A lively harbour town with a charming historic centre, Riva bridges the gap between the Italian Alps and the northern coast of Lake Garda.
Old meets new
Reminders of Riva's historic past pepper the town, from its 12th century fortress flanked by moats to the old Roman town walls. The town itself stretches along the harbour and spreads up to small streets that open onto piazzas with traditional pavement cafés and lots of fashionable boutique shops.
Walk east from the main town towards the village of Torbole, following the promenade that stretches for 3km along the lakeside. And while there, you can watch the colourful windsurfers speed across the lake - the surrounding mountains and narrow northern neck of the lake have produced great conditions for water sports, and Riva and Torbole are very popular with sailors. If you enjoy a hilly walk, there’s a scenic but steep path up to the picturesque Chapel of St Barbara, or a gentler walk to the Arco Castle.
Out and about
• Lakeside path
• Lake bathing
• Boat trips
• Guided mountain walks
Things to See and Do in Riva
Beaches in Riva
Riva has one of the largest pebble and grass beaches on the north of the lake. Both Pini beach, or Pine Beach, and Spiaggia Sabbioni are along the promenade in front of town. Facilities at both beaches include, bars and cafés, playgrounds, floating platforms, sun lounger rental and showers.
Head to Torbole
If you’re looking to try another beach, jump on a bike or walk along the promenade to Torbole. Al Cor and Lido Blu are pebble beaches and grass areas. With showers, toilets, snack bars and restaurants, you’ll be set for the day – especially if you rent a sun lounger, too. Torbole is known for its watersports – have a go or watch the pros, and the not-so-pros, out on the water.
Take a refreshing dip
The main inlet into Lake Garda is the Sarca River, located between Torbole and Riva. This fresh mountain water, the ban on private motor boats, and the lake depth in the north makes this area the clearest and purest it can be – great for a refreshing dip.
The best place to pick up a few bargains is the weekly market, which runs every Wednesday. Browse traditional Italian pottery and ceramics, high-quality leather goods, clothing, gifts and souvenirs to take home. While prices may not be as low as you expect, the products are really good quality.
Away from the lakefront, Riva has some excellent shops and boutiques. Riva’s Blue Garden Shopping Centre is open from 10am to 10pm, and has over 40 stores. Feel the Italian style at Piazza Italia or pick up some cosmetics from Wycon. Homewear and sports gear are just some of the other things available.
You don’t need to leave Riva to splash some cash on a few designer purchases. Stores such as Guess, Jack Wolfskin, Armani, United Colors of Benetton and Calvin Klein Jeans can all be found in the town. Many other brands are also available from the boutiques and shops around the streets of Riva.
Those who prefer a more laid-back evening can sit back in Cristallo's, in the harbour, and enjoy a spritz while watching the world go by. Cristallo's also has an excellent selection of homemade ice cream – get one to take away and stroll along the lakefront promenade.
Riva is one of the largest towns on Lake Garda and attracts many watersports fans, so it has a lively vibe and the bars and cafés often busy. Firework displays take place throughout the season and are a big draw for visitors. Speak to your rep to find out what’s happening during your holiday.
Riva is packed full of gelaterias that are perfect for an ice cream fix, and bars that are ideal for aperitivos and scenic nightcaps. Most eateries are in the open piazzas that are lined with pavement cafes, or along the lakeside promenade boasting beautiful views of the mountains.
Five pages of pizzas at Ristorante Bella Vista
Located on the lakefront is the intimate Ristorante Bella Vista. Along with the fantastic views of the lake and mountains, you have the option of regional, national and international dishes, including a five-page pizza menu.
Authentic Italian at Ristorante Leon d'Oro
You’ll find the Ristorante Leon d’Oro in the narrow alleys of Riva’s old town. The famous family-run restaurant has been owned by the Salvaneschis since 1938 and offers an extensive menu of regional and traditional Italian cuisine.
Homemade wine and olive oil at La Colombera
Positioned on the ground floor of a 16th century castle, La Colombera is known for producing its own wine and olive oil. You can sit on their outdoor patio, sheltered by overhanging vines, and enjoy traditional Trentino specialities cooked right in front of you.
Riva is a town of narrow, winding streets and open piazzas, surrounded by Roman town walls. The lakeside promenade runs for 3km all the way to neighbouring Torbole.
There’s an efficient system of steamers and hydrofoils that run north and south to most other towns on the lake. The ferry port in is the main square, Piazza 3 Novembre. If you’re planning on visiting Limone, Malcesine and Torbole in one day, the North Lake Hopper pass will save you some money.
The nearest stations are in Rovereto (approx 45 minutes by bus) and Peschiera. From both, you can catch trains to Venice (1.5-2.5 hours) and Verona (20 minutes – 1 hour), and trains from Peschiera also go to Milan (1 hour 10 minutes).
A regular service runs down the east shore to Peschiera (approx 2.5 hours), and another goes west to Desenzano (approx 2 hours). The main bus station is on Viale Trento, opposite the Hotel Astoria, but there are stops all along the main road in town.
The harbour town of Riva has a lovely mix of gentle strolls and challenging routes for all levels. Start by wandering around the small streets, through open piazzas and around the Roman town walls, before following the 3km lakeside promenade to Torbole. There are plenty of grassy areas for sunbathing and pavement cafés for a mid-route pick-me-up. If you’ve got a bit more energy, you can walk to the Bastione fortress or the archaeological area of San Giovanni-La-Pinza, or hike to the Chapel of St Barbara. Afterwards, stroll along the Sarca river to Arco and reward yourself with an ice cream.
Lakefront walk to Torbole
The ideal route to start with in Riva is the gentle walk along the lakefront promenade to the neighbouring town of Torbole. The path is nice and flat, so it’s easy enough for everyone to follow, and the scenery is spectacular – remember to bring your camera. The route takes about 45 minutes all in one, but there are plenty of places to stop along the way – from benches and grassy areas to pavement café and bars.
The ruins of Bastione
Visit the imposing ruins of Bastione and take in the stunning views over the rooftops of Riva and across Lake Garda. The well-maintained cobbled path leads out of town and up the mountainside. The walk only takes around 45 minutes but it’s mostly uphill so there are plenty of benches along the way for breaks. At the end, you can explore the Bastione and then sit outside the restaurant with an espresso and take in the views
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