Lake Maggiore in the north of Italy is simply one of those magical places in Italy you can't believe really exist, but they do and we can't get enough of them. Here's why.
Until very recently we mainly visited lake Como and thought it was simply magnificent, which it truly is but as Italy is full of incredible places, it often feels like it's only getting better every time we look further.
During our stay in April we felt that lake Maggiore was slightly less-touristy than lake Como. This doesn't mean it's not touristic (it definitely is), but it has a tiny bit more authenticity than the Como region. Our journey began from Malpensa airport as it only takes about 45 minutes by car to reach our 1st destination, Laveno-Mombello. We chose this location almost randomly, mainly basing it on a nice Hotel and a famous restaurant. The town is small and vibrant, with the beautiful, almost crystal clear lake and palm trees as well as the snow-capped Alps in the background. The town is small enough to feel completely at ease when spending a day at the hotel spa until early afternoon and then doing a little sightseeing. Just make sure to hit the town before 16.00/16.30 as the Funivia, cableway taking you near the top of Sasso del Ferro, closes around that time. Unfortunately we were there too late and completely missed it. The schedule you find online doesn't always apply as it seems to depend on how many visitors they have that day. The cableway is not to be missed because the cars are tiny, only fitting 1-2 people and it appeared as some of them are open on top which looks like loads of fun.
|A walk by the Lago Maggiore|
|The pool at Hotel Charme de Laveno|
We chose the Charme de Laveno hotel and it instantly became probably the best hotel we have ever stayed at. The location is perfect, overlooking the lake. It's very central and you have everything nearby, the interior is simply beautiful and the spa & pool area fantastic. I don't think that a hotel can get much better than this. The service was fantastic and during the night we could actually photograph the night sky over the lake right outside the hotel.
|Night time in Laveno Mombello|
Laveno-Mombello was the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Aside the scenery there are a few places you must visit, one of them is Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso. Yet, we didn't turn back yet, instead decided to continue up to Switzerland, more specifically to Lugano and back down to Italy to Baveno, on the opposite side of the lake from Laveno-Mombello.
|The lake, the Alps, the nature|
|Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso|
|Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso|
The drive to Lugano was stunning. We visited the Foxtown Fashion outlet yet left empty handed, not sure if we can recommend the place but as it always turns out with these outlets, it really depends on the time of your visit. Lugano itself is definitely worth a visit. It's small so you're done sightseeing in a day so a daytrip from Italy is more than recommended also because of the prices of the local hotels there. You definitely get a better value when staying across the border in Italy.
|On the road to Lugano|
|..and back to Italy, still on Swiss side.|
|On top of Monte San Salvatore|
Our third night of this trip was spent in Baveno, in a small hotel with magnificent views. When you continue driving down towards south along the lake you'll see probably hundreds of villas and stunning hotels one after another. There are two islands, Isola Bella and Isola Superiore which we unfortunately didn't visit on this trip. In Stresa you have a beautiful lakeside road with some fantastic looking hotels. It is such a beautiful region to visit.
We definitely recommend to explore lago Maggiore by car as you'll be surrounded by magnificent views no matter where you drive. It's a fantastic region to explore for days, even weeks.
We simply can't wait to return!