“I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.” – Carew Papritz
Stresa is a charming town that sits on the shores of Lake Maggiore. It is situated in the region of Piedmont. From splendid views to picturesque islands, here are 8 best things to see and do when visiting this area in northern Italy.
1. Bucket Lift at Laveno
When you arrive at this place, make sure you don’t miss the Bucket Lift at Laveno! You will have only one or two people per “bucket”. As you travel up Monte Sasso del Ferro above Laveno, you really get to experience a peaceful and quiet environment.
The moment you arrive, you’ll see that there are plenty of places to watch the paragliders. Enjoy a picnic, or go to the panoramic terrace and have an ice-cream.
Pro Tip: For a better photo opportunity, take one of the open air buckets.
2. Isola Bella and Isola Madre
The gardens of these two Borromean Islands are known to bustle with flora and fauna. This includes rhododendrons, camellias, exotic birds, white peacocks, tropical flowers, and lastly but most importantly, the largest Kashmir cypress in Europe.
The villa based on the Isola Madre houses some puppets and puppet theatres, along with a range of beautiful Trompe d’oeil frescoes. Our favorite parts of the grand palace, over the Isola Bella, are the Salone delle Feste (party room), mosaic table, and the shell-studded grottoes.
Pro Tip: Get a discount by visiting both the islands on the same day.
3. Take a stroll along the lakefront
Based in the center of Stresa, the lakefront promenade stretches to the lido in Carciano for about 1.5km from the ferry station. Whilst you are walking along this area, you will notice that there are beautifully kept public gardens, statues and monuments. And views over to the Borromean Islands here. You can peacefully watch the boats coming and going across the lake.
There are plenty of places to stop for an ice-cream or a drink and there will always be a spot of people watching!
4. Aperitivo at the Sky Bar
At the Hotel La Palma’s rooftop Sky Bar, everyone who comes to the town should treat themselves to an aperitivo. Enjoy the 360° view, watch the sun go down, and relax with a prosecco. You can get the best view across Lake Maggiore here by night. The bar is open to tourists.
5.The Villa Taranto gardens
One of the most famous places to visit on Lake Maggiore is the Villa Taranto gardens in Pallanza. It has gently meandering pathways which make it accessible for people to admire the tree-lined avenue, beautiful parkland, terraced pools, magnolias, rhododendrons, and azaleas. The Villa Taranto gardens are one of the coolest places to visit in summers.
Pro Tip: You will catch the tulip week when over 80,000 bulbs of tulips are in full bloom during the end of April.
6. Take a woodland walk to Belgirate or Lake Mergozzo
Are you a walker? If yes, then you can cool off with just two woodland walks in the area. One is the walk to Mergozzo and Montorfano which are suitable for all abilities. And the other is the chestnut route along Lake Maggiore between Belgirate and Stresa.
Pro Tip: The Cicinin sandwich shop based in the center of the town does great takeaway sandwiches, in case you’re interested in a picnic.
7. Dinner on Isola Pescatori
Having dinner on Isola Pescatori (the Fishermen’s Island) will prove to be a unique experience, in case you are looking for something different in the evening. You’ll find that you virtually have the island to yourselves after the last line of ferries takes visitors away.
We recommend that you take a romantic stroll out onto the “tail” of the island and around narrow lanes as the sun sets and then head to one of the many restaurants here for dinner. The Ristorante Belvedere is considered the favorite among locals.
Pro Tip: In case you book dinner at one of the restaurants on the island, they will arrange a taxi or boat transfers from Stresa, absolutely free of cost.
8. Browse the local markets
Typical of all Italian markets, the ones which lie around Lake Maggiore are known to burst with cold meats and local cheese, fresh fruit, vegetables, and olives. Along with it, it also offers a varied choice of clothes, handbags, and shoes. Pick up the ingredients for a picnic or treat yourself to a new bag.
Although bigger markets are held in Luino on a Wednesday morning and Cannobio on a Sunday morning. People mostly prefer to go to the weekly market here in Stresa.
So which attraction do you desire to visit the most? Pop your answer in the comment section below and let us know.