The Italian Lakes has long been a popular destination for tourists. However, Lake Maggiore has arguably become less well known over the years, dwarfed by it’s neighbour to the West, Lake Como, and by Lake Garda to the East. Despite it’s largest lakeside town, Stresa, being at the height of fashion in the 19th century amongst Europe’s aristocratic elite, many holidaymakers are now less aware of what the destination has to offer and certainly few realise how wonderful a location it is for family holidays.
And yet, Lake Maggiore is the perfect holiday destination for families with children, offering a host of activities for all members of the family to enjoy.
Offering much easier access to the beautifully clean and clear lake waters than it’s neighbour, Lake Como, Maggiore’s shores are littered with beaches ideal for youngsters. The water tends to only become gradually deeper making it ideal for those learning to swim or who are still finding their water wings! However, for older children, these beaches are just as well suited to them. Platforms which sit further out in the water allow teens to swim out, laze about with similar aged children and enjoy a spot of diving, whilst there are also a selection of superb lidos around the lake, many of which also boast inflatable adventure courses on the lake and water slides.
Not only that but there are an amazing selection of watersports on offer too. With everything available on the lake from canoeing to paddle-boarding, sailing to windsurfing and from water-skiing to wake boarding, even the most active of children will be kept busy. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy lessons in all of these sports whilst, for those with experience, there is also the option to simply hire equipment and take to the lake.
For those who prefer to have both feet on dry land, there is just as much to keep them entertained, whether it’s one of the tree-top assault courses, an adventure on the aerial zipwire at Monte Tamaro or perhaps a trip to the falconry centre in Locarno. Not far from the lake there is even a chocolate factory where you can enjoy free samples….. what child can resist that?!! And of course, all activities must be sporadically dotted with the chance to enjoy the obligatory Italian gelato!
For those travelling on a multi-generation family holiday with grandparents, there is just as much to satisfy the older generation too. The scenery is stunning and no adult can fail to appreciate the splendour and beauty of the Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore. Isola Bella is perhaps the most well known and most ornate with its impressive palace. However, Isola Madre has just as much to offer tourists with the most enchanting and beautiful of gardens to explore and boasting the same striking white peacocks of it’s neighbour, Isola Bella. And don’t forget Isola dei Pescatori, the perfect stop off point to enjoy the most delicious fish dishes in one of the island’s restaurants.
So many of the attractions appeal not just to one age group though but to the spectrum of generations. Leading down to Lake Maggiore is Valle Verzasca, a beautiful valley with the most picturesque of scenery. However, this valley is also home to the Verzasca Dam which featured in the memorable opening sequence of GoldenEye when Pierce Brosnan launched himself off the top of the 220 metre tall structure. A walk across is perhaps not for the faint hearted or for those scared of heights but is a fantastic experience that all ages with enjoy, especially if you also have the chance to witness people choosing to enjoy the bungee jump now available on this site.
Or, similarly, take the bucket lifts in Laveno… youngsters will revel in the thrill of riding up the side of a mountain in what is effectively nothing more than a human sized bucket, whilst the adults in the group are more likely to cling on for dear life on the ascent only to find the journey worth every minute once they are rewarded with the spectacular views from the summit. Similarly, whilst kids may perhaps appreciate most the boat trips to explore all the many towns and villages on the lake, the older members of the group may prefer the beauty of the village itself more. There are so many beautiful places to visit. Arona, Ascona, Cannobio and Cannero are some of our favourites but Stresa, Verbania, Luino should also be on everyone’s list of places to visit.
Luino in fact boasts Europe’s biggest weekly market and has enormous appeal to all generations. Whether it’s toys, local delicacies or a leather handbag you’re looking for, there is a bargain to be had here for everyone.
And of course, there are plenty of wonderful properties on offer around the lake which are ideal for families. Take this 4 bedroom villa on Lake Maggiore. Available from Bookings For You , it sleeps up to 10 guests, boasts it’s own private pool and is just a short walk from the lakeside. Or this Italian Lakes villa is ideal for families with games console and board games to keep children entertained when you’re not out sightseeing. For those with little ones, Bookings For You also make sure that travel cots and highchairs are available on request at all of their Italian Lakes villas and apartments and can also provide strollers when required.
Jo Mackay is the owner of Bookings For You , a company specialising in holiday rentals not just in the Italian Lakes, but throughout Italy.