of the bicycle, try to rent one electric mountain bike. For me it was really a revelation: it allowed me to travel several kilometers, uphill and downhill, without ever getting tired, but just enjoying the view, the wind and the sun on my face.
10 - Take a boat trip, or rather, on a racing catamaran
The truth however remains that you can't really appreciate how spectacular Lake Garda is if you don't see it from the water.
The north end of the lake resembles a fjord and is surrounded by towering mountains - the views will take your breath away!
The wind is also part of everyday life on Lake Garda - all year round the wind Peel in the morning it blows north-south, while in the afternoon theTime it blows from the south-north, making the lake a real mecca for those who love sailing.
As soon as I saw the Extreme 40, the racing catamaran of Massimo and his Super Sail Academy I was amazed: you can see a mile away even for those who do not understand much that the Extreme was designed to run.
Its slim and aerodynamic figure, the lightness of the carbon structure that shines in the sun, the large sails ready to intercept every breath of wind make it a true engineering masterpiece.
It was also a pleasure for me to meet Massimo. He burns with an infinite passion for what he does, you can guess it from the twinkle in his eyes: I admit that I have seen myself a little in him.
11 – Fare Trekking
How can I not mention GardaTrek, the series of world famous trails?
With GardaTrek we mean 3 ring-shaped trails located at various altitudes in the mountains surrounding the northern shores of Lake Garda.
GardaTrek is mainly designed as a multi-day trekking route, but some sections can also be covered in one day. If you want to do something different and special, I recommend a night excursion, like the spectacular excursion to Monte Altissimo which includes a return trip to Riva by ferry.
12 - Test yourself on a via Ferrata
Another fun thing to do from Riva del Garda is to get on one via ferrata, or
real paths that allow hikers to climb safely on rocky walls thanks to a system of cables, steps and ladders.
Via ferratas were first developed by WWI soldiers to carry supplies up and down trenches, and some of them still exist today.
There are several via ferratas that can be easily reached from Riva del Garda, they are found especially around Arco and if you are looking for an easy one, consider the one on Mount Colodri, perfect for beginners and for those with little experience of this sport. The Via Ferrata of Monte Colodri is very easy, even children can do it, but always take an expert guide with you.
What to do around Riva del Garda
13 - Visit the Varone waterfall and Canale di Tenno
A quick and unmissable day trip from Riva del Garda is the one at Varone waterfall, located in a cave dug by the waterfall itself in about 20.000 years. There are two observation points - one at the base, where you can see the flow of the waterfall, and one upstream, from which you can feel the full force of the water between each spray.
Don't forget to bring a kway, you will come out of the cave carved by the waterfall almost completely wet!
There is also a small botanical garden at the entrance and information panels explaining this strange geological phenomenon. The waterfall is located just 3 km from Riva del Garda - and from there you can also visit Tenno canal, a magical medieval village where time seems to have stopped.
14 - Trekking with donkeys to Malga Zanga
If you are looking for a way to enjoy the campaign “in a slow way”, there is no way it can beat one trekking with donkeys.
Roberto with his donkeys moved from central Italy to the Trentino Alps two years ago, after the 2016 earthquake that shook Umbria and offers donkey excursions around the Alps.
Malga Zanga is a typical mountain hut, located on Monte Velo about 11 km from Arco, and is an enchanting place, surrounded by larch and beech woods and with a breathtaking view of the Brenta Dolomites.
Walking with a donkey is a real experience of returning to nature that forces you to "take things as they come" - the donkey knows that there is no rush to get where you want to go - you just have to accept it, slow down and wait for it stop nibbling the weed on the way.
I only had time for a short excursion of a few hours, much more than enough, however, to literally fall in love with Nuvoletta, "my" sweet donkey from Amiata!
This is one of the must do things if you go to Riva del Garda with children: donkeys are very docile animals that are able to immediately establish a very strong relationship of empathy with children.
At the Malga it is also possible to sleep or simply spend the afternoon after a hearty lunch prepared at home.
Things to do in Riva del Garda for food lovers
15 - Visit a winery
One of the things I discovered about Riva del Garda that surprised me was the climate. In fact, in my imagination Trentino was a bit synonymous with "cold".
Nothing could be more wrong: in Riva, thanks to the presence of the lake, the climate is mild and temperate, so much so that all around olive trees, lemons and… vineyards!
Rent an electric bike, the most comfortable and ecological way to visit the cellars, stop for tastings and maybe take a few bottles home, but be careful, even with the bike do not drive if you have drunk too much!
16 - Take a psycho-aperitif
After a day spent outdoors, perhaps doing sports, there is nothing better than sitting in a nice place in sip an aperitif, it's not true?
Riva del Garda is ideal for an aperitif on the lake, sipping Hugo (a typical Trentino aperitif based on prosecco and elderberry juice) or maybe a spritz if you prefer something more "classic".
If, like me, you like to experiment, try the psycho-aperitif at the bar ofhotel Luise (a delightful hotel whose “concept” revolves all around the journey, could I not love it?): at the table you will find some pieces of paper on which you will have to tick the boxes that best describe your character. Depending on what you have marked, the barman will create the cocktail that suits you best.
If you are with friends and you want to joke and have a laugh, have someone else fill in the sheet with the distinctive characters of your personality (perhaps by some friend who knows you well) and the result will be amazing!
If you're more of a beer person, Riva's historic center has a couple of places to suit you - Panem is one of them and also offers a selection of cold cuts and sandwiches from all over Italy.
17 - Enjoy a dinner in the best restaurant in Torbole
Riva del Garda and nearby Torbole are also the ideal destinations for food lovers. Whether you are looking for traditional Garda cuisine or Italian and German flavors, these two towns will amaze you.
For a top dinner based on lake fish (and maybe try eel) go to the restaurant La Terrazza where you will have a wide selection of dishes and wines carefully chosen to sublimate your taste buds, while from the large windows you can enjoy the sunset over Lake Garda.
How to get to Riva del Garda
There is no airport in Riva del Garda. The closest are in Verona (about an hour's drive), followed by Bergamo and Venice (about two hours). Renting a car is by far the most convenient way to reach Riva del Garda, or you can opt for an airport transfer service such as Airport Transfers Direct.
For the car rent I generally use Rentalcars.
La Station closest to Riva del Garda is Rovereto, located on the railway line that connects Verona to Trento, Bolzano, Innsbruck and Munich.
There are bus that connect Riva del Garda to Trento and Rovereto railway station such as Verona, Brescia and other cities along the shores of Lake Garda, buses to Venice in the summer and also the Flixbus in Munich. However, if you plan to visit Riva del Garda from other lakeside towns, the lake ferry is by far the most scenic way to get to Riva del Garda!
In the car
The closest motorway to Riva del Garda is the A22 - Brenner, which connects Modena and Verona to Austria and Germany. There are also two incredible state roads, state road 249 (also called eastern Gardesana) and state road 45 bis (western gradesana) that run along the two shores of the lake between truly scenic views.
Pay attention to the traffic lights that the fines fall!
Where to sleep in Riva del Garda - The best hotels
Read also: Where to sleep in Riva del Garda: the areas and the best hotels
Hotel Rudy - this hotel is not located right in the center of Riva, it takes about 20 minutes on foot or 5 by car to reach it, but it does have wonderful offers, especially out of season! Check prices and availability here.
Hotel Villa Magnolia - a nice and comfortable three-star Garnì located in a quiet building a few meters from the beach of Torbole. Check prices and availability here.
Of the Lake and Of the Park - a luxury hotel with a great lakeside location and a beautiful park and swimming pool, perfect if you're planning on giving yourself a gift! Check prices and availability.
4 Limoni Apartment Resort - another good budget option. Check prices and availability.Didn't find what you were looking for? Look here at the other hotels in Riva del Garda
Disclaimer: I would like first of all to thank Vale Bellotti from Garda Trentino,
for organizing this beautiful trip, for the emotions I felt and for the many laughs.
Although this trip is the result of a collaboration with the institution, all my opinions, as always on ForToursLovers, are honest and sincere.
You may also be interested in:
- Where to stay in Mauritius: the best areas, and which hotels and resorts to book
- Hoi An in Vietnam: the romantic (and touristic) city of lanterns
- No return ticket. How to travel by plane only with a one way ticket.
- What to see in Montenegro: attractions not to be missed
- Where to stay in Fes (Fez): the best hotels inside and outside the medina