At 50 kilometers from Verona, at the foot of Monte Baldo, there is a city built around an ancient Scaligera fortress: Malcesine. An enchanting village overlooking Lake Garda, the northernmost of the Veronese side.
With its small port, quaint squares, and lively alleyways, Malcesine is certainly worth a visit. It possesses an irresistible charm that captivates you and never lets go. Its fame is also due to the panoramic cable car departing from the town center, not far from the Scaligero Castle. This cable car ascends to the heights of Monte Baldo, reaching 2,000 meters above sea level, often referred to as the ‘Botanical Garden of Europe’ due to its abundant native plant species. From this vantage point, you can behold the grandeur of the lake, marvel at its most picturesque vistas, observe the lakeside towns from above, and even engage in paragliding for a truly breathtaking experience.
Malcesine: the artists who celebrated it.
Gustav Klimt was one of the illustrious visitors of Malcesine who was dazzled by the charm of this country. In the summer of 1913 he painted two of his most famous landscapes inspired by the beauty of the city: “Malcesine on Lake Garda”, which was destroyed in the fire of the Immendorf castle in Vienna in 1945, and “The church of Cassone”, kept in Rome in the National Gallery of Modern Art. In addition to Klimt, Malcesine sul Garda was visited in 1786 by Goethe and recounted on his famous trip to Italy. The German poet showed the charm of this lakeside town through drawings that are now preserved in the Natural History Museum of Baldo and Garda (continued below), a treasure found in Malcesine that is worth discovering.
What to see in a day trip in Malcesine.
The Scaligero Castle.
The Natural History Museum of Baldo and Garda is located inside the Scaligero Castle, and was completely renovated in 2008 with the aim of making local natural history known with easy-to-understand and highly suggestive displays. The Museum is spread over nine rooms: four dedicated to the lake and the others dedicated to the landscape and the mountains. The rooms document the natural and archaeological heritage of the area without forgetting plant and animal species, but also photographs and information about the environment and fossils.
The historical center.
Malcesine, in addition to the Scaligero castle overlooking the lake, has a very characteristic small historic center. Between alleys and open spaces, there is no shortage of places to taste all the flavors of Venetian cuisine. The small port, the squares, the typical restaurants and cafes and the historic parish church of Santo Stefano. Malcesine is one of the most elegant and best equipped holiday resorts on Lake Garda.
Palace of the Captains.
Absolutely not to be missed in Malcesine sul Garda is the building called “Palazzo dei Capitani” which was the seat of the Scaligeri governors and, subsequently, of the Captain of the Lake. Built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries over the ruins of ancient buildings dating back to the ancient Romans, the palace was purchased by a notable Veronese who, towards the end of the fifteenth century, sold it to Alessandro Miniscalchi.
Renovated and embellished in Venetian style, the building passed from hand to hand until it became the residence of the Captain of the Lake. Today it is the seat of the local public library, after having undergone a restoration and consolidation.
The fresco that adorns the ceiling of the large hall is surprising, where the coats of arms of the Gardesana dell’Acqua, of Verona and of the Captain of the Lake stand out. You can admire halls with large Venetian-style windows, stairways, rooms and a balcony from which the panorama of the lake.
Just 4 kilometers from the center of Malcesine sul Garda, you can visit the small village of Cassone which totally overlooks the lake. Picturesque are the views that this little gem offers, as well as the uniqueness of its landscape.
Cassone is crossed by what has been declared the shortest river in the world: the Aril, just 175 meters long. Do not miss the lakeside promenade which apparently was also appreciated by the great Klimt who immortalized this village in one of his works entitled ‘Kirche in Cassone am Gardasee’.
If you fancy a nice uphill trek, the path to the Hermitage of San Benigno a Caro starts from there, built in the dense woods of Monte Baldo.
Aril: the shortest river in the world is located in Malcesine.
Arìl is the name of the very short stream that crosses a part of Cassone, a small hamlet of Malcesine. 175 meters long, the Arìl has earned the title of “shortest river in the world” (even if it is not an absolutely determinable geographical datum). Despite this, it is a potential drinking water source for the inhabitants of the area as well as being a unique environmental resource, both from a structural and landscape point of view.
Arìl was born in the heart of Cassone from a pond fed by a pool, a protected fishing reserve, where trout, going up the river, lay their eggs. From 1889 to 1913, the source of this river was exploited by a power plant and supplied energy to the wheel of two mills and an oil mill. Before flowing into Lake Garda, the Arìl crosses three bridges and forms a waterfall. During the Christmas holidays, a magnificent nativity scene is set up right on its waters.
Near the mouth of the small river is the recently opened Museo del Lago di Cassone, where you can find tools used for fishing and objects of the past for daily use on display. In this museum there are also photographs of the ancient sailing boats, in memory of a time when the transport of materials did not take place by road but thanks to the lake. Outside there are two large tanks where you can see eels, trout and chub. This is because the building was originally used as a hatchery for the breeding of fish. A visit to the Lake Museum can be an excellent opportunity to rediscover the entire village of Cassone: a small treasure well preserved and guarded by its inhabitants.
Val di Sogno.
Val di Sogno is part of the various hamlets of the Municipality of Malcesine. Its name will not disappoint you: it is a true Paradise! The most beautiful way to get to this peaceful bay is through a panoramic walk with a lake view, which from Malcesine leads directly to its beautiful beaches. This walk is part of the Brenzone – Malcesine cyclepedestian path. In Malcesine there are also equipped beaches and dog beaches.
Things to do in a day trip in Malcesine.
The Malcesine – Monte Baldo cable car.
The Malcesine – Monte Baldo cable car (see timetables and fares) has always been a must for tourists in the Garda area, in a few minutes it takes you up to almost 1800 meters above sea level and with its rotating cabins offers a 360 ° view all over Lake Garda capable of always arousing new emotions. It is also possible to transport the bikes and then go downhill or to follow the various routes at high altitude. And during the winter snow awaits you!
If you look upwards towards the mountain from the coast, you will see a white statue depicting the Madonna. It is the Madonna dell’Accoglienza, which overlooks and protects the entire town. If you want to do a beautiful ring trekking to reach it click here.
Malcesine is the lake capital of paragliding. Its landing field, located on the water’s edge, is one of the most beautiful and spectacular in the world for the breathtaking panorama it offers. Find all the info by clicking here.
Ideal destination for all sailing sports.
In the morning at dawn in the Retelino area (where the ferry boarding is located), you will find the ideal beach for starting and practicing kite-surfing, wing-foil and wind-surfing. There the Peler (the wind that blows from the north to the south) reigns supreme for super adrenaline-pumping sessions! Also in Navene you will find a splendid marina called Fraglia Vela Malcesine.
Relaxing on the Beach
Malcesine offers numerous beaches where you can enjoy a peaceful day basking in the sun and frolicking in the serene waters of Lake Garda. Whether you choose Navene or Val di Sogno, you’ll discover an ideal spot to spend a sun-soaked day at the beach.
Hotels – Restaurants – Experience in Malcesine.
As for the whole of Lake Garda, in Malcesine there are also many structures in which to stay, from small and well-kept B & Bs to resorts with wellness centers and beauty services, in the section dedicated to hotels in Malcesine you will find all the information to search for accommodation in you more congenial.
The same goes for restaurants, at this link you will find our selection of restaurants in Malcesine. Remembering that Lake Garda offers several starred restaurants and the quality of the culinary offer is very high.
There are many activities and experiences you can do in Malcesine and on Lake Garda, so we recommend that you visit the section dedicated to experiences in our magazine by clicking here.
How to get.
A22 – Brennero / Modena: Rovereto Sud / Lago di Garda Nord exit. Distance 37 km. From the motorway exit, follow the signs for Lake Garda, Torbole. Once in Torbole on Lake Garda, at the roundabout, continue left following the signs for Malcesine.
A22 – Brennero / Modena: Affi exit. Distance 37 km. From the exit, follow the signs for Lake Garda / Garda. Once in Garda, head north following the signs for Malcesine.
For any questions about Malcesine or about your holiday on Lake Garda, do not hesitate to contact us by commenting on this article or by writing on our social channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok), we are always available to help you.
See you next time dear Outdoors!