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How to Spend 1 Day on Lake Maggiore

How to Spend 1 Day on Lake Maggiore

Straddling the border between Italy and Switzerland, Lake Maggiore is ringed by picturesque towns, lavish villas and gardens, and medieval castles—in addition to the gem-like Borromean Islands that sit in its center. One day gives you just enough time to hit the highlights. Here’s how.

Morning: Explore Stresa

The most popular and scenic resort town on Lake Maggiore is Stresa, perched on the western shore and backed by the Alpine foothills of Monte Mottarone. A retreat favored by luminaries such as Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway, the town is best explored on a walking tour that takes in the elegant belle epoque hotels along its tree-lined promenade to Piazza Cadorna, lined with lively cafés and restaurants. Browse the shops and galleries and relax on the waterfront lidos until it’s time to hop a boat to the nearby fairy-tale Borromean Islands. Alternatively, join a late-morning cooking class near the lake to learn how to prepare classic local dishes, followed by an alfresco lunch.

Afternoon: The Borromean Islands

No trip to Lake Maggiore is complete without visiting this delightful clutch of islands sitting just opposite Stresa. Choose a private or hop-on-hop-off-boat tour to explore these three tiny outposts, which have been owned by the aristocratic Borromeo family since the 12th century. Isola Bella and Isola Madre are home to decadent, 17th-century palaces and formal terraced gardens built as the Borromeos’ private pleasure grounds. Charming Isola dei Pescatori is a former fishing island with pretty chapels, souvenir shops, and traditional fish restaurants overlooking the lake.

Night: Treasures of Maggiore or Orta

After you’ve returned from your island jaunt, you can continue villa hopping with a visit to the 17th-century Villa della Porta Bozzolo east of Lake Maggiore to admire its elegant interiors and vast Italianate gardens with statues, scenic overlooks, and rose garden. Otherwise, head to nearby Lake Orta, Maggiore’s smaller and quieter neighbor. Visit its tiny Isola San Giulio, an island that houses a picturesque basilica and monastery, and the mainland medieval village of Orta San Giulio, with its 16th-century town hall and hillside Sacro Monte chapel complex. Top off your visit with aperitifs and dinner at a lakeside restaurant here.

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10 Tours and Activities | All Lake Maggiore Tours

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Private Tour of Borromean Islands from Stresa with Micaela

Private Tour of Borromean Islands from Stresa with Micaela

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If you want to discover the Borromean Islands on a tour that offers a personal touch, look no further than this private day trip from Stresa. With a guide just for you and your group of family or friends, you’ll travel to the three chic Lake Maggiore islands: Isola Madre, Isola dei Pescatori, and Isola Bella. Hear the history of the baroque Palazzo Borromeo on a tour, get restaurant recommendations for lunch on Isola dei Pescatori, and wander the gardens of beautiful Isola Madre.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$365.13
per group
From
$365.13
per group
Taking safety measures

Private Guided Boat Tour of Lake Maggiore's Borromeo Islands

Private Guided Boat Tour of Lake Maggiore's Borromeo Islands

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Visit the Borromean Islands of Lake Maggiore with your own private guide, and enjoy transport by motorboat just for your group plus a tour of Isola Bella’s 17th-century palace. Perfect if you want to understand the lake’s history and avoid the tourist crowds, the experience offers everything you need to explore the islands with ease. The standard tour includes stops at Isola Pescatori and Isola Madre, but you can upgrade to visit the botanical gardens of Isola Madre, if you wish.
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  • 3 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$236.85
per group
From
$236.85
per group
Taking safety measures

Lake Maggiore Day Trip by Train from Milan Including Cruise to Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori

Lake Maggiore Day Trip by Train from Milan Including Cruise to Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori

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Leave Milan for a day and head to one of Italy's most tranquil swaths of land: Lake Maggiore. The shores are sprinkled with charming towns and villages and there's plenty of nature to marvel at. Spend a big part of the day cruising on a boat, gawking at the elegant villas and Mediterranean gardens. Take some free time on Isola dei Pescatori and then get a guided tour of Isola Bella to see the Baroque-bedecked Borromeo Palace. Finish the tour with a stop in the charming town of Stresa.
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  • 11 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$123.69
From
$123.69

Traditional Italian Dishes Cooking Class in Lake Maggiore

Traditional Italian Dishes Cooking Class in Lake Maggiore

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Learn to prepare several classic Italian dishes at a private home in Ticino Natural Park, located 36 miles (60km) from central Milan. Help to make a 3-course lunch with menu options that are tailored to the tastes of the participants. Have lunch accompanied by wine, dining at a table in the forest (weather permitting), and look for local wildlife such as fox, hare, and bird life.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$99.80
From
$99.80
Taking safety measures

Boat Tour to Borromean Island

Boat Tour to Borromean Island

star-3.5
Book ahead to see the three Borromean Islands by boat, and save yourself the hassle of working out boat cruise tickets at the lakeside. A hop-on hop-off ferry cruise, the experience starts from Stresa and stops at Isola dei Pescatori, Isola Bella, and Isola Madre: Lake Maggiore’s famous trio of islands. Ferries depart every 30 minutes through the day, leaving you with ample time to explore each island at leisure.
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  • 1 day
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$61.68
From
$61.68
Taking safety measures

Isola Bella Fishermen's Island Private Tour from Stresa with Micaela

Isola Bella Fishermen's Island Private Tour from Stresa with Micaela

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Experience the most that Isola Bella has to offer with this private tour of two of Italy's most famous islands. Visit the aptly-named Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) and Isola dei Pescatori (Fisherman's Island). This private tour offers a morning or afternoon departure to best suit your personal needs.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$243.42
per group
From
$243.42
per group
Taking safety measures

Lake Maggiore :Stresa to Isola Bella Hop-On Hop-Off Boat Tour

Lake Maggiore :Stresa to Isola Bella Hop-On Hop-Off Boat Tour

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Explore the ‘Beautiful Island’ of Isola Bella at your leisure with a hop-on hop-off ferry ticket departing from Stresa. Glide across Lake Maggiore to this most renowned of the Borromean Islands, where you can visit the Palace Museum and Gardens, grab a bite to eat or simply stroll around the palazzos and villas that decorate the port. Ferries run every 30 minutes, so you can customize your day.
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  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$9.74
From
$9.74
Taking safety measures

Micaela's Private Walking Tour of Stresa

Micaela's Private Walking Tour of Stresa

Explore the picturesque town of Stresa on foot with a private guide who takes you on a leisurely walking tour with live commentary. View the town's elegant architecture along with sweeping views of Lake Maggiore, the Italian Alps, and the Borromean Islands. Learn about Stresa’s past and present, and get tips for places to visit during your stay on a private tour tailored to your interests.
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  • 1 to 2 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$207.25
per group
From
$207.25
per group
Taking safety measures

Sightseeing tour of Lake Maggiore from Stresa

Sightseeing tour of Lake Maggiore from Stresa

star-3
Visit the fashionable Stresa and the amazing Islands on Lake Maggiore on a day trip from Milan. Set in Italy's beautiful Lake District just 1.5-hour drive from Milan, Lake Maggiore is surrounded by the majestic Alps and home to some of Italy’s most impressive gardens. After some free time for shopping in Stresa, you will take a two-hour panoramic boat cruise on the lake, visiting the Borromean Islands – Isola Madre, Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Bella. On the borders of Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland, Lake Maggiore, also known as Verbano is the second largest Italian lake. 
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$60.45
From
$60.45
Taking safety measures

Tour of Lake Maggiore and Orta san Giulio from Arona

Tour of Lake Maggiore and Orta san Giulio from Arona

Discover the UNESCO–listed treasures of Lake Maggiore and Orta san Giulio in Italy on this 7-hour tour from Arona. Spin along the banks of Lake Maggiore and take in top sites of interest including the Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo and the Sacred Mount of Orta. Explore the town of Stresa at your leisure, and enjoy sightseeing cruises to Bella Island and San Giulio Island. This tour includes pickup and drop-off in central Arona or your centrally located Arona hotel.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$85.54
From
$85.54