Arrive at Milan airport and travel to the spectacular shores of Lake Maggiore. Check in to your lakeside hotel before heading to the nearest resort for a promenade stroll as the sun begins to set. Finish your first evening with a delicious lakeside meal at your hotel or a nearby restaurant.
Once the preferred retreat of 19th century aristocrats, Lake Maggiore's noble legacy is reflected in its grand villas, landscaped terraces and lavish gardens. There are more than 40 towns around the lake’s shore, and five islands set in the azure waters, so we recommend planning carefully to maximise your time by the lake.
Ferry services make it easy to get across the water to some of the best resorts and attractions, such as Pallanza’s Villa Taranto and the Isola Bella’s jaw dropping palace. Top towns to look out for include Cannero, in the lake’s upper reaches, which benefits from a temperate climate that makes it a haven for walkers, and Stresa – arguably the lake’s most stunning town, packed with historic streets and charming cafes.
Today you will leave Italy for Switzerland, as you briefly cross the border on your journey to Lake Como (approx. 2 hours). Once back in Italy and by the lake’s shore, check in to your hotel before taking a first look at the spectacular beauty of Europe’s deepest lake.
Set close to the fashion-conscious Milan, Lake Como is often considered to be Italy’s most mesmerising lake, and beguiles visitors with romantic towns and unaltered natural beauty. It’s easy to get out and about, thanks to numerous ferry and water taxi shuttles crossing the lake, which is fortunate as there’s a lot to see. In the next few days, we recommend exploring as many of the lake’s towns as possible – stroll down the gorgeous promenades, wander around the endearing artisan shops of grey-stoned Varenna, and visit Tremezzo with its neoclassical Villa Carlotta and floral gardens.
Film fans will love the pre-bookable Villa Balbianello excursion, setting sail by private boat for one of the loveliest villas and gardens on Lake Como – an 18th-century Villa once featured in the James bond film 'Casino Royale'. For the more sporting, the north of Lake Como is a watersports hub due to the afternoon 'breva' – an idiosyncratic breeze that ruffles the trees of this part of the lake daily.
Finish your Italian escape with a drive to Milan (approx. 1.5 hours), where you can include a quick stop at the spectacular duomo – one of Italy’s largest – before dropping off your car at Milan Malpensa Airport and boarding your flight home.
The closest airport to Lake Maggiore is Milan Malpensa (MXP). Direct flights to Milan are available from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and Manchester and take approximately 2 hours.
Direct flights to Milan Bergamo (BGY) depart from London Stansted, Bristol, Manchester, East Midlands and Belfast and take approximately 2 hours.
At the current time, British citizens do not require a visa to visit Italy.
You don’t have to leave a tip in Italy – most Italians don’t tip for restaurant meals, bar drinks, taxi rides or hair and beauty treatments. However if you do leave a tip, you might receive quicker service.