17 Incredible Things To Do In Riva del Garda

The bustling lakefront town of Riva del Garda is situated north of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. Riva offers incredible outdoor activities, and if you’re looking to hike, this is the best town on the lake for it. I spent one month here, and it was one of the best months of my life. The weather, the hikes, the scenery, the food, and the people were all faultless.

I am sharing the best things to do in this ultimate destination.

I have created a shared map that has everywhere mentioned in this blog post. The map also includes where to eat, drink, and sleep.

Where to stay in Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda can become very expensive during the Spring and Summer months, I encourage you to check out Arco, just 3.5 miles (5 km) from Riva del Garda. It is a beautiful village, you can easily cycle, drive (10 minutes) or take a bus to Riva.

Here are some very nice hotels in Arco:

Pace 1954 Hotel has large spacious rooms with complimentary bikes
Hotel Garden Arco
River Inn Arco is a guesthouse with river views, some rooms even feature a kitchen
Hotel Garden Arco has an incredible outdoor pool with a mountain view

 

17 Best Things To Do In Riva del Garda

1. Cycle Lago di Ledro

Riva del Garda is a cyclist’s dream, with mixed terrain, incredible views and amazing weather, this 32-kilometre cycle is one of the best cycles in Riva. Peaking at 660 meters, on winding cliff edge paths, not only is this the most scenic cycle I’ve ever been on its also the most exciting.

Check out this handy map with the route.

2. Hike to Chapel Santa Barbara

Standing at 625 meters tall, Chapel Santa Barbara overlooks all of Riva del Garda and Lake Garda. Constructed in 1935 by miners, the church offers incredible views of the surrounding area. Hiking to Chapel Santa Barbara is one of the best things to do in Riva del Garda.

The hike itself is not too difficult, but proper shoes are advised as the limestone can be very slippery in some areas. Be cautious on your way down. It takes about 2.5 hours in total for a round trip. The path is shaded, but during the summer months, it can still get very hot regardless of the shade, so pack lots of water.

3. Hike Busatte – Tempesta – Sentiero Panoramico Loop from Riva del Garda

This incredible hike takes you along the ridge of Monte Brione at heights of 441 meters, offering breathtaking views of Lake Garda and the surrounding towns. The total distance is 5 kilometers each way, starting in Torbole and ending in Tempesta.

If you are arriving from Riva del Garda, you can take the B332 or 484 bus to Torbole. From Torbole, head to Busatte Adventure Park, where the panoramic loops start. Along the route, you will be walking on stairs and platforms bolted into the side of Monte Brione, enjoying views of the lake, Riva, and Torbole. Your final destination is Tempesta. You can either turn around and walk back, or take the bus. The entire hike takes approximately 4 hours and is one of the most adventurous and fun things to do in Riva del Garda.

4. Visit nearby towns

Although Riva del Garda has a lot to offer travellers it is close to some beautiful small towns on Lake Garda that I think you should visit. The below towns can be reached by bus or ferry.

Castelletto sul Garda 

Castelletto sul Garda means “little town on the lake”.

  • Visit the ruins of a 13th-century castle that is located on top of a hill.
  • Visit the well-preserved remains of the ancient Roman village Villa Romana di Castelletto. This village was believed to have been built in the 1st century AD
  •  The church Chiesa di San Zeno de l’Oselet is located below Mount Baldo, it offers a panoramic view of Castelletto sul Garda

Malcesine

Malcesine is a popular tourist town on the eastern shore of Lake Garda.

  • Visit the medieval clifftop castle – Castello Scaligero di Malcesine. Make sure to check out the panoramic views from the towers.
  • Wander the narrow town streets and explore the charming shops
  • Take the cable car to Monte Baldo
  • Eat in some beautiful restaurants. I recommend L’Artigiano dei Sapori for their delicious gelato, Taverna Dei Capitani for authentic Italian food in a relaxing environment, or Bar Pizzeria da Pedro for some of the best pizza you will eat during your trip

Limione

It may come as no surprise that the town of Limione is well known for its lemons, they are some of the best in the world.

  • learn about lemon cultivation at the lemon museum, aside from learning about lemons the museum is in a beautiful setting with views over Lake Garda
  • Visit the charming town, and make sure to try some lemon-inspired beverages such as fresh iced lemonade and the alcohol limoncello

Sirmione

Sirmione is a striking town on the southern shore of Lake Garda. The easiest way to get to Sirmione from Riva del Garda is by ferry, I recommend this boat trip that takes you to Sirmione and Bardolino.

  • Visit the 13th Century Scaliger Castle.
  • Visit a local spa to relax in a thermal bath. Sirmione was known as a spring of ancient water. Aquaria Thermal SPA is a popular choice amongst visitors.
  • Explore the charming old town.
  • Discover the local beaches – Jamaica Beach, Sirmione Beach, Spiaggia del Prete, Lido delle Bionde.
  • Take in the views at Tomelleri Public Park.

5. Hike Monte Baldo

I will be honest, I completely cheated on this hike. I spent the previous night in an Irish bar, and hiking in 35-degree heat was not something I could put myself through. Instead, I took two cable cars up the mountain, walked for 30 minutes, and then got a burger in one of the restaurants at the top. Following that I got the cable car down and got a supersized gelato. So I can’t talk about the intensity of the hike but the views at the top are incredible. You can get an exhilarating cable car ride to the top and then explore for hours. The views alone make this one of the best things to do in Riva del Garda.

6. Clock Tower / Torre Apponale

Dating back to the 13th century, the clock tower is situated in the main square of Riva del Garda. Climb the 165 steps for panoramic views of the town’s piazza. If you are at the top of the hour you will experience the loud chimes from the bell tower.

It only takes about 10 minutes to climb up and down, but it is one of the best views in Riva del Garda!

7. MAG Museo Alto Garda

The next thing to do in Riva del Garda is for the history buffs.

One of the best ways to learn about the history of Riva del Garda is by visiting MAG Museo Alto Garda. This museum is home to contemporary art and artefacts, this museum showcases both Italian and international artists through mediums such as paintings, sculptures and photography. I really enjoyed viewing historical paintings of Riva del Garda, and witnessing how much it has changed.

8. Reptiland

Need to keep the kids busy for an hour? Reptiland is full of scary snakes and spiders. Many snakes were very active some were eating and others were moving around their cage. There are some pretty cool snakes here and each cage offers a few facts about its inhabitants including which ones are toxic.

Albiet quite small, Reptiland is an interesting place to check out and earns its place on the list of the best things to do in Riva del Garda.

9. Eat traditional potato pancakes at Rostel

This unique and delicious meal is made from fried potatoes, choose between a rostel pizza or a sandwich. A simple, yet unforgettable things to do in Riva del Garda.

It is best enjoyed outside on a bench overlooking the lake.

10. Ride the funicular to the Bastione

Visible from Riva’s piazza is this unique glass funicular, needless to say, it does get hot in here during the summer months but the ride is fast so it is bearable. Once you reach the Bastione you will be rewarded with stunning views of Riva del Garda and you can explore the remains of the Bastione.

11. Relax on the beach

12. Go wind and kite surfing

This may just be the best thing to do in Riva del Garda for adventure seekers. Riva del Garda offers favourable conditions for wind and kitesurfing with daily guaranteed wind and a dramatic landscape, it is one of the top locations to practice this sport. The location for many surfing tournaments such as Torbole PWA World Cup.

There are many local surf schools and rental shops for beginners to more seasoned surfers.

13. Gardaland Amusement Park

Gardaland Resort is Italy’s number 1 amusement resort, comprising of Gardaland Amusement Park, Legoland Waterpark, Sealife Aquarium, and three themed hotels. It is operated by the same guys behind Alton Towers in the UK, Merlin Entertainments.

Located only 90 minutes from Riva Del Garda, this amusement park is one of the most fun day trips from Riva del Garda.

With a total of 32 rides, including seven roller coasters, Gardaland Amusement Park has something for thrill-seekers of all levels. My personal favourites are Fuga da Atlantide—the biggest log ride in the park, I Corsari: la vendetta del fantasma (a 4D ghost ship), and Flying Island (a spinning platform that takes you up very high, offering amazing views).

The major roller coasters are Blue Tornado, Raptor, Shaman, Oblivion, Kung Fu Panda Master, Mammut, and the kid-friendly Ortobruco. Other adrenaline-inducing rides include the Colorado boat (log ride), Space Vertigo, and the magic house.

If you prefer a more relaxed day instead of being turned upside down and spun around, don’t fret. There is still plenty you can do, such as the carousel, Flying Island, riding the monorail, trying the jungle rapids (which are not scary or fast), and experiencing the 4D rides Jumanji, ghost ship, and the 4D cinema.

Peppa Pig Land

Inside Gardaland amusement park is the fully themed Peppa Pig land, which no doubt the little ones will love. Peppa Pig Land has three rides, a colourful balloon ride, Pirate Island boat and Granddad Pig train ride. You can also tour Peppa Pigs house and meet Peppa herself.

Legoland Waterpark & Sealife

Located beside Gardaland Amusement Park are Legoland and Sealife. Entrance is not included in the Gardaland Tickets so you will need to buy additional tickets for this. Please note as per the official website adults can only enter Legoland if they are accompanying a child under the age of 14.

Legoland has 8 themed areas, one of which Miniland was built with over 4 million lego bricks and showcases all the beautiful sights of Italy. Other areas are Beach Party which is a large aqualplay area, Jungle Adventures where you find all the daring slides and Pirate Bay where the family can relax by the pool.

Sealife Aquarium has approximately 5000 species, 40 tanks and an ocean tunnel. You will see sharks, penguins, seals, seahorses and jellyfish.

Tickets Gardaland

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Getting to Gardaland

14. Boat Trip

This is definitely one of the most relaxing things to do in Riva del Garda.

15. Dolomites

Formed 230 years ago, the Dolomites are part of the Southern Limestone Alps. This UNESCO heritage site boasts heights of 3,000 metres with 18 dramatic peaks & deep narrow valleys. The highest mountain in the Dolomites is Marmolada at 3,340 meters. Home to diverse wildlife, from black bears, marmots, and deer to eagles and snakes, the Dolomites cover almost 142,000 hectares. The most popular areas are located in South Tyrol, Belluno and Trentino.

I highly recommend the tour, it was one of my favourite day trips from Riva del Garda.

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16. Venice

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17. Verona

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Is Riva del Garda worth visiting?

Yes, this beautiful and lively town has so much to do, from hiking, water sports, exploring neighbouring towns to eating some of the best food you will ever try … seriously!

The only negative side to visiting this town is that future holiday destinations will have a-lot to live up to.

How to get to Riva del Garda

Where to eat in Riva del Garda

Best time to visit Riva del Garda

Riva del Garda enjoys mild weather all year round. The best time to visit is during the summer months when it is dry and warm, however, due to the lakes and mountains it can get humid with a few thunderstorms. The peak tourist months are May – September, prices are much more expensive but there is a great atmosphere in the town.

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