Italy

Lake Garda’s Colorful Towns

Morning breakfast at Hotel Flaminia was decent with a view over Lake Garda…even though inside.

After breakfast and on our way walking to the parking lot to get our car, we stopped by Castle Scaligero for photos without the crowds. The lovely town was quiet early in the morning so it was the best time to get photos before tour groups arrived.

Castle Scaligero:

We got our car and started our journey around Lake Garda to visit beautiful towns along the way. Traffic wasn’t bad except the narrow lane shared with bicyclists and motorcyclists…..

To give you an idea of how narrow it is, just enough to fit our compact car!

One thing I dislike about how the road is designed is that we passed many colorful towns but there’s no “viewpoint” nor space to pull over our car to have a decent photo. It is such a waste of beautiful views.

Our first stop was Limone sul Garda and luckily each little town has a public paid-parking lot near the visitor’s center. I think it only cost €1,60 per hour.

We walked in the visitor’s center to ask for direction on where to get this postcard photo. I showed the guy the photo on my phone and he said…..”it’s a bit dangerous to get there because it’s on the motorway and no pedestrian sidewalk to get there”. He pointed once we get out of the visitor center, walk on the motorway (yes, you heard that right – the narrow road we drove on) turn left and continue to walk through the tunnel and you’ll see it. He added, “stay on as right as you could”.

He was so right that it’s dangerous! We tried to stay as right as we could, single file, and the cars were passing and dodging us yikes. Once we got into the tunnel, it was scarier and it was a long tunnel! We thought after the tunnel we will be there but no there’s another tunnel to walk through. After the 2nd tunnel, there’s a little empty space that probably can fit our compact car why didn’t he tell us to drive instead? Anyways, once I saw the views, woahhhh it was definitely worth taking the risk!

This postcard-perfect view is one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen! Yellow and orange houses and roofs perched along the hill overlooking the bluest lake surrounded by mountain ranges, what’s better than this?

This specially shaped tower stood out and made the panorama photo to be extra unique. This is one of my favorite photos!

This empty area is wide and long enough for us to setup the tripod so we could have photos of us two 🙂 Incredible views and the weather was perfect.

There were hotels along this main motorway so we were thinking there must be another safer way to get down to the town center without walking back via the tunnels again! We walked further along the motorway and got to a hotel’s parking lot/entrance. There, the view looked like this, still very pretty. I walked in the hotel – Hotel Splendid Palace and ask for direction on how to get down to the town center. The receptionist said since we are not hotel guests, we can’t use their elevator to get down but there’s a public staircase just behind the parking lot to walk down. Ha! I wish the visitor center staff tell us about it, how can it be that he doesn’t know?

The Lemon House ruin as seen from the hotel’s parking lot.

Never get tired of this view!

At the hotel’s parking lot.

We walked down the hidden flights of stairs to get down to the town center, I guess it would be hard to locate it if you are coming from the town center since there’s no sign but now you know…walk toward near Hotel Splendid Palace and then this hidden staircase should be right after it to get up. There is a short walk on the motorway to get to the viewpoint, walk on the side as much as you could, pay attention to traffic, and you should be fine 🙂

Once we get down to the town center, there’s a lovely promenade to stop for photos at.

We got there in the morning and the sun angle was perfect to light up the lovely town so plan to be there in the morning as the afternoon will be in shadow.

The houses covered by plants and flowers are super pretty to photograph.

A little water fountain with Limone Sul Garda surrounded by grass.

Famous limoncello, one of their specialty and the fruits looked fresh and delicious.

This narrow house divided the road into two, the views from those balconies should be excellent for people watching.

After strolling around Limone Sul Garda, we walked back up to the parking lot to pick up our car and headed to the next town. Another option is to take the ferry to Riva del Garda and Malcesine but then we’ll need to get back to pick up our car so instead of wasting time, we drove all the way.

A short 20 minutes drive, we arrived at Riva del Garda. Unfortunately, the small parking lots in town are full so we had to park along the motorway and we had no clue if it’s legal to park there. There are many cars parked there so we assumed we’ll be okay. A short walk from where we parked our car is the waterfront promenade.

Riva del Garda is much smaller than Limone Sul Garda but it has its charm with colorful houses with a bell tower in the center.

Hotel Sole dominated the waterfront view.

The streets are more colorful than Limone Sul Garda:

Riva del Garda is a perfect lunch spot right between Limone Sul Garda and Malcesine so we had our lunch at Ristorante Pizzeria Leon d’Oro. We were seated outside while it was pretty empty inside the restaurant, not sure why, along this narrow uneven street. There wasn’t any view or anything so not sure what’s the vibe on seating outdoor. The view was this leather bag store where the owner (I guess?) was trying hard to sell his bags, whenever someone stopped to take a look, he’ll walk out and greet the customer.

Our must appetizer in Italy – steamed mussels. They cooked them right but the sauce was just okay.

My seafood spaghetti with lots of mussels and clams but not much shrimps. However, the taste was above average. Two spaghetti, one mussel, water, and cover charge totaled €55,10. Lake Garda is not cheap at all by any means!

I was quite worried about the car so right after lunch, we headed back to get our car and not really checking out its shops.

Phew, our car was still there and no ticket. We got in our car and drove along the lake to our next stop Malcesine. We passed many cute towns and at Torbole, there are parking spots right along the waterfront so we stopped for some photos. The timing of the day was just about right for the perfect lighting 🙂

We didn’t make any more stops till we reached Malcesine and as we were entering the town, there are displays of the parking lots availability – how high-tech and make it easy for tourists. They have three parking lots P1, P2, P3, I think we parked at P1 close to the visitor’s center. The machine to pay the parking fee but it dispensed a colored plastic coin, we were wondering if it has a smart chip inside, otherwise, how it’ll know how long we parked?

We walked to the visitor’s center to get a map and when I saw an advertisement display of the gorgeous town, I took a photo of it with my phone thinking to ask the visitor’s center staff on where to take a photo like this later.

The first thing we did was took the funicular up to Monte Baldo which is highly recommended by Trip Advisor. The roundtrip cost €22 and there was a long time. Each can fill probably 20-30 people?

I am telling you, if you are afraid of height like me, be prepared, it is really high!!! You thought standing on the side facing the mountain will not be as scary? Wrong! That funicular housing rotates to allow360-degree views on the long way up LOL!!! It got steeper and steeper as it go up. There were some “bumps” and was scary.

Once we got off the funicular, it has nothing there and it served as a station to change into another funicular, much steeper, to get up to the top of the mountain! Another 15 minutes of wait or so to get on the 2nd funicular. The ride up is even steeper and scarier!

Once we got up, there is really no view of Malcesine because it’s so high that it’s above the clouds. I was so disappointed that we paid this money and time for this….

And so many people came up here too….urg for??? Almost half of the passengers are paragliders so it’s a popular paragliding take off place.

It was cold up there especially when the clouds blocked the sun…I wasn’t dress for this!

Unbelievable to see so many paragliders….

Without staying much longer, we decided to head down to save time for exploring the town itself. The line going down was a huge shock! It took more than half an hour for our turn 🙁

Once we got back down to town and walked back to the visitor’s center to ask for the photo spot location, the visitor’s center already closed…AWWWWW!!!

We decided to visit the Scaliger Castle in Malcesine, although not “floating” on water as the one in Sirmione, the views from the tower was pretty good even though not the postcard perfect view we saw on the advertisement.

Malcesine is on the opposite side of the lake from Limone sul Garda so you can see in the afternoon, it’s completely in shadow. Malcesine, on the other hand, is best to visit in the early afternoon. This was during late afternoon:

After the castle, we explored the narrow cobblestone streets of the town center, it’s charming.

Afterward, we were on a quest to locate that photo spot ourselves, we know that it must be taken outside of the center to have a photo of the town on the lake. We walked to the parking lot, inserted that colored coin and surprise surprise, it knows how long we stayed. We drove along the motorway (only one main road surrounding Lake Garda) and constantly look back to see if that’s the view. There were many trees blocking the view and no place to pull over. We kept driving to a point that we were sure we were too far so we turned back and tried again. We eventually pulled over this little private parking lot and Jason quickly walked out to snap a few photos. Is this the spot? Perhaps with a 70-200mm telephoto lens?

Jason came back and showed me the photo…I guess that’s the closest we can get as there’s no stopping spot along the way and covered with trees. We decided to head back to Sirmione as it was getting late and a long drive (1 hour 17 minutes). Traffic was congested at town centers….look at how people drive here, those motorcyclists grrr!

Once we got back to Sirmione and parked our car, we walked to Al Platano. Review ratings were good but the place is so empty so when we walked in we were like are we in the right place? I ordered the seafood spaghetti and Jason ordered a mixed grilled fish plate. The spaghetti turned out to be good and with good quality ingredients – a full-sized, my favorite, Mediterranean prawn.

Jason’s mixed grilled was decent too. Our dinner cost €48.

Our day tour around the cute towns of Lake Garda – Limone Sul Garda is my favorite especially that viewpoint that we risked our lives to get there. It was a very enjoyable day to explore multiple towns and each one has its own charm. If you have more than 2 nights, I recommend taking the ferry at least once as I bet the views from the water approaching those towns would be absolutely stunning.

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