Heathrow and Gatwick: The beautiful towns and villages of Italy as pretty as those of Lake Como but much cheaper and with fewer tourists


Lake Como is one of Italy’s best-known vacation destinations and for good reason. Not only is it loved by celebrities such as Madonna, George Clooney and Ed Sheeran, it is also exceptionally beautiful and enjoys glorious sunny weather throughout the summer. The flip side is that staying in many of the quaint towns and villages on its shores can be quite expensive – and often rather busy.

However, if you want the same spectacular combination of mountains and lake views, the good news is that there is another equally pretty lake in northern Italy that is both cheaper and less touristy: Lake Maggiore. Located in the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy – as well as in the Swiss canton of Ticino – Lake Maggiore enjoys an equally pleasant Mediterranean climate and many charming lakeside establishments.

Sun, seafood and fewer vacationers to contend with, what’s not to love? MyLondon has rounded up some of the prettiest towns and villages around Lake Maggiore to consider for your summer holiday this year, from Stresa to Cannero.

READ MORE: Britain’s longest ferry ride where you can take your car to Spain, but it takes 35 hours


Landscape with Bella Island on Lake Maggiore, Stresa, Italy

Stresa, on the western shore of Lake Maggiore, is the region’s most famous seaside resort, with around 5,000 inhabitants. The town itself is picture perfect, mixing colorful villas with the picturesque backdrop of Mount Mottarone. It also offers spectacular views of Isola Madre, Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori.

There are plenty of activities to choose from, from taking the Monte Mottarone cable car, to discovering The large, well-kept grounds of Park Villa Pallavicino or hop on a ferry or private boat to explore the nearby Borromean Islands. When it comes to accommodation, there are a range of options available on Booking.com; However, if you are looking for somewhere particularly special, consider the Grand Hôtel des Îles Borromées. This huge, elegant hotel is where American writer Ernest Hemingway chose to stay during his own lakeside visit.


Baveno is a small village near Stresa
A panoramic image of Baveno on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Italy.

The pretty Baveno is located just a few kilometers from Stresa and offers an equally stunning view of Lake Maggiore. As with this better known lake destination, you can head to the Borromean Islands from the port of Baveno. Other things to do, in the meantime, include visiting the city’s specialized museum on pink granite (Museo Granum) or taking a walk to the picturesque cemetery of Piazza della Chiesa.

And if you choose this pretty lakeside colony to settle in, you’ll be in good company – Queen Victoria stayed in a villa in Baveno for several weeks during a visit to Lake Maggiore in 1879. She is not neither is the only former celebrity to have chosen Baveno: Winston Churchill also rented a villa here for his honeymoon – and you can even stay there yourself. The former Villa Durazzo is today the Hotel Lido Palace.


Charming Arona has a rich history dating back to the Romans
Arona on Lake Maggiore at sunset.

The charming Arona is another stunning town on the waterfront of Lake Maggiore. Not only is it full of classic and picturesque squares and pretty cobbled streets, but it is also a stone’s throw from the beautiful Lagoni di Mercurago natural park, a UNESCO World Heritage site full of woods, lakes and meadows.

History buffs may be especially keen to stay in Arona: the town’s rich history dates back to the Romans and is home to an impressive 35m-tall statue of historic figure San Carlo Borromeo, former Archbishop of Milan, from the 17th century . In fact, this landmark was once the tallest in the world before the Statue of Liberty was built – and like that more famous statue, you could climb inside for stunning views.

The oldest part of Arona and worth visiting at sunset is Piazza del Popolo. Other interesting features include the Museum of Mineralogy and the Museum of Archeology and the remains of Rocca, an old military fortress that once protected the coastline from the legendary pirate Frederick Barbarossa.


The magnificent resort town of Cannero has been dubbed
Cannero Riviera, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola Province, Piedmont, Italy, Lake Maggiore, Lago Maggiore,

Located on the upper part of Lake Maggiore, Cannero is a small but beautiful lakeside town often referred to as the ‘Riviera of the Lakes’ or ‘Cannero Riviera’. The beautiful, brightly colored village on the water is particularly known for its thriving citrus trees, which alone attract many visitors each year.

As well as lemon and orange groves galore, you can also expect a picturesque promenade of shops and restaurants and a sheltered pebble beach ideal for swimming. You can also expect some particularly romantic views from here: Cannero has a series of ruined castelli (castles) located just off its shore on three rocky islands and they make for a striking sight. Hotel Cannero is a well-rated place to stay, with a total of five stars from 659 Tripadvisor reviews.

How to get there

The nearest airport to Lake Maggiore is Milan Malpensa (MXP). You can get there from several major London airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick.

British Airways has regular flights from London Heathrow, and the flight time is two hours. From Gatwick you can fly with EasyJet. There are currently tickets for as little as £27 in June, July, August and September.

Whether you’re looking to book a long-awaited sun and beach holiday, a trip to Disney World or a cosmopolitan city break to an incredible location, travel agency TUI has just unveiled a promo code that could save you £300 on your vacation booking.

If you use the promotional code GO AWAY on the company website when booking holidays departing between May and October 2022 you will get £100 off bookings over £800, £200 off bookings over £2,000 or £300 off bookings over 3 £500.

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