Destinations Europe

Isola Bella And Lake Maggiore

Recently when we visited Milan, in order to escape the heat of the city we took an excursion to the mountain fresh air of Lake Maggiore. Lake Maggiore is a just over an hour’s drive from Milan and is part of the beautiful Italian Lake District. Here, green lush mountains surround crystal clear waters, and luxury ‘La Belle Époque’ style hotels line the seafront.

The beautiful hotels on the banks of Lake Maggiore

The beautiful hotels on the bank of Lake Maggiore

The little town of Stresa is the focal point for boat trips around the area, especially to the Borromean islands. In the past, Stresa has been a popular retreat for Europe’s aristocrats, who built stunning villas here. Now it is known for its luxury hotels, cute little shops and the cable car that takes visitors to the top of Monte Mottanone for an amazing view. Easily accessible from the alps by the train service on the Simplon pass, Stresa is certainly worth a visit especially for a trip to the idyllic Borromean Islands.

The Borromean Islands
The Borromeo Islands

The Borromean Islands

These are three small islands and two islets located near Stresa. The islands take their name from the aristocratic Borromeo family, who took ownership of the land in the 16th and 17th centuries. Isola Bella with its beautiful palace and gardens is the most well known for its luxury, whilst Isola Dei Pescatori it a simple village known for its cobbled streets and restaurants whilst Isola Madre is known for its many wild plants and exotic flowers which cover the island.

The Gardens

The magnificent gardens of Isola Bella

The hop on, hop off boats to the Borromean Islands are reasonably priced and easy to take. We visited the beautiful Isola Bella palace and gorgeous gardens and Isola Dei Pescatori, the Fishermen’s island with the cobbled streets and an abundance of restaurants, was a perfect for a spot of lunch.

The boats to the Borromean Islands

The boats to the Borromean Islands

Before long it was time to take the boat back to the shore and then after a gelato in a cafe in Stresa it was time to take the bus back to Milan.

We loved our time in Lake Maggiore so much so, we are planning to go back next year.

Have you been to Lake Maggiore or can you recommend any of the other Italian lakes.


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  • Brandy
    September 7, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Isola Bella looks absolutely beautiful! I would love to visit someday!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      It was, we hope to go back soon as we only had a day there.

  • Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle
    September 7, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I just found a new top for my bucket list. That is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!

  • Colleen Lanin
    September 7, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    What a gorgeous place! Those hotels look more like palaces. I can’t even begin to verbalize how beautiful it is there! I must go!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 7, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      We had a quick look at the hotels, they were wonderful.

  • Pam Wattenbarger
    September 7, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Wow, what beautiful scenery! I would love to visit Lake Maggiore and the rest of the Italian Lake District.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 7, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      We have been to Lake Garda but have not yet been to Lake Como where George Clooney has a house. I know Mrs W wants to go there incase we bump into him.

  • Tracey
    September 7, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Wow stunning! This is definitely a place I am adding to my bucket list. Isola Bella and Lake Maggiore look beautiful.

  • Chavonne Harvey
    September 7, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Lake Maggiore but I’d love to visit Stresa and stay at one of those beautiful hotels.

  • Liz Mays
    September 8, 2016 at 12:53 am

    These islands sound amazing. I know I’d be pretty excited to see the Isola Bella palace and gardens. They look so beautiful.

  • Melissa
    September 8, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Every photo that you share is like a love letter to Lake Maggiore! This post has me ready to buy my plane ticket and jet off to explore the Italian lakes!

  • Kelly Hutchinson
    September 8, 2016 at 3:21 am

    Wow! What an absolutely gorgeous place. I would love to visit there one day! So beautiful.

  • Rach Ferrucci
    September 8, 2016 at 3:56 am

    Isola Bella looks gorgeous and we do plan on visiting Italy very soon. I feel like I would need 3 months there to see everything I want to!

  • Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly
    September 8, 2016 at 4:22 am

    Time spent by the lake is always a relaxing way to spend the day in any part of the world, but I sure wish I was in Italy right now!

  • Marcie W.
    September 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I really appreciate the bit of background, as I had never heard of this area before. Between the lake, mountains and plenty of greenery, it looks like a stunning dream come true.

  • Amanda Love
    September 8, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I love the fact that you’re surrounded with nature here! The place is every bit breathtaking. It’s so peaceful and relaxing, it’s the perfect escape.

  • Nicole Escat
    September 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Wow, lovely photos! I wish I can go there too, I love your post!

  • Beeb Ashcroft
    September 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I am sincerely jealous about your trip! It sounds like you learned a lot while there!

  • Kita Bryant
    September 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Wow, I’ve never really heard of this spot before! You taught me a bit of geography AND history! haha

    • Mr and Mrs W
      September 8, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      The history was new to us too.

  • kristin
    September 8, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    This is really great! I’d love to visit here one day.

  • Kristi
    September 8, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    What a beautiful area. That hotel looks amazing! Would be a great spot for a honeymoon.

  • Nikki Wayne
    September 9, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Wow, this is a place I would like to visit. I want to bring my family there, I hope it will be soon.

  • Christina Aliperti
    September 11, 2016 at 2:03 am

    Omg, what a gorgeous area. This would be one heck of a family vacation. the photos are amazing also!

  • Karlaroundtheworld | Karla
    September 16, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Fantastic place, I would say! I don’t know much about any other places like this in Italy, only the city-modern ones. The islets are just wonderful as a natural part of the place.