TOP TIPS for the 3 Lake Maggiore Borromean Islands Italy – The Borromean Gulf on Lake Maggiore is an area of unique beauty, absolutely worth including in your list of places to visit. The Borromean Islands, together with the Isola Superiore or Isola dei Pescatori, are islands that leave you enchanted. But which islands are part of the Borromean Gulf and therefore what to see? How to get there? Let’s go and find out together!
Table of Contents
Lago Maggiore Isole Borromee things to do?
Lago Maggiore Isole Borromee cosa vedere? Ecco al nostra top 5
Lake Maggiore Borromean Islands what to see? Here’s to our top 5
- Isola Bella Palace inside and gardens
- Fishermen Island
- Isola Madre
- Isola Bella area in front of Isola Pescatori (no ticket required)
- Isola Bella and Fishermen in the evening illuminated.
Lake Maggiore Borromean Islands how to get there?
The Borromean Islands can be reached by boat thanks to the Navigazione del Lago Maggiore service from Verbania, Baveno and Stresa. In this way you can do the Borromean Islands hop on hop off. No reservation is required for the boat to the islands. Just go to the landing stage of the place where you are and buy the tickets.
If you want to visit several islands, you can buy a single ticket and move freely between the chosen islands without a set time: it very similar to a hop on hop off tour. During your visit you will decide the boat’s most suitable time for your tour.
There are also numerous private transport services, especially by speedboat, which take you to the islands.
What are the islands that are part of the Borromean Gulf?
The islands of the Borromean Gulf are 3:
- Isola Madre: entirely private and can be visited according to the opening hours and by purchasing the entrance ticket.
- Isola Bella. On Isola Bella we find the beautiful Borromeo palace with its gardens. Unlike the Isola Madre, a part of the island can be visited for free as this part is occupied by restaurants, bars and shops.
- The Isola Superiore or Isola dei Pescatori. This island does not need any entrance tickets. On the island there are no sumptuous palaces but the village is very characteristic. Then on this island there are some excellent restaurants;).
Until 1630 Isola Bella was only a rock inhabited by fishermen but today it is one of the most beautiful things to visit on Lake Maggiore for the magnificent Borromeo palace and its gardens which have been included among the most beautiful gardens in the world by sites and specialized magazines.
Isola Bella is the island of the Borromean Islands closest to Stresa and from the lakeside of Stresa you can clearly see the gardens located on various levels of Isola Bella. Given its proximity you can get to Isola Bella in a few minutes by leaving by boat from Stresa.
When you go down to the island you can visit the area where you will find various stalls, shops, bars and restaurants without paying any entrance fee. However, the most beautiful part is the one inside the Borromeo palace.
By paying the entrance fee you can visit both the luxurious palace overlooking Lake Maggiore and the gardens. If you are in Stresa it is definitely worth visiting the island and the palace.
If you want to see more content and videos about Isola Bella or Beautiful Island go to the following post: Stresa Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore Italy: The Beautiful Island.
The Palace of Isola Bella
One of the things to see on Isola Bella is certainly the Palazzo Borromeo. The entrance fee to Palazzo Borromeo is 20 euros for an adult (price verified in October 2023).
The visit to the Borromeo Palace begins with a large staircase that takes you to the upper floor. At this point the route takes you through a succession of rooms full of period paintings and works of art.
After a series of small rooms we arrive in a beautiful hall also full of paintings. The WOW effect is guaranteed.
In the palace we also find period furnishings such as magnificent canopy beds positioned in specially decorated niches with a majestic appearance.
Raising our heads we see magnificent chandeliers, finely decorated sideboards and golden thrones around us.
We also find a long dining table with an opaline glass service made in France in the nineteenth century and a magnificent library with ancient books.
Magnificent art, majestic rooms and magnificent furnishings with a beautiful view of Lake Maggiore from the palace windows. To all this we add the historical value of the place as important historical figures such as Napoleon passed through here.
In fact, the room where Napoleon slept is indicated in the palace even if his arrival was not well received. In fact, Napoleon arrived at the palace on Isola Bella without warning and the palace service staff were happy that his stay lasted only two days: he brought many people with him and they were also rude and left the palace dirty and smelly.
Then going down to the garden level we have a collection of ancient marionettes, dolls and a series of extensively and finely decorated caves. Some of the caves are decorated following the shell theme, creating a truly very particular and unique effect.
Walking along a very long hall/corridor enriched with precious tapestries on the walls we finally arrive at the exit of the palace and begin the visit to the magnificent gardens.
The gardens of Isola Bella are worth exploring and you will find many corners in which to take beautiful photos. The gardens of Isola Bella also have beautiful terraces full of flowers from which you can admire the beautiful compositions of the gardens on the lower floors. To keep you company in the sight of the beautiful peacocks.
You cannot have a picnic in the gardens of the Palazzo dell’Isola Bella, picnics are prohibited.
For more content go to the following post: Stresa Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore Italy: The Beautiful Island
Isola Pescatori can be easily reached by boat from Stresa, Verbania Pallanza and Baveno. To take the boat you do not need any special reservations. You can also purchase the ticket just before boarding.
Access to Isola Pescatori is free and you do not have to pay any entrance fee apart from a small tax from the municipality of Stresa, already included in what you paid to take the boat.
Pescatori Island is the only one of the 3 Borromean Islands that is completely freely accessible. It does not have luxurious buildings, large gardens and splendor like Isola Madre and Isola Bella but it is very characteristic.
Isola Pescatori has an extremely characteristic and recognizable profile. This small group of low houses in the middle of Lake Maggiore, among which the bell tower stands out, would make it recognizable everywhere.
Isola Pescatori is a pleasant place to spend a few hours. This island has extremely characteristic corners as well as excellent restaurants. It is the ideal place to go in the late morning, perhaps after a visit to another of the Borromean Islands, to stay until after lunch.
When to visit Fishermen’s Island? The best time is certainly during the summer but it is also an excellent idea to come during the winter.
If you want to know more about Fishermen Island, watch videos and see more content go to the following post: 1 Affordable Picturesque Fisherman Island Lake Maggiore Italy
Isola Madre or the Mother Island
Isola Madre belongs to the Borromeo family, who had owned it since around 1500. On Isola Madre you can visit both the palace, which was the residence of the Borromeo family before the construction of the magnificent Isola Bella, and the gardens.
The botanical garden of Isola Madre is absolutely unique for the rare plant essences coming from all over the world, which find an excellent home here on Lake Maggiore thanks to the sweet and favorable temperatures.
Isola Madre is the ideal destination for those who find themselves in Verbania Pallanza. In fact, by taking the boat from the Pallanza pier you can reach this island which is part of the Borromean Islands in just a few minutes. However, you can easily reach it by boat from Stresa and Baveno.
In spring and summer you can appreciate the beauty of the gardens of Isola Madre from the boat. The vegetation that covers it is always something beautiful to admire.
Access to Isola Madre is only possible with the purchase of a ticket. In fact, when you get off the boat you immediately find the entrance gate. This is important to know before planning your visit to Isola Madre.
This is in fact a substantial difference compared to other Borromean Islands such as Isola Bella, in which there is the palace and gardens to visit with an entrance ticket but also a free area with stalls, bars and restaurants.
The Isola Madre is closed in winter.
Isola Madre in October
Isola Madre Lago Maggiore Italy in October. Fall at Lake Maggiore Italy. Amazing colors at Isola Madre or Mother Island also in autumn: https://youtube.com/shorts/Ip0sK_TUmp4?feature=share.
When to visit the Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore?
Lake Maggiore offers enchanting shows in every season and every hour of the day. We have already seen the Borromean Islands illuminated in a previous post. If you missed it go to the following link: Illuminated Borromean Islands.
The most splendid time to visit the Borromean Gulf is during spring. In this season the gardens reveal themselves in all their splendor with flowers in full bloom. In winter we don’t have the same colors but the panorama acquires charm thanks to the tranquility that becomes the protagonist of Lake Maggiore and thanks to the snow-capped mountains that form a beautiful backdrop.
In winter we don’t have the frenetic coming and going of tourists, boats and boats that we have in high season. In winter Lake Maggiore reveals its natural scenery. In this post we are going to learn more about these beautiful islands.
Are the Palaces of the Borromean Islands open in winter?
It is important to know that the palaces of the Borromean Islands are not open in winter. You can therefore pass by Isola Madre but not go down for the visit. You can instead go down to Isola Bella because part of the island is not occupied by the palace but do not go in to visit the Borromeo Palace.
As for Pescatori Island, not being occupied by any buildings, you can visit it at any time of the year.
It’s true that you can’t visit the palaces in winter but it’s still beautiful to take a boat ride on the lake and admire the magnificent views that surround you.
Isola Bella and Isola Pescatori Illuminated
In the following video we see Isola Bella and Pescatori illuminated. The illuminated islands are clearly visible from the boat but also from the coast, for example from Carciano Stresa.
Are the Borromean Islands the only islands of Lake Maggiore?
They are certainly the most famous islands but not the only ones! If you want to know more, go to the following post: TOP 3 Lago Maggiore Switzerland things to do
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