10 Wonderful things to do in Trento Italy for first-time visitors
I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Trento. One of the most beautiful, authentic little city in Italy before until now. Let me show you 10 amazing things to do in Trento Italy, why this charming little city should be your next city break destination. Plus tips on how to get there, what to eat and where to stay.
When you think of Italy which cities come to mind? Rome, Venice Milan or Florence. Never to the North of Italy with its lesser known cities. Well, let me introduce you to Trento one of Italy’s most underrated cities.
Charming and compact, Trento, feels like a small town. It will impress you with its architectural wonders, stun you with the fantastic views of the famous Dolomites and seduce you with the rich flavours from the local cuisine. All sourced locally, of course.
Not only that, but Trento has something for every type of traveller with the Renaissance frescoes on buildings, the MUSE to Medieval castles from the 13th century for culture vultures.
For adventure travellers the slopes of the Alps await you. But that’s not all. There are the fresh waters of Lake Garda to dip your toes in and the Dolomites Mountains to scale.
Trento is a great city break option if you’re looking to venture off the beaten path. Dodge the tourist traps of Rome and the hoards of tourist that descend on Venice like a plague of locusts and subpar pasta.
I spent almost a week in Trento Italy and loved every moment of exploring this undiscovered Italian gem.
So, I thought I’d share with you what to do in Trento, Italy for first-time visitors.
Where is Trento Italy?
First, where is Trento? I heard you ask (because I will be honest — until I visited this charming little city, I didn’t know where it was either). Trento is the capital of the Trentino region and sits on the River Adige, in Northern Italy.
Trento lies in the Adige Valley and is surrounded by the Dolomite. I could see the views of the Dolomite from every street and they are just jaw smackingly gorgeous. It’s what I like to refer to as ‘vieeeeeeeeews’.
The Low Down on the History of Trento
Trento is located in the Adige River Valley and is the capital of the region and of the Autonomous Province of Trento.
Formerly a Celtic City, the Romans later conquered Trento in the first century BC. The name derives from Trent.
Which is a tribute to the Celtic god of the waters (because of the River Adige).
Formerly part of Austria and Austria-Hungary, it was given to Italy in 1919 after World War I.
You can still see the Austrian influences in building facades and some local dishes.
With almost 170,000 inhabitants, Trento is the third-largest city in the Alps and second largest in the Tyrol.
Trento has it all. Because of the city’s extensive history and involvement with influential rulers and empires, Trento has an abundance of stunning historical structures, fascinating lakes, galleries, beautiful museums and fantastic shopping opportunities for residents and visitors.
How to Get to Trento
I flew to Verona from London and then took a train (1-hour ride) to Trento Railway Station. There are no direct flights to Trento from London.
You can also fly into other cities like Milan (Bergamo) or Venice, then take the train to Trento.
Check the train ticket price from Verona to Trento as there are two different places you can buy your ticket at the Verona Train Station.
The information desk or the machines in the station terminal. Definitely buy your ticket from the machine. Not the information desk as they will try to sell you an expensive first-class ticket.
The economy is just as nice and much cheaper.
Trento Travel tip: Screenshot your train time and destination, as the destinations aren’t in Italian when shown on the announcement boards.
Don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding the train. You might think it’s not essential, but there is a conductor that wanders the train to check tickets.
Best things to do in Trento
Do a Walking Tour of Old Town of Trento
I always love to explore a new city by doing a walking tour to get a lay of the land. The Old Town of Trento is filled with historic and beautiful buildings but has a local atmosphere. Where all you’ll see are locals going about their daily lives, no tourists. Well except for me taking photos of the locals.
While Italy has many beautiful old towns. Trento’s colourful houses, painted frescoes, Cathedral, Piazza Duomo and the Neptune Fountain makes a walking tour through the Old Town especially euphoric.
Though the Old Town of Trento is small and compact, plan to spend half a day of your time in Trento exploring it to discover the heart of the city.
I was lucky enough to catch the Thursday market. Every Thursday the piazza in the Old Town hosts the weekly market, where stallholders sell items ranging from local food, oils and wines through to clothes and underwear!
It’s a tradition in most Italian cities, and Trento is no exception. It’s a great place to wander around for bargains if you’re in the shopping mood.
Piazza Del Duomo
Sitting in the heart of the old town — is the Piazza Duomo. A medieval square that was once a commercial, political and monumental hub of the city. The Piazza captured my interest at first sight.
I found the square to be buzzing with local activity.
This breathtaking square has a range of impressive structures, including the Duomo di San Vigilio, Casa Balduini, and the medieval Palazzo Pretorio.
Walking from any direction through the square. I would always end up in front of the Fountain of Neptune right at the centre of the square.
My favourite things to do in Trento was to people watch. Walking past the array of stunning architecture lining the square. I would settle in a corner of a café in the square for a coffee or a ‘Hugo’ and just to waste a few hours watching local life unfold in front of me.
Another thing to see in Trento is the Case Cazuffi – flanked by the famous Casa Rella.
These two medieval houses overlooking Piazza Duomo in Trento are famous for their complex cycle of 16th-century paintings.
The beautiful frescoes were created by the Italian painter Marcello Fogolino, who arrived as a fugitive in Trento in 1526.
The facade on the left-hand-side features scenes and characters from classical Greek mythology, with the bottom area displaying Damocles at the table of tyrant Dionysius, the top showing Opportunity and Nemesis, and Geryon and allegories of Fortune.
The paintings are not only steeped in history and mythology but are also well preserved.
There is no way you can pass these two houses by without taking at least 200 photos. I know I did. I wanted to capture the detailing and intricacy of the painting on the houses from every angle as they were so beautiful.
Castello Del Buonconsiglio Castle
Around 15 minutes walk from the main square is Castello Del Buonconsiglio. It is one of the top things to see in Trento and should not be missed.
I spent around 2 hours just roaming the castle grounds, and I also took a tour of the Castelvecchio, which includes Torre Aquila.
The Buonconsiglio Castle is easily the most important structure in the region as it was once the residence of the Prince-Bishops that ruled Trento in the 13th century.
Because of its age, they have added different design elements to the castle at various stages of its history.
One of the older parts of the castle is the medieval Castelvecchio, the Magno Palazzo added during the Renaissance period and the Giunta Albertiana wing, which was constructed in the Baroque age.
But there were two highlights for me visiting the Buonconsiglio Castle. One was visiting Torre Aquila.
A tower at the southern end of the Castello del Buonconsiglio with the frescoes of the twelve month cycle. Depicting both the pastimes of the nobles and the farmers who cultivated the fields, according to the changing seasons.
This is a masterpiece of Gothic art that takes us to the heart of courtly and peasant life in Trento at the end of the 14th century.
The second highlight was the views of the city from the balcony of the castle. I had to marvel at the amazing views stretching from the surrounding mountains past the valley.
The castle now hosts the Provincial Museum of Art, provincial monuments and collections.
But the Buonconsiglio Castle offers more than just striking views; you can stroll the gardens and even chill for a snack at the café.
Where: Via Bernardo Clesio, 5, 38122 Trento TN
Opening Hours: 10 am-6 pm, closed on Monday
Buonconsiglio Castle entry ticket price: €10 (plus €2 for Torre Aquila). Free with Trentino Guest Card.
Cable Car in Trento to Sardagna
Riding the cable car is another fantastic thing to do in Trento. It is about a 10 minute walk from the square to the cable car. I told you that Trento was compact and easily explored on foot.
Ok, so I’m going to be honest with you guys. This cable car is nothing new or fancy like the Emirates cable car in London or any super modern cable car that you have probably ridden.
The Trento to Sardagna cable car is old fashioned, but it gets the job done.
Which is to carry you from the valley to Sardagna for some epic panoramic views.
Taking the cable car from Trento to Sardagna is a great way to cap off your day in Trentino’s capital. It only takes about three minutes to move up the mountains gradually, so you can absorb the magnificent views of the city as well as the unfolding mountains on both sides.
If you have the Trentino Guest Card, you’d be allowed a free funicular ride; otherwise, you’ll have to pay a fee of €5 for a round-trip ticket.
Sardagna is about 600 meters above sea level. When travelling in the cable car, it will feel as though you’re going right into the mountains.
If you are a fan of adventures and sunset, this promises to be a fantastic trip, and you can even bring your own drinks along.
There is a viewing terrace that allows you panoramic views of the city in the valley below. So you can lap these up the views and get some tremendous awe-inspiring photos.
Trento Travel tips: The cable car runs from 7:00 am to 10:30 pm every day, and fares are included in your Trentino Guest Card. But are €5 without a guest card. This is one of the top Trento attractions.
MUSE Trento (Muse Della Science)
The Museum of Natural Science (MUSE) is a must-visit destination for visitors in Trento.
No, it is not the typical boring science museum. It’s fascinating, and this is coming from an actual scientist. The museum has several floors, with each level covering different topics.
To make your visit there more interesting, start on the underground floor. Where you get to discover the earliest pieces of evidence of life on earth, learn about DNA, and other fascinating sights.
The first to third floor covers topics on the prehistory, innovation and sustainability of the Alpine world, and the geology and biodiversity of the Dolomites Mountain range.
I told you this museum wasn’t dull, so if you are a little geek like me, fan out and relive all the things you learnt and experienced in your early science classes.
Address: Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza, 3, 38122 Trento TN
Opening Hours: 10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Friday: 10 am-7 pm Sat and Sun, closed on Monday
MUSE ticket price: €10 — free with Trentino Guest Card
Palazzo Delle Albere
Built-in Renaissance style, this fortified palace sits right in front of the MUSE and is one of the best places to visit in Trento.
The Palazzo Delle Albere was built in the 15th century by the prince-bishop Cristoforo Madruzzo.
Though the venue was severely damaged in the 18th century, it has now become home to temporary exhibitions after renovations. The stunning 16th-century frescoes on the walls of the first and second floors is one of its highlights for first-time visitors.
Address: Via Roberto da Sanseverino, 43, 38122 Trento TN, Italy
Opening Hours: Monday (closed), Friday - Thursday (10:00am - 6:00pm) and Saturday - Sunday (10:00am - 7:00pm).
Trento Cathedral (Basilica Duomo di San Vigilio )
The construction of Trento Cathedral started in 1212 by bishop Federico Vanga. The goal was to set up a new Duomo which would sit on the Basilica of San Vigilio in the undergrounds. You can’t miss the Basilica Duomo di San Vigilio in Trento as it dominates the small square of Trento’s Old Town.
Commissioned by Adamo d’Arogno, Trento Cathedral was built in a Romanesque-Lombard style and was the place where the decrees of the Council of Trent were issued between 1545 and 1563. Do not miss out on an adventure to visit the underground of the Trento Cathedral!
Cathedral Opening Hours: 6.30 am-12 pm, 2.30-8 pm every day. Visits are not allowed during celebrations.
The Gallerie di Piedicastello comprises the - Galleria nera [Black Gallery] and Galleria bianca [White Gallery].
An open and innovative cultural offering that showcases the history and memory of the city of Trento, Trentino and of the regional area corresponding to historical Tyrol.
The Galleries are located in the Piedicastello district, underneath Doss Trento. You can reach them in just a few minutes’ walks from the Old Town, the train station and the Muse.
They built the Tunnels in the 1970s to aid speedy travel in Trento, all the way from Verona to the Brenner Pass.
Where: Vicolo di Piedicastello, 24, 38122 Trento TN
Opening Hours: 9 am-6 pm, closed on Monday
Ticket price: depends on the exhibition
Day Trips from Trento Italy to Riva Del Garda on Lake Garda
From the state-of-the-art Museum of Natural Sciences and 13th-century castle to the historical Italian architecture, there are lots of things to do in Trento Italy.
However, if you are a lover of everything adventure, you’ll definitely want to try something outside the city. Then visit Riva Del Garda!
Riva Del Garda, which doubles as a tourist resort, has so many attractions that you can easily spend a few days there. Located at the northern end of Lake Garda, the town is the perfect base to head off to the mountains and lakes in search of adventures.
If you arrive in the town in the afternoon, one of the best ways to make the most of your time is to stroll alongside Rival Del Garda’s promenade.
In about 30 minutes, you can walk along the lake from the city centre down to the foot of Monte Brione at Forte San Niccolo.
If you are a keen cyclist then a ride to Torbole, should be high on your list of things to do.
Mornings are the perfect time to go swimming or spending some time in Riva Del Garda’s waters.
If you are going into the waters for a dip. Locals recommend Spiaggia Sabbioni – very close to the centre.
After hiking and swimming, you head back to Trento.
Try something new: learn how to sail or go on a sailing excursion around the Riva Del Garda Lake.
If something more relaxed appeals to you, stand-up paddle boarding is another excellent alternative. You can try paddle boarding on Lake Garda for a romantic and memorable experience.
Where to Eat in Trento - Restaurants in Trento Italy
No, one and I mean no one can visit any Italian City, without stuffing themselves full with pasta and wine. And Trento is no exception.
However, Trento is a little different as it has some German influences, and this also applies to Trento’s cuisine.
You’ll find canederli on all menus — these are the local version of Tyrolean knödel, bread dumplings with the addition of cheese and/or cured meat, cooked in broth (winter) or melted butter (summer).
Here are some of the best places to eat in Trento:
Pizzeria Al Duomo
Do you love pizza? Then you definitely cannot go wrong with a trip to Pizzeria Al Duomo. The pizza here is delicious and highly recommended.
Ristorante Orso Grigio Trento
Ristorante Osio Grigio is one of the finest dining locations you will find in Trento. This restaurant opened on the same day I visited it.
It is a great place to refill at lunchtime or dinner. I had the risotto, a rich and creamy vegetable flan, and ice cream mix with warm berries.
Green Tower Ristorante Pizzeria
Green Tower Ristorante Pizzeria is centrally located. It is a great place to enjoy quality regional cuisines at very reasonable prices. The wine is excellent, and the menu also includes foods from Southern Italy.
Gelato Shops - Cherry
No, you just can’t go to Italy without a taste of gelato. Not only is it a classic, but it is also cheap. Cherry is an excellent spot for gelato, and you’d find a lot of shops open late into the night.
Getting around Trento
Trentino Guest Card
If you are spending more than 2 days in Trento, download the Trentino Guest Card app on your phone. The Trentino Guest Card is more than just a tourist pass. It is the most convenient way to enjoy all of Trentino’s offerings.
The card not only gives you free entry into the natural parks, castles and leading museums but allows you to travel freely with public transport.
The Trentino Guest Card also allows visitors access to exclusive services such as tasting events, priority entry and guided tours.
Getting the Trentino Guest Card is simple. All you need to do is a book a minimum of two nights in a hotel in the city. At no additional costs, they can deliver the card to you in either paper or via the app.
Best Hotels in Trento, Italy
Grand Hotel Trento
Grand Hotel is strategically located next to the Trento Railway Station and Trento Tourist Office. It will especially appeal to visitors looking to explore Trento’s natural beauty, as Lake Caldonazzo is nearby.
In the heart of Trento’s historical centre, Hotel America is just a short walking distance from the Duomo and Castle Del Buonconsiglio. It is the ideal place to stay if you are a nature or art-loving tourist.
B&B La Malvasia
With an impressive terrace, garden and bikes, B&B La Malvasia offers comfort and style. Its excellent location means guests get to enjoy magnificent mountain views. Continental breakfast is also available for guests, and a bicycle rental service and a patio. Significant points of interest near B&B La Malvasia include the Buonconsiglio Castle and Piazza Duomo.
Airbnb in the City Center
If you are travelling as a group of them one of the many Airbnbs dotted around the city might be your best option.
The Trentino Guest Card is free and includes free entrance to many of the Trento tourist attractions mentioned in this list, plus free transport around Trento and surrounds. Check this post for more info!
Now you now What to see in Trento in this mini Trento travel guide.
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