I’d never even heard of Trento nine months before I visited, let alone wanted to go there, but I’m very pleased I did. If you haven’t heard of it either, Trento is the capital city of Trentino in the Dolomites region of Italy. It’s barely one hour away from both Switzerland and Austrian borders so the place can feel more Alpine than Italian most of the time. And despite its compact size, there are plenty of awesome things to do in Trento on a day trip if you’re visiting the region.
I attended Traverse 2019 earlier in June, which is a content creators conference hosted by a different city every year. This year, it was Trento in Trentino. So a few of the activities in Trento I’m going to suggest and restaurants I ate at may have been included in my ticket price.
Like any other Italian city, the food in Trento is amazing, the gelato is amazing and the Duomos, cafés and streets are gorgeous. But it has a mountainous, outdoorsy feel too, you know? Let’s check out all the top things to do in Trento that you can see in one day!
Awesome Things to do in Trento in One Day Guide
Trentino Guest Card
If you’re planning to do a lot of activities in Trento and the surrounding areas, it’s definitely worth knowing about the Trentino guest card. It’s completely free, you just need to be staying in a participating hotel for at least two nights otherwise, the card is €40. The card comes in both paper and app form but the app is much easier to use on public transport. The paper/card version is a bit of a faff.
There are tonnes of perks included like free public transport, free or discounted entry to museums, castles and other attractions. I think the card itself lasts one week even if you’re not staying at the hotel for one a week, but double-check that. Because you can even use the Trentino guest card for attractions out of the region like the Verona Arena which is really helpful.
8 Things to see and do in Trento
1. Castello del Buonconsiglio
Visiting the Castello del Buonconsiglio is probably one of the main things to do in Trento. It’s an absolutely stunning 13th-century castle just on the outskirts of Trento’s main city centre. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of different eras and designs as parts of the castle have been added on over the years and I think that’s why it’s so interesting. But without a doubt, the best part of visiting Castello del Buonconsiglio is the bloody lovely view across the whole city to the mountains.
The castle is open 9:30-17:00 Tuesday-Sunday (closed Mondays) and the entrance fee without a card is €10. You might want to spend up to two hours here but I was definitely done after 90 minutes.
2. Piazza Dante
If you’re travelling to Trento via train, then Piazza Dante is one of the first places you’ll see in the city. It’s not the most impressive green space you’ll ever see, but it is free and worth taking a look in since you’re in the area.
Piazza Dante has a fountain and a statue of the main man, Dante, himself. What more could you possibly want from a small park?!
3. Take the cable car up to Sardagna
Definitely one of my favourite things to do in Trento! If the view from the top of Castello del Buonconsiglio isn’t enough for you, then the panoramic views of Trento from Sardagna are surely enough to satisfy you.
Take the cable car to Sardagna which is where the Busa Degli Orsi Panorama viewpoint so you can see over the entire city of Trento. Cable car journeys are roughly every half an hour but they’re quite small. So during peak times, you may have to wait for the next cable car. And I only spent 30 minutes at the viewpoint before catching the cable car back down which I thought was ample time to look out and take a few snaps. It was also enough time for the teenagers I took the cable car with to smoke cigarettes before travelling back down again…
There is apparently a little village up there about 15 minutes walk from the cable car if you fancy exploring further. Without a Trento card, the return journey is €5 but if you have the card then transport is free.
4. MUSE Science Museum
I didn’t visit the MUSE Science Museum but I hear it’s really great and a must-do in Trento if you have kids. They have a special sensory room for children under 6-years-old and their nature exhibits focus on the surrounding Dolomites region. It’s situated in the newest area of Trento in the Le Albere neighbourhood, which was planned by architect Renzo Piano. Aside from the amazing name, he’s possibly one of the most exciting architects working today and designed a lot of the key upgrades to Valletta, Malta’s capital city including their parliament building no less.
Again, entrance is free with the guest card but €10 for adults without. MUSE is open 10:00-18:00 Tuesday-Sunday and closed Mondays. Something tells me you probably shouldn’t be visiting Trento on a Monday, a lot of the top attractions are closed!
5. Piazza Duomo & the Fountain of Neptune
6. Cattedrale di San Vigilio & Museo Diocesano Tridentino
Funnily enough, Trento’s Cathedral AKA Duomo is situated within Piazza Duomo and it sometimes goes by its official title of Cattedrale di San Vigilio. Honestly, it’s one of the prettiest cathedrals I’ve ever seen. I love the colour of the stone and how it’s detailed without being over the top. The Duomo was first built around the 4th-century (though there have been many updates since) just outside of the original city walls. It’s open every day except Tuesdays from 10:00-12:00 and 14:30-17:30, and just 14:30-17:30 on Sundays.
The Duomo is also right next to the Museo Diocesano Tridentino and I think they’re part of the same complex. The museum houses a lot of artefacts like paintings, sculptures, tapestries and a lot of items found in an excavation under the Cathedral itself around 50 years ago. The opening hours are a bit all over the place: Monday-Saturday from 9:30-12:30 then 14:00-17:30, Sundays 10:00-13:00 and then 14:00-18:00. Oh, but the museum is closed Tuesdays so I guess Tuesday ain’t a great day to visit Trento either!
Admission is €2 for the Duomo and €7 for the Duomo and the museum.
7. Cesare Battisti Mausoleum
I didn’t visit the Cesare Battisti Mausoleum but it’s supposed to be one of the top things to do in Trento so here it is on the list! It’s across the river Adige in the Piedicastello neighbourhood on a little hill so another great view (I do love a good viewpoint). Funnily enough, the mausoleum houses the remains of a guy called Cesare Battisti, would you believe. He was an activist for the unification of Italy which included communities on the borders like Trentino and Trieste.
There is an exhibition about Battisti inside the structure, too. The mausoleum and museum is open 9:00-19:00 every day and I think the mausoleum is free to visit but I’m not sure about the exhibition.
8. Teatro Sociale
The Teatro Sociale won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like catching the odd opera every now and again, why not check out Teatro Sociale’s upcoming performance programme and see if there’s anything you’d like to watch?
Teatro Sociale is a gorgeous building and where the conference I attended was held. The rooms are so ornate and have clearly been well preserved despite a lot of contemporary updates. And the theatre itself is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. And they don’t just host touring operas but plays, musicians and dance performances, too.
9 Places to eat and drink in Trento
So I don’t expect you to be able to eat at nine different restaurants/bars/gelaterias in one day! But the nine I’ve listed are all great, so whichever gelateria/bar/restaurant you pick for your day trip to Trento will be a good one!
1. Il Gatto Gordo Bar
The first conference party was held at Il Gatto Gordo and it’s a really nice bar. It’s a great bar for aperitivo and their cocktails are very *extra* which is a plus for a hipster like me. I’m talking drinks served in actual coconuts and pineapples and we’re far away from a Thai beach where you might expect to be served drinks like that.
Il Gatto Gordo also serves gastropub food like stacked burgers and chicken wings.
2. La Gelateria
Hands down my favourite gelateria in Trento was La Gelateria, and I tried three different places. Eating gelato is an activity, right? If so then this is one of the top things to do in Trento by far. I think it’s the highest-rated gelateria in Trento so I clearly have good taste.
3. Uva e Menta Caffè
I didn’t get a chance to go to Uva e Menta but I really wish I did! Apparently it’s one of the best craft beer bars in Trento so I’m quite gutted. I think it’s a similar bar to Il Gatto Gordo but serves more traditional Italian food (pizza, pasta, etc., you know what Italian food looks like!). And its beer selection is better than it’s cocktail selection. It is a BrewPub after all so you’d expect the beer to be good!
4. Cherry Gelataria
Maybe the second-best gelateria in Trento (in my uneducated opinion) is Cherry Gelateria, but they still serve incredibly gelato. This is the place to visit if you want vegan gelato!
5. Ristorante al Vò
As a budget traveller, Ristorante al Vò isn’t normally a restaurant I would eat at but a three-course meal was included in my conference ticket price, and wow. It’s really bloody great food. So fresh and just one of the best meals I’ve ever had. If you have a bit more to spend on food in Trento then I’d definitely head here. And I don’t think it’s crazy expensive, just a little pricer than most restaurants in Trento. I had a vegetarian flan, lasagne and something that resembled a posh Jaffa cake and they were all so good.
Everyone at the conference who has food restrictions ate at Ristorante al Vò and the owner’s mother even made the vegan eaters special gelato for dessert! You can’t go wrong with a friendly family restaurant in Italy, can you?
6. GROM Gelato
The final gelateria in Trento I’m recommending, GROM Gelato. It’s only after I visited GROM that I found out it’s a chain gelateria. But it’s still really delicious gelato so I don’t think that should make any difference. It was still beautiful and actually, maybe a little cheaper than the others.
7. Green Tower Ristorante Pizzeria
Green Tower Ristorante Pizzeria was the other three-course meal included in my conference ticket price. If you’re looking for a Napoli-style pizzeria in Trento (which is hands-down my favourite kind) then Green Tower is for you. The vegetarian pastry for start was lovely and the chocolate mousse for dessert was also delish but the buffalo mozzarella pizza was the biggest delight. It was so soft, you cut open the cheese and it oozed like cream. Absolutely divine. 10/10 would wolf down again.
8. Antica Birreria Pedavena
We visited Antica Birreria Pedavena on the last night of the conference in Trento for essentially a beer and pizza closing party. Birreria Pedavena is a BrewPub that looks more like a German/Austrian beer hall than anything traditionally Italian. I think the food is decent and it’s a great place to take the family for a nice evening meal because they have so much space inside.
9. Hotel Aquila D’Oro
And finally, Hotel Aquila D’Oro‘s downstairs restaurant is a great choice for aperitivo and some lighter bites, which is exactly why we went there. After a wine tasting, we felt like we needed to soak up some of the wine with, erm, an Aperol spritz (or a ‘Hugo’ cocktail seems to be all the rage in Northern Italy right now!) and bruschetta for me. They had loads of other lighter meals (salads, flatbreads, etc.) and a great selection of cheap cocktails which makes for a very happy Becca.
Accommodation in Trento
You might like to stay in a different part of the region of Trentino outside of Trento itself. Which is totally fair enough as there are lots to see in the Dolomites region! Of course, one of the main advantages of staying at one of the hotels in Trento is that you might be given a Trentino guest card and all the benefits that go with it. Hotels are reasonable in Trento which is good because there isn’t much choice. Definitely no hostels in Trento, either.
Though I can totally see why families, in particular, would prefer to book one of the Airbnbs in Trento. Again, they’re also quite affordably priced (you can book entire apartments for just over £30 a night) and might be the way to go if you’ve hired a car to explore more of the region.
And those are all the cool things to do in Trento, Italy in just one day! Are you planning a trip to Trento in the Trentino region and the Dolomites? Let me know in the comments below!