The western shore’s three Borromean Islands are the stars of the show on Lake Maggiore holidays. Cruise across shimmering waters to Isola Bella for a stroll around the captivating Baroque palace and 10 tiered gardens; to Isola Madre for colourful botanical beauty and rare vegetation; and Isola dei Pescatori for charming fishing village ambiance on the only inhabited island. Poised majestically on the lake’s western shore, Stresa is the leading resort of Lake Maggiore and has idyllic views of the famous Borromean Islands. Home to the spectacular gardens of Villa Taranto filled with conifers, dahlias and water lily ponds and resident peacocks and flamingos at the opulent Villa Pallavicino, there’s plenty of grand beauty in this gorgeous town. The Mottorane cable car departs from the Lido at Stresa taking you first to the Alpino gardens and then on to the summit of Mottorane where you’re met with breathtaking views over Lake Maggiore and Mount Rosa. Arrive early morning for the most spectacular light. Stresa itself has plenty of boutiques, cafés and restaurants to visit and the waterfront promenade is where most of the action happens. Head to the Cannero Riviero for a rare glimpse of a beach and the charming town of Baveno for renowned natural hot springs, its enchanting 16th-Century Romanesque square and pretty pink granite quarries.
Where is Lake Maggiore?
On the south side of the Alps in north Italy, Lake Maggiore is the longest of the Italian Lakes and its northern end stretches into Switzerland. The Borromean Islands lie off the western shore.
Whether you hop on a ferry, charter a yacht or jump on board a boat or catamaran, travelling by water is the best way to get around in Lake Como. Each village is relatively small, making it easy to navigate and walk once you arrive.
Food & drink
Traditional risotto, brioche from the bakery, catch-of-the-day from the lake and fritto misto (mixed fried fish and seafood)… dining out in Lake Maggiore is all about local produce and fresh cuisine. Expect lakefront restaurants with spellbinding views, rustic trattorias with old Italian charm, and cheese and wine artisanal shops and tours. There’s Michelin-starred Moorish dining at Lake Orta, a unique and romantic dinner on the Borromean Island of Isola dei Pescatori and plenty of local shops in Stresa where you can fill a picnic hamper with cold cuts of meat, grilled vegetables and mountain cheeses. Expect tons of gelato shops, al fresco cafés and lakeside aperitivo as the sun goes down, and on the western shores on the border of the Piedmont region the bold red Barolo wines are made from the Nebbiolo grapes.
GMT + 1 hour
2 hours to Milan then 1 hour transfer