Boutique Hotels in Lago Maggiore
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Villa E Palazzo Aminta - Lago Maggiore

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Boutique Hotels in Lago Maggiore

1. Isola Bella and Isola Madre: not to be missed

The gardens of these two Borromean Islands are bursting with flora and fauna: camellias, rhododendrons, white peacocks, exotic birds, tropical flowers and the largest Kashmir cypress in Europe. The villa on Isola Madre houses some beautiful trompe d’oeil frescoes as well as puppets and puppet theatres.

Over on Isola Bella our favourite parts of the grand palace are the mosaic table, the shell-studded grottoes and the Salone delle Feste (party room). Top tip: visit both islands on the same day and get a discount.

2. A ride on the Bucket Lift at Laveno

Also, don’t miss the Bucket Lift at Laveno! With only one or two people per “bucket”, you really experience peace and quiet as you travel up Monte Sasso del Ferro above Laveno. Once you arrive at there are plenty of places to enjoy a picnic, watch the paragliders or have an ice-cream on the panoramic terrace. Top tip: take one of the open air buckets for better photo opportunities

3. Aperitivo at the Sky Bar: the best view in town

Everyone who comes to Stresa should treat themselves to an aperitivo at the Hotel La Palma’s rooftop Sky Bar. Relax with a prosecco, enjoy the 360° views and watch the sun go down. Go back after dinner and get the best view across Lake Maggiore by night. The bar is open to non-residents.

4. The best deal: the two day ferry and Lake Maggiore Express ticket

This is the best deal for two days out on Lake Maggiore. The ticket is for two consecutive days: one day on the Centovalley Railway (Lake Maggiore Express) roundtrip and one day unlimited use of the ferries. 2013 price € 42.00 per adult and € 21.00 per child (4-12 years).

5. Dinner on Isola Pescatori

If you are looking for something different in the evening then dinner on Isola Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island) is a unique experience. After the last ferries take visitors away you’ll find you virtually have the island to yourselves.

Take a romantic stroll around narrow lanes and out onto the “tail” of the island as the sun sets and then head for one of the restaurants for dinner – our favourite is Ristorante Belvedere. Top tip: when you book dinner at one of the island’s restaurants they will arrange the taxi boat transfers free of charge from Stresa

6. A stroll along the lakefront: Stresa’s best free attraction

The lakefront promenade stretches about 1.5km from the ferry station in the centre of Stresa to the lido in Carciano. Whilst you walk along there are views over to the Borromean Islands, beautifully kept public gardens, monuments and statues and you can watch the boats coming and going across the lake. There are plenty of places to stop for a drink or an ice-cream and do a spot of people watching!

7. The Villa Taranto gardens

The Villa Taranto gardens in Pallanza are one of our favourite places to visit on Lake Maggiore. The gently meandering pathways make it accessible for everyone to admire the parkland, tree-lined avenue, terraced pools, azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons. On really hot days the Villa Taranto gardens are one of the coolest places to visit. Top tip: if you come near the end of April you will catch tulip week when over 80,000 bulbs are in bloom.

8. Browse the local markets

As with all Italian markets, the ones around Lake Maggiore are bursting with local cheese and cold meats, fruit and vegetables and olives as well as clothes, shoes and handbags! Treat yourself to a new bag or pick up the ingredients for a picnic. We go to the weekly market here in Stresa but bigger markets are held in Cannobio on a Sunday morning and Luino on a Wednesday.

9. Take a woodland walk to Belgirate or Lake Mergozzo

Walkers you can cool off with two woodland walks in the area: the chestnut route along Lake Maggiore between Stresa and Belgirate or the walk to Montorfano and Mergozzo are suitable for all abilities. Top tip: if you want to take a picnic with you the Cicinin sandwich shop in the centre of town does great takeaway sandwiches!

10. Join a local foodie festival

All resorts around Lake Maggiore have local food festivals during the year. In the summer look for fish and grilled meats, in the autumn it’s mushroom and chestnut time and in the winter, heavier foods like polenta.

Whatever the festival, the procedure is the same: head for the “cassa” where you’ll see the menu, choose and pay. Take the tickets you’re given to the bar and food service area and, once you’ve got all your goodies, take a seat at one of the trestle tables and tuck in!