Trento may not be among the first places to consider when planning a vacation to Northern Italy. But it’s worth adding this charming city to your Italy program for its off-beat charm, breathtaking scenery, and history-steeped sights. If you’re curious about what makes this place special or simply searching for the best things to do in Trento, this compact guide will get you started!
Before we go into the actual topic, here are some quick details you would like to know about Trento.
Where is Trento, Italy?
Trento is a city on Italy’s north-eastern side in the Alps and is the capital of the Italian province of the same name. Located over 200 meters above sea level, on the River Adige, Trento is about 586 kilometers from Rome, 225 kilometers from Milan, 215 kilometers from Venice, and 100 kilometers from Verona.
How to Get to Trento, Italy
- By Plane: Trento has no airport of its own, and the nearest ones are Bolzano (55 kilometers away), Verona (90 kilometers away), and Venice (165 kilometers away). There are convenient shuttle services available from these airports to the city.
- By Train: The city has a dedicated railway station in Piazza Dante, with frequent trains available to and from almost all the major cities across Italy. There are also train services for those visiting Trento from Austria and Germany.
- By Road: Trento is easily accessible via the A22 Brennero Motorway (for those traveling from the north) or the Valsugana Highway if you’re traveling from Venice. You can take the Gardesana Occidentale to enter the city from Brescia. Besides private vehicles, you can count on Flixbus for your travel to Trento.
The Best Time to Visit Trento, Italy
With pleasant weather, we prefer May and September as the best times to visit Trento. June to August means warm weather, and October and November are rainy. January is also the coldest month.
Where to Stay in Trento, Italy?
Trento has no lack of accommodations. Depending on your budget and the purpose of the visit, including skiing, honeymoon, sightseeing, etc., you can easily pick a hotel based on your specific requirements.
For instance, the Alp and Wellness Sport Hotel Panorama is ideal for a family holiday, while the Hotel Garni Laurina and the Hotel Caffe Centrale are suitable for budget travelers. The Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomiti in the Dolomites offers the ultimate comforts for luxury accommodations with indulgent amenities.
Top 20 Things to Do in Trento, Italy
Trento has so much to see and do for pretty much anyone. Whether hanging out at the spa as Rick enjoys or skiing as Andrea enjoys, there’s something for everyone. Assuming you’ve never been to the area before, here are some of our favorites.
Head to the Great Dolomites
The majestic Dolomites mountain ranges encompassing the country’s northern part are indescribable. And did we say that Trento and Bolzano serve as the gateway to exploring this natural phenomenon? It is declared a UNESCO Heritage Site due to its awe-inspiring natural beauty and historic and scientific prominence.
It is a dream spot for adventurists, culture lovers, nature enthusiasts, outdoorsy people, and photographers alike. You can take a cable car ride, go hiking, and even plan a picnic in its tranquil environment.
Visit the Basilica Duomo di S. Vigilio (the Cathedral of San Vigilio)
The Cathedral of San Vigilio scores a top spot on any list of Trento attractions. It’s a captivating Romanesque-Gothic cathedral devoted to Trento’s first bishop, Saint Vigilius.
This modest sand-colored structure is alluring inside and out and is especially striking for its rose windows, bell towers, and gray roof. With an eventful past dating back to the 4th century AD, it was the site of several ancient churches until the cathedral was built in the 13th century. It is also popular as the venue where the decrees of the Council of Trent were delivered in the 16th century.
Explore The Piazza Outside Duomo di Trento
Visiting this timeless, quadrangular square in the heart of the historical center is one of the best Trento things to do. It is the city’s main square. Tracing its origins back to medieval times, it comprises some of the region’s most celebrated sights, including the massive 18th-century Neptune Fountain, the Cathedral of San Vigilio, the Museo Diocesano Tridentino, and the Cazuffi-Rella Houses.
Everything here exudes a historic charm, including the only tree in the square, a lime tree planted in the early 19th century.
Given its inspiring settings and effervescent ambiance, it hosts plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it a perfect spot to enjoy a cup of Italian coffee and local pastries.
Discover Buonconsiglio Castle, One Of Trento’s Top Tourist Attractions
Once the residence of Trento’s prince bishops until the 18th century, this castle is now an unparalleled symbol of the region’s history.
Some of the most brilliant architects of the 13th century built the castle. And today, Buonconsiglio is one of the city’s oldest. This massive castle complex boasts an impressive repertoire of archeological finds representing diverse eras.
If you’re into art, you can admire the intricate paintings that grace its ceilings and immerse yourself in its interiors decorated with extravagant designs. You can even catch the best views of the city from its courtyards. Plus, it’s only about 10 minutes from the Grand Hotel Trento.
Admire the City Views on a Cable Car Ride
If you don’t want to miss the chance to appreciate the city from a privileged, sky-high perspective, include this activity in your Trento to-do list. All you need to do is take a cable car ride leading to Sardagna, perched at over 200 meters.
It promises a thrilling ride, starting at the station close to the Ponte Lorenzo Bridge. Another must-experience here is a hike up to the ancient Roman Road leading to the Parco delle Poze, which treats your eyes to the most breathtaking city views.
Whether you want to taste an authentic Italian cocktail or refresh yourself on the go, you should sip a Hugo cocktail or spritz! Since it is a low-alcohol drink, it is considered a sweeter and more revitalizing version of an Aperol spritz with ingredients like elderflower syrup (or lemon balm syrup), mint leaves, soda, and water.
This versatile prosecco-based drink is mostly served (to adults) with an appetizer and also makes a tasty accompaniment with pizzas, pasta, and seafood, among other Italian delights. Its alternative with green apple syrup is equally tantalizing. Hugo is not only popular in Italy but also in Austria and Germany.
Wander the Muse
Museo delle Scienze, more popularly known as Muse, is the city’s ultimate spot to excite and enlighten your senses. You’ll find exceptional and hands-on science exhibits sure to delight kids and adults alike.
The Muse is over 12,000 square meters large and boasts diverse themed zones across its seven floors. Some exhibits shed light on the evolution of Trento’s ecological splendors, avalanches, fossils, flora, and fauna.
The Museum opened in 2013. And, today, it is more than a science museum; it is an architectural marvel enriched by environmental-friendly features (drawing inspiration from the region’s mountains and slopes) and stunning designs by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the architect of the renowned Shard in London.
Ascend Ponte Alto’s Gorges and Waterfalls
Ascend Ponte is one of the top Trento places to visit in the summer. This marvelous spot is easily accessible on an exciting bike ride or a 30- to 40-minute walk from the city center. Immerse yourself in its lush surroundings as you witness two stunning waterfalls plummeting into a deep, narrow canyon, interestingly carved by the Fersina River over hundreds of thousands of years.
You can absorb this view from the dedicated viewing areas or take the steps (open only during the summer months) to reach here.
Visit the Tridentine Diocesan Museum
Located next to the San Vigilio Cathedral, this museum, locally known as Museo Diocesano, is housed within the antiquated Praetorian Palace, once the residence of Trento’s prince-bishops. Built in the early 20th century to honor the Diocese’s history and heritage, it also has on display some intriguing artifacts excavated from the cathedral premises during the 1960s and 1970s.
You can look forward to appreciating a spectrum of artistic, cultural, and historical gems spanning from the 11th to 19th centuries, ranging from inspiring paintings, manuscripts, and ancient wooden sculptures to Flemish tapestries, gorgeous art embroideries, prized goldsmith’s works, and winged altars. You will also find here the iconographic evidence signifying the Council of Trento.
Browse the Piazza di Fiera
This quadrangular square is one of the city’s age-old sights, being a segment of the medieval city walls. It has the Archbishop’s Palace to its east, the Vanghiane Walls to its north, and the Tower Madruzziano and St. Cross Gate’s cylindrical tower to its west. Once the venue of an animal market in ancient times, it is now a vibrant part of Trento’s nightlife, with several bars, shops, and dining options. That’s not all; it is the celebrated venue of the exuberant Christmas markets in the winter.
Relive Trento’s Past at Torre Tromba and Torre Verde, Museums in Trento
Trento stands out for its unique, classic towers, backed by the medieval past. Among them, one of the most striking is the 12th-century Torre Della Tromba, whose literal meaning is the Trumpet Tower. It was once the residence of the royal Buonmartino family and now stands as a reminder of the past, with its midday siren that reminisces about the tragic bombings and violence as part of the Second World War (WWII) in the city.
Finally, another must-see in this area is the Torre Verde, or Green Tower, which occupies the old city walls and is instantly recognizable for its emerald green roof. A walking tour is probably all you need to see in one day.
Unwind in Piazza Dante
Looking for a green picnic spot in the city? Head out to Piazza Dante, the city’s biggest park. There, you’ll find the park is strategically close to the main Trento train station. It’s also near the Church of San Lorenzo and the Palazzo della Provincia. Indeed, this park is a fantastic place to wind down, soak up the laid-back ambiance, and mostly take in a serene lake with swans.
Beyond its awe-inspiring settings, it is a historic point of interest, featuring a monument to the well-known Italian poet Dante Alighieri (whose tomb is in Ravenna), which dates back to the late 19th century, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled the region.
Check Out the Cesare Battisti Mausoleum
Cesare Battisti was one of the eminent personalities of Trentino politics between the 19th and 20th centuries. You can pay respect to this national hero and Italian irredentist who was executed in the early 20th century by visiting his mausoleum. There, you will find Cesare Battisti’s mortal remains in a sacellum in the middle of the mausoleum.
Built on the Doss Trento Hill facing the city, it deserves a visit for its serene ambiance, mind-blowing greens, and, most of all, the astonishing Roman-inspired circular architecture, containing 16 columns and topped by a marble crown.
Marvel at the Pyramids of Segonzano
It is one of the Trento attractions that will surely blow you away. Located about 25 kilometers from the city in the Valle di Cembra valley in the Segonzano Municipality, it is a cluster of pyramid-like pinnacled rock formations resulting from over 50,000 years of natural forces, which is as early as the Ice Age.
There, you will encounter diverse types of pyramids, mainly the spiked pyramids (without a caprock) and the ribbed pyramids, which present a pointed appearance. The thick layer of leaves and moss that thrive at the pyramids’ base minimizes water erosion. The best thing is that this astonishing sight with natural pinnacles and crests is open year-round and easily accessible.
Absorb Lake Toblino’s Magnificence
A quick 15-kilometer drive towards the west from Trento will lead you to this magnificent lake in the Valley of Lakes (Valle dei Laghi). Set at an altitude of over 240 meters, it is a biotope and a protected area. Shrouded in myths and folklore, it has a surreal setting with a 16th-century castle at one of its major draws and is considered the home of fairies.
Also, you can explore the charming frescoes and the paintings of medieval-era musical instruments as you wander through the castle. And don’t miss out on the Wolkenstein Cellars and the segments dedicated to the pressing, drying, ripening, and processing grapes.
Add a Dose of Adventure with Via Ferrata
There are several ways to take in Trento’s unequaled exquisiteness. But if you want to sprinkle a liberal dose of fun and thrill into it, sign up for a “Via Ferrata” session. Translated as ‘Iron Path’ in English, it is an exciting climbing and hiking experience.
You will be provided a helmet, a lanyard, and carabiners that attach you to the harness. Despite its thrill aspect, it is a relatively safe activity. And don’t forget to bring warm clothes because it can get chilly!
On your adventure, you’ll experience Tibetan bridges, mountainous scenery, waterfalls, and streams while exploring the region’s natural beauty.
Walk Along the Val di Rabbi Bridge
Whether you’re traveling to Val di Rabbi, over 60 kilometers from Trento, in the summer or winter, this spot is truly a wonderland. If you are an adventurist, take to the suspended wooden bridge here, which is 60 meters high.
Not to mention, a 100-meter-long walk along this bridge is nothing short of a captivating and heart-racing session, as it offers the most spectacular views of its unmatched surroundings, including the Ragaiolo waterfall and stream that flows beneath the bridge.
This fascinating experience is ideal for all, from seasoned hikers and novices to even absolute first-timers, including little ones. That said, refrain from this activity if you are scared of heights.
Take a Slice of Trento’s Gastro Scene Home
If you’re a foodie like me, consider taking a cooking class in Trento.
For sure, cooking with a local allows you to get a sense of the regional Trentino dishes under the undivided guidance of a local expert chef. Also, it’s a great way to discover new ingredients and recipes while supporting and engaging with the local Italian community.
Take a Day Trip From Trento to Lake Garda and Riva del Garda
Did you know Italy’s largest and one of the most picturesque lakes is less than 80 kilometers south of Trento?
Riva del Garda is a town on Lake Garda famous for its mountains, refreshing alpine climate, soothing breeze, Mediterranean foliage, lakefront accommodations, and outdoor activities. This spot is also highly favored among adventurists, especially windsurfers.
Visit the Terme di Merano
The Terme di Merano is one of my favorite places to visit – and I think it should be on anyone’s first visit to Trento. The Terme is a spa open all year round and features 15 indoor pools. The last time we visited, we were there from open until close, moving from pool to pool to pool.
You can also use any of the 10 outdoor pools in the summer. Also, there’s a relaxing sauna with a beautiful outdoor area. Book a massage or wellness treatment in advance for a little more indulgence.
Participate in Winter Activities in and Outside Trento City
We think the best time to visit the city of Trento is in the winter, from December to February. With its snowy scenery and unrivaled wintry ambiance, it is nothing short of a playground for fantastic activities as varied as skiing, tobogganing, dog-sledding, and snowshoeing, to name a few.
Besides hitting the slopes and visiting the Dolomites, you can make the most of the region’s other winter-exclusive experiences:
- Browsing the Christmas markets,
- Enjoying a culinary dining experience at a local’s home,
- Trying ice skating in Piazza Duomo,
- Taking a wine tour, and
- Participating in the traditional Feast of Saint Antonio Abate (marked by delicious foods, endless drinks, and exciting music).
Important Things To Know Before Traveling to Trento, Italy
- Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa to enter Italy. You can apply for a Schengen visa online, as Italy is part of the Schengen Zone.
- Plan and book your accommodations, sightseeing tours, museum tickets, activities, etc., ahead of time to avoid last-minute hassles.
- Wear a comfy pair of non-slip shoes, particularly when you embark on a hiking tour or lake expedition.
What are the main attractions I shouldn’t miss on my brief Trento holiday?
Make sure you add the following attractions and experiences to your Trento bucket list; each of them is special in its own right:
- The Cathedral of Trento, the city’s largest cathedral and one of the most prominent national monuments
- Piazza Duomo, the quadrangular square dating back to the medieval era
- San Vigilio Cathedral, the city’s main Catholic church
- The Tridentine Diocesan Museum showcasing the Diocese’s artistic lineage
- The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, a Renaissance-style structure
- The Gianni Caproni Museum of Aeronautics, the country’s oldest aviation museum
- Giardino Botanico Alpino Viote, the city’s largest and oldest garden
- Ponte Alto Gorge, which is iconic for its magnificent waterfalls and striking landscape
- Castello Del Buonconsiglio, a fortified castle of the 13th century
Traveling to Trento, Italy FAQ
It is because this place has something for every taste. It is a haven for nature lovers, an ultimate hub for adventurists, and a gateway to discovering the region’s enlightening past. Remember to get a Trentino Guest Card! Public transportation is free with the Trentino Guest Card, and it can also make it easier to book rooms and other accommodations.
The summer is one of the best times to appreciate the region’s lush surroundings and further participate in many outdoor activities, such as swimming, canoeing, mountain biking, via ferrata hiking, and sailing, to name a few.
One of the best things about Trento’s mountains is that it turns into a snow wonderland in the winter, making it a paradise for skiers and lovers of other winter sports. Apart from these, check out the vibrant streets decorated with lights, and don’t miss out on the chance to shop at the traditional winter markets selling local merchandise like unique handicrafts.
It includes some traditional delicacies, such as Carne Salada, which has been the region’s favorite since the 15th century; Puzzone di Monea, a cheese prepared from raw whole cow milk; Schüttelbrot, a crunchy bread made using rye flour; Speck PGI, identifiable for its sweet and spicy taste; and Graukäse, a crumbly kind of cheese made from skimmed cow milk.
Trento undoubtedly offers something to delight every preference. We hope this article will help you plan and compile your Trento holiday. And, be sure to visit the smaller areas in this part of Italy, as the city and the attractions around Trento are some of the best places in the region.