Holidays on Lake Maggiore: where to sleep, what to visit and do

Located between Piedmont, Lombardy and Canton Ticino, Lake Maggiore is one of the main tourist destinations Italian. The lake is famous for its tourist attractions such as the Borromean Islands and the Brissago Islands, and for the holiday resort on the shores of the lake such as Stresa, Arona, Verbania, Cannobio, Luino and Locarno.

Lake Maggiore is the westernmost of the three main lakes in Italy and the second largest. With a length of 68 km and a coastline of over 170 km, this lake of glacial origin it extends from the Swiss canton of Ticino to the north, descending along the border between the Piedmont and Lombardy regions, in one of the most beautiful areas of Italy.

Surrounded by beautiful cities and holiday resorts with lush botanical gardens, stunning islands and a backdrop of Swiss peaks, Lake Maggiore has become a major European tourist destination for both its mild climate and various opportunities to outdoor activities.

Il mild climate all year round makes the area ideal for one luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation, with even exotic plants. For lovers of greenery, Lake Maggiore is certainly a perfect destination to spend wonderful days in contact with nature, admiring various and beautiful landscapes.

Areas to visit on Lake Maggiore

The landscapes range from rugged alpine landscapes and high rock faces in the north, to Mediterranean landscapes in the south, with numerous holiday resorts along the coast. There is no corner of the lake that is not worth a visit, for this reason it is good to know first which are the most interesting destinations and areas to visit.

Surely the best area to visit on Lake Maggiore is the Piedmontese side where there are the main tourist destinations of the lake and most of the attractions. Stresa, Arona, Verbania, Cannobio, Belgirate, Baveno and Cannero Riviera are the most interesting places to visit on this side of the lake.

Holidays on Lake Maggiore: where to sleep, what to visit and do
Map of the best places to visit and sleep on Lake Maggiore

The area of ​​the lake sul Lombard side it can still be an interesting destination to spend pleasant holidays, especially for those looking for quiet holidays on the lake. Among the main towns in this area, we find Luino, the largest city on the eastern shore of the lake with a famous weekly market, Maccagno, Angera, Sesto Calende and Laveno.

The area of ​​the Canton of Ticino, on the Swiss side, has mainly four tourist resorts: Locarno, Brissago, Ascona and Magadino. It can be reached either by ferry or by train, making a change in Domodossola and then reaching Locarno.

Places to stay on Lake Maggiore

Let's now briefly see in detail what they offer the most beautiful holiday resorts on Lake Maggiore. We have selected those that have the greatest hotel offer, better and wider tourist offer, but also better facilitates travel.

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Certainly the best choices are those locations that have a port and which then allow the motorboats to reach other locations on the shores of the lake. For the nighttime fun there are a great variety of bars and nightclubs in all locations around the lake.

Piedmont side

If you have decided to stay on the Piedmont side you have certainly made a good choice, it is the best area for various reasons. The best places to sleep on this side of the lake are: Stresa, Verbania, baveno, Cannobio e Arona.


Stresa is an elegant and small town on the western shore of Lake Maggiore, on the west side of the Borromean Gulf, known for its pleasant climate and environment, and unique landscapes. Stresa was an important holiday resort, health resort, but also the site of numerous historical conferences.

This spa town, which has become an important tourist destination since the beginning of the 18th century, still exudes the charm of a sophisticated holiday resort for the high aristocracy, with its beautiful waterfront, hotels and very elegant villas of the period. Belle Époque.

The historic center of the cities and the main ferry pier are located at the south-eastern end of the city, while at the north-western end is the hamlet of Carciano, where there is a secondary ferry pier, the cable car station for reach the summit of Mottarone and a beautiful beach.

The lakefront features pompous buildings, quaint cafes and many shops for the most varied shopping. The park of Villa Pallavicino is a botanical garden and one of the most interesting places, with various animals such as peacocks, goats, zebras, ..., and a playground for children. This park is the perfect place to relax, especially for families.

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Verbania is located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore and is the largest city on the lake. It also consists of two districts Intra and Pallanza, which are separated by a promontory and the San Bernardino river.

The city of Verbania is located on the slopes of the Castagnola promontory, so called from the thick chestnut wood that covered it, which marks the northern end of the Gulf of Borromeo. The city enjoys a privileged geographical position which gives the area a unique microclimate.

The city is called the garden on the lake, given the abundant presence of gardens and terraces. Of particular interest are the botanical gardens of Villa Taranto, on the Castagnola promontory, and Villa San Remigio, in Baroque style. These gardens are home to thousands of plants imported from around the world, as well as rare botanical collections, some of which are unique in Europe.

Verbania also owes its tourist importance to its splendid lakeside homes, numerous shops and restaurants, and to being one of the largest farmers' markets around the lake. From the Pallanza area you have a splendid view of Stresa, the Borromean Islands and the entire western shore of Lake Maggiore.

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Cannobio is a small town 10 minutes from the Swiss border, known for its splendid lakeside promenade and the pretty historic center, where a signposted city route allows you to visit all the most important places, including a historic Renaissance church.

Awarded with the "blue flag" for the cleanliness of the water and the quality of the bathing services, Cannobio is an exceptional destination for a pleasant and relaxing holiday. The locality is also a good starting point for numerous excursions and exploring the surrounding area.

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Arona, with its characteristic castle, is a holiday resort located on the southwestern shore of Lake Maggiore. In addition to the castle, one of the main attractions is the gigantic statue of San Carlo Borromeo, a colossal 23 meter high copper statue.

One of the most interesting places to visit is La Rocca Borromea. The park contained the castle of Arona, which was destroyed by the Napoleonic armies. Today it is a park open to the public and offers an exceptional view of the lake. Inside the park there is a restaurant and many animals are housed in semi-liberty.

The lakefront offers a splendid view of the castle of Angera and the Alps. If you want to swim in Lake Maggiore you can reach the beach near Piazza del Popolo, in the center of the city, called “The small rocks”.

One of the most famous monuments is the Collegiate Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, a church from 1482 with paintings from the life of San Carlo Borromeo by Cesare Nebbia. If you want, you can stay in the nearby holiday resort of Dormelletto which offers numerous campsites and tourist villages.

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Baveno, located on the Piedmontese shore of Lake Maggiore, is a famous holiday resort with numerous tourist facilities and related infrastructures, from bed & breakfasts to large hotels. From the pier, the various ferry lines connect Baveno to the Borromean Islands and other locations on the lake.

One of the main attractions are the historic villas, built in the 19th century. Worth seeing is the publicly accessible Villa Fedora with its large park, the 18th century “San Gervasio e Protasio” church and an 11th century baptistery with a 16th century portico.

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Lombardy side

The best choice where to stay on the Lombard side certainly falls on the holiday resort of Not him. The city has more than 100 accommodations available to tourists, many of which are tourist apartments and holiday homes, while hotels are very few.

laveno e Maccagno they can be an interesting alternative choice if you prefer to stay in the central part of the Lombard coast or in the upper part of the coast. Sesto Calende instead it is a place with campsites and cheap accommodation.

Not him

Luino is a quiet holiday resort, famous for its large weekly market which is held every Wednesday. Walking along its lakefront can be very pleasant at any time of the day. The central location makes it a good destination to reach the various locations on the lake.

The most interesting areas to see are the old Napoleonic port, one of the most photographed places, and the characteristic historic center, with narrow alleys and buildings dating back to Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The presence of many cafes, good restaurants and shops of all kinds make your stay pleasant at any time of the year.

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Located in front of Verbania, on the opposite shore, Laveno is known for its tourist port which allows you to easily reach some of the main tourist resorts on the lake. In the city, do not miss the visit of the Villa De Angeli Frua, famous for its botanical garden.

For lovers of nature and beautiful landscapes it is certainly an excellent destination to stay, also for the presence of the famous cable car that allows you to easily reach the summit of Monte Sasso del Ferro, about 1.000 meters above sea level.

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Swiss side

On the Swiss side certainly the best places to stay are Locarno e Ascona which both have more than 200 accommodations of various types, although most are hotels, tourist apartments and holiday homes.


Once a holiday destination for rich and famous people, today Locarno is one of the main tourist destinations in Switzerland, especially during the summer. The city is dominated by the sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso, an important pilgrimage site, and by the small Visconti Castle, perched on a rocky spur and reachable by a funicular.

The historic center, located at the foot of the mountain, above Piazza Grande, is the most interesting area of ​​the city and includes many medieval buildings. During the year the city of Locarno hosts numerous events and festivals. One of the best known attractions is the Casino which attracts many tourists who are passionate about gambling.

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Located at the foot of Monte Verità, on the north-eastern shore of Lake Maggiore, Ascona is a pretty holiday resort on a small bay. The most important annual events are the JazzAscona, a jazz music festival and the Ascona Film Festival. Due to its good location, many tourists stay in its facilities.

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Cheap places to stay

The locations where there are more cheap hotels and accommodation are Stresa, Verbania, baveno e Arona, which are also the places that offer the widest hotel offer on the lake. If you are looking for budget accommodation, but also interesting places with many things to do and see these cities are the right choice.

In general, the southern coast of the lake is the cheapest and is also the area with the most campsites and tourist villages. The localities of dormelletto e Castelletto above Ticino on the Piedmont side, e Sesto Calende on the Lombard side they are good choices if you are looking for cheap accommodation.

What to do: activities and excursions 

I Ferries they are not only a means to move along the shores of the lake, but also a pleasant experience to do a tour of the lake and see its wonderful landscapes. The service is carried out by the Navigazione Laghi company. The ferries also allow you to reach the eleven islands in Lake Maggiore: eight islands in Piedmont, two in Ticino and one in Lombardy.

Among the many islands, the ones not to be missed are the Borromean Islands (Isola Bella or Isola Madre) where there are beautiful baroque gardens belonged to the noble Borromeo family and seem to neglect the passage of time. The famous Milanese Borromeo family built wonderful villas on Isola Madre and Isola Bella. Even noble Lombard families built splendid villas between Stresa and Arona.

The climb in cable car from Stresa to Mottarone is the other main excursion to do in the lake area. At the top in summer there is an amusement park with one rail toboggan run, while in winter it is possible to practice various winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, bobsleighing and snowshoeing. Activities such as cycling, paragliding, rock climbing, golf and bird watching are possible all year round.

On the lake they are present various bathing beaches, some of the most beautiful in Italy, so much so that three beaches have been awarded with the blue flag: Arona - Rocchette (Lido Nautica), Cannobio (Lido beach) and Cannero Riviera (Lido). So, in the summer, spend wonderful days on the beach and make some pleasant swims in the lake is one of the best choices.

When to go to Lake Maggiore

The waters of the lake mitigate the climate of the area, offering the localities surrounding the lake a milder microclimate. In winter the cities on the lake have a few degrees higher than the areas further away from the lake, while in the summer the lake makes the climate less hot and more pleasant.

I better times to go on holiday on Lake Maggiore I am there spring (March, April and May), the end of the summer (September) andearly autumn (October). In these periods the climate is very pleasant, nature gives its best and you can find good hotel rates. Easter, April 25th and May 1st are beautiful times, but with higher rates.

THEsummer (June, July and August) is the hottest period, the high season and the one with the highest hotel rates. If your holidays on the lake have days on the beach as your goal and why not, even with pleasant swims in the lake, summer is the best time. Finding free rooms in July and August can certainly not be easy.

THEwinter it is the coldest and least suitable period for holidays on Lake Maggiore. Many structures are closed and the tourist presence is very low. It is the best time for those looking for cheap hotel rates and a lot of tranquility. During Christmas and New Year's Eve the places get crowded again for about 10-15 days and the rates increase, even quite.

Holidays on Lake Maggiore: where to sleep, what to visit and do
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