If you are planning a weekend in Trentino then congratulations! You are going to have an epic trip to Italy!
Trentino wasn’t really on my radar until I attended a travel writing conference in Trento called Traverse. You can read more about Traverse here.
The very moment I arrived in Trento, I was smitten. Trentino is a stunning region of Italy and it’s capital Trento is the perfect base for exploring the wine regions, lakes and snow-capped mountains of Northern Italy. That is if you can tear yourself away from the charming old town of Trento with its castles, churches, gardens, cobbled streets and spectacular cable car views…
Spending a weekend in Trentino will not nearly be long enough to appreciate all that this wonderful region has on offer. But it will give you a good taste for Northern Italy and hopefully leave you wanting to come back and explore further afield.
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What you can expect from this article...
- 1 Where is Trentino?
- 2 Why you should plan a weekend in Trentino?
- 3 Things to do on a weekend in Trentino
- 3.1 Take a Hike to Lago Di Tret
- 3.2 Take a day trip to Bolzano
- 3.3 Take the Hydrotour Dolomiti at the Santa Massenza Hydro-Power Plant
- 3.4 Visit Lago Di Toblino
- 3.5 Visit Lake Garda
- 3.6 Try Tandem Paragliding
- 3.7 Visit a winery
- 3.8 Visit the Gorges of Ponte Alto
- 3.9 Go Skiing or Ski Boarding in winter in San Martino
- 4 Things to do on a weekend in Trento City
- 5 The Perfect Weekend Trentino Itinerary
- 6 The Trentino Guest Pass
- 7 Where to stay on a weekend in Trentino
- 8 The best places to eat and drink in Trentino
- 9 How to get to Trentino
- 10 Top Tips for visiting Trentino in a weekend
Where is Trentino?
Trentino is a region in northern Italy which borders with the tip of Lake Garda and is a gateway to the stunning Italian Dolomites Mountains. The region is packed with wineries, castles, old towns, mountainous and lake scenery offering lots of outdoors activities and fantastic hikes. Trentino deserves a place on any Northern Italy road trip!
Trento is the capital city of the region of Trentino with a population of 117K, home to the extremely beautiful Buonconsiglio Castle. The old town centre is compact and easy to walk around with quaint cobbled alleys, old churches with restored baroque architecture and parks brimming with colourful flowers. Just outside of town is a cable car which will afford you gorgeous views over the valley. I would recommend making this lovely city, Trento, your base for your weekend in Trentino.
Why you should plan a weekend in Trentino?
You may be wondering ‘Why Trentino?’
As I’ve already mentioned, Trentino hadn’t been on my personal radar before this year. I hadn’t even heard of it! Places like Tuscany, The Amalfi Coast and Sicily were all high on my Italy bucket list as I’m sure they are for many travellers. But Trentino had never leapt out at me. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there.
But now I find myself asking why it had never made it onto my radar before? How is it not equally as popular as Lake Garda, Venice or Cinque de Terre?!
Because Trentino is beautiful!
But not only is it beautiful but it’s friendly, affordable, uncrowded, authentic and there’s such a variety of things to do and places to see in this area. You will certainly not be bored on a weekend in Trentino! You are halfway between the Dolomites and Lake Garda so you will be indulged with some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern Italy.
There are so many places in Italy which have become overrun with tourists. It’s almost impossible to get good home cooked pasta without a hugely inflated price tag – lunch on Capri Island on the Amalfi Coast set me back a whopping €53!
Somehow, Trentino has escaped over tourism which has affected so many parts of Italy. The restaurants all serve delicious and affordable food – without exception! There are more locals than tourists and they smile at you as you walk by. You can afford a quality hotel room without needing to sell a kidney for the privilege.
Things to do on a weekend in Trentino
Take a Hike to Lago Di Tret
Suggested by Philipp Ammon of CapturingWanderlust.com
Hiking to Lago di Tret, an old wooden jetty invites hikers to take a dive into the cool, emerald meltwater of this hidden forest lake. While you might not feel up to joining the locals on a traditional winter-morning swim, a sunny Trentino day during the warmer seasons could offer the perfect atmosphere for a picnic and a refreshing dip in lake Tret.
You can find a place to park next to the Hotel Scoiattolo in Val di Non. Follow the 512 Mountain Trail marked by a red and white flag and signs reading “Al Lago” for a relaxed 30-40 min uphill walk. The trail is lined with rushing creeks and colourful wildflower meadows.
You may work up a sweat, but as with most things in Trentino, the effort is well worth the reward.
Take a day trip to Bolzano
Suggested by Kate of OurEscapeClause.com
Nestled in the Italian Dolomites and the capital of South Tyrol, a day trip to Bolzano is the perfect getaway from Trento!
Whether you want to pay a visit to the 5,000-year-old man Ötzi (yes, really!), stroll through Bolzano’s many colorful streets, hit up the delicious food markets, marvel at the frescoes at Castel Roncolo, or board a cable car that will whisk you away to one of the many small mountain villages in the region, Bolzano has something for you.
If you’re looking for epic views, try heading to Santa Maria Maddalena Church–and don’t forget to go for a wine tasting at one of the many nearby vineyards while you’re out there!
If you happen to be visiting the region in the winter, don’t forget to add a visit to Bolzano’s Christmas market onto your itinerary–as the home of the oldest Christmas market in Italy, there’s no better place in the country to experience a bit of festive cheer.
Take the Hydrotour Dolomiti at the Santa Massenza Hydro-Power Plant
You cannot fail to notice on your weekend in Trentino, just how many lakes and rivers there are. Trentino has tapped into that water source to create clean energy across the region and supply it nationally be creating Hydro electricity plants. They created huge tunnels under the mountains and funnelled water at high pressure and speed into power plants where the water is processed through huge turbines and is turned into clean electricity without any negative impact upon our environment. You can now learn all about how they do this by taking the Hydrotour Dolomiti.
Visit Lago Di Toblino
Take a leisurely stroll around this stunning lake admiring the Castel Toblino, this ideally situated castle. This is a great location for photographers for sunset and blue hour pictures. Here’s mine below! The great thing is that it can be accessed by a 5-10 minute walk which is great when there is not much light!
Visit Lake Garda
Ah Lake Garda, such a beautiful location. Although the lake is huge, you can get around it in one day if you start early. Stop off at the many beautiful villages including Sirmione with it’s charming lakeside castle complete with moat.
Try Tandem Paragliding
Suggested by Lucy of FarawayLucy.com
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at tandem paragliding, there is truly no better setting in which to do so than over Lake Idro. Boasting a view that is second-to-none across the majestic Chiese Valley, paragliding is a great opportunity to get a bird’s eye view over one of Italy’s most beautiful lakes.
Hop in the car which takes you up to the mountainous alpine pastures and soon you’ll be ready to fly! Whether you are after a relaxing ride or a more exhilarating experience, the friendly team at Trentino Adventures gear your flight towards what you want to get out of the experience.
While the time may seem to fly by (pun totally intended), the flight actually lasts around 20 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to soak up the scenery. The experience may set you back around £100 per person, but the views make it well worth every penny!
Visit a winery
Suggested by Andrea of HappyDaysTravelBlog.com
Cavit Winery, located just outside the city of Trento, is a cooperative of ten wineries
and their associated 4,500 individual growers. It was set up in 1950 and now employs 200 people and produces 60% of all Trentino wine. As well as supplying the home market, Cavit exports all over the world and is the leading Italian brand in the USA.
The main grapes used by Cavit are Müller Thurgau, Gewürtztraminer and Pinot
Grigio, but they also grow a small amount of the ancient variety, Nosiola. In 2018,
they produced just 6000 bottles of this delicious award-winning white wine, rich with walnut flavours. We were lucky enough to taste it during our visit.
Cavit also produce red wines, mainly Bordeaux blends, and, under their Altemasi
label, sparkling Trentodoc wines, the oldest appellation in Italy.
The winery is happy to arrange visits for groups of ten or more. Contact them by
email at least a month before ([email protected]). Individuals can visit the onsite shop for tastings and purchases. It is open Monday to Friday 9.30 – 12.30 and 2.30 –
6.45 and Saturday 10 – 12.30. I highly recommend you do – it was a highlight of my time in Trentino.
Visit the Gorges of Ponte Alto
Suggested by Toti and Alessia of ItalianTripAboad.com
For centuries the main objective of the inhabitants of Trento was to protect the city from the danger of flooding. The most important engineers in the World were working constantly on dyke, embankment and docks with the only plan to protect Trento.
That made the amazing Gorges of Ponte Alto, a deep canyon carved in the rocks by the river Farina over thousands of years. This is one of the best experiences to have in Trento and beyond.
Trekking along the valley, you can get close enough to the gorge to touch with your hands the cold flowing water, breathe the breeze of the spring water coming directly from the top of the mountains in the canyons. I had an amazing experience roaming between the vineyards of Trento Doc. An adventurous journey inside the thick forest and climbing down the difficult rocks while reaching the pool where the gorge flows.
Thanks to a group of passionate inhabitants and professional climbers I had the chance to get in deep into the gorge, an experience that will be forever in my mind.
Go Skiing or Ski Boarding in winter in San Martino
Suggested by Ania of TheTravellingTwins.com
We spent a winter holiday in San Martino skiing and snowboarding in the region of Trentino and we had a great time.
Our family was pretty new to snowsports, and with a total of 60 km of pistes, about half of which were graded blue, we had a fantastic choice. Slopes are wide and long, but beside skiing San Martino has lots of winter activities for everyone like guided snow rackets walks, snow mobiles etc.
The location is beautiful right up there at the top of the valley in the woodlands just before the Rolle Pass. We will never forget the sight of the evening sun on the pink rocks of the Dolomite peaks behind the town.
Talking of woodlands, the Violin Forest was a fascinating place to explore. Stradivari used timber from these trees for his instruments. Today you can go and see the beautiful landscape, spot wildlife and hear fascinating stories on a guided tour of the forest.
Things to do on a weekend in Trento City
There are so many things to do in Trento itself that you might be reluctant to leave the old city!
I’d consider starting with a walking tour to help orientate yourself. Here are some places you shouldn’t miss when you are in Trento;
This well-conserved castle dating back to 1239 has been lovingly restored. It was home to the Prince Bishops until 1802 and is one of the most important castles in the region. It is open to the public to browse between 9.30 AM and 5 PM. The hours are slightly altered in high season to 10-6. It costs €10 for entry and I’d recommend paying for an audio guide as I found it extremely informative. Please note it is currently closed on Mondays.
Take The Trento Cable Car
If you wan’t a great view of the city, head up the cable car which is free with your Trentino city card.
Visit the 3D Bronze Map of Trento to gather your bearings
Suggested by Larch of TheSilverNomad.co.uk
No matter how much you walk around a town or city and how well you know it, sometimes it is hard to envision just how it used to look many years ago. In Trento, on the right hand side of the Cattedrale di San Vigilio in Piazza Adamo d’Arogno, there is a 3D bronze representation of the city before the River Adige
was diverted round the city in 1850. The original bronze patina has mellowed over the years to a soft blue, though certain areas have been rubbed back to the bronze by many fingers.
The layout of Trento does not seem to have changed much in the last 160 years and you can trace the major buildings, duomo and palace around the city including, standing up on a bronze rock, the circular Cesare Battisti Mausoleum.
The main buildings are numbered and to the left side there is a key to tell you what each one is. However, for the visually impaired, next to the numbers on the map there is an explanation in Italian Braille, you may need an Italian speaker to translate!
Visit a brewery
Suggested by Aga of AMatterOfTaste.Me
Passion Brewery is a craft brewery located in an industrial area on the outskirts of Trento easily reachable by bus #17 from the city centre. Their small tap room, adjacent to the brewery is also extended to the outdoor area where food trucks appear in the afternoons.
The beer they produce will satisfy every taste. There are the usual craft-classics like IPA, APA, Session, Mild and Stout as well as limited, seasonal brews. Their inspiration comes from trendy American-style beers combining fruity and hoppy notes into beautifully balanced brews.
Passion Brewery’s beers have fun names like Holy Moly or Boom Boom Shakalaka which you won’t be able to order with a straight face (especially after you’ve had a few).
Stuff yourself silly with Italian food
The food in Trentino is delicious. A blend of alpine and Italian cuisine with influences from neighbouring Austria (think Apple strudel for breakfast and more cheese than an episode of ‘Glee.’) You’ll still find plenty of delicious pasta dishes and pizzerias as well as local specialities such as the Polenta with shitake mushrooms and local cheese.
Whilst you might be tempted by the Tiramisu on the menu, make sure you save money for gelato. There are so many gelateria shops, you’ll find it easy to get a sugar fix!
Wash down your meals with some local Trentodoc sparkling wine or the national cocktail, an Aperol Spritz. Be warned, they are stronger than they taste and I learnt that the hard way…
The Perfect Weekend Trentino Itinerary
If you’re arriving after work on Friday, take the opportunity to see the sunset over Trento and the surrounding valley by taking the cable car. There is a bar at the top where you can enjoy your first Aperol Spritz aperitif before returning to the town for dinner at one of the many fabulous restaurants.
For your first full day in Trentino, spend the morning exploring the town itself. Visit the Buonconsiglio castle, enjoy the pretty gardens, visit one of the museums, look inside the churches and enjoy the shops. In the late afternoon, head out to one of the many wineries in the area for a wine tour and some tastings. After another delicious meal in one of the recommended restaurants (see below,) if you still have energy left, pop along to Accademia, a very cool underground bar which stays open late.
Top tip! There is a 2nd bar called Accademia in Trento! Confusing. Here’s the address you need: Via dei Ventuno, 1, 38122
I’d recommend for the 2nd day of your weekend in Trentino, that you escape to the countryside and either explore the lakes or the mountains in this beautiful region. To the South, you have the stunning Lake Garda and to the North, you have the snow-capped Dolomites. Take the opportunity on your 2nd day to take a hike in the Dolomites or visit some smaller alpine villages and make the most of the wonderful scenery in this region during your 2 days in Trentino.
The Trentino Guest Pass
The Trentino Guest Pass allows free access to many attractions including over 60 museums and 20 castles. If you stay with any of the partnered hotels for more than 2 days, you will get given one for free. If you stay just one night, you can still get a reduced price card. Otherwise, it costs €40.
I’ve listed a few accommodation options which are eligible for the Trentino card below…
Where to stay on a weekend in Trentino
I’d recommend basing yourself in Trento for your weekend getaway. You will be spoilt for choice with the many restaurants and bars in the evening and it’s the most central place in the region so is well positioned for making lots of day trips. It also has good transport links including a train station making it easy to reach from other cities in Northern Italy.
I personally stayed at Casa Degli Orti, a little guesthouse in the perfect position, right on the edge of the old town in Trento. All of the cities best attractions were within a 10-minute walk and there were bars and restaurants right on my doorstep. Trento also felt very safe at night when I was walking back to my apartment.
The guesthouse itself was very comfortable and the owner, very accommodating. I stayed in a triple room with two girlfriends. We had a bathroom to ourselves but a shared kitchen area. There was free wifi and there is also included parking facilities nearby (though I did not have a car with me.) It was great value and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for budget accommodation in a central location!
Other Trento Accommodation you may want to consider
(All of which include free access to the Traverse Visitors Card – usually €40/week.)
Casa Lampone. If you’re on a really tight budget, Casa Mapone offers simple self-catered apartments just outside of Trento. There is a frequent bus which takes 10 minutes to reach the city centre and there is parking on site which is great if you have a hire car.
Agriturismo Locanda de l’Arguta. If you fancy staying on a farm yet also being close to the city, this is a great option. It has been rated very highly on booking.com scoring 9.2/10!
Best Western Hotel Adige. If you are looking for some rest & relaxation on your weekend in Trentino, then this mid-budget hotel with an indoor spa may be perfect. You can rest your weary legs in a jacuzzi after enjoying some hikes in beautiful Trentino!
Villa Madruzzo. For a 4 start hotel, this one is actually very affordable and offers some peace and quiet, being located 4km away from the city centre. It has both modern and vintage style rooms as well as an indoor swimming pool and outdoor spa.
The Grand Hotel. If you’re looking for a fancy hotel (which incidentally is still surprisingly affordable) that is closer to the action, choose this one. It is right on the edge of the old town, opposite the tourist information centre and train station. It can’t get more central than this. I spent some time in the hotel bar/lounge area with friends and I must agree, it’s pretty ‘grand!’
The best places to eat and drink in Trentino
Pretty much every meal I had in Trentino was fantastic!
But the same rule applies here to all places popular with tourists – the best restaurants are not found in the central piazzas but rather tucked away down alleys and side streets.
Here are a few of my favourite places where I ate in Trentino;
If you’re looking for fancy Italian A la ‘carte food, this place will suit perfectly. All the food was perfectly displayed and used some unusual ingredient combinations but it worked and was super tasty. Even the Asparagus flavoured ice cream…
I had the best pizza here and so went back a second time, this time sharing a steak and salad platter with a friend. It was incredibly tasty. Try and get a seat outside if you can but be aware this one gets busy even though it’s down an alley and not easily seen from the street – a sign of a great restaurant.
I never actually made it here (damn you hangover) but I heard nothing but praise for it by many of my friends. I even heard someone say it was the best pizza they’d had in Italy…
Serving up delicious local dishes, if you want to try something traditional which isn’t pasta or pizza, this is the place. I had a dish with polenta, mushrooms and a huge block of partially melted cheese!
This little restaurant is about as far removed from a tourist trap as it can be! The staff didn’t speak much English and it had a real family feel to it. The food was delicious but it did take us some time to translate the menu with google translate…
How to get to Trentino
Unfortunately, Trentino does not have its own airport which can make it tricky to get to. However, it’s most certainly worth the effort.
Since it is best to have a hire car so you can get out and explore the region, you could fly into a nearby city and hire a car from the airport. This would be the best way to get to Trento. The closest airport would be Verona with Venice being the second closest.
I’ve hired many cars in Italy and so far my best experience has been with Europcar. I’ve certainly had some other less favourable experiences with car hire companies in Europe! If you want to know what it’s like to drive a car in Italy, read about my experiences driving in Sicily!
If you are planning to travel by public transport, you will find regular direct trains and buses from Verona and Venice. You can find prices and timetables using the Rome2Rio website.
I travelled to Trento from Naples and then onto Florence and managed to find direct trains for both that didn’t involve any changes. They weren’t particularly frequent but there were more frequent options which involved one or two changes.
Top Tips for visiting Trentino in a weekend
- Hire a car – you will be able to visit many more places without relying on public transport.
- Stay in central Trento, preferably close to the Old Town so that everything is in close walking distance.
- Fly into Verona or Venice and drive to Trento from there. Alternatively train and buses are an option.
- Spend time in the beautiful city centre but make time to explore the countryside.
- Consider getting the Trentino Guest Card to get free access to many of the tourist attractions. This may be free if you are staying for 2 nights or more. Check with your hotel. Otherwise, it costs €40.
- The best restaurants are always found away from the main Piazza’s. Look for restaurants found down little alleys and away from the centre if you want tasty authentic Italian food.
- Eat Strudel for breakfast! Being so close to Austria, there is evidence of influence from the Alps including delicious Apple strudel wherever you go! (This got me quite excited!)
- For some of the best views of Trento, make sure you catch the Cable car or visit The Castle.
Hopefully, now you have more of an idea of how to make the most of your weekend in Trentino. Trento and the surrounding lakes, wineries and mountains will no doubt have you falling in love with the region and next time, returning for longer!
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