I’m assuming that if you’ve made it this far, you are seriously considering a visit to Lake Garda? Do it. Now you just have to decide where and when to visit. Located on the northeastern shores of Lake Garda, Malcesine is not to be missed. Whether you’re looking to stay for a week or visit for the day from another area, you won’t be disappointed. With history radiating from the ancient stone buildings and cobbled streets, you will be transported to another time. Learn about the natural history of the lake, rise up the Monte Baldo in a cable car, or enjoy the beaches.
First things first though, how to say Malcesine? One of the harder names to pronounce, you would be forgiven for saying MalSAseen. However, it is actually pronounced as MalCHESinay! So, now we’re talking like a local, what is there to do here?
Visit the Castle
From the moment you enter the town, there is one building dominating the view. Castello Scaligero. Bar far one of my favourite towns ever, this castle and its museum is a big reason why I keep being drawn back to this medieval town.
Castello Scaligero is named for the Della Scala family of Verona who ruled this region in the 13th and 14th centuries. After the original was destroyed by the franks in 590 it was rebuilt with the stone we see today. During its time, it has been ruled by the powerful Visconti family of Milan, the Venetians, the Austrians, the roman emperor, Maximillian, and even attacked by Hungarians. Let’s just say, it’s been through a lot! Since 1902 though, it has been protected as a national monument and can now be visited by curious tourists, like you and me.
Not only is it full of history but the views are incredible. Head up to the top of the tower or sit in the peaceful gardens. Don’t miss the interactive museum where you can learn about the lake’s nature and wildlife, smell the native flowers and see just how deep it really is!
Entrance is €6 per adult with reduced rates for students, over 65’s, and children.
Al Osteria Baccalà
Malcesine’s answer to Aladdin’s cave! to the left of the archway that leads up to the castle, is Al Osteria Baccalà. A curious shop filled with vintage signs and retro oddities. Who knows what you might find?
Head up on the cable car to the top of the mountain! at €22 euros for an adult, it may not be a budget option, but it is worth it. If the weather is good and it is a clear day, you will enjoy the most stunning views across the lake from 1,750m above sea-level. Don’t forget to take a light jacket as it can be considerably colder at the top then it is in the town!
If you’re happy to splurge on lunch, grab something from the restaurant with its panoramic views. If not, grab some comfortable shoes and a picnic and explore the walking tracks. Look out for the sheep!
If you’re feeling adventurous you can even go hang-gliding!
I’m not generally a fan of churches, nor am I religious. However, I am drawn to the history and design of Italy’s churches. Many dating from the 9th and 17th centuries, these pastel buildings are undeniably beautiful. From the tiny Chiesa Dei SS.Benigno e Caro, wedged between a hairdresser and an artist’s shop. To the intricately decorated Parrocchia di Santo Stefano, perched on its hillside. Take a moment to light a candle and enjoy the peace, or admire the painted ceilings and feel the history of thousands of people that have passed through their doors over hundreds of years.
Just 4km south of Malcesine is the little town of Cassone. Here you can see the shortest river in the world, at only 175m. In the old town centre is the source and a small lake where the river begins. It flows under 3 bridges and has a waterfall, before joining Garda Lake. Reminds me of the ancient riverside town of Borghetto, south of the lake. (also worth a visit!)
Check out the museum of Cassone for free to see ancient fishing tools and admire their proudly preserved history. Entry is free and opening hours April-September are 10am-12pm 3pm-6pm (closed Mondays).
A tourist bus runs between Malcesine, Cassone and the Cable car daily for €1.20 in high season. You can also walk or cycle between Cassone and Malcesine.
Cross the Lake by Ferry
Ferries run regularly between Malcesine and various other towns. Check out the picturesque town of Limone on the opposite western shore of the lake. Alternatively, if you’re interested in water sports then get yourself to Riva in the North, arguably the coolest town around.
Wander and People Watch
The best way to experience most places and Malcesine is no exception. Head to a cafe or bar where you can watch the world go by and stop long enough to take in the details around you. Alternatively, stop in one of the small squares and enjoy an ice cream shaded by the trees. Get lost in the narrow alleyways and enjoy live music from the odd guitar or violinist. Snap photos of the fairytale streets and buildings but don’t expect to be the only one as this town can get pretty busy! Enjoy quieter times before 10 am and between 4-6pm while most visitors are back in their hotels, getting ready for dinner.
If you’re not totally sold on Malcesine yet, then head over to Instagram or Facebook for more photos and to chat all things Lake Garda! If you’re wondering how we get to spend so much time in Italy you can find out here and if you fancy doing the same, then click here to find out how! Don’t forget to pin this post for later and let me know your recommendations for Lake Garda!