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Lugano or Lake Maggiore?

Which one would you choose: Lugano or Lake Maggiore/Borromean islands? Planning a trip in mid-June 2020. Thank you!

We will be travelling by train.
I wanted to add the southern part (Lugano/Maggiore) into our trip. We will be arriving to Zurich and spending the first night in Lucerne, then Mt. Rigi. From there a few options:
1. Lucerne - Lugano/Maggiore - Leukerbad - Murren - Zurich or
2. Lucerne - Leukerbad - Lugano/Maggiore - Murren - Zurich or
3. Lucerne - Murren - Lugano/Maggiore - Leukerbad - Zurch

Let me know if there is a better way to sequence the three parts of the trip; whether it's better to substitute Lugano/Maggiore with another leg in addition to Murren and Leukerbad.

We are looking for active travel, villages and nature. I like to pack a variety into a trip, hence the three-part structure. Thank you for your replies!

Posted by
1256 posts

What lake-type things do you like to do? Are you relying on public transportation, or renting a car?

Posted by
11968 posts

Where else are you going? What is your overall itinerary? Both lakes are beautiful, so it’s a tough choice. Choose the one that is less of a detour for your overall trip.

Posted by
1653 posts

The Italian part of Lake Maggiore is substantially cheaper to visit and stay in than Lugano. This could be a factor.

Posted by
11 posts

We will be travelling by train.
I wanted to add the southern part (Lugano/Maggiore) into our trip. We will be arriving to Zurich and spending the first night in Lucerne, then Mt. Rigi. From there a few options:
1. Lucerne - Lugano/Maggiore - Leukerbad - Murren - Zurich or
2. Lucerne - Leukerbad - Lugano/Maggiore - Murren - Zurich or
3. Lucerne - Murren - Lugano/Maggiore - Leukerbad - Zurch

Let me know if there is a better way to sequence the three parts of the trip; whether it's better to substitute Lugano/Maggiore with another leg in addition to Murren and Leukerbad.

We are looking for active travel, villages and nature. I like to pack a variety into a trip, hence the three-part structure. Thank you for your replies!

Posted by
287 posts

We stayed on Lago Maggiore this summer, in Stresa. We loved exploring Isola Bella and Isola Pescatore, A spectacular villa, amazing terraced gardens, white peacocks, and a special lunch on a tiny island’s shore were some of the highlights. There are several restaurants that will pick you up by ferry and take you for a lovely dinner on the island. A friend who had lived in Italy recommended we stay in Italy rather than going to Switzerland because in her opinion the food would be better! We took a day trip to Lago d’Orta, and spent time in Orta San Giulio, along with a ferry ride to Isola San Giulio. That island was so peaceful and beautiful. It was a wonderful day trip, even though we had a thunderstorm! From Stresa you can go up by cable car to the top of Mottarone for a beautiful views if it’s clear. We did not have a clear day to do this, but we would have if we could have!

If we had had more time our next stop would have been Switzerland for a few days. We chose Maggiore hoping it would be less crowded than Lake Como, and also we liked the idea of exploring the Borromean Islands. It was a wonderful stay.

Laurie

Posted by
176 posts

Laurie - that sounds fabulous. We didn't get there on our last trip, but hopefully will in the future.

I did go to Lugano though, and I loved it. A beautiful, sophisticated city with spectacular almost magical views. There are two mountains close by to go up and take in the view (and take those Insta-worthy photos)

Posted by
1510 posts

There is so much to do on Lago Maggiore. Since you are already spending time in Switzerland, skip Lugano and visit Maggiore. We’ve lived here for over a year and are still discovering new things. Easy train ride to Interlaken to Stresa, or consider Baveno or Verbania. We live in Verbania Pallanza, where we rarely see American tourists, is about 30-50% less expensive for dinning out than Stresa, and half the price of Switzerland.

Besides the islands
1) ferry to Switzerland or Cannobio
2) ferry to Santa Caterina monstary
3) ferry to Laveno, then bucket gondola
4) tram from Stress to mt. Monterone. Either hike down to Baveno or take tram back to Stresa
5) Villa Taranto gardens in Verbania
6) Hike to Ghiffa Sacro Monte UNESCO world heritage site, similar to Orta San Giulio but zero people. Bus to Ghiffa from Verbania.
7) train to Domodossola (or change trains here to get you to Baveno or or Verbania). There is also UNESCO site there, but have not been yet (just learned about last week)
8) Day trip to Milan by train
9) Sounds like you might like hikes so check out a book called Walking the Italian Lakes on Amazon
10 Hike from Verbania-Suna to Cavandone (we just did this again today)
11) Hike from Stresa to Beligrate
12) Angera Fortress across lake from Arona
13) lots and lots of old churches to check out, many more than 500 years old.

Interesting fact I just learned today. Nazis occupied Lago Maggiore and in October 1943, massacred jews that were being hidden in Hotel Meina, Meina is on the southwest end of the lake.

Posted by
51 posts

My wife and I are hoping to visit this area next year. Thanks to all for the insights and suggestions.