Art Nouveau villas, gardens and elegant buildings, all splendid testimonies of the Hapsburg Empire which left its indelible mark here. Thanks to its microclimate, in fact, Arco has always been a place of treatment and stay for respiratory diseases and was a favorite destination for the nobles of the family who found relief from seasonal ills and a mild and pleasant temperature even in winter.
Today Arco is known in the world of climbers from all over the world as a unique destination to practice their favorite activity. There are rock gyms suitable for all abilities from beginners to pros, and this is where the best athletes in the world come to train; and it is also in Arco that Adam Ondra, at the Laghel crag in Arco, freed Queen line and One Slap, two sport climbing routes graded 9b (there are only 3 in Italy and 2 are in Arco). Not only climbing, Arco offers the possibility of dozens of trekking and mountain bike routes suitable for everyone, from those who like to walk/cycle along the river to those who want to try their hand at more daring routes.
But Arco is not just sport.
Arco is a town that wraps around a hill on the top of which, perched, is the Arco Castle which dominates the whole valley as far as Lake Garda. The first records of its existence date back to the 12th century, but it is thought that it can even be dated from 300 BC.
After a succession of owners and assaults, in 1703 the Castle began a brutal decline, which would even lead it to be used as a stone quarry by the Arcensi to repair houses damaged by bombing. The revival of this splendid monument came in 1879 when the surveyor Giuseppe Caproni, father of the well-known aeronautical pioneer Gianni Caproni, drew up a project for restoration work. The last owner was the Countess Joan of Arc, but only until 1982 when it returned to the Municipality of Arco and its inhabitants.
There are three roads that allow access: one of the most beautiful routes is certainly the one that crosses the fortified village of the city (from via Stranfora) along the picturesque facades of the buildings, winding along paved alleys that, step by step, always become tighter. Continuing through the splendid olive trees and even some aloe plants up to the Castle.
The historic center and the Arboretum of Arco.
The Austrian domination gave the center its typical style, in the gardens, parks and elegant Art Nouveau villas. A characteristic development of carved stone portals characterizes the old city.
In the Arboretum of Arco you can admire plants from all over the world, in a path that continues in the public gardens and in the romantic walk among the olive trees up to the medieval castle.
The Arboretum of Arco, or Archducal Park, owes its name to the Archduke Albert of Austria who in 1873 established this remarkable botanical garden. With over 200 different species of plants and shrubs ranging from sequoias to Californian cypresses, from holm oaks to exotic plants such as agave, prickly pear, Constantinople acacia and yucca. The arboretum can be fully defined as a natural museum and as such it has been structured and organized thanks to an information path with tables and labels that specify the characters of each specimen. The environments of origin of many subtropical and Asian plants or contexts such as lemon groves, ponds or the slopes on which gorse grow have been reconstructed with miniature plant landscapes.
Restaurants, wine bars, ice cream parlors are the most popular meeting places that animate the streets and squares of Arco with the shop windows that illuminate the streets. Many of technical clothing to testify how deep the link between arch and outdoor sport is. Here the mornings and afternoons of shopping end punctually with an aperitif seated at a bar table.
Events and Christmas market.
Arco hosts many events throughout the year. In 2019 it became the European capital of bonsai thanks to the Arco Bonsai event during which the city is transformed, abandoning its traditional clothes, to offer the visitor all the magic of the colors and scents of an art, that of bonsai, of very ancient origin. You will find precious masterpieces in nature with attention to the smallest details (some even centenarians!). Up to succulents or garden plants at the ArcoFiori Market Show with local horticultural products.
Here a carnival full of authentic fun is celebrated. Also this year there will be allegorical floats, and children, dressed as princesses or pirates, will no longer be spectators but protagonists and will be able to get on the floats and go wild with the entertainers. The historic center of Arco will also disguise itself to become a real playground for the little ones with waders, clowns and jugglers.
The Rock Master Festival is a date to mark on the agenda for the many climbing enthusiasts who come every year from all over the world to Lake Garda to attend the spectacle of the athletes who make you dream with the thrill of the cliffs!
All the great world champions have raised the prestigious trophy to the sky, applauded by the public who unfailingly crowd the lawn at the foot of the large overhanging wall, which has become an icon of world climbing. The RockMaster year after year always offers spectacular competition formulas, and for some years it has foreseen two events: the Ko Boulder Contest and the RockMaster Duel. Both reserved for a small circle of top climbers, invited on the basis of the permanent world ranking. If you want more information on the Rock Master Festival or want to approach the world of climbing click here.
The now historic Arco Christmas Market never ceases to enchant young and old. Wooden houses, Christmas decorations, lights, infinite gift ideas but above all the true magic of Christmas. The passion of a craftsman, the love of a farmer, the dream of an artist. You will meet different, colorful, fragrant, unique worlds.
Hotels – Restaurants – Experiences on Lake Garda.
On Lake Garda there are many structures in which to stay, from small and well-kept B&B’s to resorts with wellness centers and beauty services, in the section dedicated to hotels find all the information you need to find the most suitable accommodation for you.
The same goes for restaurants, at this link you will find our selection of restaurants on Lake Garda. Remembering that Lake Garda offers several starred restaurants and the quality of the culinary offer is very high.
There are many activities and experiences you can do on Lake Garda, so we recommend you visit the section dedicated to experiences in our magazine by clicking here.
How to get to Arco.
The fastest route is the A22 motorway (Modena – Brennero). The recommended exit is Rovereto Sud – Lago di Garda Nord which is 15 km from Arco.
For those coming from Milan, we recommend not to take the western Gardenasa, as the risk is to remain stationary in traffic at Salò / Gardone. Continue on the A4 as far as the entrance to the A22 and then exit at Rovereto Sud.
For those coming from Brenner, the recommended exit is Rovereto sud, but if you exit at Trento Nord and take the SS 45b you will probably not find much traffic and the route will be more pleasant and scenic. It is a journey of about 40 km and in the first part you go up and down from Monte Bondone.
On the train.
For those arriving on Lake Garda by train, the closest railway station is Rovereto (Brenner line), 20 km from Arco. To reach Arco, Torbole or Arco you can take the bus (see timetables).
The closest and most convenient airports to reach Lake Garda are those of Verona and Bergamo Orio al Serio.
Notes: to reach Arco we recommend renting a car.
To get to Arco from Verona by bus, the journey will take you to change. Verona – Garda and from Garda to Riva del Garda and from Riva del Garda to Arco. Here you will find all the information.
To reach Arco from Trento and Rovereto see timetables.
For any questions about Arco or about your holiday on Lake Garda, do not hesitate to contact us by commenting on this article or writing on our social channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok), we are always available to help you.
See you next time dear Outdoors!