The main town is Stresa, located on the western shore, which is the more picturesque. From here people climb, cycle or cable car their way up 4,891 feet (1,491m) high Monte Mottarone for great views and wonderful alpine flora. But the major draw card is the lovely Borromean Islands.
Isola Bella has the 17th century Palazzo Bella with its ten-tiered gardens, artworks, and bed where Napoleon and Josephine slept. Isola Madre is completely occupied by the 16th-18th century Palazzo Madre and its strutting peacocks. Isola Pescatori is the least showy with its humble fishing village and excellent restaurants serving fresh lake fish. Small towns dot the sides of the lake.
Arona is proud to be the birthplace of 16th-century saint, San Carlo Borromeo, and the hilltop fortress Rocca di Angera houses a Borromeo family museum. The Monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso clings to the cliffs spectacularly and is reached by a spiral staircase. And on top of all this history and beauty, the lake is perfect for swimming, sailing, fishing or just exploring by ferry.
Head all the way up to Locarno in Switzerland if you fancy a bit of that famous regimented time-keeping after all the Italian lounging around lakeside.