The 15 Best Things to Do in Stresa, Italy


The 15 Best Things to Do in Stresa, Italy
Image by Andrew Mayovskyy -


Stresa is a charming town located in the Italian region of Piedmont, situated on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Known for its stunning landscapes, historical landmarks, and vibrant culture, Stresa offers a myriad of experiences for travelers seeking a memorable vacation. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a food lover, Stresa has something to offer everyone. In this article, we will explore the 15 best things to do in Stresa, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this picturesque destination.

Exploring the Beauty of the Borromean Islands

1. Isola Bella: A Paradise of Gardens and Palaces

Isola Bella is an enchanting island that boasts meticulously manicured gardens and opulent palaces. As you stroll through the terraced gardens, adorned with vibrant flowers and statues, you'll feel transported to a fairy tale setting. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the impressive Borromeo Palace, known for its rich history and exquisite architecture.

2. Isola Madre: A Botanical Gem

If you have a fondness for botanical beauty, Isola Madre is a must-visit destination in Stresa. This island is home to a captivating botanical garden, featuring a diverse collection of rare and exotic plants. Take a leisurely walk through the lush gardens, marvel at the blooming flowers, and relish the serene ambiance of this botanical gem.

3. Isola dei Pescatori: A Quaint Fishing Village

Isola dei Pescatori, also known as the Fisherman's Island, offers a delightful contrast to the grandeur of the other Borromean Islands. This charming fishing village is characterized by narrow alleyways, traditional houses, and waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the village, savor local delicacies, and soak in the authentic atmosphere.

Embracing Nature's Majesty

4. Mottarone: A Panoramic Paradise

For breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Maggiore and the surrounding Alps, head to Mottarone. This mountain offers a range of activities, from hiking and mountain biking to skiing in the winter months. Take a cable car ride to the summit and immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the region.

5. Villa Pallavicino: A Botanical Wonder

Nestled at the foot of the Mottarone mountain, Villa Pallavicino is a splendid park that combines natural beauty with a diverse array of wildlife. Explore the extensive gardens, inhabited by a variety of animals, including deer, llamas, and peacocks. This serene retreat offers a perfect opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy a peaceful stroll amidst picturesque surroundings.

6. Parco Nazionale della Val Grande: A Wilderness Adventure

For the adventurous souls seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience, Parco Nazionale della Val Grande is an untamed paradise waiting to be discovered. This vast national park is known for its rugged terrain, dense forests, and pristine wilderness. Embark on a hiking expedition, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and encounter the untouched beauty of nature.

Immerse Yourself in Stresa's History and Culture

7. Borromeo Palace: A Glimpse into the Past

A visit to Stresa would be incomplete without exploring the historic Borromeo Palace. This grand residence, dating back to the 16th century, showcases exquisite architecture, opulent interiors, and an impressive art collection. Delve into the lives of the Borromeo family as you wander through the palace's ornate rooms and learn about their significant influence on the region.

8. Stresa Waterfront: A Vibrant Promenade

The Stresa waterfront is a lively promenade that offers a delightful blend of stunning views, charming cafes, and bustling markets. Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside, soak in the picturesque scenery, and indulge in some people-watching. The waterfront is also a great starting point for boat tours to the Borromean Islands, allowing you to explore the beauty of Lake Maggiore at your own pace.

9. Church of San Vittore: A Spiritual Haven

Step inside the Church of San Vittore and immerse yourself in the spiritual heritage of Stresa. This beautiful church, with its intricate frescoes and serene atmosphere, offers a tranquil space for contemplation and reflection. Admire the artistry of the church's interior and take a moment to appreciate the rich religious history that permeates the town.

Savoring Culinary Delights

10. Gastronomic Delights: A Journey for the Taste Buds

Stresa is a haven for food enthusiasts, offering a wide range of gastronomic delights that reflect the region's culinary heritage. Indulge in authentic Italian cuisine at the local trattorias and restaurants, savoring dishes such as risotto, freshly caught seafood, and delectable pastries. Pair your meal with a glass of regional wine for a truly unforgettable dining experience.

11. Gelato: A Sweet Treat

No visit to Italy is complete without indulging in the creamy goodness of gelato. Stresa boasts numerous gelaterias that offer a delectable variety of flavors, from classic favorites to innovative combinations. Treat yourself to a scoop or two of this Italian delicacy as you stroll along the lakefront and take in the sights and sounds of Stresa.

12. Wine Tasting: A Journey through Local Vineyards

Discover the rich wine culture of the region by embarking on a wine tasting tour. Visit local vineyards, learn about the winemaking process, and sample a range of exquisite wines, including the renowned Piedmont reds. Immerse yourself in the flavors and aromas of the region, and gain a deeper appreciation for the art of winemaking.

FAQs about Stresa

FAQ 1: How do I get to Stresa?

Getting to Stresa is convenient and straightforward. If you're arriving by air, the closest international airport is Milan Malpensa Airport, which is approximately 45 kilometers away from Stresa. From the airport, you can take a direct train or hire a taxi to reach Stresa. Alternatively, if you're traveling by train, Stresa has a well-connected railway station that provides easy access to major cities in Italy.

FAQ 2: What is the best time to visit Stresa?

The best time to visit Stresa is during the spring and summer months, from April to September. During this period, the weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy outdoor activities and explore the attractions comfortably. The summer months also offer the opportunity to witness various cultural events and festivals that take place in Stresa.

FAQ 3: Are credit cards widely accepted in Stresa?

Yes, most hotels, restaurants, and shops in Stresa accept credit cards. However, it's always a good idea to carry some cash for small expenses and to ensure you have currency for any establishments that may not accept cards. ATMs are also readily available in the town, allowing you to withdraw cash if needed.

FAQ 4: Can I visit the Borromean Islands in one day?

Yes, it's possible to visit the Borromean Islands in one day. The islands are easily accessible by boat from Stresa, and you can purchase a combined ticket that allows you to explore Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and Isola dei Pescatori. Plan your itinerary accordingly, considering the opening hours of the attractions and the time required to explore each island.

FAQ 5: Are there any hiking trails near Stresa?

Yes, Stresa is surrounded by beautiful hiking trails that cater to different skill levels. The Mottarone mountain offers several hiking routes, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy breathtaking views. Additionally, Parco Nazionale della Val Grande provides extensive hiking opportunities for those seeking a more adventurous trekking experience.

FAQ 6: Can I take a day trip to other nearby towns from Stresa?

Absolutely! Stresa serves as an excellent base for exploring other picturesque towns in the region. Consider taking a day trip to nearby destinations such as Verbania, Arona, or the charming Borromean town of Pallanza. Each town offers its own unique attractions and adds a delightful dimension to your visit to Stresa.


Stresa is a destination that seamlessly blends natural beauty, rich history, and culinary delights. Whether you're captivated by the stunning Borromean Islands, enchanted by the allure of the surrounding mountains, or indulging in the flavors of Italian cuisine, Stresa promises an unforgettable experience. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, explore the historical landmarks, and savor the picturesque landscapes. So pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and discover the 15 best things to do in Stresa.

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