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Stresa & Lake Maggiore

8 days From $1,995 per person

We cross Lake Maggiore to explore the Borromean Islands, taste the wines of the Fontechiara region, visit enchanting Lake Orta and travel into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli Railway.

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: STL24

About the tour

From our location overlooking beautiful Lake Maggiore in the picturesque town of Stresa, we explore this magnificent region of Italy. We visit the Borromean Islands, taste the wines of Monferrato, visit enchanting Lake Orta and travel into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli Railroad.


What’s included


Day 1 - Arrive into Stresa

Your tour begins in the idyllic town of Stresa as you make your way independently to the majestic Hotel Regina, your base for the next seven nights on Lake Maggiore.

  • Dinner
Day 2 - The Borromean Islands

Today we discover two of the beautiful Borromean Islands, set in the shimmering waters of Lake Maggiore. We leave Stresa by boat and cruise to the Isola Bella for a guided visit to the sumptuous Borromeo Palace. The magnificent Baroque structure dominates the island, and after a tour of its lavish rooms, we explore the alluring Italian-style gardens. The spectacular gardens are on ten terraces and include an open-air theater with geometrically designed hedging, water-lilies and citrus trees, the Azalea Garden and the 'Piano della Canfora', which is named for the 150-year-old laurel tree growing there. In the English garden, there are lotus flowers, whilst at the highest point of the garden there is a great unicorn, the symbol of the Borromeo family. Our next stop is the tiny Isola dei Pescatori, a permanently-inhabited island - by fewer than a hundred people - of narrow cobbled alleyways and pretty buildings. It boasts a fine selection of restaurants in which to enjoy lunch, with many menus loyal to the island's rich fishing heritage. We enjoy an afternoon exploring the charming island before cruising back to Stresa. 

  • Breakfast
Day 3 - Lake Orta

After a leisurely morning, we set off for Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore's smaller but no less enchanting neighbor. We enjoy a private boat cruise to the stunning Isola San Giulio, a tiny island dominated by its impressive basilica, before returning to explore the delightful Orta San Giulio, the atmospheric town known as the 'Jewel of the Lake'. Situated on a tiny promontory against the dramatic backdrop of the Alps, this lovely town is truly a gem, with cobbled streets and a piazza overlooking the lake's sparkling waters. We return in good time for our dinner this evening. 

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Market Day in Stresa

After a couple of days of exploring, you have the opportunity to explore Stresa at your leisure. Today the town is transformed for Market Day, and the bustling, colorful stalls are well worth a visit.  An ideal way to get your bearings is to enjoy a walk along the attractive, flower-filled promenade, lined with impressive villas and neatly terraced gardens. You may wish to take a boat to the colorful botanical gardens of Villa Taranto and the Sanctuary of Santa Caterina del Sasso, nestled in a rocky overhang on the lake. Alternatively, perhaps travel by cable car from Stresa up Mount Mottarone - the journey offers an amazing panorama, and on a clear day, your views from the snow-dusted peak include seven lakes as well as the Italian and Swiss Alps.

  • Breakfast
Day 5 - The Centovalli Railway

Today's full-day excursion takes us on one of Europe's most scenic railroads, the narrow-gauge Centovalli Railroad, on an excursion to Locarno in Switzerland. The line threads its way across 'a hundred valleys' that give the railroad its name, all the while passing through outstanding scenery of idyllic landscapes. We pass over deep ravines and gushing waterfalls, and alongside thick forests and through sleepy villages during the journey. On arrival in Locarno, you are free to have lunch and explore at your leisure. As well as a picturesque Old Town, Locarno has beautiful subtropical gardens filled with palm trees and exotic flowers, lakeside promenades and great shopping under the arcades of the Piazza Grande. Later we cruise back down Lake Maggiore to Stresa - a splendid way to take in your surroundings on the homeward journey.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - At leisure by Lake Maggiore

Today is another chance for you to explore Stresa at your own pace. Should you wish to venture further afield, why not visit vibrant Milan, the capital of northern Italy? Perhaps visit the incredible Duomo - the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a 19th-century glass-roofed shopping arcade, or Teatro alla Scala, the beautiful opera house. The stunning 2,800-seat opera theater welcomed its premier performance in August 1778, with Antonio Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta, having been built to replace another theater on the site, which was lost to a fire. Designed by Giuseppe Piermarini, the Teatro alla Scala is known for its sumptuous gilt and crimson interiors, as well as a rich history as the home of opera and ballet in Milan. For those feeling less energetic, you can make use of the excellent facilities at the hotel for a thoroughly relaxing day.

  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Wine tasting at Fontechiara

Today's excursion is another highlight of our tour, and a perfect way to spend the last day of our Italian Lakes holiday. We are taken by coach to the delightful winery of Fontechiara, for a wine tasting with a light lunch of carefully paired dishes. After a welcome tour of the winery and cellar by the owner, we settle down to sampling three different wines with homemade delicacies, local charcuterie and cheeses, selected to complement the flavours and aromas of each wine. Our delicious lunch is followed by coffee and a grappa produced on the premises. We return to our hotel in the afternoon, with time to relax, or revisit your favourite parts of Stresa before enjoying our final three-course dinner in Italy at our hotel.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 - Tour Conclusion

Your Italian holiday comes to an end after breakfast and you are free to begin your journey home or continue exploring independently.

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Centovalli Railway

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