Borromean 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. 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.
Roman roads, chestnut walks and mighty mountains
Royalty, philosophers, musicians and writers (Hemingway included) have all been wooed by Stresa’s marvellous views. Walkers love Stresa for the same reasons. You can stroll along the promenade to Baveno and Feriolo, surrounded by lake and mountain panoramas. Mount Mottarone towers beside the town, best reached by walking along the Lake Maggiore’s famous Chestnut Route. The reward for your climb? 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.
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.
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.
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. Wealthy visitors flocked 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.