The quaint old harbour of Malcesine lined on two sides with colourful buildings. In the port, there are several small boats and one larger rigged sailboat.

A visit to Malcesine, Lake Garda, Italy

In En-Route, Europe, Italy, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

History and culture along the colourful streets

Malcesine is nestled along the northeastern shore of Lake Garda in the Veneto region of Italy. From our base in Limone Sul Garda, we could see the small town across the lake, so with a short 25-minute hop on a boat from Limone Sul Garda and we are in Malcesine.
The view of the town of Malcesine from Lake Garda. Taken on the ferry as we approached the town.

In the morning, we were chatting to the owner of our hotel over breakfast, and we explained what we were up to for the day, and I said we were heading to Malcesine. This is where I had a quick lesson in pronunciation, as Malcesine for those of us who are none Italian speakers, we would perhaps say it as you see it, oh no.

It is pronounced ‘Malchesinay’, well I won’t make that mistake again.

Quick Links

A view of Lake Garda, the mountains on one side, taken whilst crossing on a ferry towards Malcesine.
Wonderful view down Lake Garda
We head down through the cobbled streets of Limone Sul Garda and find out that Tuesday is market day. Trying not to get too distracted by the lively market, we hustled our way to the water’s edge of Lake Garda to catch the boat.
The southern end of the town from the jetty where the ferry docked.
Arriving in Malcesine

You can catch a ferry to Malcesine, from the various towns around Lake Garda, however, if you are staying in Limone, I would just pick a boat that runs direct. The return trip is €9 per person and takes around ½ hour (they run every hour), whereas it may take longer on a ferry depending on its route.

As mentioned, Malcesine is in the mountainous northern end of Lake Garda, and the backdrop is incredible. Even more so when you cruise across by boat. Slightly further north is Riva del Garda on the northern tip of the lake.

A helpful guide

If you're hooked like us and want to tour around the beautiful Italian Lakes in northern Italy, then take a look at this DK Eyewitness book.

This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

Go and discover

We jumped off the open-top boat and strolled along the promenade into town. Malcesine is a beautiful colourful town, you can certainly see why it has become a popular tourist resort.
A view from a piazza to the 4four storey, brightly coloured, historic, townhouses that are a feature of the town.
Heading into Malcesine
A display outside a shop selling lemon ornaments.
Lemony feel
As we head along the main lane, the picturesque view of boats bobbing up and down in the harbour opens up before you, it is quite striking. The harbour is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, people of all ages relaxed and enjoying themselves, soaking up the hazy sunshine.
The quaint old harbour of Malcesine lined on two sides with colourful buildings. In the port, there are several small boats and one larger rigged sailboat.
Malcesine harbour

Amongst the lanes

As we wander further on, we spot an archway that leads out to a pretty lakeside garden. This garden is part of the fifteenth-century Palazzo dei Capitani.  It was built in Venetian style, on what was once Roman remains. Palazzo dei Capitani used to be the headquarters of the Venetian rulers the, Capitani del Lago.
Palazzo dei Capitani from its gardens. A classic 3 storey palace in a grand design.
Palazzo dei Capitani
Following the cobbled streets along we head higher into the historical town passing boutiques and art galleries. Charming souvenir shops and locals encouraging you to come and taste their delicious cuisine.
A narrow lane is heading away from the lakeside uphill. At the base of the hill is a waiter trying to drum up trade for his restaurant.
Waiting for custom
A cobbled lane with colorful homes and shops lining the path.
Colourful homes along the lanes

Touring around the lake

Some of these little towns could so easily be missed when driving around Lake Garda. Ensure you jump out of your car and go discover, you really cannot appreciate how quaint and picturesque they are.

Off to the castle

Heading further through the ancient town we come face to face with the base of the Malcesine’s castle.
Looking up at Castello Scaligero from a lane below.
Castello Scaligero

The 13th century Castello Scaliger, is undoubtedly Malcesine’s most striking landmark.

The castle was once owned by the Scala family, hence the name, it really is quite eye-catching.

The beautiful castle is perched on the water’s edge, and you get an amazing view of it if you arrive by boat.

A view of Castello Scaligero taken from the lake as we approach on the ferry.
Castle from the lake

Take a peek

Why not take a look at our post for Limone-Sul-Garda, is just across the lake from Malcesine and is incredibly picturesque?

Quieter moments

Understandably Malcesine can get busy through the summer months; however, if you head slightly off the main streets, you may even be able to find a quiet spot. Also, make the most of all the benches dotted around.
A look through a darkened archway to a man resting on a bench.

Have a well-earned break

A cobbled lane lined on each side with ochre-coloured buildings.
Quiet lanes
A pathway leading down the hill, through an arch, to the lakeside.
Leading down to the lakeside
A tree against the backdrop of a building, leaning over at an angle, in the gardens of Palazzo dei Capitani.
In the garden of Palazzo dei Capitani

So close to Venice & Verona

Malcesine in the region of Veneto is only around 180 km (112 miles) northwest of Venice and about 61 km (38 miles) northwest of Verona.

Mountainous north

The following day we drove an entire loop around Lake Garda, and I must admit the northern region is stunning. I would never tire of the view of the incredible mountains reflecting across the shimmering lake. Take me back there.
A view acroos the lake from the Castello Scaligero.
View from Castello Scaligero to the western side of Lake Garda,

When in Italy

Ok, so I have to confess that we visited one of Malcesine’s many ice-cream parlours, it would have been rude not to. Go on tell me you could resist an ice-cream?
Janis holding a tub of fresh ice cream.

An Ice cream - hurry up!

We had a fantastic few hours visiting Malcesine and highly recommend catching the relaxing boat across. That way you can have a little tipple with your lunch. 

Why not?

Start creating your own Italian lake adventure and discover the historic town of Malcesine for yourself. You can fly into Venice or Verona. Search for your flights in one easy place with Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

Discover more of Italy on your own road trip like us, if your unable to bring your own car or are flying into this lovely country give Rental Cars a go. They search multiple well-known car hire brands for the best deals.

Or alternatively, jump on Le Shuttle and tour south under your own steam.

Would you like a little more?

We have created a little YouTube video of Malcesine - why not check it out?

Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Where we stayed

We based ourselves in Limone-Sul-Garda for 3 nights while we toured Lake Garda and stayed at Casa Albergo Sorriso the location is wonderful. We chose a room with a lake view, and it was stunning.

The hotel has free parking just outside, it is only around a five-minute stroll down into the heart of the old town, although, a few minutes longer back up.

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A view of Castello Scaligero taken from the lake as we approach on the ferry.

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