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A Short Travel Guide to Lake Maggiore

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The town of Angera on Maggiore Lake. One of the castle names is Rocca d'Angera. Here your will get great views of the lake and the town.

The town of Angera on Maggiore Lake. One of the castle names is Rocca d'Angera. Here your will get great views of the lake and the town. (Photo Credit: Denis Bulichenko)

Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy, and spans across two countries to meet Switzerland on its northern banks. Being a well-known playground for the rich and famous, this vast lake is a stunning addition to any traveler’s itinerary. Rich in culture and history, the lake is surrounded with endless towns and villages to explore and uncover. 
Best time to Visit Lake Maggiore
Italian Spring (March to May)
Italian Autumn (September to November)

Fun Facts about Lake Maggiore

  • Lake Maggiore is Italy’s longest lake, spanning across 66km from end to end.
  • The word “Maggiore” in Italian translates to “greater,” as the lake is significantly larger than the other surrounding lakes.
  • The maximum depth of Lake Maggiore is 372 meters.
  • Over 40 towns and villages surround the lake between Italy and Switzerland.
  • The evidence of first human settlements around the lake dates back to the copper age.

Shortlist of all the Attractions and Activities available in Lake Maggiore

Attractions
•    Isole Borromeo
•    Monte Mottarone
•    Museo dell’Ombrello e del Parasole
•    Museo Europeo dei Trasporti
•    Palazzo Borromeo
•    Rocca di Angera
•    Santa Caterine del Sasso
•    Villa della Porta Bozzolo
•    Villa Taranto
•    Lago Maggiore – the lake itself

Activities
•    Canyoning between Lake Maggiore and Ossola Valley
•    Gentle walking through the Ossola Valley
•    Horseback riding
•    Mountain biking from Lake Maggiore to Mottarone
•    Paddling in a kayak on Lake Maggiore
•    Ride quad bikes off the beaten track
•    See the sights on a Vespa scooter
•    Take a helicopter flight over Lake Maggiore
•    Trekking through the Ossola Valley
•    Visit the Borromean Islands
•    Visiting the Safari Park

Top 5 Attractions at Lake Maggiore

Isole Borromeo

The castle's inner courtyard. Also a permanent dolls exhibition is hosted here, it features dolls made between the 18th century and the present day.

The castle's inner courtyard. Also a permanent dolls exhibition is hosted here, it features dolls made between the 18th century and the present day. (Photo Credit: Denis Bulichenko )

The Isole Borremeo took over 400 years to construct under the instruction and funding of the Borromeo family. It was their vison and the work, together with over 100 men, which transformed a barren rock into an opulent island estate. This place is Italian aristocracy at its finest.

28838 Stresa (VB) Italia.

Stresa Italia+39 0323 30556
Monte Mottarone
The Mattarone Mountain during the time of winter. Lake Maggiore, Italy.

The Mattarone Mountain during the time of winter. Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)

Monte Mottarone  is a mountain that overlooks Lake Maggiore, and can be accessed via a 30-minute cable car ride from Carciano. In the winter months, skiing on Monte Mottarone is very popular, as it offers 21 km of ski slopes to enjoy.
Rocca di Angera

The Rocca Di Angera.  Lake Maggiore, Italy .

The Rocca Di Angera. Lake Maggiore, Italy . (Photo Credit: WikimediaImages)

The Rocca d’Angera overlooks Lake Maggiore and originally functioned as a vantage point to monitor the trade routes of ships. It now houses a museum filled with dolls and toys, which is said to be one of the greatest collections in Europe, showcasing dolls and toys from generations gone by.

28838 Stresa (VB) Italia

Stresa Italia +39 0323 30556
Villa Taranto
The beautiful garden at VIlla Taranto.  Lake Maggiore, Italy.

The beautiful garden at VIlla Taranto. Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: Pubblico Dominio)

The botanical gardens of Villa Taranto is a stunning botanical display featuring a rare species, a herbarium, a colorful dahlia exhibit, vertical gardens terrace gardens and a lotus garden. Open all year-round, Villa Taranto is worth adding to any itinerary.

Via Vittorio Veneto 111, 28922 Verbania Pallanza (VB)

Via Vittorio Veneto+39 0323 556667
Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso
The hermitage is clinging to a rock face directly overhanging the Lake Maggiore.  Italy.

The hermitage is clinging to a rock face directly overhanging the Lake Maggiore. Italy. (Photo Credit: Denis Bulichenko)

This charming and ancient hermitage was constructed in the 12th century, and is rich in devout catholic history. The magnificent architecture clings to the cliff face, overlooking Lake Maggiore, and is the picturesque setting for visitors to explore the stained-glass chapels.

Via Santa Caterina, 13, 21038 Leggiuno VA, Italy

Via Santa Caterina +39 0332 647172

Top Events in-and-around Lake Maggiore

(Photo Credit: Couleur)

What to eat in-and-around Lake Maggiore

Antipasto platter.  Lake Maggiore, Italy.

Antipasto platter. Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: Alpha)

  • Share an Antipasto Platter:  Enjoy uninterrupted views of Lake Maggiore while enjoying an antipasto platter from Ristorante Concordia , featuring all the local Italian delights.
  • Enjoy a Glass of Vino:  Italy is famous for its wines, thus why not quench your thirst with a local wine from the Angera area , while basking in the sunshine.  

Itineraries in Lake Maggiore

There are quite a couple of places to visit.  Find here a couple photo routes to inspire your next trip:
The Santa Carolina del Sasso Photo Route,  Borromeo Castle, the Sasso del Ferro Funivia, Lago Delio and Monte Lema & Tamaro.

Getting to Lake Maggiore

There are five ways to get to Lake Maggiore:
Air – The Milano Malpensa Airport  in Milan or the Il Caravaggio International Airport located in Bergamo, are the quickest options for the international traveler.
Rent a Car – Best option for flexibility and there are various rental companies in numerous towns surrounding Lake Maggiore. For tips on renting a car in this area please visit.
Bus – Great for families and groups.
Train – Efficient and cost effective way to access the surrounding towns of Lake Maggiore, including the Swiss town of Locarno and the Italian town of Luino.

Getting around and about in Lake Maggiore

As with anywhere in Italy or Switzerland, the best way to get around is on foot or by bicycle, so you have time to take in all the stunning landscape backdrops. For traveling further distances, buses are a cheap and cheerful option, and/or hiring your own car will give you the ultimate flexibility.

Where to stay at Lake Maggiore

A View of the city.  Lake Maggiore, Italy.

A View of the city. Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: WikimediaImages)

Luxury accommodation:
•    Costello del Sole
•    Giardino Ascona
•    Villa Orselina
Price / Quality ratio:
•    Regina Palace
•    Villa Belvedere Hotel
•    Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees
Budget options & Family options:
•    Hotel Splendid
•    Camin Hotel Colmegna
•    B&B Casabella - Bed and Breakfast sul Lago Maggiore 
Unusual accommodation:
•    Locanda de Mai Intees

List of Recommended Souvenirs

•    Fine Italian Chocolates – Silky smooth Italian chocolates from La Chocolaterie Des Iles.
•    Local pottery and glassware – From Murano glass to handmade local pottery, the Ferri Cristina  gift store has a special piece of Lake Maggiore to take home.

Top Tips for Travelers to Lake Maggiore

The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is certainly one of the most interesting sights of Lago Maggiore. They say that the Hermitage was founded by a wealthy local merchant who, having survived a storm while crossing the lake, decided to go into retreat on this part of the lake side, and conduct the life of a hermit. So, the construction of a chapel was ordered. The chapel dates back to the 12th century!

The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is certainly one of the most interesting sights of Lago Maggiore. They say that the Hermitage was founded by a wealthy local merchant who, having survived a storm while crossing the lake, decided to go into retreat on this part of the lake side, and conduct the life of a hermit. So, the construction of a chapel was ordered. The chapel dates back to the 12th century! (Photo Credit: Denis Bulichenko)

Currency Advice:  If you are intending to travel from one end of the lake to the other, then you will need to ensure you have both Swiss Francs and Euros available. Although there are a lot of places in Switzerland accepting euros, there are also a great deal who don’t. It’s best to be prepared with both currencies on hand.
Exchange Rate:  In this part of the world, it’s important to remember that you’ll get a better currency exchange rate in a bank, as opposed to a standard currency exchange stand.
Venture North:  The southern part of Lake Maggiore is more highly populated and built up. Therefore, if it’s natural beauty you are looking for, then be sure to venture to the northern banks which are much more picturesque.
Follow The Sun:  When planning a trip to Lake Maggiore, ensure you do your research on the position of the sun during your time there. Some of the lakeside accommodation has less sunlight due to the mountains surrounding the lake.

Enjoying Lake Maggiore on a Budget

•    Plan Your Boat Trips - If riding on the transport boats across Lake Maggiore, it is important to know that every time you hop on and hop off you will be charged an extra free. Try to plan you boat trips carefully to avoid high travel costs while on the water.
•    Get Walking – Walking is free and an excellent way to see Lake Maggiore in all its glory. Don’t forget to walk along the water’s edge to experience the lake and its vastness.
•    Eat Local - There are plenty of cafés, trattorias and restaurants around Lake Maggiore, so there are plenty of fresh food options which won’t break the budget.

Day trips from Lake Maggiore

A small garden outside of the Borromeo castle, which also offers great views over the lake.  Borromeo Castle, Lake Maggiore, Italy.

A small garden outside of the Borromeo castle, which also offers great views over the lake. Borromeo Castle, Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: Denis Bulichenko)

- Visit Bergamo which is a stunning Italian city about a 1.5 hour drive south east of Lake Maggiore. Bergamo is famous for its winding cobblestone laneways and rich Italian heritage
- Go skiing at the Mottarone Ski Centre which is a short drive or bus trip form the lake.
 - Visit Borromeo Castle - Borromeo Castle (Rocca Borromeo di Angera) is an old castle in Lombardy. Before the Borromeo family bought the castle in 1449, it was owned by Visconti since the Battle of Desio in, 1277.

Visitor Information & Useful Links

Lake Maggiore Official Tourism Gateway
Website Link: http://www.illagomaggiore.com/en_US/home
Contact: info@illagomaggiore.com
Discover Lake Maggiore
Website: http://www.discoverlakemaggiore.com/

Medical Help

There are multiple medical centers around Lake Maggiore called Hospitals in Tronzano Lago Maggiore.  Information on their locations can be found by visiting their website.

Via del Lago, 2, 28053 Castelletto sopra Ticino NO, Italy

+39 0331 913622

Related Blogs in-and-around Lake Maggiore, Italy & Switzerland

Related Routes in-and-around Lake Maggiore & Italy

Monte Lema & Monte Tamaro

One of the most beautiful hikes in the whole pre-alpine region. The amazing panoramic views from this ridge cover Lake Maggiore, the Centovalli, the Maggia Valley, the Verzasca Valley and Locarno to Bellinzona to the north and Lugano and its valleys and lake to the south, with the Alps, with Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn, providing an awe-inspiring backdrop. This hike is usually referred as Ticino's classics. This particular route goes in the opposite direction from Monte Lema to Monte Tamaro. This variation brings more uphill walking but allows better scheduling due to rare buses going to Miglieglia.
Borromeao Castle

Borromeo Castle or the Rocca Borromeo di Angera is a very old castle in Lombardy. Before Borromeo family bought the castle in 1449 it was owned by Visconti since the Battle of Desio in 1277. Until then Della Torre family owned the castle. The castle is known for the Hall of Justice (Sala di Giustizia) which still contains its original late 13th century drawings depicting the victory of Ottone Visconti.
Santa Caterina del Sasso

The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is certainly one of the most interesting sights of Lago Maggiore. They say that the Hermitage was founded by a wealthy local merchant who, having survived a storm while crossing the lake, decided to go into retreat on this part of the lake side, and conduct the life of a hermit. So, the construction of a chapel was ordered. The chapel dates back to the 12th century!

Video’s about Lake Maggiore



Photo Gallery – Lake Maggiore

From here we see the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore, namely the cities of Ascona and Locarno. If you'd like to have even better views over the lake then you might like a hike to Monte Gambarogno (1734m) which is several kilometers to the north.

From here we see the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore, namely the cities of Ascona and Locarno. If you'd like to have even better views over the lake then you might like a hike to Monte Gambarogno (1734m) which is several kilometers to the north. (Photo Credit: Denis Bulichenko )

The Lake.   Lake Maggiore, Italy.

The Lake. Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: Denis Bulichenko )

Lake Maggiore  at night.  Lake Maggiore, Italy.

Lake Maggiore at night. Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: Gellinger)

Panoramic view of the lake.  Lake Maggiore, Italy.

Panoramic view of the lake. Lake Maggiore, Italy. (Photo Credit: Alessandro Vecchi)


Sources
Lonely Planet – Lago Maggiore; Illagomaggiore; Discover Lake Maggiore;  Isole Borremeo;  Monte Mottarone;  Rocca di Angera;  Villa Taranto;  Stresa Festival;  Around EXPO;  L’Artigiano in Fiera;  Spirit of Woodstock Festival;  Festa Dell’uva Massera;  Ristorante Concordia;  Angera area;  Milano Malpensa Airport;  Costello del Sole;  Giardino Ascona;  Villa Orselina;  Regina Palace;  Villa Belvedere Hotel;  Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees;  Hotel Splendid;  Camin Hotel Colmegna;  B&B Casabella - Bed and Breakfast sul Lago Maggiore;  Locanda de Mai Intees;  Ferri Cristina;  Mottarone Ski Centre;  Fine Italian Chocolates;  Ferri Cristina;  Hospitals in Tronzano Lago Maggiore;  Farmacia Maggiore.

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