About a year ago I had the opportunity to take a very quick road trip to Riva del Garda. When I say quick, I mean I was there for not even 24 hours. It is a beautiful escape tucked between Lake Garda and the Italian Alps.
When my husband and I arrived it was late in the day so we found a nice restaurant with seating outside within view of Lake Garda for mussels and aperitivo (an Italian custom of drinks accompanied by crackers, olives, meats). It was romantic and felt like I was thrown into a movie, except this is real life so it’s much better.
The next day I only had the morning to wander around on my own, and since this is Italy, not many things were open. I took the opportunity to just relax, slowly wander the streets, and take pictures of beautiful things.
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Meet Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda is a small town wedged between the northern-most edge of Lake Garda (Lago di Garda) and the southern edge of the Italian Alps. It is part of a region of Italy called Trentino which is actually an autonomous province. This means that it governs itself similarly to Sicily or Sardinia, or Wales in the UK. It is part of the country but has more power than other places to govern itself.
With a strategic position at the northern tip of Lake Garda, Riva del Garda, has had a complex history (what European town doesn’t?). It is thought that its first settlement here was the Etruscans. It was once under the rule of the Venetians and then under the rule of the Austrian Habsburgs and did not become part of Italy until the end of WW1.
Riva del Garda feels like many Italian towns, but with a medieval touch, and has a shockingly mild Mediterranean climate. You can see palm, olive, and lemon trees all around in spite of the alps being within view.
If you are interested in adventure sports, this region is well known for kite surfing, rock climbing, sailing, canyoning, paddle boarding, etc. Clearly I am not well-versed in these types of things but I thought I’d pass on the info for the curious.
What to see in Riva del Garda
There are endless places to visit, things to do, and dishes to eat around Lake Garda. Riva del Garda just happens to be one of those places to visit. Mediterranean vibes at the foot of the Italian Alps is something out of a fairytale.
Lake Garda | Lago di Garda
You can’t really visit Riva del Garda without encountering Lake Garda. It is the largest lake in Italy with a circumfrance of 160km! It is so large that it is split between three regions of Italy. Lake Garda was formed over a million years ago during the last ice age. Today it is a famous tourist spot for Italians and international visitors from across the globe.
One of the most well-known stops when visiting Lake Garda is Gardaland, an amusement park situated at the complete opposite end of the lake from Riva del Garda.
Apponale Tower | Torre Apponale
The medieval Apponale Tower was first mentioned in 1273 and was originally lower than its current 34 meters. Designed as a viewpoint to protect the town, it now offers panoramic views.
Rocca: Museo Alto Garda
Rocca dates back to 1100s and was once a castle that through time was transformed and repurposed by many people and governments and today holds the Museo Alto Garda (MAG). The museum has a picture gallery, archaeology section, local history, and temporary exhibits.
If you go into the museum, you can go up in the highest tower of it to get a unique viewpoint of Riva del Garda.
Beaches | Spiagge
If you were curious about swimming in Lake Garda then you will be happy to know that yes, you can! There are three beache areas in Riva del Garda where you can swim, sunbathe, or even rent a canoe!
Sabbioni Beach (Via Giancarlo Maroni) | 10 min walk from Rocca | Facilities: chair rentals, snack bar, showers, sandpits, trampolines, and a floating platform with pool.
Pini beach (Lungolago dei Pini) | 15 min walk from Rocca | Facilities: bar, chair rental, showers, playground, floating platform with pool, and favored spot for windsurfing.
How to get to Riva del Garda
By Car: It takes about 4.5 hours from Ljubljana (2 hours from Venice, ~3 hours from Milan)
By Ferry: If you are in the south of Lake Garda you can take a ferry from Desenzano del Garda via Peschiera del Garda, Salò, Garda and Malcesine which takes about 2 hours.
By Train: If you are traveling by train you can take it to Rovereto and then the bus to Riva del Garda.
By Bus: Alternatively there are a lot of bus routes that can take you directly to Riva del Garda from Brescia (easily reached from Milan) and from Verona (easily reached from Venice).
Where to Stay in Riva del Garda
There are no shortage of attractive places to stay in Riva del Garda. Here are a few hand-selected options for every budget.
$$$ Hotel Villa Enrica | A private deck with hot tub and personal views of Lake Garda? Yes please.
$$ Hotel Luise | A travel themed hotel with free bike rentals to get you around Lake Garda. (I am not a huge hotel person – but I loved my stay here!)
$ Romantic Terrace (Airbnb) |
Goodbye and Thanks!
Or as they say in Italy ciao e grazie! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. I hope that some of it was useful or interesting to read. As I am going through my hard drive I have a lot more Italy-based content coming your way this year. If you have any other suggestions for our readers leave a comment below and don’t be shy to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and say hello!