Comprehensive Guide to Lac Majeur / Lago Maggiore + 15 FAQs

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After visiting the Amalfi Coast with the lovely city of Sorrento, it is time to travel north and visit Lac Majeur / Lago Maggiore, one of the most beautiful places in Italy!


Our comprehensive guide outlines everything you need to know about Lago Maggiore so that you can make your visit even more remarkable. Check the table of contents to find what you’re looking for!

Lac Majeur / Lago Maggiore

Description, location, and size of Lac Majeur

Lac Majeur, also known as Lago Maggiore, is a lake located in the northern part of Italy and the southern part of Switzerland.


It is one of the largest lakes in Europe, spanning over 65 kilometers in length and stretching up to 10 kilometers wide.


The picturesque scenery surrounding Lac Majeur is breathtaking, with the towering Alps acting as the perfect backdrop to the crystal-clear waters of the lake.


Tourists can enjoy a myriad of activities at Lac Majeur, such as hiking along the lush trails, exploring quaint towns along the shoreline, or simply relaxing on one of the many sandy beaches.

Overview of Lac Majeur
Overview of Lac Majeur

Historical Significance

Lac Majeur may just seem like a beautiful lake nestled in the Alps, but it has a rich history filled with significant events.


In the 19th century, it served as a popular destination for European aristocrats seeking respite from city life.


It was also the site of numerous political negotiations, including the Armistice of Villa La Cassinella, which brought an end to World War II.


But perhaps the most notable event was the creation of the Swiss Confederation in 1291 when representatives from the surrounding cantons gathered at Lac Majeur to swear an oath of unity and mutual aid.


This serene body of water has been witness to many pivotal moments in history and continues to attract visitors seeking to explore its storied past.

Boat at Lac Majeur by the end of World War II
Boat at Lac Majeur by the end of World War II

What to do in Lac Majeur

There are plenty of things to do in the area, including:

  • Visit the Borromean Islands: These islands are located in the middle of Lake Maggiore and are home to beautiful gardens, palaces, and historical landmarks.


  • Explore the town of Stresa: This charming town on the shore of Lake Maggiore offers great views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great spot to grab a coffee and take a stroll.
City of Stresa
City of Stresa
  • Take a boat tour of the lake: There are plenty of boat tours available that will take you around the lake and show you some of the best sights.


  • Go hiking: The surrounding mountains offer plenty of hiking opportunities for all skill levels.


  • Visit the Botanical Gardens at Villa Taranto: These gardens are home to over 20,000 species of plants from all over the world.


  • Go to the beach: There are several beaches along the shore of Lake Maggiore where you can relax and soak up the sun.
Botanical Gardens at Villa Taranto.

Where to stay in Lac Majeur

Nestled on the breathtaking shores of Lac Majeur, lies a plethora of accommodation options ranging from luxurious hotels to cozy bed & breakfasts.


Whether you’re on a tight budget or seeking a lavish getaway, there is a suitable option for everyone.

Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc

For those seeking the grandeur of high-end living, Hotel Eden Roc and Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees are among the top choices.


For those on a mid-range budget, Hotel Ancora and B&B Al Brichetto are great picks.

hotel Ancora
Hotel Ancora

And for travelers seeking a more economical option, B&B Casa Dolce Casa and Hotel De Charme Laveno are both superb choices.


Regardless of your preference, one thing is for sure: you’ll be mesmerized by the splendor of Lac Majeur.


Local Restaurants Around Lac Majeur

The local food at the restaurants around Lac Majeur is a delightful blend of Italian and Swiss culinary traditions, reflecting the lake’s location on the border of these two countries.


With an emphasis on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, the cuisine in this region showcases the rich flavors of the surrounding areas.


From traditional Italian dishes like pasta and pizza to Swiss-inspired fare, the dining options around Lac Majeur are as diverse as they are delicious.

Ristorante Verbano
Ristorante Verbano

The lakeside setting also means that many restaurants offer a variety of seafood dishes, expertly prepared to showcase the flavors of the region.


Below you can find a list of the best local restaurants around the lake:

  • Ristorante Verbano – Located on Isola dei Pescatori, this restaurant offers Italian cuisine with stunning views of the lake.


  • Ristorante Milano – Situated in Stresa, this restaurant serves traditional Italian dishes with a focus on seafood.


  • Osteria degli Amici – Located in Ascona, Switzerland, this cozy restaurant offers homemade Italian and Mediterranean dishes.


  • La Cambusa – Located in Locarno, Switzerland, this restaurant offers a mix of Italian and Swiss cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients.



  • Al Buscion – Located in Cannobio, Italy, this restaurant offers traditional Italian cuisine with an emphasis on seafood and pasta dishes.

Restaurant at Lac Majeur

Shopping Destinations Around Lac Majeur

Lago Maggiore is a shopping paradise, where visitors can find everything from unique souvenirs to high-end designer labels.


Here are some popular shopping spots in the area:

  • Stresa: This charming town is known for its picturesque streets lined with shops selling local crafts, souvenirs, and Italian delicacies. Don’t miss the specialty food shops offering regional products like cheeses, wines, and chocolates.


  • Ascona: Located in Switzerland, Ascona’s lakeside promenade is home to numerous art galleries, fashion boutiques, and souvenir shops. The town also hosts a weekly market where you can find fresh produce, artisanal products, and unique gifts.
Locarno, Switzerland
  • Cannobio: This picturesque Italian town has a lively Sunday market that offers everything from clothes and accessories to local food products and household items. It’s an excellent spot to find unique souvenirs and gifts.


  • Locarno: The Piazza Grande in Locarno is surrounded by shops selling Swiss and international brands. You can also find local craft stores and gourmet food shops in the charming Old Town.


  • FoxTown Factory Stores: Located in Mendrisio, Switzerland, just a short drive from Lake Maggiore, FoxTown is a popular outlet mall offering discounted designer labels such as Gucci, Prada, and Armani. It’s a great destination for fashion enthusiasts looking for high-end brands at reduced prices.


  • Centro Commerciale Malpensa UNO: Situated in Busto Arsizio, Italy, this shopping center features a wide range of shops, including clothing, electronics, and home goods. It’s a convenient location for shoppers looking for a one-stop shopping experience.
City of Ascona
City of Ascona


Lac Majeur / Lago Maggiore is one of the most beautiful and impressive places in Italy that you can visit.


It has a colorful history tied to many famous historical figures, stunningly picturesque landscapes, and activities ranging from outdoor adventures to shopping for souvenirs.


Whether you want to stay in a luxurious villa or choose the cozy atmosphere of a Bed & Breakfast nearby, there are plenty of accommodation options available.


On top of it all, the exquisite local restaurants offer meals that combine the best traditional Italian delicacies with options for international cuisines.


In conclusion, if you’re looking for an unforgettable vacation experience you should head on over to Lac Majeur / Lago Maggiore!


Were we able to cover everything you needed to know about this beautiful Italian lake?


Did we leave anything out? Let us know by giving us a comment below!


Is Lake Maggiore easily accessible by public transportation?

Yes, Lake Maggiore is easily accessible by public transportation. There are regular train connections from major cities in Italy and Switzerland to towns around the lake, such as Stresa, Locarno, and Arona. Additionally, local buses and ferries provide convenient transportation options within the region.


What is the best time to visit Lake Maggiore?

The best time to visit Lake Maggiore is from April to October when the weather is pleasant and warm. The peak tourist season is during the summer months (June to August), offering numerous outdoor activities and events. However, spring and autumn are also excellent times to visit, with fewer crowds and mild temperatures.


What is the average depth of Lake Maggiore?

Lake Maggiore has an average depth of approximately 177 meters (580 feet). Its deepest point reaches around 372 meters (1,220 feet).


How long is the shoreline of Lake Maggiore?

The shoreline of Lake Maggiore is approximately 170 kilometers (105 miles) long, stretching across both Italy and Switzerland.


What is the water temperature of Lake Maggiore?

The water temperature of Lake Maggiore varies throughout the year. In the summer months, the average water temperature ranges from 18°C to 24°C (64°F to 75°F), while during the winter months, it can drop to around 6°C to 10°C (43°F to 50°F).


Are there any islands in Lake Maggiore?

Yes, there are several islands in Lake Maggiore. The most famous ones are the Borromean Islands, which consist of Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and Isola dei Pescatori. These islands are renowned for their stunning palaces, gardens, and historical landmarks. Other islands include Isolino di San Giovanni and the Brissago Islands.


Are there any famous towns or cities on the shores of Lake Maggiore?

Yes, there are several famous towns and cities along the shores of Lake Maggiore. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Stresa: A picturesque town in Italy, known for its stunning views, beautiful villas, and access to the Borromean Islands.
  • Locarno: A Swiss city with a charming Old Town, Piazza Grande, and the famous Madonna del Sasso pilgrimage church.
  • Ascona: A beautiful Swiss town famous for its lakeside promenade, art galleries, and boutiques.
  • Verbania: The largest city on the Italian side of the lake, featuring beautiful gardens at Villa Taranto and Villa San Remigio.
  • Cannobio: A charming Italian town with a lively waterfront, historic buildings, and a popular Sunday market.


Can you swim in Lake Maggiore?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Maggiore. There are several beaches and designated swimming areas along the shores of the lake where visitors can enjoy swimming in the clear waters. The water temperature is generally pleasant during the summer months.


Are there any water sports available at Lake Maggiore?

Lake Maggiore offers a variety of water sports and activities, including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Several rental companies and schools around the lake can provide equipment and lessons for those interested in trying out these activities.


Is fishing allowed in Lake Maggiore?

Fishing is allowed in Lake Maggiore, but you will need a valid fishing license. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including perch, pike, trout, and carp. There are specific regulations regarding fishing methods and catch limits, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local rules before fishing.


Are there any hiking trails around Lake Maggiore?

Yes, numerous hiking trails around Lake Maggiore cater to various skill levels. The surrounding mountains and valleys offer beautiful scenery and panoramic views of the lake. Some popular hiking routes include:

  • The trail from Brissago to the summit of Ghiridone in Switzerland.
  • The hike from Cannobio to Sant’Anna in Italy.
  • The Mottarone mountain trail starts in Stresa and offers stunning views of the lake and the Alps.


Are boat tours available on Lake Maggiore?

Yes, boat tours are available on Lake Maggiore. Several companies offer a variety of boat tours, including sightseeing cruises, island-hopping excursions to the Borromean Islands, and private charters for a more personalized experience. Public ferries also operate on the lake, providing an affordable and convenient way to explore different towns and attractions along the shoreline.


What is the climate like around Lake Maggiore?

Lake Maggiore has a mild, temperate climate with warm summers and cool winters. The average temperature in the summer ranges from 20°C to 27°C (68°F to 81°F), while winter temperatures range from 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F). The region experiences moderate rainfall throughout the year, with the heaviest precipitation occurring during spring and autumn.


Are there any notable landmarks or attractions near Lake Maggiore?

There are several notable landmarks and attractions near Lake Maggiore, including:

  • Borromean Islands: A group of three islands (Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and Isola dei Pescatori) famous for their stunning palaces, gardens, and historical landmarks.
  • Villa Taranto: Located in Verbania, this beautiful villa features extensive botanical gardens with a vast collection of plants and flowers from around the world.
  • Rocca di Angera: A medieval fortress situated on a hilltop in Angera, offering panoramic views of the lake and housing a museum dedicated to dolls and toys.
  • Santa Caterina del Sasso: A picturesque monastery perched on a rocky cliff overlooking the lake, accessible by foot or by a nearby elevator.
  • Val Grande National Park: Italy’s largest wilderness area, featuring rugged landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and numerous hiking trails.


Are there any festivals or events that take place at Lake Maggiore?

Several festivals and events take place at Lake Maggiore throughout the year, including:

  • Stresa Festival: An international music festival held in Stresa during the summer, featuring classical music, jazz, and world music performances.
  • Locarno Film Festival: One of the oldest film festivals in the world, held annually in August in Locarno, Switzerland, showcasing a diverse selection of films from around the globe.
  • Ascona Jazz Festival: A popular jazz event held every summer in Ascona, Switzerland, attracting renowned musicians and jazz enthusiasts.
  • Cannobio’s International Street Theatre Festival: An annual event held in July, featuring street performers, artists, and musicians worldwide.
  • Verbania’s Flower Festival: A colorful event held every two years in Verbania, celebrating the region’s rich floral heritage with exhibitions, workshops, and guided tours of Villa Taranto’s botanical gardens.

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Laura & Alexander

Laura & Alexander

We're two full-time Belgian travellers sharing our experience through our blog. Our aim is to inspire your next travel adventure with our best tips and tricks from every country we visit.

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