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Riva del Garda: things to see and to do

Welcome to Riva, the northernmost town on Lake Garda! Known as the pearl of Lake Garda, Riva del Garda is one of the most charming towns you can encounter on its shores. Located in the northern part of the lake, the town belongs to the province of Trento and enjoys a unique mountain landscape. Ready to discover what are the unmissable things to see and do in Riva del Garda?

Let’s start by exploring its territory: on the western side it is protected by Mount Rocchetta, while the eastern side is affected by the presence of Mount Baldo. Its peculiarity lies precisely in the possibility of enjoying a lake and mountain landscape at the same time. This characteristic makes it one of the most popular destinations for nature lovers.

There are many accommodation facilities in Riva del Garda, about 150 including B&B, flats, hotels, campsites and residences. In a breathtaking setting, these facilities offer the utmost in comfort and relaxation, combined with warm, familiar hospitality.

RIva is not only one of the most beautiful places to visit on Lake Garda. The heterogeneous conformation of the territory combined with the presence of the lake also offer the possibility of practising a multitude of sports.

Cycling, rowing, sailing, trekking, windsurfing, yoga and mountain biking are some of the sports you can try once you are in Riva. Whether you are a beginner or an expert matters little. Activities are designed for all levels.

For lovers of culture and history, Riva del Garda is an important site of interest. The numerous artistic and architectural works bear witness to its rich past. The Rocca, the Circular Bastion and the Apponale Tower are some of the examples, which we will explore in more detail shortly. To complete the circle, there are also a series of historical paths that represent an interesting opportunity for those who love to dive into the past.

If these are the premises, selecting which are the 3 things to see and the 3 things to do in Riva del Garda is really complex and reductive. However, I will try to briefly outline which stops you really cannot miss on your itinerary in this splendid resort. First, however, I will explain how to get there.

How to reach Riva del Garda

  • By car. From Verona, follow the Brennero motorway as far as the Rovereto Sud exit, then continue along the state road to Riva. From Brescia, you can drive along the Gardesana Occidentale until you reach the town.
  • By train. You can get to Rovereto Railway Station, and then take the B332 bus line.
  • By bus. From the Gardesana Orientale with line 484 ATV, from the Gardesana Occidentale with line LN027 ARRIVA.

Riva del Garda: things to see and to do
Credits: instagram @daniela2chic

YOUR GUIDE ON WHAT TO SEE AND TO DO IN RIVA DEL GARDA

The itinerary I propose will allow you to fully experience this 5-star place and take home a wonderful memory.

Things to see in Riva del Garda

OLD TOWN CENTRE
ROCCA AND THE MAG
LAKEFRONT AND THE BEACHES

Things to do in Riva del Garda

THE PONALE PATH
THE VARONE WATERFALL CAVE PARK
CANALE DI TENNO AND ARCO

Briefly, among the things to do and see in Riva, we will start with the old town, rich in history and interesting architectural and artistic beauties.

Riva del Garda: things to see and to do
Credits: fabio.f93 (IG)

One of them is the Apponale Tower, symbol of the town, on the eastern side of Piazza III Novembre. This is followed by the circular Bastion, known as the ‘Rocchetta’, and the Morocco quarter, a picturesque and almost secret part of the town centre.                                                                      

You cannot miss a visit to the MAG (Museo dell’Alto Garda), for which I recommend you take advantage of grey or rainy days. On sunny days you can stroll along the lakefront. With its wide beaches and crystal-clear water in which the mountains are reflected, it offers splendid views. We will travel along the Ponale Path, the most evocative of those in Riva del Garda, which connects the town to the Ledro Valley.

In addition, you cannot miss a visit to the characteristic Parco Grotta Cascate del Varone (Varone Waterfall Cave Park), just a few steps from Riva. Finally, continuing in the direction of Tenno, we will encounter the picturesque Borgo Canale di Tenno and the lake of the same name, whose water will surprise you with its turquoise colour. To conclude, we will also take a peek at the Borgo di Arco.

To discover in detail the points of interest of this place to visit on Lake Garda continue reading the article and be inspired!


Five places to see in Riva del Garda
Credits: s_marelli

Things to see in Riva del Garda

THE OLD TOWN CENTRE

First one of the things to see in Riva del Garda that I would suggest is undoubtedly the old town centre. In fact, the town is a small jewel set between the lake and the mountains, rich in history and evidence of the past. I recommend you take a half-day off to fully enjoy its beauty and discover even its most hidden corners.

One of the symbols of Riva is undoubtedly the Apponale Tower, located in Piazza III Novembre and built in 1555. At 34 metres high, the tower served as a strategic and control point for the square and the port. It was renovated in the 20th century and made accessible to visitors by the complete restoration in 2002.

If the climbs don’t frighten you, you can reach the top by climbing the 165 steps of the staircase inside, you will enjoy a breathtaking view! On the ground, remember to look up to the sky and look for the little angel placed on its top, it is the symbol of the city.

If you want to discover more about this place on Lake Garda continue reading the article, you won’t regret it!

Five places to see in Riva del Garda
Credits: fabio.f93 (IG)

The Apponale Tower is located on the east side of Piazza III Novembre, the main square of Riva del Garda and the hub of the town. Under the arcades are the Palazzi Pretorio and the Palazzi del Municipio. In this square you can take a moment to admire the special view of the lake and, why not, sip an aperitif with a view. Continuing your visit through the streets of the centre you will certainly come to the “Morocco’ district”. The name of this area is reminiscent of the dialect word ‘marocche’, the boulders in which its houses were built. As you will imagine, it is a very picturesque place that will allow you to immerse yourself in a past made up of working-class houses and lived life.


Five places to see in Riva del Garda
Credits: Marco Ghirello – ghire (IG)

THE FORTRESS AND THE MAG

Second stop not to be missed is the MAG (Museo dell’Alto Garda), inside the Rocca, the medieval castle just 350 m from Piazza III Novembre. The main seat of the museum is in Riva, while a second section is in Arco, at the Galleria Civica ‘G. Segantini’.

The prince-bishop of Trento built the medieval fortress in 1124 to protect the town of Riva. Its history is rather troubled: restored by the Scaligeri in the 14th century, it was plundered several times in the Venetian period during the clashes with the Visconti.  Passing under Habsburg rule, it became an army barracks in the 19th century. Only in the 20th century was it reborn as a museum.

If you want to know some details about this place on Lake Garda, don’t miss the next few lines!

THE LAKEFRONT AND THE BEACHES
Credits: Nelleke Bos – enne_ellebi

Today the castle is one of the symbols of the town. The crystal-clear waters and the small boats surrounding it make the location very picturesque. Cross its small bridge and let yourself be enveloped by the magic of this place, breathe in culture and take your time to admire the exhibits.

The museum is divided into three sections, respectively the Picture Gallery, with paintings of the Gardesana border art from the period between the 14th and 19th centuries, an archaeology section and a history section.

To make your experience even more unforgettable, I recommend climbing its main tower, the Mastio. From here you can enjoy the wonderful view of the city and the lake. Don’t forget to have a camera with you to take home some spectacular shots!


Spiaggia Sabbioni – Credits: Giuliana Steccanella – @giulianasteccanella

THIRD THING TO SEE IN RIVA DEL GARDA: LAKEFRONT AND BEACHES

Once your curiosity has been satisfied and you have had your fill of culture, I recommend a bit of healthy relaxation. For this reason, the third of the five places to see in Riva del Garda that I suggest is the lakefront with its adjacent beaches. In particular, I recommend a stop at Spiaggia Sabbioni and Spiaggia dei Pini, known as ‘Purfina’.

This area of Riva will amaze you with the incredible care taken over the vegetation. The colourful flowers create an incredible chromatic harmony, a real treat for the eyes! Although the beaches are usually covered with pebbles, the extensive green areas and numerous trees provide large areas and pleasant shady spots in which to stretch out.

The crystal-clear waters in which you can dive for a refreshing swim, combined with the setting created by the mountains, make this place almost surreal. Here time stands still and the only thing to do is to let yourself be lulled by the sound of the lake’s waves. Don’t let the grey days frighten you, these beaches look even more impressive with a few clouds in the sky!


Ponale path
Credits: Andrea Sonda

Things to do in Riva del Garda

THE PONALE PATH

Among the things to do and to see in Riva del Garda there is undoubtedly the Ponale Path, one of the best-loved in all of Europe. In fact, the path connects Riva del Garda with Val di Ledro and offers the chance to admire a truly incredible landscape.

Enclosed between the rock of the mountain and the waters of the lake, this road was built starting in the 19th century. Discontinued about 20 years ago, it only became a foot and cycle path in 2004. Today the path is about 20 km, including round trip.

Ponale path
Credits: Anna Maria Jagielska – anna.j81 (IG)

Upon reaching Val di Ledro, it is possible to continue on to the Statue of the Madonna on the panoramic terrace, from which there is a breathtaking view. The route can continue towards the centre of Pré di Ledro, Molina, Lake Ledro or the Pile-Dwelling Museum, the choice is yours!

If the length of the trail leaves you puzzled, know that it is a route for everyone, which can be covered on foot, by bicycle or mountain bike. You can also decide to shorten it by choosing the shorter but equally beautiful loop trail.


PARCO GROTTA CASCATE DEL VARONE
Credits: jennifer_alka

THE VARONE WATERFALL CAVE PARK

About 3 km from the city center is the Varone Waterfalls Cave Park. The waterfall within the park is considered a geological rarity. It is a narrow valley eroded into the rock dating back some 20,000 years, unbelievable, isn’t it?

The park is characterized by the presence of two caves that offer the possibility of admiring the waterfall from two different perspectives, an upper and a lower one. In both cases, the cave is accessed via a footbridge and then a few meters from the waterfall. The colored lights that illuminate the water make the place truly magical and the visit very evocative. Between one cave and the next you also have the opportunity to enjoy the botanical park and have a pleasant picnic in the picnic areas. 

My advice is to take a k-way with you, it will protect you from the splashing waterfall and prevent you from leaving the cave soaking wet! The park is also a pet-friendly place, so don’t hesitate to have your four-legged friend accompany you! It will be a fun and refreshing experience for him too (provided he loves water, of course).


VILLAGES TO VISIT: ARCO AND CANALE DI TENNO

Continuing uphill in the direction of Tenno, you can also visit the Borgo di Canale di Tenno. The medieval village is located at 600 m above sea level and is recognised by the association ‘I borghi più belli d’Italia’ (Italy’s most beautiful villages).  Get lost in its narrow streets and let yourself be enchanted by the exposed stone buildings for which it seems as if time never passes. Visit the Museum of the tools of rural life and the House of the Artists, it will be a very special experience.

If you are lucky enough to be in the area in the second week of August, I recommend attending ‘Rustico Medioevo’. This is an event where culture and gastronomy come together in a merry dance to offer a unique and unforgettable experience. In December and January, on the other hand, don’t miss the characteristic Christmas markets, which create a dreamlike atmosphere and give you a true fairytale experience. 

An unmissable place on the itinerary is undoubtedly Lake Tenno, 14 km from Riva del Garda. Treat yourself to a regenerating walk around the lake (about 40 minutes) or a refreshing dip in its crystal-clear turquoise waters. Even this lake, although small, will give you moments of great peace and relaxation.

Finally, among the surroundings of this place to visit on Lake Garda hides another fascinating village… I am talking about Arco!

Only 20 minutes by car from Riva del Garda, lies the village of Arco. Surrounded by greenery, the village branches off into cobbled alleys and historic buildings, such as the Palazzo Marchetti. The real thing to do here is to visit the imposing Castle, which watches over the village from above. With a walk of about 20-30 minutes you will reach the Renghena Tower and enjoy a spectacular view.

Between steps and small paths you will be able to admire it from top to bottom. Back in the historic centre, I suggest you enjoy some peace and quiet walking in the Parco Arboreto.

If the things to see and to do in Riva del Garda were not enough to convince you, let me tell you about the wonderful annual events.


EVENTS in Riva del Garda
Credits: Lönhardt M. Denisa

EVENTS

The Notte di Fiaba (Fairy Tale Night) is a not-to-be-missed event that greets the summer by transforming the town into a place of fantasy for the imagination of young and old.

If you are a bike enthusiast, the FSA BIKE Festival in Riva will captivate you with three days of exhibitions, presentations and exciting sporting competitions focusing on MTB, eMTB, lifestyle and more.

The X Strada event is ideal for an alternative Ferragosto evening in the streets of Riva animated until midnight by live music and contagious merriment.

Having reached this point, I hope that Riva del Garda has become one of the destinations to visit on your next trip. I assure you that it will be a very pleasant discovery!

To know the other places to visit at Lake Garda, don’t miss the related articles!

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