Holidays in Stresa

Stresa is the gateway to the Borromean Islands – and to some of the best views and walking trails on Lake Maggiore

Borromean island views, Michelin-recommended restaurants and historic hotels – it’s easy to see why Stresa is Lake Maggiore’s most popular spot. Come summer, it’s abuzz with people soaking up the atmosphere of the old town and promenade and walking atop Mount Mottarone. This once sleepy fishing village was transformed by the Borromeo family, who planted palaces and gardens on the now-famous Borromean Islands just offshore. Another transformation came with the arrival of the Venice-Simplon Orient Express railway and its prosperous passengers. Grand hotels, villas and gardens sprung up that still decorate the town today. Walking holidays to Stresa explore all of this, as well as the picturesque paths beyond.

Walking in Stresa 

Royalty, philosophers, musicians and writers (Hemingway included) have all been wooed by Stresa’s marvellous views. Walkers love Stresa for the same reasons too. Mount Mottarone towers beside the town and stands between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta. With Sweeping views over Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands – and, on a clear day, you may even get a glimpse of up to seven shimmering Italian and Swiss lakes. Look out for the Alps in the distance too! 

Easy sightseeing: catch a boat to the Borromean Islands

The Borromean Islands are opposite Stresa, just ten minutes away by ferry. Explore the main island of Isola Bella, with its baroque palace, terraced gardens and dusting of white peacocks. Boats also bustle across the water to Isola Madre, where you can ramble between carefully cultivated magnolia groves, wisteria walkways, palm gardens and lily ponds. Isola dei Pescatori is the odd island out – home to a busy fishing village with a cluster of trattorias and shops, it’s a true taste of the old Lake Maggiore.

Finding food: refuel with lake and mountain fare

A mix of pizzerias, panini lunch stops and family-friendly restaurants fill the narrow streets that run from the waterfront. Piazza Cadorna is the heart of the old town; pull up a chair in a sunny spot for antipasti plates piled high with cheeses and cured meats from Piedmont. Plus, a handful of places in Stresa are recommended by the Michelin guide, thanks to their ingenious takes on local lake and mountain cuisine. We'd recommend trying out the unassuming foodie spots, off the tourist trails, they tend to be where you'll find the most authentic and delicious food and drink!

Villas and the Venice-Simplon Orient Express

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Simplon Pass opened and Stresa became a stop on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express Line. Every summer wealthy visitors began to flock in – and the town welcomed them by building grand hotels along the waterfront. Some of the villa gardens and extravagant mansions are open to curious wanderers. The Simplon line still exists, too. The trains that pull into Stresa station are more rustic nowadays, but you can still be amongst the stylish streets and shopping arcades of Milan in less than an hour.

Why book a summer holiday in Stresa with Inghams?

At Inghams, we do walking holidays differently. With no fixed itinerary, you have more time in your destination and the freedom to walk as much or as little as you like, discovering some of Stresa's best activities at your own pace.

Plus, we've included two optional guided walks every week in Stresa. Join a professional mountain guide and really get to know the area (see more details in the ‘walking’ tab below).

With over 85 years of outdoor travel experience, our holiday packages to Stresa include flights, transfers, and accommodation, so you can relax and leave the small details to us. Our experts can help you choose the best holiday for you, and our team in resort can give you the inside scoop on how to spend your time away with us.

Added value

Inghams Guided Walks included from 10th May -11th Oct (subject to availability)

24/7 support & tailored advice from our local resort team

All holidays include flights or train from the UK and transfers

Walking in and around Stresa

On an Inghams walking holiday, you have the freedom to explore the area at your own pace. Make each day a new adventure, with as much or as little walking as you like.

Why we love walking in Stresa

Who knew that Lake Maggiore had so many fantastic opportunities for walking. Come to Stresa and experience it in a new way, discover quaint villages and trails filled with history and culture. Walking around Mount Mottarone gives you a completely different perspective of the surrounding area and it's easy to stumble across hidden gems when out exploring.

Guided walks

Don't forget, you have the option to join two included Inghams guided walks per week, with a local, professional guide. Get to know our favourite walking trails with insider knowledge and the company of other guests. Pre-booking is essential - check out the Guided Walks section below for more information.

Getting Around

Ferries

The hydro-foil ferries in Lake Maggiore are extremely useful and more eco-friendly than your average ferry! They're perfect for hopping over to the Borromean islands for a day trip. From Stresa you can nip over to Isola Bella in about 10 minutes! Check out those sparkling waters as you drift along the lake. Many of our hotels are close to ferry landing points, so you won't have far to go.

Buses & trains

Stresa's bus network is really useful for exploring towns like Baveno which takes around eight minutes on the bus. You can usually buy tickets in a nearby tabaccheria or on the bus itself. You can also get the train to nearby towns such as Belgirate, with its little Romanesque church of St Mary dating back to the 11th Century. This journey only takes about 12 minutes direct.

Walking

If you'd rather walk, it doesn't take long to walk along the lakeside to picture perfect towns such as Feriolo with its little beaches and quaint harbours. This walk takes about 1 hour 30 minutes and passes through Baveno.

Inghams Guided Walks in Stresa

Inghams Guided Walks are included on your holiday to Stresa

We’ve included one full-day and one half-day walk per week in Stresa, just for Inghams guests. Join a small group and be led by a professional mountain guide on some of their favourite trails. It’s a great way to get to know the area.

The full-day walk will run every Tuesday and the half-day walk will run every Friday from the 10th May - 11th Oct 2024 and from the 13th May-26th Sep 2025. You can add the walks onto your holiday at the time of booking, through My Booking or by calling us on 01483 319 652.

Please note that due to the hotel's location just outside the centre of Stresa, guests staying in the Villa e Palazzo Aminta may need to hire a taxi to reach the walk meeting points, costing approx. €10-15 each way (payable locally).

For a break down of how we grade our guided walks head over to our walking grades page. Routes may vary from week to week but as a guide you can see some of our planned routes below:

Lake Mergozzo

Lake Mergozzo is a hidden lake in the Ossola Valley. From Mergozzo train station, you'll head to this quiet lakeside village. You'll then walk along the Azur Path, stopping in the medieval village of Montorgano and take in the marvellous views over Lake Maggiore. We guarantee they'll will remain etched in your memory!

  • Grade: Easy-Moderate (a decent fitness level is required)
  • Distance: 5km
  • Duration: Half day (walking time approx. 2 hours)
  • Ascent/Descent: 150m
  • Terrain: Asphalt, dirt tracks, natural trails
  • Useful information: The walk is reached by train, you will take the train from Stresa to Mergozzo on the way to the walk, and back from Verbania-Pallanza to Stresa. There is a local cost for the train which is approx. €2.20 each way. 

Summer 2024- This walk will run on Fridays: 10th, 24th May, 7th, 21st Jun, 5th, 19th Jul, 2nd, 16th, 30th Aug, 13th, 27th Sep, 11th Oct

Summer 2025- This walk will run on Fridays: 16th, 30th May, 13th, 27th Jun, 11th, 25th Jul, 8th, 22nd Aug, 5th, 19th Sep

Medieval village of Cavandone

The walk begins in the colourful village of Suna where the path will take you to the medieval village of Cavandone. Along the walk you'll pass a chestnut wood, a medieval tower and of course wonderful views of Lake Maggiore - make sure to pack you camera! Once at Cavandone there's so much history and culture to enjoy including; a 400 year old yew tree, ceramic pottery and a well preserved stone village. The walk ends in Suna, where you can wander along the lakeside promenade.

  • Grade: Easy-Moderate (a decent fitness level is required)
  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: Full day (walking time approx. 4 hours)
  • Ascent/Descent: 260m
  • Terrain: Asphalt, dirt tracks, natural trails
  • Useful information: The walk is reached by bus, from Stresa to Verbania-Suna and the return is by bus from Verbania-Pallanza. There is a local cost for the bus which is approx. €8.20 return. You'll have the opportunity to stop for lunch in Verbania-Pallanza towards the end of the walk (payable locally).

Summer 2024- This walk will run on Tuesdays: 14th, 28th May, 11th, 25th Jun, 9th, 23rd Jul, 6th, 20th Aug, 3rd, 17th Sep, 1st Oct

Summer 2025- This walk will run on Tuesdays: 20th May, 3rd, 17th Jun, 1st, 15th, 29th Jul, 12th, 26th Aug, 9th, 23rd Sep

The Chestnut Route

Staring at Belgirate you'll walk up to the beautiful Romanesque church of Santa Maria, where you can enjoy some fantastic lake views. Continuing uphill to the chestnut forest you'll get a feel for rural life in the terraced fields and mountain huts. You'll get even more fantastic views as you pass by the village of Passera and the gardens of Villa Pallavicino, which are a real highlight. 

  • Grade: Moderate-Challenging (a good fitness level is required)
  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: Half day (walking time approx. 3hrs 30 mins)
  • Ascent/Descent: 335m
  • Terrain: Asphalt, dirt tracks, natural trails
  • Useful information: The walk is reached by bus, from Stresa to Belgirate. There is a local cost for the bus which is approx. €3.20 one way.

Summer 2024- This walk will run on Fridays: 17th, 31st May, 14th, 28th Jun, 12th, 26th Jul, 9th, 23rd Aug, 6th, 20th Sep, 4th Oct

Summer 2025- This walk will run on Fridays: 23rd May, 6th, 20th Jun, 4th, 18th Jul, 1st, 15th, 29th Aug, 12th, 26th Sep

Domodossola and the Sacred Mount

The walk starts at Domodossola, which is the main town of the Ossola Valley with its quintessential market place, stone houses and a rustic centre. A real highlight of this walk is visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Sacred Mount of Domodossola. On the descent towards Domodossala you'll have the opportunity to visit the town with its arcades, cafés and different shops selling typical products from the region. 

  • Grade: Moderate-Challenging (a good fitness level is required)
  • Distance: 8km
  • Duration: Full day (walking time approx. 3hrs 30 mins)
  • Ascent/Descent: 340m
  • Terrain: Asphalt, dirt tracks, natural trails
  • Useful information: The walk is reached by train and/or bus, from Stresa to Domodossola. There is a local cost for the train and bus. The train costs approx. €9.60 for a return ticket. You'll stop off along the walk to have your lunch in the open air. Make sure you come prepared with a packed lunch and snacks.

Summer 2024- This walk will run on Tuesdays: 21st May, 4th, 18th Jun, 2nd, 16th, 30th Jul, 13th, 27th Aug, 10th, 24th Sep, 8th Oct

Summer 2025- This walk will run on Tuesdays: 13th, 27th May, 10th, 24th Jun, 8th, 22nd Jul, 5th, 19th Aug, 2nd, 16th Sep

For every walk you will need: suitable walking shoes with good grip, appropriate clothing, sun cream, sun glasses, rain jacket, rucksack, at least a litre of water, a snack and cash for restaurants/transport. You may find walking poles useful.

Early booking is strongly recommended as spaces are limited. All walks are subject to availability of local guides, weather conditions and maximum numbers. Planned routes are subject to change. Any distances and ascents/descents stated are approximate. Full details of the walks with the meeting points and routes will be provided to you on arrival. In some instances there may be a small charge for local transport that is payable locally. In resorts where the walks run over more than two days, the day of the walk will be allocated to you by your Rep in your welcome meeting. Where we cannot confirm your preferred option in resort, we will endeavour to offer an alternative subject to the above conditions.

Please ensure you are comfortable with the grade of walk, planned distance covered and terrain before booking. The decision of the guide on the suitability of the walk for you is final and no compensation will be paid where the guide believes, in their professional opinion, that it is not suitable. Please ensure you are well-equipped for the walk have suitable clothing and footwear. Walks are not recommended for guests under 12 years. Any guests under 18 years will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Our Favourite Walks

Il Sentiero Azzurro

Walk up to the Romanesque stone church of St Giovanni in the field - worth having a look to see if it's open. Once you get to the Belvedere viewing point you'll get some incredible views of Lake Maggiore, The Borromean Gulf and the mouth of the River Toce, so it's worth taking a minute and soaking it all in. The trail is signposted for some of the way as the Sentiero Azzurro and if you follow it after the viewpoint, you'll come to a lakeside path with sections shaded by trees. Make sure you take some time to visit the archaeological museum along the lakeside path, and take a moment to sit in one of the relaxing lakeside cafe's for a coffee or a spritz!

To start the walk you can hop on a train or ferry to Verbania/Pallanza from Stresa and then you'll walk to Mergozzo town via Montorfano. Don't forget to validate your ticket on the platform before hopping on the train!

Villa Lesa - Monte Alle Croci - Belgirate

Starting in the relaxed town of Lesa this walk gives you a diverse range of things to see along the way. Stroll through the ancient villages of the Upper Vergante, stumble across farmhouses and churches and head into the foothills around Lake Maggiore, passing the Erno stream as well as historic villages, villas and gardens on the way. The walk is about 11.5km long and has about 480 metres of ascent, so requires a very good fitness level. The walk ends in Belgirate, where you can grab a train directly back to Stresa, this is about 12 minutes direct.

Hop on the train from Stresa to Lesa where the walk starts, the journey only takes about 11 minutes direct. 

Useful Information & Guidelines

Recommended equipment

Suitable walking shoes with good grip, appropriate clothing, rain jacket, sun cream, sun glasses, rucksack, at least a litre of water, a re-usable water bottle, a snack and cash. You may find walking poles useful.

Walking Maps

If you're looking for a paper map to help you get to know the area even better, we'd recommend the Globalmap - Carta Escursionistica - Mottarone - Lago d'Orta - Lago Maggiore (1:25 000).

Hiking guidelines

The mountains and lakes are a natural paradise, with lots to explore and discover. To help them stay that way, and remain enjoyable and safe places for everyone, we recommend following our little list of do's and don'ts:

  • Plan your route well and don't overestimate yourself
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Tell someone where you're planning to walk and what time you're expecting to be back
  • Take all the recommended equipment
  • Make a note of emergency numbers:
    • Italian Emergency Services: 112
  • Don't leave the marked trails without a guide
  • Let nature stay wild by not picking flowers (it's illegal in some places) or getting close to/making contact with wild animals
  • Always leave gates as you found them and don't climb over fences
  • Leave no trace

Check out our Responsible Walking insider guide if you want more tips for your summer walking holiday.

  • from£864pp
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Hotel Regina Palace, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Italy - Garden and Pool.jpg

Hotel Regina Palace is a grand hotel close to Stresa's lakefront promenade. It's set back from the road and surrounded by some fantastic gardens. Enjoy relaxing by the outdoor pool and in the impressive spa with heated pool and hydro-massage jets.

  • from£789pp
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Hotel Astoria_Junior Suite.JPG

Hotel Astoria is a great, family-run hotel on Stresa's promenade. It's very close to the centre so you can easily stroll into town and enjoy the bars, shops and restaurants. The heated pool in the gardens is the perfect place to chill out after a day of walking and sightseeing. 

  • from£964pp
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Hotel La Palma, Pool on Lake Maggiore

The views don't get much better than from Hotel La Palma. The rooftop Sky Bar looks out over the lake and the Borromean Islands and has lots of comfy seating all around so you won't miss anything. It's the must-be place in Stresa for aperitivo.

  • from£679pp
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_UNO7511.JPG

This a lovely, family-run hotel with a relaxed atmosphere. We love the colourful gardens where there's an outdoor pool and plenty of loungers and chairs for you to relax. It's in a nice, quiet location just outside the centre of Stresa. You can walk there in around 20 minutes.

  • from£689pp
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Stylish Architecture in Stresa

Hotel Milan Au Lac is a firm favourite with Inghams summer guests. It's well located on the promenade and close to the centre of Stresa. There's a nice restaurant with lake views and you can use the pool and gardens at the nearby Hotel Regina Palace.

  • from£1040pp
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Villa e Palazzo Aminta with views of Lake Maggiore in the summer

This Villa e Palazzo Aminta is a former palace and is every bit as luxurious now as it was then. The whole place has been perfectly maintained and you'll love the luxury rooms, Venetian-style lobby and relaxing outdoor gardens. The pool and restaurant have great views of Lake Maggiore and they're the ideal place for relaxing.

  • from£1004pp
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Junior Suite

Sempione Boutique Hotel's an immaculate modern hotel which has everything you need for a comfortable stay in Stresa. From espresso machines in the rooms to a panoramic rooftop terrace, you'll get to experience all that Lake Maggiore has to offer in style.

Travel and Transportation

All our holidays include return travel to resort either by flight or train and then the transfer between the airport or railway station and Stresa. 

We offer departures on a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday with stays for 3, 4, 7, 10, 11 and 14 nights. 

Travel by Air

Flights to Milan are available from Manchester, Edinburgh, London Gatwick and Bristol

Transfer times: 

  • Milan airport: approx. 1 hour by coach

Private transfers and self drive options are available.

Travel by Train

We offer holidays by train to Stresa, which depart on a Wednesday and Friday. The journey takes around 12 hours. 

The provisional outbound timings are: 

Wednesdays & Fridays

Arrive

Depart

London St Pancras

-

09.31

Paris Nord

12.48

14.18

Lausanne

18.14

19.18

Stresa

21.39

-

On arrival, you will transfer to Stresa by taxi/coach, which will take around 5 minutes.

The provisional inbound timings are:

Wednesdays & Fridays

Arrive

Depart

Stresa

-

09.11

Geneva

12.21

12.29

Paris Lyon

15.45

-

 Change at Paris Nord

-

18.12

London St Pancras

19.36

-
Excursions

Book your excursions in resort with your Inghams representative

Milan from €65 per person (full day)

One of the most stylish cities in the world, Milan is the Italian fashion capital. Make the most of your time in the company of our local guide with a visit to the elegant Vittorio Emanuele Galleries and the Sforza Castle. There's free time to visit La Scala Opera or some of the famous boutiques too. 

Departs on Fridays

Ascona and Cannobio from €44 per person (half day)

Visit the elegant Swiss town of Ascona, a photographer's dream and home to an attractive lakeside promenade and interesting boutiques. After, head to the sleepy Italian village of Cannobio - its picture postcard setting is a favourite with local artists. 

Departs on Thursdays

Macugnana from €47 per person (half day)

In just 90 minutes, you'll go from 260 metres above sea level in Stresa, through the Anzasca Valley where the ancient houses of the Walser people cling to the cliffs, to the foot of the second highest mountain in the Alps - Monte Rosa at over 4600 metres. Stroll through the picturesque alpine village of Macugnaga and enjoy the views across the mountain pastures. For some even more spectacular views take the cable car up to the glacier (payable locally).

Departs on Saturdays

Wine Tasting from €52 per person (half day)

Where would Italy be without food and wine? This excursion gives you the chance to try some of the regions finest local produce. You'll travel through the beautiful countryside to the wine cellars of Ricetto, where you’ll learn about the art of wine production in the area. You'll have the chance to enjoy some Piedmont wines and tasty local snacks.

Departs on Sundays

The Three Lakes Tour from €65 per person (full day)

Visit three lakes in one day: Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano and Lake Como. Begin is Stresa and enjoy a scenic drive along the shores of Lake Maggiore before crossing the Swiss boarder to visit Lugano. Explore the chic city – Art lovers should look out for Bernardino Luini’s fresco ‘The Last Supper’ in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. On Lake Como, you’ll explore Tremezzo’s Villa Carlotta and its beautiful gardens and the city of Como.

Departs on Tuesdays

Lake Orta from €44 per person (half day)

Experience the stunning hidden gem, Lake Orta. You'll head along the lakeside to Arona and will stop at the enormous statue of St Charles Borromeo. Then you'll drive through some fantastic countryside all the way to Orta, an old picturesque village which is full of art and historic architecture. You'll have the option to visit the island of Saint Giulio and its 4th Century Basilica.

Departs on Mondays

Zermatt and the Matterhorn from €89 per person (full day)

Don't miss this opportunity to get a taster of Zermatt and the iconic Matterhorn mountain that dominates the landscape. You'll take a bus over the Simplon road and into the Ossola valley where you'll get some fantastic views of the Simplon pass. Once you reach Zermatt you'll be at about 5,300 feet above sea level. It's known as the “Queen of the Alps” because of it's many surrounding mountains, which are amongst the highest in the Alps. You'll get some time for lunch before heading back to Lake Maggiore (payable locally).

Departs on Mondays

We act at all times as a selling agent for the suppliers. All excursions require minimum numbers to run and are subject to change. Some excursions may not be available to pre-book in low season but may be available to book locally subject to numbers. Prices will be confirmed at the time of booking. Please see our Terms & Conditions.

Things To Do

Things to See and Do

A trip to Stresa wouldn't be complete without visiting at least one of the three Borromean Islands. The Isola Bella's the most famous island and was turned into an Italian terraced garden in the 17th Century by the Borromeo family. It's so beautiful that it's inspired writers and poets throughout time. Dickens wrote, "However fanciful and fantastic Isola Bella may be, and is, it is still beautiful". Isola Madre's the biggest island and has peacocks strutting around its' gardens. Check out the villa and its classic Italian style. The third island, Isola dei Pescatori is a lot more down to earth. It's an old fishing island and still is today. This is where Maggiore gets it's delicious fresh fish. It's easy to get to these islands on the ferry (services reduce to weekends only in October) or by water taxi.

If you're looking for a day trip, you're only a stones throw away from Lake Orta, the famous UNESCO world heritage site. The smallest of the lakes, it's definitely worth a visit with it's relatively untouched landscape and fantastic food!

Food & Drink

The fish in Lake Maggiore's a must try, with the Isola dei Pescatori on your doorstep, you can have fresh fish everyday. Perch is very popular in the area and tends to be eaten in breaded filets, or if you're looking for something a bit more familiar, you could have trout which is typically served with home-made mayonnaise.

The cheese in Lake Maggiore's some of the best in Italy. It's on the border of Switzerland so both places share fantastic mountain land for raising cattle and making delicious cheese- they even produce one you'll definitely recognise... gorgonzola. The local cured meats are also excellent and fantastic on an antipasto platter with the cheese. You have to try it! 

Activities

Are you into water sports? Do you love hiking up to the best view-points? Then you'll never be bored in Stresa! Why not try out wake-boarding, water-skiing or paddle-boarding or you could hike the Chestnut Route (Sentiero dei Castagni) up Mount Mottarone which takes about 2 hours 40 minutes. The view from the top is unforgettable and on a clear day you can see seven of the Italian and Swiss lakes.

Good to know

Walking trails: 250km of hiking trails around Stresa, with easy access to other parts of the lake. 

Terrain: flat, paved roads, dirt trails, lakeside promenades, hills, mountains

Best time to go: May - October. Walking in the higher altitude areas is recommended in high summer, as they have a cooler climate.

Best for: Experienced walkers, regular walkers, new walkers, nature lovers, sightseeing

Arrive into: Milan Malpensa or Stresa train station

Travel from: Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and London St Pancras 

Transfer time: approx. 1 hour by coach and 5 minutes from Stresa train station

24/7 Support and advice: In person or over the phone from our local resort team based in Lake Maggiore

Inghams Guided Walks included

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