Lake Maggiore Italy tourist and travel guide

Discovering one of Italy’s ‘Big Three’ lake destinations

Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore), Italy’s second-largest lake, divides the regions of Piemonte and Lombardy. The lake’s northern end, in the Alps, stretches into Switzerland, where Locarno is a popular lakeside destination.

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Lake Maggiore holiday information

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Like the other northern Italian lakes, Lake Maggiore’s credentials as a tourist destination go back a long way. The early twentieth century saw a spate of illustrious visitors enjoying themselves in luxurious lakeside villas and verdant gardens.

The most popular Lake Maggiore resorts are on the western shores of the lake. Stresa is a lovely town with beautiful villas and gardens (some open to the public), a good climate and lake views. From the town a cable-car takes you up Monte Mottarone, where from a height of over 4,000 ft you can enjoy views of the Alps and the other lakes.

If you spend time at Lake Maggiore, you will soon become familiar with the name of the Borromeo family, who still own the islands named after them. Their most celebrated scion, St Charles Borromeo, was born in the castle in Arona, at the southern end of the west shore. A gigantic statue in the town celebrates San Carlo; if you climb up inside the hollow structure, you can admire the view through the Saint’s eyes.

The Borromean Islands are unmissable Lake Maggiore tourist attractions. There are three open to the public, containing beautiful gardens, small settlements and restaurants.

Lake Maggiore travel information

Get to Lake Maggiore
Lake Maggiore is reachable by train from Milan and Turin, both of which have airports served by UK budget airlines.

Get around Lake Maggiore
Steamers or hydrofoils run between the lake towns and islands, including Locarno in Switzerland. There are also local bus services which run between the lakeshore villages, and also connect Lake Maggiore with the nearby, smaller, Lake Orta.

Guides to Lake Maggiore

Lombardy and the Italian Lakes
The Cadogan guides to Italy are always interesting and entertaining. As well as the historical and cultural background, this book contains anecdotal gems and recommendations to enliven your holiday in the Lakes.

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Italian Lakes: Insight Compact Guide
A convenient and practical guidebook with information about the Lake areas, and suggested tours.

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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Milan and the Lakes
The Dorling Kindersley travel guides are good for getting a visual overview of the area. Highly glossy and lavishly illustrated, they give you a good idea of what to see in the region. For more indepth practical details and background, you may wish to combine the guide with a more text-heavy book.

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