Riva del Garda Italy | Exploring the area on foot

Our initial reason for visiting Lake Garda was to try one of the Via Ferrata hikes which are dotted around the surrounding mountains. You can read the story of our Via Ferrata hike here. We chose Riva Del Garda as our base as there seemed to be lots to do and it was stunningly beautiful which was absolutely spot on. So lets tell you a bit about our visit. We drove to Riva from Milan the road down the side of the lake is an amazing drive Narrow and twisting cut into the mountains through tunnels and sheer rock cliffs not to be missed.

Walking route - Riva del Garda
Walking route - Riva del Garda

Awesome things Riva del Garda has to offer

Via Ferrata

Hike Via Ferrata Cima Capi (909m) This was the main reason we chose Riva Del Garda as a base for the second part of our adventure. We were keen to try the Via Ferrata routes here in Italy. A “via ferrata” translates as “iron path” in English. It refers to metal rungs, ladders or permanently fixed safety wire as a means of crossing otherwise tricky and steep rocky terrain.

These were used in the First World War by the Italians as a supply route and are still in use today by outdoor enthusiasts like us. Full description and the story of our Via Ferrata experience can be found Here. The route is approx 8.2km but that doesn’t include walking from Riva or back again so probably add another five onto that. The Via Ferrata section is around five hours long so its a full days activity so best take enough snacks, lunch and water.

Chris on the Via Ferrata route
Chris on the Via Ferrata route

Camping at Riva del Garda 

As we were camping we chose to stay in the Campsite Brione. As well as having really good reviews it had a swimming pool and after the hustle and bustle of our time at Monza we were ready for a relaxing swim.

The campsite was quite big but being the end of the season it was fairly quiet. The showers and toilet facilities were one of the best we’ve had in Italy. Cleaned at regular intervals during the day. Quite modern with nice shower units and plenty of hot water. Would 100% recommend this site.

Riva del Garda from a high mountain path
Riva del Garda from a high mountain path

Hike the old Ponale Road to Lago di Ledro

The old Ponale Road hike takes you straight from the shores of Lake Garda at Riva down the side of the lake, then into the hills and up and over the pass which then leads down to Lago di Ledro. You pass through forest, small villages, fields of fruit and on route there is a spectacular waterfall. As you reach the lake you come across some Bronze Age dwellings. These dwellings were discovered when the lake was lowered to align with the power station. They are thought to be the best preserved and largest settlement throughout Europe.

At the lake there are restaurants, cafe’s and boats for hire. If you get there earlier in the day you can spend the whole day there as there’s a regular bus back to Riva which, I’ll be honest with you, we did take back. At lunch the restaurant we chose had Prosecco on tap so hiking back wasn’t really an option ! The buses are really frequent and the journey is approx 30 mins. For a few € its worth it. The walk is approx 13km from Riva to the lake and it took about 3hrs 30 mins. Check out more information on the route here.

Bronze age dwellings at the Lago di Ledro
Bronze age dwellings at the Lago di Ledro

Hike to the Chapel of Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara chapel is visible from the town of Riva del Garda and when we arrived in Riva on the first day we said, I wonder how you get up there. The church was built during the construction of the hydroelectrical plant in 1925 and it is dedicated to the patron saint of the miners. The pipes connect the Ledro lake to the Garda lake and the water is forced to the power plant for the production of the electricity.

The starting point of the trail is Monte Oro street in Riva del Garda, in the direction of the Bastione that it is easily reachable in 15-20 minutes walking along a paved road. Here the path starts rising and following the indications for the 404 trail you can reach the chapel in approximately 1 hour. The views from the Chapel and from some of the viewpoints on the way up are spectacular.

There are no facilities on this route so best take a picnic and plenty water. Oh and watch out for the wildlife, I saw a little snake on the way down just sitting there on the path.  For more information on the route click here

Lynne at the Chapel of Santa Barbara
Lynne at the Chapel of Santa Barbara

Our view

Riva del Garda and the area around is a fantastic base for walkers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts in general. Set on the shores of the biggest lake in Italy and surrounded by marked cycling and walking routes. If your new to Via Ferrata the hills around Riva have some easy routes to give you a taster.

Booking resources for your trip

Flights

You can compare cheap flights on the Expedia platform or here on the Aviasales website.  Both will give you a good idea of how much its going to cost you to get to your chosen destination.

Accommodation

We have always tended to use Booking.com having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.

Tours & Tickets

You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site.  Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.

For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.

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