Arco Via Ferrata

Arco, Italy

Two to six days or custom length trips
Famous Italian via ferrata routes

Arco Via Ferrata Highlights

  • Historic and modern via ferrata routes
  • Short approaches
  • Lots of long, moderate via ferrata routes
  • Picturesque Italian villages and Lake Garda
  • Italian food and wine
  • Comfortable lodging in B&Bs, boutique hotels

Arco and the Lake Garda area, at the foot of the Dolomites in northern Italy, are a rock climbers’ paradise. Interspersed with the area’s 5,000 free climbing routes are many high-quality via ferrata routes. The limestone is immaculate and the scenery grand. The area has a Mediterranean feel to it, with average spring and fall temperatures between 20°C and 25°C and generally low amounts of precipitation.

Via ferrata routes include the use of cables, ladders, rungs, and the occasional bridge to facilitate safe passage across exposed mountain faces and ridges. The first via ferrata routes were built and used by soldiers in World War I. Many of these routes are still in use, but via ferrata climbing has become a sport in itself and the development of new routes is ongoing.

But this trip is about more than just climbing fantastic via ferrata routes on perfect limestone. Each day we will also enjoy the sights and tastes of Arco, Lake Garda, and the surrounding villages. The Italians love their food, wine, and coffee, and this area offers an excellent sampling of it all. There are castles, medieval villages, and museums to explore and lovely hikes to go on. A truly well-rounded Italian holiday!


The Arco area has many via ferrata routes to choose from. The difficulty levels vary from beginner to expert, and the climbs take between two and eight hours. Some, like the Cima Capi, are historic and were built by soldiers in the first World War (they’ve since been retrofitted, of course!) Others are modern masterpieces that take climbers into areas that would otherwise be impossible to reach.

Given the abundance of via ferrata routes at Arco, we can adjust the itinerary during our climbing week to the preferred challenge level of our clients and the weather. Following are just some of the routes that we can choose from:

Monte Colodri: 2-3 hours. A perfect via ferrata for getting our systems dialed. Fantastic views over the Arco Valley and Lake Garda.

Cima Capi: 4-6 hours. Climbing above Garda Lake along a via ferrata that was first built by soldiers in World War I. Along the way, we will see trenches and bunkers from the Great War.

Gerardo Sega: 6-7 hours. Climbing on Monte Baldo on the east side of Lake Garda. This via ferrata follows ladders up a massive overhanging wall, cables along a very exposed ledge, and trails by the pretty Preafessa waterfall and other scenic landscapes.

Burrone Giovanelli: 3-5 hours. Climbing through a sometimes narrow ravine with lovely waterfalls.

Ottorino Marangoni: 4-6 hours. Climbing on Monte Albano, east of Lake Garda. This challenging via ferrata provides plenty of exposure and a good full body workout!

Sentiero dei Contrabbandieri: 4-5 hours. Was it an old smuggler’s path or a century-old attempt at a high-level road? Legends vary, but the modern use of this narrow ledge carved into an exposed cliff 200-metres above Lake Garda is as a spectacular via ferrata.

Meeting place, how to get there

We will stay at a 3-star level B&B or hotel in the Arco Valley.

Arco is most easily reached from Verona or Bergamo international airports (85 and 130 km away, respectively). Alternatively, you could fly to Milan, Venice, Bologna or Innsbruck, all of which are within a 250 km radius of Arco.

Transport options: Rent a car, or take a train or bus from the airport cities to Arco. Find the details here:

Alternatively, we can arrange for a private shuttle – ask us for details.

Climate, weather, temperatures

The best seasons for via ferrata climbing in Arco are spring and fall, with temperatures normally between 20 and 25°C. One of the reasons Arco is a popular climbing destination is because it is normally protected from bad weather by the nearby Dolomites and Alps, so we can expect to enjoy many days of sunshine.

Services included in the total price

Guiding by an internationally certified (UIAGM/IFMGA) and multilingual mountain guide, guide’s expenses, lodging in double rooms (including breakfast) in B&Bs and hotels at the 3-star level, equipment use (harness, via ferrata clip-in set, helmet).

Not included

Airfares, lunches, dinners, drinks, gratuities, admission fees for museums, castles, etc. Participants are encouraged to share rental vehicles, or land transport can be quoted on request.

Via ferrata routes in Arco range from beginner to expert levels. We will try to match experience levels ahead of the trips, but we will always start with an easier via ferrata to get the systems dialed and to see how the group performs with regards to fitness and comfort with exposure. Most days will have us on our feet for five to eight hours at a moderate pace and involve a mixture of hiking and via ferrata climbing.

Beginners are welcome, but you should have a good level of general fitness, a big sense of adventure, and you should not be intimidated by exposure.

One strength of the itinerary is the high level of flexibility to adjust the program to adverse weather or the group’s preferences.


We will gladly put potential clients in touch with previous participants in order for interested guests to get personalized references and questions answered from an objective point of view.

References of prior guests (from a Dolomites trip)

“Christoph was a really great mountain guide as well as a really cool and nice person. 10/10! The communication was clear so there were no problems with forgetting important things.

The itinerary was very relaxed and everything we did turned out to be so much fun. I really appreciated and liked the fact that Christoph would run what we were going to do by us before we went to do it. The way he handled the planning of our trip was great. Every place and everything we ended up doing was so much fun!

The food and lodging were well priced and suited the type of trip we were carrying out. Whenever we went out for food we would always walk out of the restaurant feeling like we couldn’t eat anymore, so as you can tell the food quantity and quantity was really great!

I would rate that a 10/10, because I feel like in Europe, finding the suitable guide is hard, especially for teenagers. But OnTop seems to help everyone who needs their help! When I go on my next climbing trip, I will definitely use OnTop Ltd! ”
Pierce B., Hong Kong

“Christoph was extremely friendly, accommodating while provided strong encouragement to perform well. He was not only very safety conscious but also imprinted that mindset onto us.

A good balanced plan that covered a range of activities. Nice and flexible giving us good choice in what to do based on circumstances, happy that we were given voice in the timetable. A fine balance between traveling and activities.Plenty of food. Exceptional food at mountain hut, all reasonably priced. Comfortable living arrangements throughout. ”
Hugh S., Hong Kong

Gear List

Arco is a sports enthusiast’s shopping mecca. There are at least 17 outdoor stores along a 300-metre stretch of the old town, intermingled with gelaterias, pizzerias, and coffee shops. If you need clothing, footwear, or gear for the trip, come a day early and shop to your heart’s desire.

Technical Equipment

Bring the following, or rent or buy the items from a shop in Arco:

 Rock climbing shoes
 Lightweight, collapsible ski poles (optional, but recommended)

Bring the following, buy it in Arco, or ask us for a quote to supply the items:

 Climbing helmet
 Climbing harness with gear loops
 “Via ferrata set”
 Two locking carabiners
 Good quality and well-fitting leather gloves

Bring the following (or buy in Arco):

 Sturdy approach shoe or light trekking boot. Consider one with a fairly stiff sole as we will spend a lot of time climbing ladders and rungs.
 Climbing backpack (25-30 litres) with rain cover specific to the pack, or plastic bag


We recommend the ‘layering system’: Bring light, technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly when sweaty or wet. Layers must be put on and taken off quickly as weather conditions change during the day. There may be days when you can wear cotton, but your main clothing choices should be synthetic or wool.

 Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or similar)
 Lightweight wind and water-resistant over pants (Gore-Tex or similar)
 Lightweight synthetic climbing pants
 Medium weight Primaloft jacket with hood
 Medium weight fleece sweater
 Synthetic or wool base layers – top and bottom
 Synthetic shorts and t-shirt
 Warm hat, covering your ears
 Lightweight gloves (fleece)
 Sun hat, with a wide brim if possible
 Bandana or Buff (optional)

Lodging and around town

 Casual clothing, comfortable footwear, swimsuit – everything you need to be comfortable in and around Arco and Lake Garda.

Other items

 Sunglasses with high UV protection
 Sunscreen and lip protection with high SPF
 One-litre water bottle
 Headlamp with spare battery
 Lunch and snacks (eg. sandwiches, candy bars, dried fruit, nuts, etc.)
 Personal first aid kit and other needs (eg. blister kit, prescription medicine, anti-inflammatory, contact lenses, prescription glasses, etc.)
 Pocket knife (optional)
 (Health) insurance documents
 Light stuff sacs or Ziploc bags to keep your backpack organized and important items dry (optional)
 Camera, spare batteries (optional)

Arco Via Ferrata
  • Most via ferrata routes take 5-8 hours
  • Beginner and experienced via ferrata climbers welcome
2019 DATES
Arco Via Ferrata

Custom trips:

Custom trips of any duration from early May to the end of October. Spring and fall are best.

Scheduled trips:

May 26 – June 1
June 2 – 8
June 9 – 15
June 16 – 22
June 23 – 29

Sept. 1 – 7
Sept. 8 – 14
Sept. 15 – 21
Sept. 22 – 28

Arco Via Ferrata

US $1565
CA $1875
€ 1250
£ 1125

Single room
US $125, CA $150
€ 100, £ 90

High season surcharge
US $100, CA $120
€ 80, £ 72

Guiding by an internationally certified (UIAGM/IFMGA) and multilingual mountain guide, guide’s expenses, lodging in double rooms (including breakfast) in B&Bs and hotels at the 3-star level, equipment use (harness, via ferrata clip-in set, helmet).