Lake Maggiore, Italy & Switzerland
Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Lake Maggiore.
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Lake Maggiore visitor and community guide
Lake Maggiore, also known as Verbano, is Italy’s second largest lake. Although not quite as popular as the well-known Lake Como, the beautifully romantic Lake Maggiore has charms all of its own and beckons travelers from all over the world. Italy is not the only country that has a claim to Lake Maggiore; the northern tip of this spectacular lake makes its home in Ticino, Switzerland, while the rest of the lake resides in two regions of Italy, the Lombardy and the Piedmont.
The glacier-formed lake is nestled in the foothills of the Alps. On a clear day lake visitors on the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore may spot the snow-capped majestic Monte Rosa which has 10 peaks, with four of the peaks counted among the highest in the Alps. The mild Mediterranean-like climate of Lake Maggiore enables beautiful gardens to grow and features rare and exotic plants. A great place to view these beautiful gardens is on the Borromeo Islands. The Borromeo Islands were named after the Borromeo family who still owns some of the islands after hundreds of years. The beautiful castle-like homes built on the islands entice visitors to take one of the tour boats to explore the picturesque settings. The Borromeo Islands consist of Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and the Isola Pescatori. Isola Bella, known in English as the Beautiful Island, features a baroque style castle and terraced gardens. Isola Madre or Mother Island is the largest of the islands and is the residence of the Borromeo estate. While exploring the beautiful gardens of the Mother Island, it is not uncommon to catch a glimpse of peacocks, parrots or pheasants. Isola Pescatori, also known as Fisherman’s Island, is still inhabited by working fishermen and their families. During a couple weeks in the summer a flag is hoisted to announce that the Borromeo family is on Isola Pescatori to enjoy some time fishing.
After visiting the Borromeo Islands, Lake Maggiore visitors can take a boat from the town of Stresa to the eastern shores of the lake to a place called Santa Caterina del Sasso. Dating back to the 13th century the incredible architecture intrigues visitors due to the fact the building clings to the steep cliffs of Sasso Ballaro. Once a hermitage, the palace-like structure is now used for classical concerts.
On the western side of Lake Maggiore, known as the Piedmont, visitors will find two Natural Reserves, the Cane Reservation of Dormelletto, and the Fondotoce Reservation. Both Natural Reserves offer habitats for many wildlife and bird species, including swans and ducks. Also in the Piedmont, lake visitors will find the National Park of Val Grande which offers a beautiful area for naturalists to enjoy the many species of plants and animals, some of which are rare.
With so much to see and do, visitors may want to take some time to enjoy the refreshing waters of Lake Maggiore. Swimming, sailing, wake-boarding, water skiing and scuba diving are some of the water sports Lake Maggiore’s visitors may enjoy. Off-water activities include mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and bungee jumping. Golf is also popular with award-winning greens and exquisite settings.
When looking for sleeping accommodations, Lake Maggiore visitors will find numerous places to stay that meet a wide variety of tastes, including camping, resorts and vacation rentals. Lake Maggiore visitors who fall in love with the culture and beauty of northern Italy or southern Switzerland may want to find a place to call home. Real estate along the shores of Lake Maggiore is abundant, and can be purchased as summer homes or as permanent residences.
While vacationing at Lake Maggiore, visitors can enjoy the culture as well as the culinary arts all around them. Museums, fine dining, art galleries and little villages that transport visitors back in time are all just a short drive or walk from the lake’s shores. The beauty and enchanting view of Lake Maggiore will leave visitors wanting to come back for more. The romantic setting will leave couples spellbound as they enjoy their time visiting grand homes and the magnificent gardens.
Custom Lake Maggiore house decor
Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.
Things to do at Lake Maggiore
- Vacation Rentals
- Water Skiing
- Scuba Diving
- Horseback Riding
- Wildlife Viewing
- National Park
Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Maggiore
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Lake Maggiore photo gallery
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Lake Maggiore statistics & helpful links
Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed
Surface Area: 52,510 acres
Shoreline Length: 93 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 633 feet
Average Depth: 582 feet
Maximum Depth: 1,220 feet
Water Volume: 29,996,388 acre-feet
Water Residence Time: 4 years
Drainage Area: 2,548 sq. miles
Trophic State: Oligo-mesotrophic
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