If you’re travelling throughout North-West of Italy, or if you are a passenger in transfer to Milan Malpensa airport (28km far), you can’t miss a day trip to Maggiore Lake. Despite its tricky name Maggiore (Italian translation for “the biggest”), this is the second largest Italian lake. The biggest is Garda Lake and it lays on the North-East area of the country.
This is the lake of the enchanted isles – that belonged to the Borromeo feudal family – the lake of the Italian gardens or the picturesque fisherman villages. This lake is always capable of huge surprise as every dot on the map encloses a fairy tales, secret gardens and medieval memories.
How to get there by car
The city of Arona is the official doorway to the lake: the biggest, the most populated, the city drowned out by St. Carlo Borromeo monument, called in Italian San Carlone.
From Milan: Arona is only 65km far from Milan (nearly 1-hour drive with regular road conditions) driving on A26 highway, following Gravellona Toce direction. The main exits are Arona, Baveno-Stresa and Gravellona Toce.
From Turin: Arona is 122km from the city of Piedmont region, 1 hour and a half drive. A4 highway East direction (Venice) until the city of Novara, then go on A26 highway, following Gravellona Toce direction. The best exits are Arona, Baveno-Stresa and Gravellona Toce.
From Switzerland: if you’re travelling from Switzerland, you’ll get there both from St. Gotthard or St. Bernardino passes, then you’ll drive until Bellinzona and then Locarno.
How to get there by train
Trenord, the railway company dedicated to North of Italy, has just launched many seasonal offers, in order to enhance tourists coming from Milan to get to Maggiore Lake, by a sustainable, competitive and faster means of transport. From Milan Cadorna or Milan Garibaldi stations there are two options that foresee an integrated ticket Train+Ferry and Lunch (if you wish). The first one is Maggiore Lake Express offering (return ticket) at a special rate of 35€ adult and 17€ kids from 4-14. The Borromee isles special ticket at 22€ adults and 10€ kids from 4-14 that include train return ticket from Milan to Stresa/Laveno + boat return ticket and the trip boat to the isles. For further information visit Trenord web site.
If you arrive from Turin, Arona is a 2hours train, and in a very cheap way, you can get to the marvellous shore of Maggiore Lake.
Good to know
- Parking areas: if you arrive by car the city of Arona offers 6 different free parking areas at the beginning of the village.
- Ferry tickets: kids under 4 do not pay. Rates differ from the itinerary you choose. Please be informed that unless you’ve decided for a one-way ticket, travellers card, special rates or free-circulation tickets are the best solution for tourists. Click here for the rates list.
- Timetable: for ferries departing from Arona to Locarno, just check @ this link, or the way back from Borromeo isles to Arona click here instead.
- Kids facilities: near Arona ticket office there are a great playground and a nice cafeteria where kids can rest and enjoy while dad is queuing.
- Activities: Stresa, the Borromee Isles, Angera and Santa Caterina deserve a full article but believe me, your sons will be impressed by a simple ferryboat trip!
To be improved
As far as our various day trips are concerned, there is no baby changing rooms, neither breastfeeding corner on site. This happens near the ticket office and even close to the playground.
If you have planned a trip there during the weekend, we highly recommend not to use the car and use the railway to get there. The chance to be stuck for hours or more, before leaving the city of Arona, is unfortunately very high.
Information & Booking