***Thank you to the Valle di Ledro tourism board and Visit Trentino for hosting me on this trip, as well as to Traverse for helping to make it happen! As always, all opinions are my own.***
Whether you’re looking to escape the crowds and spend a few days relaxing in unspoilt nature, or want a no-holds-barred adventure, Valle di Ledro is the perfect place to head. This undiscovered valley in Trentino, Italy, is an absolute gem that only the Germans seem to know about.
We spent two days in Valle di Ledro having the adventure of our lives. Hiking up a mountain, biking down that mountain, and discovering everything that the valley had to offer (including-and especially-its delicious food!). Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Valle di Ledro and all of the best things to do in Valle di Ledro.
HOW TO GET TO VALLE DI LEDRO
Valle di Ledro is located in the south-west of the Trentino Region of italy. It is just 15 short kilometers from Lake Garda, but it feels like a completely different world. Humble mountains rise up from the valley floors, a lone stand up paddleboard glides over the undisturbed water of Lake Ledro, a handful of German tourists enjoy the adventurous activities on offer… I’m letting the secret out about Valle di Ledro here, so be sure to hurry!
Here’s how to get there:
VALLE DI LEDRO BY PLANE
The closest airport to Valle di Ledro is Verona. From there, you can reach Valle di Ledro by car, bus, or train.
Alternative airports to fly into are Brescia Montichiari, Bergamo, Milan Malpensa, and Venezia Marco Polo.
VALLE DI LEDRO BY CAR
The easiest way to reach Valle di Ledro (and get around once you’re there) is by car. As it is relatively off-the-beaten-path and out of the way, it’s not exactly the most well-serviced by public transportation.
You can reach Valle di Ledro from Milan on Highway A4 and from Rovereto on Highway A22. For full details click here.
VALLE DI LEDRO BY TRAIN
The closest train station to Valle di Ledro is Rovereto. From there, you’ll need to get a taxi, rent a car, or grab the bus.
To check train times and buy tickets, I recommend Omio.
VALLE DI LEDRO BY BUS
Valle di Ledro is served by bus from Brescia, Verona, Riva del Garda, Rovereto and Trento (you’ll need to change buses in Riva del Garda). For full details, click here.
WHERE TO STAY IN VALLE DI LEDRO
Although Valle di Ledro is pretty much undiscovered by anyone except the Germans, there’s actually several great choices when it comes to accommodation in the area.
Hotel Maggiorina – For a pleasant mid-range, family-owned stay, look no further than Hotel Maggiorina. This is where we stayed when we weren’t off in the mountains, and it was a great base. Most importantly, their breakfast was delicious!
Rifugio Nino Pernici – Staying at the Rifugio Nino Pernici is one of my favorite accommodation experiences to date. After an exhausting 5-hour hike up a mountain, Rifugio Nino Pernici was our oasis (or our refuge 😉 ). Run by a charming family who spends every summer up in the mountains (they just had a new baby and grandma cooks), they greeted us warmly, stuffed us with delicious local dishes (helloooo strangolapreti), and sent us off to pass out in the comfiest dorm room I’ve ever slept in. Definitely a must-stay if you’re up for the hike!
Ledro Mountain Chalet – If you want a mountain chalet feel without all the work (or just want a little bit more space to spread out), then this is a great option! These chalets look downright luxurious! I’m earmarking them for my next visit.
THINGS TO DO IN VALLE DI LEDRO
Valle di Ledro is, without a doubt, an adventure destination. But it also has a few tricks up its sleeve! Whether you’re a mountain biking fanatic or just want a bit of time in nature, the area is sure to have something to offer. Here are just a few things to do in Valle di Ledro that you can’t miss!
1. HIKE UP TO A MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY
I’ve already talked about spending the night at Rifugio Nino Pernici, but let me tell you a little bit more, because it truly was one of the coolest and most rewarding experiences I’ve had in recent memory (probably since I hiked the Grand Canyon in Converse).
We began our hike at the bottom of the mountain, trudging up steep inclines and wondering when it was finally going to level out. “This is the steepest part!” our guide kept telling us. And yet it kept getting steeper…
Turns out we had managed to find ourselves on a moderate-to-hard trail which we did not realize we had signed up for.
And yet we powered on. Soon enough, views of the valley opened up, and we were reminded (in our somewhat delirious haze) of why we were doing this. It was beautiful.
Towards the end of our hike, it started raining, and coming across Rifugio Nino Pernici, our accommodation for the night, was like coming across our own personal version of heaven.
We plopped down at one of the picnic tables at the entrance and looked down at the valley. Had we really just managed to trek up 1000m to this gorgeous mountain hideaway? We had. And we had the Radlers to prove it.
Dinner that night was rich and hardy local dishes: strangolapreti (dumplings made with stale bread, spinach, and cheese and whose name literally translates to priest strangler-I ate 15), goulash and polenta, fried cheese, and a bit of local blueberry liqueur to wash it all down at the end. We basically had to be rolled upstairs to bed.
And what a beautiful bed it was. As a hut on top of a mountain, Rifugio Nino Pernici isn’t lush with amenities, but it came in clutch where it counts: with a comfortable bed in a cozy dorm room with a sunrise view. Pure heaven.
Breakfast the next morning was bread, meat, cheese, and delicious coffee with a to-die-for view.
If you’re up for the hike, this really is an experience that can’t be missed.
HOW TO HIKE TO RIFUGIO NINO PERNICI
There are several different routes that you can take to reach Rifugio Nino Pernici (you can even drive to a 20 minute walk away if you really want). You can find complete details on their website here.
We took the Malga Grassi trail number 402, which was a seriously steep and challenging climb, but worth it for the views. In total, the hike took us about 5 hours, but you can do it in 4 if you’re a fit and experienced hiker.
Valle di Ledro is definitely a hiking destination, and there are loads of different hikes to fill your time there. You can find a full list of hiking trails in Valle di Ledro on the tourism board’s website here.
2. MOUNTAIN BIKE LITERALLY EVERYWHERE
After breakfast at Rifugio Nino Pernici (which was delicious), it was time to get down the mountain. But how?
By mountain bike, of course!
To say that I was terrified of going full speed down a mountain is an understatement. But after making it past the rocky start (literally-the first 10m or so of the trail were super rocky), we made it onto paved road and it was a super easy downhill glide the rest of the way. Much more appropriate for beginners.
Flying past views and making it down a mountain in 30 minutes when it had taken us 5 hours to get up was absolutely thrilling. I think I finally get why people are into mountain biking!
After making it down the mountain, we spent the rest of the day cruising around Valle di Ledro, and it was amazing! E-mountain bike is definitely the way to get around.
Whether you’re a hardcore mountain biker or a beginner who really just wants to go downhill and to be helped along the flat parts by e-bike like me, there are options for everyone in Valle di Ledro. You can find a complete list of bike trails here.
We rented our e-mountain bikes from Ledro Bike Rentals and they were super high-quality, so I definitely recommend them!
3. FIND A HIDDEN WATERFALL
There’s nothing quite like feeling like you have a place all your own, and while we didn’t have the Gorg d’Abiss completely to ourselves (there was an old man swimming, stripped down to just his briefs), it was still a pretty magical feeling.
Gorg d’Abiss is located near Tiarno di Sotto, and can be reached by mountain bike or a short hike. The waterfall itself is small but powerful, and when the light hits it just right it’s a sight to behold!
4. SAMPLE THE LOCAL SPECIALTIES
Pizza, pasta, gelato… you know Italian food, right? But did you know that every region of Italy has its own specialties? And better yet, that Trentino has some of the best?
Since it’s so close to Austria, the region of Trentino has a lot of Austrian influence, especially when it comes to the food. You’ll find hardy dishes perfect for after a day of strenuous hiking or mountain biking, yummy berry-based alcohols, and plenty of cheese.
A few of my favorites from my time in Valle di Ledro were:
Strangolapreti – Literally translating as “priest stranglers”, these delicious little dumplings are made of stale bread, spinach, and cheese, and can be topped with butter and basil or tomatoes. And they are absolute. freaking. heaven. When they were set down in front of our starving faces at Rifugio Nino Pernici, we devoured them. I had 15, and could barely move after. SO GOOD.
Potato Polenta – Polenta is popular throughout Trentino, but Valle di Ledro puts their own spin on it by using potatoes. Yum yum yum!
Picco Rosso Spritz – You’ve heard of Aperol Spritz, but get ready for it’s inarguably delicious cousin: the Picco Rosso Spritz! Liquer made with local strawberries and raspberries and topped with prosecco, this cocktail is the perfect aperitivo drink-especially if you drop a few whole berries in there as well!
You can read a bit more about the local specialties in Valle di Ledro here.
5. GET A BIT OF CULTURE AT LEDRO LAND ART
Ride your bike down a random valley road and you’ll soon come upon Ledro Land Art, an alternative art project in the woods which seeks to promote reflection on how we interact with nature.
I’m not a huge museum person, and I often struggle to understand the meaning of art. But set in the very place they’re making a statement about, this was so much more my style. Plus, some of the pieces are just plain fun!
Ledro Land Art is a great place to head for an easy, quiet walk through the woods, with plenty of sculptures to keep you company. It’s completely free, so there’s really no reason not to go!
6. CHILL OUT ON THE LAKE
Of course, you can’t really take a picture of Valle di Ledro without capturing Lake Ledro, and it’s definitely not to be missed. Whether you grab an aperitivo on a terrace overlooking the lake or head out for some more adventurous water sports, spending time at the lake is a must.
Here are a few ideas of things to do on Lake Ledro:
- Kayak or SUP – You can rent kayaks and SUPs from several places around the lake, including: Canoeing and Kayak Club Lago di Ledro, Camping al Lago, and Tarolli Boat Rental.
- Go Sailing – Lake Ledro is supposedly the perfect spot for sailing beginners. You can book private sailing lessons with the Sailing Association of Lake Ledro.
- Chill on the beach – There are several beaches along the shore of the lake, and even a dog-friendly one! For a full guide, click here.
7. RAPPEL DOWN A 50M WATERFALL
Climbing through crevices, jumping off rocks, and rappelling down waterfalls… Canyoning is a truly crazy sport, and Valle di Ledro is the perfect place to try it!
We arrived bright and early at Trentino Adventures, drove to the starting point of our canyoning adventure, and put on our gear. And let me tell you… we looked sexy af.
We walked a short ways along the road, and before we knew what was happening we were climbing over the road barrier and down into the canyon. And then we were off!
Our absolutely crazy guides led us through the canyon, pushing us down slides, telling us where to jump, and setting up the ropes so we could rappel down a series of ever higher waterfalls – ending in a vertigo-inducing 50 meter drop. And holy s***, I can’t believe I did that!
There are several different canyoning options offered by Trentino Adventures. We canyoned with them through Palvico Canyon and had a great time. The guides were a bit impatient but overwhelmingly competent, and I wholly recommend the adventure if you’re interested. There was also a stop halfway through (before the rappelling), where children and people who didn’t want to rappel down a 50m waterfall could get out of the canyon, so if you’re only up for a slightly-less crazy adventure, then that’s an option as well!
The company provides all of the gear that you need, just be sure to wear a swimsuit and sneakers that can get wet and to bring a towel!
8. GET YOUR DINNER COOKED BY A CAVEMAN
Perhaps one of the more unique things I’ve ever done was get my dinner cooked by a caveman.
Well, not a caveman. A pile-dwelling man. But that just doesn’t sound quite as good.
Like I said, Valle di Ledro is full of surprises, and the fact that it is the location of UNESCO-listed prehistoric pile dwellings is definitely one of those surprises.
When we rocked up to the Museo delle Palafitte, we had no idea what to expect. Before long, we were greeted by our new friend: Bacmor, who decided it was time to teach us how to survive in prehistoric times. We chopped wood, ground corn for flour, shot bows and arrows, and tried (and failed) to make a fire. It felt like we were on a school trip and it was the most giddy, unadulterated fun any of us have had in a long time.
After all of that, we gathered in Bacmor’s hut for a simple, prehistoric dinner and beer-and it was surprisingly delicious!
During dinner, we learned all about the museum and how the prehistoric pile dwellings were found in 1929 when preserved poles from the dwellings were found in the lake. The museum sprung up around them with the goal to bring prehistory alive, with reconstructed huts, actors, and demonstrations to make it all feel real. And we definitely felt like we had been brought back in time!
During the summer, the museum runs a huge range of activities, from sleeping overnight in the pile dwellings to having a snack with a shaman. You can find a full schedule on their website.
The Museo delle Pallafitte was undergoing renovations while we were there, and the new museum is set to open in July 2019. It sounds like it’s going to be absolutely amazing!
Now tell me: which of these things do you most want to do?