Tucked away between Italy and Switzerland, holidays to Lake Maggiore are like a breath of fresh air. With natural beauty everywhere you look and plenty of activities, it’s a firm favourite with Italy lovers. Wondering what to do in Lake Maggiore? To help you get started, below is a guide to our favourite things…
Located in Lake Maggiore, the Borromean Islands consist of: Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island). You can easily take a boat trip from Stresa or Verbania and enjoy the wonders of the islands. Isola Bella is the most famous and is known for it’s grand 17th century palace, Palazzo Borromeo, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. Isola Madre is the largest of the islands and is home to lush, botancial gardens filled with a wide range of exotic plants. The smallest island, Isola dei Pescatori, has a rustic feel to it and was once a fishing village with narrow cobbled streets – the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll.
Lake Maggiore is a popular spot for watersports lovers. The waters are clean and clear making it ideal for swimming and many towns around the shores have designated swimming areas and beaches. You can also try your hand at windsurfing or sailing by renting a sailboat for the day. Or why not climb aboard a canoe or a kayak and enjoy the lakes shores, soaking up the natural beauty. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, Lake Maggiore provides a wide range of water activities to enjoy.
Relaxing on the shores of Lake Maggiore is a wonderful way to unwind and soak up the scenery of this stunning landscape. With breathtaking views, you can truly appreciate the natural beauty of the tranquil waters, with the mountains in the distance and the pretty lakeside towns. Take your spot on a sandy beach, a park or a cafe terrace and watch the world go by. Lake Maggiore is also known for its beuatiful sunsets so don’t miss the sky lighting up in shades of red and orange as another day comes to a close.
The region around Lake Maggiore is known for its wine tasting so be sure to visit local wineries and vineyards to learn all about the wine making process. Home to scenic vineyards, many are perched on the hillsides overlooking the lake providing visitors with the most breathtaking views. Unique grape varieties grow here including Nebbiolo, used to produce Ghemme and Gattinara wines. Expert sommeliers can guide you through the tasting, showcasing the different characteristics of each wine.
Stresa is a charming town on the western shore of Lake Maggiore and is a popular destination thanks to its history and natural beauty. Stroll along the lakeside promenade or take a day trip to the Borromean Islands - lots of adventures await. The surrounding area is perfect for hiking and nature lovers. The Mottarone mountain is accessible from Stresa by cable car and rewards you with panoramic views of the dramatic Alps and the lake. Be sure to visit Villa Pallavicino, a 19th century villa with beautiful botanical gardens including rare trees and colourful flowers.
Italian food is some of the finest in the world and is loved by everyone who visits. Offering an array of culinary delights, you can try the flavours of Lombardy and Piedmont. Lake Maggiore is known for its excellent risotto with famous dishes such as Risotto al Pesce Persico made with perch from the lake. Polenta is also a staple in this region and is often served as a side dish with some hearty mains. Pair your meal choice with a glass of excellent local wine – delicious!
Lake Maggiore was a favourite of novelist Ernest Hemingway. As a testament to his complete love for the city of Stresa he wrote A Farewell to Arms, and his hotel of choice while staying on the lake was the majestic Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees.
Enjoy the beautiful walk from Stresa to Passera church. The walk is really peaceful, about 1.5 miles long and offers stunning views down over the lake and surrounding area – it is best enjoyed in the early morning.
Make use of the ferry network to visit the neighbouring towns on the lake.