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One of the three big lakes in Italy's north just outside of Milan, Lake Maggiore stretches all the way up into Switzerland. Like all of these prealpine lakes, it's renowned for being gorgeous, and has attracted celebrity visitors from Napoleon to Ernest Hemingway, to Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

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.

Tours & Tickets

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Cinque Terre Day Trip from Milan

4.5 star rating: Recommended 132 Reviews

Discover beautiful Cinque Terre, one of Italy's most scenic secrets, on a day trip from Milan! Meaning 'five lands,’ these five lovely fishing villages – ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 12 hours (approx.)

From USD $168.37

4-Day Italian Lakes and Verona Tour from Milan

Visit four of the must-see lakes in the Italian Lake district as well as the city of Verona, on a 4-day tour from Milan! With a mix of free time and tours, ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 4 days (approx.)

From USD $1,248.76

Lake Maggiore Day Trip from Milan

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 18 Reviews

Explore scenic Lake Maggiore in Italy's beautiful Lake District on a day trip from Milan. The fashionable lakeside town of Stresa is an approximate 1.5-hour ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $119.26

Bergamo City Sightseeing Trip From Milan

4.5 star rating: Recommended 9 Reviews

Spend an afternoon exploring Bergamo's 'Citta Alta' on this guided city tour with return transfers from Milan. Founded on a hill in the protohistoric age, ...  Read more

Location: Milan, Italy
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $77.17

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