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Lago di Ledro & Lago di Molveno: Your Perfect Dolce Vita Alpine Escape


Most people have heard of Lago di Garda, the stunning lake nestled in the Alps with its Mediterranean climate. But have you discovered Lago di Ledro and Lago di Molveno, just a stone’s throw away from their more famous neighbor?

If not, you’re in for a treat. A visit to Lake Ledro and Lake Molveno is your perfect Alpine escape.

Dolce Vita on the Sunny Side of the Alps: Palm Trees, Olive Oil and Mountain Views

The Trentino Region, home to these lakes, offers thrilling adventures like base jumping, via ferrata, and downhill mountain biking, all while never being far from a delicious Italian meal.

Arriving by train from Innsbruck at the quaint station of Mori, I am greeted by overcast skies. Standing under the station’s roof, I wait for my ride to the Ledro Valley. To my surprise, Gilda arrives in a cabriolet instead of the expected minivan, which is stuck in traffic. She offers me an exclusive transfer to the valley, and we leisurely drive up the serpentine curves to Ledro.

Exiting the tunnel, we are surrounded by lush green forests blanketing the mountains.

Views from the Ponale towards Riva del Garda.
Views from the Ponale towards Riva del Garda.

My first glimpse of Lago di Ledro is in the rain, alongside the Museo delle Palafitte. This museum allows visitors to step back in time and explore Bronze Age daily life through reconstructions and original remains of a pile-dwelling village (2200-1350 BC) found on the lake’s eastern shore, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.

Due to the pouring rain following weeks of sunshine, we head to my accommodation for the next two nights, the modern DA°EL°DA Natural Retreat Hotel. Silvia, the owner, warmly welcomes me, and I head to my room, which is charmingly designed with a unique window-shower visible from the bed.

Views from the DA°EL°DA Hotel in Trentino, Italy.
Views from the DA°EL°DA Hotel in Trentino, Italy.

I head down to meet my travel companions for this trip: Breanne from Root Adventures, Norman from Summer Feet Cycling, fellow journalist Kristen, and Paul from Baboo Travel. As more members of our group arrive, we gradually meet everyone.

Dinner at DA°EL°DA is a delightful feast featuring homemade gnocchi, mouth-watering homemade apple pie, and engaging conversations with both new and old friends.

Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni

Originally, we planned to go canyoning this morning, but due to the torrential rain the previous day, the river’s water level was too high to safely proceed. Fortunately, the Ledro Valley offers great alternatives.

Our guide, Jacopo from Trentino Climb, took us to the start of Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni. This classic and easy route allows you to climb above a small stream, past waterfalls, and through beautiful, narrow passages carved by water over thousands of years.

Signs - are you gonna hike or climb?! Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
Signs – are you gonna hike or climb?! Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
Above the water. Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Above the water. Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
Clip in! Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
Clip in! Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
Castello di Drena at the end of the Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
Castello di Drena at the end of the Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.

I love Via Ferratas as they provide a safe climbing experience, ideal for beginners and inexperienced climbers. Our group was all smiles after completing the first section, exhilarated by our accomplishment.

The second part of the route features two Tibetan bridges and ends at Castello di Drena, which is worth a visit if you have the time.

However, we had a lunch date at Hotel Ristorante Da Franco e Adriana on the shore of Lago di Ledro. Although I missed touring the castle, the delicious Napoletana pizza (made by a chef from Naples!) and Tiramisu more than made up for it!

Through the olive grove back to the start of the Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Through the olive grove back to the start of the Via Ferrata Ria Salagoni in Trentino, Italy.

Is Italian Food the Best?

As a food enthusiast, cuisine is often my primary motivation for travel, aside from the activities and views. At home, I mostly follow a vegan diet for environmental and ethical reasons.

However, during my travels, I find it more practical to be flexible with my dietary choices. I made this decision last year before traveling to Japan, realizing that enjoying local fish and dairy products would enhance my experience—after all, who could resist fresh sushi and soft serve?

Pizza Napoletana???? Ristorante Da Franco e Adriana in Trentino, Italy.
Pizza Napoletana???? Ristorante Da Franco e Adriana in Trentino, Italy.

Italian food alone is, in my opinion, a compelling reason to visit this beautiful country. The fact that you can enjoy an authentic Napoletana pizza in the middle of the mountains demonstrates that you don’t need to go to Naples for a mouth-watering pizza (although Naples is absolutely worth a visit!).

Italy offers much more than just pizza; I didn’t have a single bad meal. From delicious grilled cheese and polenta at a mountain hut with a view of the Brenta Dolomites to a Michelin-starred meal at Lago di Molveno, Italy excels in its culinary offerings.

Visiting Italy for the food is reason enough, and with all the activities we enjoyed on this trip, you won’t have to worry about gaining too much weight.

Risotto at Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie in Trentino, Italy.
Risotto at Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie in Trentino, Italy.
Michelin Star dessert at the Alpenresort Belvedere Hotel in Trentino, Italy.
Michelin Star dessert at the Alpenresort Belvedere Hotel in Trentino, Italy.

Pharmacy Lab Foletto’s Museum

Have you ever made your own crème? I hadn’t, so it was fascinating to try at the Pharmacy Lab Foletto’s Museum.

Adele and Lucia shared the history of the pharmacy in Pieve di Ledro with us, and after touring the brand-new museum, we headed to the terrace to start mixing our own crème. It was a delightful and fun experience, and the crème we made smelled amazing!

Pharmacy Lab Foletto's Museum in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Pharmacy Lab Foletto’s Museum in Trentino, Italy.
Making a crème at the Pharmacy Lab Foletto's Museum in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Making a crème at the Pharmacy Lab Foletto’s Museum in Trentino, Italy.

Onwards to Lake Garda via the Ponale Road

I could have happily stayed a few more days at the DA°EL°DA Natural Retreat Hotel, but it was time to move on to a new part of Trentino.

We picked up bikes from Trentino Climb and cycled around Lago di Ledro before heading through picturesque villages to the old Ponale Road. This route is world-famous for its stunning views over Italy’s largest lake.

The sun is shining in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
The sun is shining in Trentino, Italy.

We used eBikes for the journey, but regular bikes would have sufficed since the terrain was mostly downhill or flat.

Cycling down to Lago di Garda on a Saturday morning was quite busy, so if possible, try to visit on a weekday for a more relaxed experience. Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time. The charm of cycling through small villages and green forests, along gravel roads, and enjoying the majestic views outweighs the congestion any day.

Reaching the old Ponale Road was exhilarating as the scenery opened up, revealing a panorama of Riva del Garda, sailboats on the lake, hidden hiking trails winding up the mountains, and the road ahead. The sunny weather added to the beauty, and the photos capture the allure that will make anyone want to visit.

Cycling along Lago di Ledro in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Cycling along Lago di Ledro in Trentino, Italy.
Downhill towards the Ponale Road in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Downhill towards the Ponale Road in Trentino, Italy.
Great cycling in Trentino, Italy.
Great cycling in Trentino, Italy.
Expect great views when cycling in Trentino, Italy.
Expect great views when cycling in Trentino, Italy.

We cycled along the shore and through the medieval town of Riva del Garda, continuing to Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie.

Though I didn’t think I was very hungry after our downhill ride, the delectable meal at Madonna delle Vittorie changed that. From a beautiful starter to the tastiest risotto and a heavenly panna cotta, I savored every bite.

I’d return just for that meal!

Olive trees at Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Olive trees at Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Pannacotta at Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie in Trentino, Italy.
Pannacotta at Agritur Madonna delle Vittorie in Trentino, Italy.

After the sumptuous meal, we wandered through the olive groves and toured the production facilities where their most exquisite olive oil is made. I couldn’t resist buying a bottle to take home and share a taste of Italy with my family!

Lago di Molveno and the Brenta Dolomites

It was time to explore another corner of the Trentino Region, so we took a bus up into the mountains to Molveno, situated on the shore of its namesake lake, with the imposing Brenta Dolomites as a backdrop.

We stayed at the Alpenresort Belvedere Hotel, conveniently located near the town center and just a five-minute stroll from the lake. In my free time, I walked down to the shore, and the breathtaking views of the Brenta Dolomites made me eager to venture into the mountains immediately.

Lake Molveno in the afternoon.
Lake Molveno in the afternoon.

For dinner, we ascended the mountain in an old 4-wheel bus to Rifugio La Montanara, which boasts one of the best locations a hotel and restaurant can have. It offers stunning views of the Brenta Dolomites and sublime vistas of Lago di Molveno. It’s a dream location for photographers and hikers, and our group spent a good amount of time soaking in the gorgeous dusk light.

The food at the Rifugio was remarkable, but I kept being drawn outside to capture photos of the stars and wispy clouds over the beautiful mountain range.

Dusk views from the Rifugio La Montanara in Trentino, Italy.
©Hendrik-Morkel
Dusk views from the Rifugio La Montanara in Trentino, Italy.
The Brenta Dolomites at night.
The Brenta Dolomites at night.

Excitement and Relaxation: Forest Bathing and Downhill MTB

Since I learned downhill mountain biking in Åre six years ago, I’ve made it a point to go at least once a year. I was thrilled to get an early start this season at Paganella Bikepark.

Our expert guides, Davide and Luigi from the Paganella Bike Academy, equipped us with full-suspension bikes and gear from the Danger Zone Shop at the gondola station. We then where divided into two groups, and the Beginners went with Luigi to learn the basics while our more advanced group headed straight to the top of the mountain and the first trail!

BEAR Trails in Trentino, Italy.
BEAR Trails in Trentino, Italy.
Davide enjoying the Big Hero trail at the Paganella Bikepark in Trentino, Italy.
Davide enjoying the Big Hero trail at the Paganella Bikepark in Trentino, Italy.

Riding with Luigi and Davide was an absolute blast, and I can’t recommend them enough.

Our group tackled three trails – Big Hero, Blade Runner, and Matrix – in the Molveno section of the bike park, and we had an incredible time. The trails were in excellent condition, and even on a Sunday, there weren’t many other riders. Lunch with a view at the gondola exit was fantastic.

Unfortunately, this thrilling part of the day ended too quickly – I would have loved to explore the other sections of the bike park!

Great jumps at the downhill tracks at the Paganella Bikepark.
Great jumps at the downhill tracks at the Paganella Bikepark.
Nice turns at the Paganella Bikepark in Trentino, Italy.
Nice turns at the Paganella Bikepark in Trentino, Italy.

In the afternoon, I swapped my cycling gear for hiking attire as we headed for a forest bathing session at Parco del Respiro, one of Europe’s first therapeutic parks. I am a big fan of Shinrin Yoku, as it’s called in Japan, and try to practice it daily at home.

However, this experience was exceptional. Our guide, Stefania, was outstanding, enhancing our experience with her knowledge, calm demeanor, and guided meditation. She managed to keep our entire group silent throughout the forest bathing experience and impressed us with her deep knowledge of the surrounding forest and Shinrin Yoku.

Forest bathing and meditating at Parco del Respiro in Trentino, Italy.
Forest bathing and meditating at Parco del Respiro in Trentino, Italy.

You don’t need a guide to enjoy Parco del Respiro – you can explore it on your own, with informational boards at each station explaining what you can do.

If you’re in the area and looking to relax, this is definitely the place to be!

Lush green surroundings in the Parco del Respiro in Trentino, Italy.
Lush green surroundings in the Parco del Respiro in Trentino, Italy.

In Vino Veritas

The next day was, unfortunately, our last in Trentino.

After a delightful breakfast, we headed to Mezzolombardo to visit the DE VIGILI winery. Nestled in the Piana Rotaliana valley, often called Europe’s most beautiful vineyard, the scenery was breathtaking. Surrounded by towering rock walls and endless rows of grapevines, the view was truly mesmerizing.

Who wouldn't want to have lunch here?! The DE VIGILI winery in Mezzolombardo, Italy.
Who wouldn’t want to have lunch here?! The DE VIGILI winery in Mezzolombardo, Italy.

Luca, a young wine grower, gave us a tour of the De Vigili vineyard, which is part of the 400 hectares of vineyards in the valley. We strolled among the grapes to the turquoise waters of the River Noce and admired the works of artist Paolo Colombini.

Naturally, we enjoyed a glass of wine while sitting in the shade of the grapevines.

Art by Paolo Colombini among the grapes and beautiful surroundings at the De Vigili vineyard in Trentino, Italy.
Art by Paolo Colombini among the grapes and beautiful surroundings at the De Vigili vineyard in Trentino, Italy.
Wine and mountains in Trentino, Italy.
Wine and mountains in Trentino, Italy.

And so, with a glass of exquisite local wine, we toasted to the fantastic days we spent together before heading onwards to new adventures!

Salute! Wine drinking in Trentino.
Salute! Wine drinking in Trentino.

Practicalities: Getting Around, Eating and Sleeping in Trentino

If you are living in Europe you can take the train to Trentino, and get around in the Region with the Trentino Card and local transportation. This is the most environmentally friendly option, though if you don’t live in Europe, you can fly either into Milan, Venice or Verona – find the best connections from your home airport via Trip.com.

If you’d like to be more flexible get a rental car.

Be aware that in the high season – June to August – the Region around Lago di Garda is VERY popular and you want to avoid it if at all possible. The Shoulder Seasons – April through June, as well as September and October, are much more calm, still warm and allow you to explore the region without standing in traffic or needing to wait in line at a Café or Restaurant.

Beach views in Riva del Garda in Trentino, Italy.
Beach views in Riva del Garda in Trentino, Italy.

We stayed during our visit at the DA°EL°DA natural retreat Hotel in the Ledro Valley. This is a small boutique hotel in a great location, and you can start your hikes from the front door. I loved the breakfast here, it made for a tasty and healthy start into the day!

The village of Concei in the Ledro Valley in Trentino, Italy.
The village of Concei in the Ledro Valley in Trentino, Italy.

The Alpenresort Belvedere Hotel in Molveno had spacious rooms and great views on the lake and mountains. Breakfast was delicious and the Spa area with different Saunas and Steam Rooms very enjoyable – perfect after an adventurous day! 

Lago die Molveno and a part of town, together with the cloudy Brenta Dolomites in Trentino, Italy.
Lago die Molveno and a part of town, together with the cloudy Brenta Dolomites in Trentino, Italy.

If you want to have the most extraordinary views and wake up in the mountains, you should stay at the newly renovated Rifugio La Montanara. The rooms look amazing and the food is outstanding, and being able to starting to hike or bike from the front door is definitely a big plus! 

Altiplano Pradel in Trentino, Italy.
Altiplano Pradel in Trentino, Italy.

As I philosophically waxed earlier – you probably won’t have a bad meal in Italy. Everywhere we ate in Trentino we had delicious, often local food, with a good glass of wine (or apple juice, in my case!).

Visit any of the Restaurants mentioned in the story for a fantastic meal, or try another one which takes your fancy! 

Coming from outside of Europe and want to avoid horrendous roaming charges? Get an eSim from Airalo. It works a treat and allows you to use Google Maps, Translate and everything else for as little as 3$/ GB. I recommend their 5 GB Package if you stay less than two weeks, and then simply top-up your account as needed.

You need a guide? Jacopo from Trentino Climb is a UIAGM Mountain Guide and can take you and the family canyoning, climbing and up any Via Ferrata in the area. For Downhill Mountainbiking you’re in great hands with Davide and his expert Guides from the Paganella Bike Academy, even if you never a Downhill trail in your life. Want to go hiking and have an expert along? Contact Roberto Genovese and let him guide you! 

View more photos on Flickr!

Jacopo from Trentino Climb in Trentino, Italy.
Jacopo from Trentino Climb in Trentino, Italy.

  • Hendrik Morkel

    Presenter and Videographer – Born in Germany Hendrik moved to Finland over 20 years ago, where he hikes, skis and climbs. He likes sustainable travel and loves to go on by-fair-means adventures around the world, which he documents with his camera and pen.



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    Presenter and Videographer – Born in Germany Hendrik moved to Finland over 20 years ago, where he hikes, skis and climbs. He likes sustainable travel and loves to go on by-fair-means adventures around the world, which he documents with his camera and pen.





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