Malcesine, Lake Garda


La vita è un sogno

– Italian proverb

Although I’ve been here before, it’s hard to get bored of the scenery that presents itself to you. In front of you, you have the drastic cliffs of the Garda Mountains, part of the Southern Limestone Alps, as a backdrop to the sapphire blue of Lake Garda, with the lush, green hills of Monte Baldo behind the small town of Malcesine. It’s hard to know where to look sometimes and I definitely get torn between wanting to be by the lakeshore in Malcesine or actually on the lake to absorb both the lake and the Garda Mountains on both sides.

Due to the mountain range, Lake Garda and it’s temperament is constantly in flux. With it’s own micro climate, you can experience the cool breeze of a spring day by morning, the hot heat of summer by noon and thunderstorms by evening. It’s quite easy to feel like you are in a world of your own when staying in Malcesine. Perhaps that’s why I chose it as the place for our wedding a year ago.

As is the case with most weddings, even small ones like ours, we didn’t get a lot of time to explore the town or the lake, so this year we came back with that objective in mind. And to eat, of course!

I only had two goals I wanted to achieve on this trip: kayaking and going up the cable car of Monte Baldo. I achieved one of them! However the rest of our days were spent exploring new towns, chilling by the lakeside and eating the best Italian food I’ve tasted in a while.

Day trips

There are tons of day trips to take from Malcesine which are easily arranged from Piazza Marconi, a small marina where the ferry comes into. You can catch the ferry to various towns up and down the lake but make sure you ask how long your journey is as getting all the way down to the south of the lake (Sirimone) would take about 3 hours. We took the ferry to Riva del Garda at the far north of the lake which took an hour (although on a map it doesn’t look that far at all). Following advice from locals we also took the small ferry to Limone, the closest town across the river from Malcesine, for €9 return per person. It was much faster than taking the ferry and may operate more frequently.

Water Sports

Water sports are available at plenty on Lake Garda. Most commonly you will probably spot wind surfers in the morning, followed by sail boats (and race sail boats) during the day and SUP paddle boarders and kayaks in the afternoon when the winds have cooled off. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like the lake is big enough to host so many activities but it does it well. The closest water sport rental school is probably Easykite in Malcesine, however we walked up to Navene and went to wwWindSquare water sports. They were very affordable and relaxed, however we were only going kayaking, so perhaps there was nothing else that needed to be said other than ‘have a great time’. And so we did. Just to give you an idea on prices we rented two single kayaks for 2 hours and it cost €30. Winner!

Although not typically a water sport, another option for getting on the lake is to rent a boat out. We rented a boat with Malcesine boats and ferry and it would’ve cost €60 for the hour or €110 for 2 hours which we did with our friends and explored the lake a little and even plunged into the lake for a swim! A truly fabulous way to see the lake.

The Cable Car

Alas, I did not get to go up the cable car this trip and there is a reason why. The queues…. they are ridiculously long upon appearance and in 33 degree weather, not something I wanted to do for the day. Hats off to the families with little ones that managed to stay in the queue long enough to enjoy the experience. What we did find out for next time is the following. 1) there is a ticket office next to Palazzo dei Capitani di Malcesine where you can buy your tickets for the cable car ahead of time. This will enable you to avoid standing in the longer queue to buy tickets and fast forward you to the queue just to get on the cable car. 2) it is better go at 9am (when it opens) or after 3pm. We were toying with what day to actually go up as obviously a clear sky would bode better for the views. However after failing to go up and checking out @funiviabaldo on instagram, it seems no matter when you decide you to go, the views will be amazing! Until next time….

Places to eat

There are tons of places to eat in Malcesine, absolutely tons but I’ll share our favourites with you here.

  1. Casa italia (probably my favourite restaurant in the world!)
  2. Peter Pan pizzeria (best take away slices in town)
  3. Gelateria cento per cento (best gelato in town)
  4. Da Pedro pizzeria
  5. Mignon
  6. Al Marinaio (during the day only

I’ll let you read the tripadvisor reviews from myself and obviously others as to why I enjoyed these restaurants. Just click on the names of the restaurants to hear more.

How to get here:

We travelled from London to Verona airport (Valerio Catullo) and then took an airport transfer via suntransfers up to Malcesine. The airport transfer cost about €193 (prices as of 2016). There is also the option of renting a car from the airport but we haven’t braved that yet.

There are lots of things to do in Malcesine, more than meets the eye. My all time favourite being sitting lakeside with a glass of prosecco in front of me, watching the world go by. Friends of ours visiting from Modena were even pleasantly surprised by the summery climate and heat experienced, given how north they were in Italy.  There’s also a lot of special events going on in Malcesine during the summer, including a beach party that happens only once a year. We were fortunate enough to attend and partied like it was 1999 to Eurobeats in a parking lot with locals and teens alike. One of those experiences that will mark our holiday memories.

Needless to say I highly recommend a trip to Malcesine. It’s a place I hold close to my heart.

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