Latest update: 8 May 2022
Outdoor fans have known it for a long time: the university city Trento makes the perfect home base to discover the Italian Alps, from South Tyrol to the Dolomites. Trento is hidden between majestic mountains, endless vineyards, and clear blue lakes and rivers: a gorgeous city where the word mass tourism has not (yet) made it to the dictionary.
Trento is located in the Trentino region. In Dutch, we sometimes say Trente instead of Trento. I think it sounds a lot more Italian with an ‘o’, doesn’t it? Trento is only 50 kilometers south of Austria. Many residents speak perfect German, and I recognize German and Italian influences in the architecture and food.
The city is located in a mountain valley. It doesn’t matter which way I look; the background is always a giant mountain. It feels like I am walking through a movie set, so picturesquely beautiful. Even the H&M building is very stately with pretty shutters.
Trento is a tranquil city. Maybe because people mainly use it as a base for the Alps and only come back at the end of the day? The center is small, yet I have plenty of space, and everything is within walking distance. Walking becomes a bit more challenging when you get out of the city center: the mountains are treacherously steep, even in the residential areas. If you live in Trento, you don’t need a gym; I’m training my calves and buttocks all the time (not unnoticed, but unintentionally).
First things first, arrange a Trentino Guest Card. You will get one if you book with one of the partner accommodations. If you stay elsewhere, you pay €40 at the tourist information point. The card gives you one week of:
- Free public transport throughout the region
- Free entry to museums, castles, and attractions
- Discounts on tastings and local products
- Discounts on another 60 activities
City walk in Trento
Start your stay in Trento with a city walk. This way, you immediately know your way around the city, and you get some fun facts and information about the city. A city walk takes you along the city’s most important places, such as the enormous cathedral, the castle, and many impressive, photogenic buildings. Almost every building has received a cheerful lick of paint.
Take the funicular for a top view of the city
At the edge of the center, I take the Sardagna cable car up. I am at the top in a few minutes, and when I get off, I immediately spot Bistrot Trento Alta. I will definitely be having an aperitivo here soon! But first, I’m going to go conquer a deep abyss with my fear of heights. From the viewing platform, you have a fantastic view of the city, but was it really necessary to build the floor out of bars that make you stare into the depths?
I shuffle over it step by step, clinging to the bars, and then run back and ask travel partner Patrick to take care of the photos. I feel more at home at the outdoor cafe Trento Alta with an Aperol Spritz or a Trentodoc, the fresh sparkling white wine from the region.
Visit the unfinished Duomo
Trento’s cathedral, Duomo di San Viglio, lacks a tower. The money literally ran out, and it was never built. I can’t get a nice picture of the cathedral, because there is a massive tent in the square. It is partly my own fault because a travel bloggers event is taking place in that tent, which is why I am in Trento in the first place. So I can’t complain.
There is a beautiful window in the shape of a rose on the front of the duomo. This is called the wheel of fortune. There is a huge fountain in front of the church in Piazza Duomo. This is the fountain of Neptune. Here, people like to meet each other and seek some relief on hot days.
Museum in a tunnel: The Galleries
Two former highway tunnels from the 1970s were closed to traffic in 2007 and replaced by new ones. The old tunnels have been transformed into a free museum. One tunnel is white and the other black: Galleria bianca and Galleria nera. The Piedicastello Galleries hosts changing exhibitions and sometimes even parties. You will find The Galleries near the station and the funicular.
Trento’s castle Castello del Buonconsiglio
On the edge of the historic center, on the edge of the mountains, is the Castello del Buonconsiglio. This is the main attraction of Trento. The foundation stone was laid in the 13th century, and it has been expanded ever since. Bishops, soldiers, and even prisoners lived there. It is now a museum with a beautiful garden.
You can easily spend a few hours at the Castello del Buonconsiglio. There are beautiful courtyards, unique wall and ceiling paintings, and art collections to admire. In addition, you have a beautiful view of the city at times.
I also take the audio tour to the Torre Aquila. This room has paintings of all months of the year. Each painting shows life at court in the Middle Ages in a particular month. It’s impressive, but the audio tour is taking forever and ever. Make it stop. Yes, I know: culture barbarian.
If you have the Trentino Guest Card, you can visit the castle for free. Otherwise, it will cost you a tenner.
Tip! Discover 5 fun day trips you can do from Trento.
The Ponte Alto waterfall and gorge
My favorite sight in Trento is the Orrido di Ponte Alto. Centuries ago, the Fersina river eroded a mountain into a deep gorge. Around 1500, the oldest waterworks in the world was built here to protect Trento against flooding. Several attempts had been made, but time and again, the water reached Trentino. With the 40 meter high waterfalls and the dam, a lasting solution finally came. The falls aren’t natural but man-made.
You can only visit Ponte Alto with a guide. That costs only 6 euros, or 4 euros with the Trentino Guest Card – you can book online here. The guide will take you along the falls into the ravine, and you may even stand behind one of the waterfalls. Always behind a fence, of course.
Fun fact: orrido means horrible. What’s so awful about these falls? The deafening sound. Other than that, they are stunning. Ponte Alto is a bit outside the center, so take the bus to get there.
Restaurants and Bars in Trento
There is plenty of choice in restaurants and bars in Trento. Fortunately, I have time on holiday for both an extensive dinner and an extensive lunch.
The Green Tower menu is a typical Italian and Austrian food mix: from pasta to apple strudels. The interior is a bit kitschy white with the wooden decoraction of an apres-ski hut. There is plenty of outdoor seating outside, very nice in the summer months. Green Tower does not serve culinary highlights, but it does guarantee good, tasty portions.
Pizzeria Uva e Menta
Pizzeria Uva e Menta is known for fantastic pizzas. There is a small raised terrace in front of the door. On a sunny day, you have to choose your spot strategically. Otherwise, you will melt away. Order an Italian specialty beer with your pizza; the service staff knows exactly which beer goes well with your pizza and even with your dessert!
Bar La Vie en Rose
I first walk past Bar La Vie en Rose a few times when it’s closed. It closes at 9 p.m. Very early for Italian standards. So I join in for lunch. It is a small place with small tables with homemade Italian dishes. The interior is attractive and full of vintage details. Bar La Vie en Rose is also a popular bar for a cocktail later in the afternoon.
Bar La Vie en Rose on Google Maps
One of the loveliest squares in Trento is the Piazza Mario Pasi. Here, you can sit comfortably while people-watching. The staff takes time for the guests, a little less for cleaning the tables. Bar Pasi serves good snacks during the aperitivo. So definitely order an Aperol Spritz or Trentodoc and relax. Bar Pasi serves good snacks during the aperitivo. So definitely order an Aperol Spritz or Trentodoc and relax.
Bar Pasi on Google Maps
Gelateria Cherry Trento
A rumor quickly spread among the visitors to Traverse. Before long, everyone was talking about Gelateria Cherry Trento. This would be the best ice cream shop in all of Trento. Now, I haven’t tried all the ice cream shops in Trento, but I can tell you that Cherry Trento never disappointed. Cherry Trento’s gelatos are really worth it.
Ristorante Al Vo
Ristorante Al Vo is one of the oldest restaurants in Trento. It’s a good but simple restaurant with hearty, rustic dishes. So expect a carpaccio on the menu, but one made of excellent meat. Or think of an authentic risotto, but with a local twist. The service staff is very helpful when you get lost in the Italian menu.
With so many Austrian influences in Italian Trento, you cannot avoid a bier garten. It is actually more of a colossal beer room with a maze of corridors and spaces. Don’t drink too many beers, because you are bound to get lost. We had one of the Traverse drinks here, and that was much fun; check the opening photo of the video below: cheers!
Birreiria Pedavena brews its own beer, so you eat between the huge brew kettles. Just simple pub food. Nice place for a simple meal and then one more beer. No, really, just one more. Ok, after this one.
Staying in Trento
If you would like a free Trentino Guest Card, book one of these accommodations. Otherwise, you will have to buy the Trentino Guest Card.
In 2020 there is, unfortunately, no hostel to be found in Trento. There are, however, several hotels and Airbnbs. I’m staying in an Airbnb in the mountains. Although within walking distance of the city center, the road up is quite challenging and quite dark in the evening. The hostess, Chiara, is accommodating. She no longer has my specific apartment for rent, but she still has the attic. It’s just as beautiful, and look at that view. Wow.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, check out the options on Booking.
How to get to Trento?
The more famous places in Italy, such as Verona, Bergamo, and Venice, have good train connections to Trento. Make sure to sit at the window as the view is truly breathtaking.
In many places, just outside the city center, you can park for free. However, be prepared for a slope test because the roads are very steep. If you still need to rent a car for your city trip to Trento, take a look at Sunny Cars: all-inclusive car rental and, in my experience, never a hassle.
More travel inspiration for Italy
Useful links for your Italy trip
- Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com or Book Depository. The latter has longer delivery times but is often cheaper.
- Flights. Be sure to check out Transavia, but do compare all your options! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Trains to Italy. Travel by train to Italy from the Netherlands with NS International.
- Local transport. Book busses and trains in Italy with Omio or Busbud.
- Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com, Natuurhuisje, and Airbnb. Or try BelVilla. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. For tours with locals, go to WithLocals or Hi,hi Guide. And for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
Try Tiqets for a 5% discount on museums and attractions with the coupon code KIMOPREIS22.
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? There are plenty of choices. For the Dutch, try: ANWB vakanties or Tui, Sawadee, Corendon or will you choose Vakantie Discounter?
Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, I might receive a small commission – at no extra costs to you of course!
First published: August 2020. Updated since!