Things you must do in Lake Maggiore, Italy

By: Nofar Ronen

At the end of May, the trip that my siblings and I had been waiting for, for a long time, finally came. I live in Cyprus, my two sisters in Israel, and my brother in the United States. Five years ago we started the tradition of a trip with siblings and so far we have been together in Madrid and Vienna, and now it was time for our trip to the north of Italy. We all landed in Milan at the Malpensa Airport and from there we continued to Lake Maggiore, which is north of Milan.

Because we traveled at the end of May, which is not the peak of the season, places weren’t crowded anywhere. Maybe in July and August it feels different.

Before I continue to tell about this trip, I will remind you that a few years ago I took a trip with Roman to Lake Como, which is also in the area. So if you’re looking for recommendations there, it’s worth going through the posts I wrote about Lake Como.

5 things you must do in Lake Maggiore in northern Italy - Traveling outside the box

General information about the trip we made to Lake Maggiore

Who? Four adults

When? End of May 2024
How long? 4 days
Weather? Between 18 -24 degrees a day and there were two days with some rain
Where did we stay? In the town of Agra I rented a villa through Airbnb
Rented a car? We rented an electric car through Hertz at the Malpensa Airport. Equivalent prices can be found through Papam Papam, the search engine for car rentals.
Flights? My sisters flew from Israel with Wizzair and had a four-hour flight. I arrived from Cyprus with EasyJet.

Siblings trip

How do you get to Lake Maggiore?

We arrived at the lake with a car we rented from Hertz. We picked up the car from the Malpensa Airport in Milan.
The process of receiving the car was easy and pleasant. The Hertz counter is in Terminal 1, where our flights also landed.

The representative offered us to purchase additional insurance to cancel the deductible, but we politely refused and settled for the basic insurance we had with the reservation.

It was approximately an hour-and-a-half drive to the town of Agra, where we stayed.
To search for a car, you can use the search engine for comparing car prices, Papam Papam.

At first we were worried about the electric vehicle because we didn’t know how far we could drive it before the battery ran out, and we weren’t sure where we could charge it either. 

In practice, there are many charging points along the way and in the villages. In the town of Agra, through Google Maps, we found the charging point next to the villa and when we went to Dumenza for dinner, we directed Google Maps to the charging point in the center; that’s how we also earned free parking while charging. To find the charging points we simply searched on Google “EV charging” and it showed us where there are such points. To charge you have to download an app called “Be Charge” and you can create an account or register as a temporary guest.

The lake can also be reached by train from the central station in Milan.

The electric car we rented

The villa we stayed in at Lake Maggiore

We stayed in the town of Agra, which is located up the mountain (about a quarter-of-an-hour round trip in the mountains) and we had a special villa designed by the architect Carlo Molino (a well-known architect in Italy). The main advantage of the villa was the crazy view from it. Just a feeling of living openly. The location of the villa is in a relatively isolated location, but by walking for about fifteen minutes you can reach the center of the town, which has two restaurants and a grocery store.

Those who love peace and quiet will surely love the villa.

The downside of the villa was that it is not maintained well enough. Everything was clean and the bedrooms were great but in the living room the furniture was old.

The villa had three rooms, a shower room, and a kitchen and living room. There were two more bedrooms also in the lower part of the villa but there was a very suffocated feeling and I would not recommend sleeping there.

My sister is a Pilates trainer so in the morning she gave us a Pilates workout in the garden and with the view of the lake we felt like we were at a retreat. We would prepare the breakfasts in the villa with ingredients we bought in the market and supermarket in the town of Luino and really enjoyed the experience

In short, we really liked the villa especially because of the view, but in the pictures on the Airbnb Villa website, the rooms and living room seemed of a higher level than they really were.

Link to the villa

Where to sleep in Lake Maggiore?

In Lake Maggiore there are many towns and in general I think it’s nice to stay in all of them. We stayed in a small town called Agra, which is above the town of Luino. If you prefer to stay close to the lake, then I think the town of Luino is a great option because you can get to other towns from it by ferry or by car and it has a nice selection of cafes, restaurants, shops and supermarkets.

A hotel located on the lake Relais Villa Porta – link to the hotel

A hotel with a view of the lake Camin Hotel Luino – link to the hotel


The town where the villa we stayed in is located. It is a very small town with only two restaurants and one grocery store. If our villa wasn’t there then I wouldn’t have particularly visited this place. But if you stay in this town or close to it, there is a nice restaurant that is open until late called Ristorante – Pizzeria Tio Pepe di Valentini Paolo & C. From the villa it takes about fifteen minutes to walk to the restaurant.


A town near the lake. We went several times because it was on the way to our town.

It’s a pretty touristy town and if you rent an apartment on the lake like we did then there are some big supermarkets. We also bought wine there at a store called Enetoca 25 12.

We had dinner there but the restaurant was not of our liking, so I will not recommend it. However, the alley where the restaurant was located was really beautiful, so I am attaching directions for you to go to this alley.

Lavender shop

Cafes Coffee in the town of Luino

A nice cafe with delicious pastries but no view of the lake: Caffe Teatroi.

And Cafe Clerici, a cafe located by the lake, where the coffee is just reasonable but the view is lovely and if the weather is nice then it’s totally worth sitting there.

Local market on Wednesdays

Every Wednesday there is a local market in the town. The market is touristy and I would not define it as a mandatory recommendation but if you are already nearby, it is nice to walk around there, especially in the food area. We bought bread for our villa and some cheeses and sausages both for the villa and to take back home with us.

The market has all kinds of things: clothes, bags, games, shoes and also local produce of cheeses, sausages, fruits, vegetables and more…

The Mercato di Luino market is open every Wednesday from 08:00-17:00. Arrival instructions.

Ferry to other towns on the lake

From Luino you can take ferries to other towns around Lake Maggiore.

We took a ferry from there to the town of Canobbio (located on the Italian side). We got to the ferry exactly two minutes before it left and bought tickets from the box office at the entrance.

Directions to the ferry.


How do you get to the town of Canobbio?

A magical town that we arrived at by ferry from Luino – we paid 32 euros for 4 people for a round trip ticket. The cruise was about 25 minutes. Canobbio can also be reached by car or taxi from Luino, but it’s about an hour’s drive.

Wander around the town

This town is so beautiful that you can spend hours there just walking around and going into different shops. There are nice boutiques as well as various brand shops like the Swiss “On” shoes.

A cafe in Canobbio

We sat there in a cute cafe called Forno Zaccheo that had good coffee, pastries, and desserts.

My siblings ordered a tiramisu and said it was delicious and I opted for an apricot jam cookie. There are all kinds of cookies, pastries and cakes.

Forno Zaccheo Coffee and cookies

Take a dip in the lake

It wasn’t hot enough to get into the lake but there was a stunning spot with a descent to the lake where we just laid there on the grass and talked – directions. If you were to go in hot weather, I recommend bringing a bathing suit because it looks really fun to get into the lake. Arrival instructions.

Ice cream

The truth is that I’m not much of an ice cream fan, but my siblings had ice cream at an ice cream parlor – Gelateria il bacio di Tonsi Nadir and said it was great 

Icecream at Cannobio town

Orrido of Saint Anna gorge

Unfortunately, due to lack of time we didn’t get to this place but it looks amazing! This is a gorge with crazy views. The problem is that walking there from the center of Canobbio is 40 minutes and we couldn’t get a taxi. If you are arriving by car, this seems to be a place that is definitely worth going to. Arrival instructions.


At first we thought of going to Lugano but then my sister, Usherat, found a spa of heated natural salt water pools with an amazing view in Locarno so we changed our minds and went there, and it was an excellent decision!

How do you get to Locarno?

We drove with our car for about 50 minutes (from the town of Agra). It is a flat ride around the lake and no traffic jams so it was a great ride.

Hot salt water spa Termali Salini & Spa Locarno

One of the highlights of our trip. That day the weather was gloomy and a little rainy and this place is perfect for such weather.

You can order tickets online but we paid at the entrance. The payment is in Swiss francs but you can also pay in euros. The cost of entry to the baths only is 38 euros. If you also want a towel, then it is another 7 euros.

If you also want to enter the sauna, there is an additional fee (note that the entrance to the saunas is fully nude only). Spa treatments can also be ordered. My brother took a 20 minute massage and felt it was unnecessary.

From the moment you enter you feel like you’re in a relaxing dream. The spa is located right in front of the lake.

There are changing rooms with lockers where you can leave all your things. It is forbidden to take pictures or use a cell phone there! (So unfortunately I don’t have any photos from the place). At the entrance you get a bracelet with which you can open and close the locker as well as buy food and drinks in the restaurant inside (you pay at the end before leaving).

There is a heated pool inside with natural salt water and Jacuzzis but the highlight is the natural salt water pool outside. You can go out to it from the pool inside and enjoy the perfect view. When we were in the pool it was raining and it was an amazing experience to be in the water at a temperature of 34 degrees while it was raining on us.

At one point we went to a restaurant and ordered fruit smoothies and sat on the sunbeds inside and read a book.

We were there for about five hours and there is no doubt that we could have stayed there for a whole day if we didn’t want to get a few more things done. Link to the spa’s official website.

Arrival instructions

A cafe shop with perfect coffee

My brother found a small cafe that only serves coffee! The place looks like a small office with two benches, a coffee machine, and coffee-related products. The place is run by a lovely couple (the woman is from Bolivia and the man is from Switzerland) and they specialize in coffee from Bolivia. I had two cappuccinos because the coffee was so good and they have different flavors of coffee beans. I tried the two types they offered and was really impressed. If you are a fan of good coffee, this is definitely a recommendation you shouldn’t miss. Muyu Cafe. Open only in the months of March – September between the hours of 09:00 and 16:00.

Japanese tea up the mountain

My brother found another recommendation and this time it was for Japanese tea in a special place. We decided we had to try it. This recommendation is less mandatory for me since the tea and the place did not live up to my expectations, but if you have some free time, you can definitely try it.

This is a place that looks like a Japanese botanical garden and is very beautiful to walk around. Inside there is a tea shop and a place to have Japanese-style tea. You can order any type of tea you want and wait for it to be served. It might be worth making a reservation in advance because when we arrived there were relatively many people. My brother ordered matcha, I ordered ginger tea and my sisters jasmine tea and chai tea. The tea was nice, nothing special. The atmosphere was more special than the tea. The place is called Casa del Te.

Street food festival

Coincidentally the day we arrived we found out there was a street food festival by the lake just outside the spa we were at. The festival is three-days-long days and is held once a year. You can check on their Facebook page when the next festival will be.

The festival was very nice, with over 45 food stalls from all over the world. What’s more, because this is the Swiss region, the prices are according. The prices of the dishes were between 7 euros and 13 euros for small dishes and 13 to 18 euros for medium ones.

Facebook page Streetfood Festival Locarno.

streetfood festival bao ban and dumplings


How do you get to the town?

We got there by car, through an about 10-minute drive from Luino but you can also take a ferry. The ferry to Canobbio stops first in Macagno.

What do you do in Macagno?

It’s another charming town that’s fun to wander around and in addition there is an area of grass with trees so there is shade and there is also a playground and a café. In addition to this, in the summer there are water sports and you can get into the lake. Arrival instructions. We didn’t get to walk around the town much because just as we arrived, it started to rain. But if the weather is pleasant or warm then of course the town is worth a visit.

The best restaurant we’ve been to in Lake Maggiore

On our second evening in Lake Maggiore we went to a restaurant in the town of Dumenza, at about a 5-minute drive from Agra where we were staying at, and the truth is that the restaurant was amazing. We loved everything, from the food, the wine, and the view from the restaurant. If the weather is nice, I recommend booking a place to sit outside because the view is lovely.

We parked at a quarter-of-an-hour’s walk from the restaurant because we left the car to charge at the electric car charging station (directions) and the road to the restaurant was really beautiful.

Dumenza town

We ordered quite a few dishes and each one was tasty and a success with us. We ordered several starters, minestrone soup, a rabbit dish with polenta, pasta with truffle mushrooms, ravioli, and for desserts we ordered cake and cream borla. Everything was really flavorful and the service was great. The menus are only in Italian so we used Google Translate to translate it into English (this is what we had to do in most restaurants because the menu was only in Italian).

Ristorante Smeraldo.

Things to do in Lake Maggiore with children

Although we weren’t at the lake with children, it was just the four of us, I saw some great recommendations for the lake for those who come with children, so I’m adding the ones I think that are worth checking out.

The Wonderwood ropes and climbing park is suitable for all ages with different degrees of difficulty. Free entry up to the age of three. The park has rope and climbing routes, swimming pools, and various attractions such as children’s vehicles.

Link to purchase tickets to Wonderwood

Spa with a waterpark. Splash e Spa Tamaro can be reached by train to the Rivera-Bironico station or by car. This is a spa that also has pools and slides. link to website

Ropes park. The Adventure Park Monte Tamaro ropes park is close to Splash e Spa. You can visit both places in the same day or in two days. This one is a rope park with ropes, a roller coaster, a cable car, and a playground. link to website

Additional attractions in Lake Maggiore

We didn’t get to try the following attractions but they look like something worth checking out

Hop-on Hop-off tourist ferry to three islands in Lake Maggiore – link to purchase tickets
Visit to the winery and wine tasting in Lake Maggiore – link to purchase tickets
Cooking class at Lake Maggiore – link to purchase tickets

Hope my post helped you. If so, I would very much like you to respond here in the comments, and if you have any more questions, you are also welcome to ask them in the comments or write to me on the blog’s social networks: Facebook and Instagram.

Looking for more information about Italy? I have more posts about Italy on my blog.

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