Spending a Wonderful Day at Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda

Nestled between the mountains and having the prime position on the north end of Lago di Garda, Riva del Garda is a beautiful town to visit. Known as a busy Italian tourist destination in the summer, it is where you can partake in numerous water sports. Riva del Garda can also be a quiet relaxing day trip from anywhere in the Trentino area.

Riva del Garda

Day Trip from TrentoColorful buildings in Riva del Garda

As I was in Trento for the week for a travel conference, my ‘friend’ wanted to take me on a couple of day trips around the Trentino region. One of these trips was to Riva del Garda. I didn’t know much about the town before I got there and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Which led to a fantastic day by the lake!

How to Get to Riva del GardaHeading into the town of Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda is easy to travel to by car or by bus.  From whatever direction you come from whether it is the North/South motorway from Austria and Verona or the East/West motorway from Milan and Venice it won’t take too long to reach the north end of Lake Garda. I took public transportation and hopped on a bus from Trento with my Trentino Guest Card. From Trento, it took less than an hour and a half to reach the town.

Walking Around TownBoulevard in Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda is a walking town as in everything can be reached fairly quickly. From the bus station, town square, ferry launch, and the marina it only takes minutes to walk everywhere. Plus, the two main things to see are close by each other, Torre Apponale and the MAG (Museum Alto Garda). I always love to walk around a town first to get a feel for it, and this town was no exception. I love the color of the Italian buildings mixed in with the medieval gates that are still present. Also, you can even find Roma ruins preserved within the town.

Churches in Riva del GardaChiesa di S. Maria Inviolata

One of the things I love to do when I’m traveling is to visit churches, especially in Europe. Although I try to go inside them to get the whole feel of the church since I only had one day to see the whole town I didn’t get inside these. But, I did get some exterior shots to remind me to go back and get them on my next trip to the lake. The churches to see are Chiesa di S. Maria Inviolata, Parrocchia di Santa Maria Assunta, and the Santa Maria Assunta Church. Parrocchia di Santa Maria AssuntaThe Santa Maria Assunta Church

Torre ApponaleTorre Apponale in Riva del Garda

The Apponale Tower is one of the must-see tourist attractions to visit while you are here at Lake Garda. This is the tallest tower within the city where you can capture some fantastic views after climbing 165 steps to the top. Built-in the beginning of the 1200s, it was situated so, they could control the port and look towards Ponale. This clock-tower, once it lost its strategic defensive function, switch to being a prison. I don’t know quite how that was carried out though since it is really tight in the tower. You’ll have to see and judge for yourself.  Admission is 2€ but is free with the Trentino Guest Card. Open hours are from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.Staircase in Apponale Towertop of the Apponale Tower in Riva del Garda

Views from the Apponale TowerPanoramic view of Riva del Garda from Apponale Tower

The views from the top of the Apponale Tower are genuinely amazing. The color of the Italian rooftops against the mountain background is such a good contrast. It is so neat to see and experience this city from above. Plus, you never know what you will see on rooftops, Barbie might even show up to the party.View of Riva del Garda from Apponale TowerView from the top of Torre ApponaleBarbie doll sunning on a roof in Riva del Garda

Lake GardaHeather at Riva del Garda

Lago di Garda is the largest lake in Italy. When visiting, there are so many water activities for you to do. There is sailing, paddle boating, swimming, and windsurfing. You can also take the ferry across the lake if you have more time to enjoy the water. I spent some time relaxing at the top of the tower and was able to watch a myriad of boats, ferries, and sailboats on the lake. Ferry going across Lake GardaSailboats on Lago di GardaSailboat on Garda Lake

Museo Alto GardaMuseo Alto Garda

The MAG (Museum Alto Garda) holds so much history of Riva del Garda and is the other must-see activity for this town. I really enjoyed going through the exhibits on the three floors of this museum. The first floor had an exhibition called “The Form of Sport,” which detailed how sports in the area has evolved in the first half of the 20th century. I was even able to see the diving tower that was used in the past. Although no longer in use, you can see it standing proud in the marina.

The other floors have beautiful art from Italian artists. But, what I was most excited to see is the exhibits displaying photographs of the aftermath of what the world wars did to this area. I am fascinated with that time and how it affected the areas that I have been traveling. It is incredible to see how much has changed and what wasn’t updated after the devastation the wars brought to this region of the world. You can also climb the tower and get more photos from the rooftop of the museum. MAG‘s Admission is 5€ but is free with the Trentino Guest Card. Open hours are from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.Diving Tower at Spiaggia degli Olivi

Caffee del CentroCaffee del Centro in Riva del Garda

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants for your dining opportunities within Riva del Garda. I happened to be traveling with someone that enjoys walking around and seeing every option before choosing, which can make it a bit trying, especially when you are starving. After walking around what felt like the entire city, we finally stopped at a little cafe that was in an alley. The cafe didn’t look like much from the outside, but the owner’s smile was so infectious that it made the dining experience so much more enjoyable. It was like eating dinner at my Grandma’s house, warm and familiar. The pasta I had was delicious, and I even tried my very first espresso afterward. Not a big fan. But, I was in Italy, so I had to try it at least once. Dining tables at Caffee del Centro

Heather and owner of Caffee del Centro in Riva del Garda

MarinaSailboats docked in the marina in Riva del Garda

I always find peace by the water and this marina was very peaceful. We stayed here for a little while watching the sailboats come back into the harbor. The only part I didn’t like was when my ‘friend’ tried to throw me into the water. So not funny!

SummaryView of the bay in Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda is one of the places that you would never think to come and visit. But you should! I would love to come back here and spend a couple of days hiking in the surrounding mountains, chasing waterfalls, and just basking in the sun on the shores of this gorgeous lake. For an Italian tourist town, it didn’t feel that crazily crowded as other cities in Italy. Which makes Riva del Garda the perfect place for a relaxing getaway or even just a day trip to the lake. Come and enjoy the sun and water!

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Italy for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

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