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.
What a wonderful tour! Lake Maggiore is spectacular. The Borromeo Palace on Isola Bella is beautiful and has an interesting history. Our local guide (Sara) was entertaining and knowlegeable. Our lunch at La Pescheria on Isola dei Pescatori was delicious. Stresa is a lovely town with friendly people, quality hand made gifts, and exceptional gelato. We had terrific weather and enjoyed the climate, palm trees, and boat rides. Our local guide (Lara from Zani Viaggi) was very nice and attentive. She even helped us to go for last minute tickets to see Da Vinci's "Last Supper" on our return to Milan, which was a perfect way to end the day. Highly recommended.
Beautiful scenery! The bus ride wasn't too long, and the tour guide was excellent. If you are in northern Italy, don't miss out on a trip to one of the lakes. I always dreamed of Lake Como, but Maggiore is just as beautiful and the Borromean islands provide a rich and interesting history, as well as spectacular views.
I'm giving this trip 3 stars for two reasons. 1)I didn't like that there were like 40 people on this trip after going on two smaller tours with only 12 people each. 2)After walking the Love Path to Riomaggiore, we literally only had about 30mins to get through the tunnel and walk around Riomaggiore before having to get back through the tunnel to meet for our train departure. I felt extremely rushed during this time. It was still a great tour with the exception of these two points and you get to see and experience so much (you will be tired and ready to sleep on the way back). Also, skip where the tour guide suggests for lunch in Monterosso and go to the pink restaurant by the water called Ristorante Il Casello. Have the trofie al pesto dish and the best meal of your life...trust me!