When it comes to pretty medieval towns in Italy, it’s definitely hard to beat Malcesine, as this picture perfect town is ideally situated on the edge of the lake with stunning medieval architecture and a charm that is unlike any other.
The attractions here include the awe-inspiring Scaligero Castle, a huge medieval castle that stands high above the town and houses a museum. The Church of St Stefano also boasts an elevated position, making it visible from all around and the Captain’s Palace is definitely worth a visit, as it’s now the town hall and contains the public library.
The ominous Monte Baldo sits proudly behind the town and hosts a number of extreme sports that you can try throughout the year. Enjoy the scenic cableway ride and try out paragliding, mountain biking and even skiing in the winter months. There are numerous hiking trails too, so feel free to take a walk around if you would rather avoid the more extreme activities.
When it’s time to relax there is a beautiful pebble beach close to the castle and also well maintained lawns where you can hire a sun bed and relax in peace. Cool off by jumping into the water of Lake Garda and once you’ve worked up an appetite, head on over to the town centre and discover the local restaurants. There some lovely shops too and a small selection of bars playing music in the evening.
This awe-inspiring castle is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Italy. Built in the 14th century, the castle has aged especially well and up until the 19th century served a military purpose. It is now an active museum, allowing the public to explore the battlements and climb the towers where unbeatable views can be enjoyed. It is also a popular place for a wedding venue, so if you’re thinking of getting hitched somewhere special why not choose the castle for the ultimate romantic setting!
Palazzo dei Capitani (Captain’s Palace)
Known as the Captain’s Palace, this delicately designed building is one of the most fascinating historic buildings in Malcesine. Built in a stunning Venetian Gothic style, the palace was once used as the residence for the Captains of the Lake. It has since undergone restoration and is now used as the town hall and also the town library. There is also a beautiful garden here that helps to make it a popular wedding venue.
Church of St Stefano
The beautifully designed church is located at an elevated position, as if it’s watching over the town. Built in the 18th century, the baroque architecture and light coloured exterior makes it very pleasant to look at whether from a far or up close. Within you will find an equally beautiful interior design and also two local saints whose remains are exhibited here.
This huge mountain can’t be missed, as it sits high above the surrounding landscape directly behind Malcesine. From a far it looks completely still and quiet but if you decide to explore it you will discover it’s the number one place in the area for sports and other activities such as hiking. Here you can enjoy a relaxing walk through the trees or an adrenaline inducing mountain bike ride down the steep slopes. In the wintertime there are even ski runs you can have a go at!
Monte Baldo Cableway
This unique cableway has to be the best way to see Lake Garda at once from end to end, as it rises high above the landscape travelling 1600 metres in approximately 10 minutes! Best of all, each of the cabins rotate a full 360 degrees very slowly, so you won’t even have to turn your head to see it all. When you step out you will find yourself at an altitude of 1760m which is seriously high! From here you will have access to some great activities including paragliding.
This is one of the most popular sports in the area thanks to the many challenging tracks set throughout the wooded mountainside. If you like taking things to the extreme then this is definitely the sport for you and you won’t have to bring your own bike thanks to bike rental being readily available. If you’re inexperienced just make sure that you take it slow and don’t forget your protective gear!
One of the best ways to see the town, the lake and surrounding landscape is to book yourself a paragliding session. Professionals handle these, so you can rest assured that you will be in safe hands. You will find the spot a short distance from where you exit the cable car and once you’ve been fully prepared and strapped to your instructor, you will find yourself gliding through the air high above the ground.
You may not think it but you can actually have a go at skiing in Malcesine during the winter time! The cooler weather allows for ski runs to be opened, so whether you’re an experienced skier or need a few lessons, why not give it a go if you’re in town over Christmas.
If these activities sound a little too extreme for your tastes then why not enjoy a peaceful hike through the forest. Start from the town centre and work you way slowly, taking care to keep your bearings. When the sun is shining in the summer, you will love the warm air between the trees but it’s also pleasant in the winter when things are much cooler and fresh.
The public beach at Malcesine is conveniently located just to the north of Scaligero Castle. It may be small but there’s always room for everyone and you won’t be able to resist jumping into the cooling clear blue waters of the lake. There is a small platform just offshore, where the kids can have fun jumping into the water and climbing back out again. It’s the perfect way to stay cool under the summer sun.
The beach itself consists of small pebbles but they are smooth, so you won’t have to worry too much about wearing shoes. They are comfy to lie on also, so just place your towel down and start soaking up that sun! If you would prefer to sit off the ground and simply enjoy the views, there are a few benches towards the rear of the beach.
You won’t have to look far before you find somewhere serving ice cold cocktails, beers and other refreshing beverages and with plenty of outside seating available, you can enjoy the evening summer breeze as you chat into the evening.
The nightlife in Malcesine is laid back and very pleasant with no huge crowds or noisy clubs. It is orientated around a few bars and also the restaurants, which help out by playing music during the summer evenings. This helps to add to the atmosphere without things seeming to rowdy. This also makes it very family friendly, so feel free to bring the kids along, so they can enjoy an evening out.
The supreme restaurant named Alcorsaro is the perfect place if you would prefer to experience the taste of freshly caught fish. Sardines, whitefish, fresh water prawns and trout are among some of the beautifully prepared fish that grace the menus of this fabulous restaurant. Lovingly prepared by the passionate chefs, you are sure to experience a truly traditional taste.
Vecchia Malcesine is another excellent restaurant focusing on fish caught from the lake itself. However, this menu is a little more creative with a mixture of pasta, fresh fish and even snails! Try the trout, pike, salmon and tuna fish that are all freshly prepared every single day. If you would prefer something a little simpler, simply wander the winding streets and you will soon come to a pizzeria where you can treat yourself to a traditional piece of Italian pie.
There are numerous restaurants around the resort, offering excellent menus with various options. If you can’t resist wood-fired spit-roasted meat that’s full of flavour then the Speck Stube restaurant is definitely the place you’ll want to go to first. Here you will find a delicious selection of meat cooked in this manner, which is available from lunchtime to 11pm at night! Enjoy chicken, pork chops, sausage and pork cannon bone cooked to perfection and best of all, takeaway is even available!
If you’re looking to enhance or maybe refresh your wardrobe, there are some great clothing stores selling everything from colourful shirts to more fashionable apparel. If you’re visiting during the sizzling summer then chances are you’ll need a new hat to keep the sun of your face. No problem! Pick one up for a very reasonable price and if you need the essentials such as suncream, there are plenty of shops selling those too!
A local product you definitely won’t be able to avoid is the tasty Limoncello juice drink made from world famous large local lemons grown in the area. Local wines are very popular to, after a good grape harvest, so feel free to stock up during your stay and enjoy a true taste of traditional Italy as you overlook the glistening waters of Lake Garda.
Despite the fact that Malcesine is not a primary shopping district, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy a selection of shops selling quality local merchandise. Take an hour or two to browse the selection of shops and discover what’s on offer in this quaint little town.