Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by Laura Teso
Malcesine is a picturesque town on the eastern shore of Lake Garda. It offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, historical charm, and vibrant activities. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, or simply a relaxing escape, Malcesine has something to offer everyone. Here are some of the top things to do in Malcesine:
Things to do in Malcesine on Lake Garda
- Wander through the Historic Center: Stroll along the cobblestone streets of Malcesine’s historic center. THey are lined with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants. Admire the pastel-colored buildings and soak in the authentic Italian atmosphere.
- Explore Malcesine Castle: Perched atop a hill overlooking the town, Castello Scaligero is a must-see. It seems it dates back to the last centuries of the 1st millennium BC. But its current appearance is due to the renovation and expansion work carried out by the Scaliger family in the 14th century. Inside the castle there are different spaces. An historical museum with artifacts and documents that tell the story of the castle and the town. Plus a natural history museum about Lake Garda, and an exhibition hall for temporary exhibitions. From the bastions you can enjoy a splendid view of the lake and Malcesine.
- Visit Palazzo dei Capitani: Step into the Palazzo dei Capitani, a former residence of Venetian rulers. Get to the back terrace overlooking Lake Garda, mi raccomando!
- Relax at the Port: This is one of the most charming spots in town, perfect spot to stop and grab a bite al fresco while watching the lake, the boats, the people passing by.
Activities in Malcesine
- Relax at the Beach: Can you swim in Lake Garda? Yes, absolutely. There are several beaches in Malcesine. For example, Spiaggia di Paina and Spiaggia di Posterna, offering sun loungers, umbrellas, and nearby cafes for refreshments. There’s also a dog beach right in Malcesine. It’s in fact called Bau Beach, bau is Italian for woof. You have to pronounce it: BAH-oo (like to bow in front of the Queen).
- Water sports: Lake Garda is a haven for water sports enthusiasts: kayak, canoe, paddleboard, windsurf.
- Monte Baldo Cable car: it’s a scenic cable car riding to the summit of Monte Baldo, a majestic mountain overlooking Lake Garda. It departs every 30 minutes from late March to mid-November. Thanks to the cabins which rotate 360° during the ascent, you can admire a breathtaking panorama from all angles. On clear days they say you get to also see Venice.
- Embark on a Ferry: Hop aboard a boat to reach the western shore town of Limone sul Garda for a pleasant day trip.
- Hike or Bike the Surrounding Trails: Lace up your hiking boots or rent a bike and explore the scenic trails that wind through the hills surrounding Malcesine.
- Promenade: Enjoy a romantic stroll on the Lungolago (meaning along the lake), a picturesque walkway that hugs the eastern shore of Lake Garda. It’s a popular spot for leisurely strolls, romantic walks, bike rides, and people-watching. The promenade starts from the town center and extends towards the northern and southern ends of Malcesine.
Where to eat in Malcesine
One of the best restaurants in Malcesine is surely Trattoria Vecchia Malcesine. It’s very chic. Therefore pricey. But it offers a stunning view on the lake.
In truth, when my husband and I went to Malcesine last time we didn’t want to spend much money. And so we stopped at a simple café at the old port, overlooking the lake (even if at a certain distance). The name is Da Mario & Sons Drink•Food•Pizza. We had a burger and a sandwich. The food was good, the staff friendly and we enjoyed its atmosphere very much.
What are the most important events in Malcesine?
Malcesine hosts a variety of events throughout the year, showcasing its rich culture, vibrant atmosphere, and picturesque setting. I suggest to as to the local tourist board for info about the time when you’re visiting. In the meantime, here I’ll only list some of the most important and popular events in Malcesine:
- Ciottolando con Gusto (Pebble Beach Food Festival): This culinary event takes place in September, transforming the lakefront promenade into a bustling food market. Local restaurants and producers offer tastings of regional specialties, accompanied by live music and entertainment.
- Christmas in Malcesine: During the Christmas season, Malcesine transforms into a magical winter wonderland. The town is adorned with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a charming Christmas market filled with handcrafted gifts and local delicacies.
- Malcesine in Fiore (Malcesine in Bloom): This colorful event takes place in May, celebrating the beauty of springtime in Malcesine. The town’s streets and gardens are adorned with vibrant floral displays, creating a stunning backdrop for a weekend of music, art exhibitions, and cultural activities.
- Historic Sailing Ship ‘Siora Veronica’: From June to September, the historic sailing ship ‘Siora Veronica’ offers unique sailing experiences on Lake Garda. Passengers can enjoy panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains while learning about the region’s maritime history.
- Malcesine Music Festival: Throughout the summer months, Malcesine hosts a series of open-air concerts featuring a variety of musical genres. The concerts are held in various locations around the town, including the Scaliger Castle and the lakefront promenade.
Market day in Malcesine
The market day in Malcesine is Saturday. It takes place along the lakefront promenade and in the town center. There you can shop for a wide variety of local produce, artisan crafts, clothing, souvenirs, and other goods. The market is open from around 8 am to 1 pm.
How to get in Malcesine on Lake Garda
Here’s a guide on how to get to Malcesine:
- By car: Malcesine is well-connected by road networks, making it convenient for those traveling by car. The A22 Autostrada del Brennero highway runs along the eastern shore of Lake Garda, providing easy access from major cities like Verona, Trento, and Bolzano. From the A22, take the exit for Affi-Lago di Garda Sud and follow the signs to Malcesine. The drive from Verona takes about an 1 and a half. While from Trento and Bolzano it takes around two hours.
- By train: The nearest train station to Malcesine is in the town of Peschiera del Garda (about 45 km south). From Peschiera del Garda, you can take a bus or a ferry to Malcesine. The bus ride takes about an hour and a half, while the ferry ride takes about two hours.
- By bus: Regular bus services connect Malcesine to various towns and cities around Lake Garda and the surrounding areas. You can find direct buses from Verona, Trento, and Bolzano, as well as from other smaller towns along the lakeshore. The bus journey from Verona takes about 2 hours.Ffrom Trento and Bolzano, it takes around two and a half hours.
Once you arrive in Malcesine, the town is easily walkable. Most attractions are within a short distance of each other. You can also rent bicycles or scooters to explore the surrounding areas.
What is the closest airport to Malcesine?
The closest airport to Malcesine is Verona Villafranca Airport (VRN), aka Valerio Catullo Airport, located approximately 65 km (40 miles) from Malcesine. It’s the most convenient airport for travelers heading to Malcesine and the surrounding Lake Garda region.
From Verona Villafranca Airport, you can reach Malcesine by various modes of transportation:
- Bus: There are direct buses from the airport to Malcesine, operated by ATV Verona and Autostradale. The journey takes about an hour and a half.
- Taxi: Taxis are available outside the airport terminal and can take you directly to Malcesine. The fare is around €100-120.
- Car rental: Car rental agencies are available at the airport if you prefer to drive yourself. The drive to Malcesine takes about an hour and a half.
- Private transfer: You can book a private transfer service for a more personalized and convenient option. Private transfers offer door-to-door service and can accommodate larger groups or luggage.
Where to park in Malcesine
Here are a few of the best places to park in Malcesine:
- Parcheggio Funivia: an underground car park located next to the cable car station. It has 170 spaces and costs €1.50 per hour.
- Parcheggio Paina: This car park is located just south of Malcesine, near Paina beach. It is a bit further from the town center, but it is also cheaper, costing €1.30 per hour.
- Parcheggio Campogrande: This car park is located in the town center, just a short walk from the harbor. It is a bit more expensive, costing €2 per hour. But it is also more convenient for those staying in the town center.
- Parcheggio Statuto: This car park is located just outside the town center, near the Scaliger Castle. It is a good option for those who are visiting the castle. Or if you are looking for a cheaper option, as it costs €1 per hour.
- Via Gardesana: There are some parking spaces along Via Gardesana, the main road running through Malcesine. This can be an option, but it’s not always easy to find an available spot.
- Parking for RVs and Campers: close to the beach, in Retelino, 1 km north of Malcesine.
NB Please note that parking prices are subject to change, so it is always a good idea to check in advanek.
What is the best time to visit Malcesine?
The best time to visit Malcesine depends on your preferences for weather and crowds. Here’s a sum up of the different seasons and what to expect:
- Summer (June-August)
Pros: Warm, sunny weather, ideal for swimming, boating, and other outdoor activities.
Cons: Crowds, higher prices for accommodation and activities.
Should you visit? If you’re looking for a classic summer vacation with plenty of sunshine and water activities, summer is the best time to visit Malcesine. However, be prepared for crowds and higher prices.
- Spring – Early Autumn (April-May, September-October)
Pros: Milder temperatures, fewer crowds, lower prices.
Cons: Weather can be unpredictable, some businesses may have reduced hours or be closed.
Should you visit? If you prefer a quieter experience with pleasant weather and fewer crowds, they’re both great times to visit Malcesine. Just be aware that some businesses may have reduced hours or be closed during these times.
- Late Autumn to early Spring (November-March)
Pros: Fewer crowds, lower prices, opportunities for winter sports in the surrounding mountains.
Cons: Colder temperatures, many businesses may be closed.
Should you visit? If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway with a cozy atmosphere and the possibility of winter sports, winter can be a charming time to visit Malcesine. However, be prepared for colder temperatures and limited business hours.
In conclusion, whether you’re seeking a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, Malcesine on Lake Garda offers a captivating mix of experiences for every traveler. Embrace the beauty of Lake Garda, immerse yourself in the town’s rich history, and create unforgettable memories in this charming Italian gem