Lake Maggiore is one of the three main lakes of the Italian Lake District, along with Lake Lugano and the famous destination of Lake Como. The lake district offers a glimpse into the vibrant culture of Northern Italy, and many travelers who fall in love with the charms of Italy venture into this region of the country after exploring places such as Rome and Naples. Called Lago Maggiore in Italian, this lake is the largest of the three and is located the farthest west as well. In addition to its stunning natural beauty, this northern region of Italy, on the border of Switzerland, has plenty to offer in regards to history, cuisine, and outdoor adventure.
Lake Maggiore stretches to about 40 miles in length. The northern tip of the lake crosses over into Switzerland, with the towns of Locarno and Ascona on the Swiss side of the lake. There are still many charming towns to explore on the Italian side of the border, and the best way to explore Lago Maggiore is to climb aboard the ferries and hydrofoils that connect the towns. While summer is definitely the most popular time to visit, the spring and fall seasons also offer their own delights.
One of the most stunning places in Lake Maggiore is located in the southern section of the lake. Here, the Borromean Bay curves between the towns of Stresa and Verbania. In this bay there are three islands, the Borromean Islands, which are known for their striking beauty. Visitors plan a trip to Isola Bella to see a baroque palace and gardens, while Isola Pescatori is known more for its relaxed fishing atmosphere. The final island is called Isola Madre, and is also known for its beautiful gardens. These are some of the best places in the lake to plan an afternoon picnic.
Other towns along Lago Maggiore include Canobbio, Maccagno, Laveno, and Arona. It would be easy to devote an entire trip to exploring the towns of Lake Maggiore, although many visitors also try to squeeze in trips to Lake Como and Lake Lugano as well. To reach Lake Maggiore, most visitors arrive in Milan and travel the short distance between by train or bus. Depending on the time of year (but especially during the summer season) you will want to make hotel arrangements in advance. There are many opportunities for four and five star luxury hotels here, but many three star bed and breakfasts or guesthouses are just as charming.
One of the best choices for hotels in Lake Maggiore is Hotel Rigoli, located right on the lakeside in Bovena. Another option for accommodation is vacation rentals. There are many apartments—some with complete kitchens, pools, and even tennis courts—along the shores of Lake Maggiore that make a wonderful temporary home during your trip. If you’re traveling with kids, these vacation rentals might be a fantastic option. They allow close proximity to outdoor activities for kids, including water skiing and sailing. Lake Maggiore is also a great place for shopping. If you’re looking to bring home something special for your loved ones at home, you’ll find many temptations along the shores of this lake.