Lago Maggiore, or Lake Maggiore, is one of the biggest northern Italian lakes. The lake is known for its beautiful villas, some with their private botanic gardens. If you like plants, and gardens or just enjoy spending time in manicured nature, you’ll be pleased to know you’ll find some of the most beautiful gardens at Lake Maggiore.
But where to find them? And which ones are the most beautiful Lake Maggiore gardens that are worth visiting? So, I did the research and visited as many as humanly possible, and I can share my top 5 most beautiful green spaces around Lago Maggiore.
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Are you an anthophile and love plants, gardens, and green spaces? And you’re planning a visit to the northern lake region of Italy? Then this post is for you, as you’ll love to hear what are some of the must-see gardens at Lake Maggiore.
Gardens at Lake Maggiore
With the amazing climate in northern Italy, and the sun beating down on the western side of Lake Maggiore, the lake is surrounded by stunning nature and green spaces. Combine this with wealthy visitors and residents, who built stunning palazzo estates with equally lush and exuberant gardens, it is no wonder that this part of Italy is a garden lover’s dream come true.
If you’re a keen gardener, looking for inspiration and ideas. Or if you’re just a visitor who loves a well-laid-out garden design and can appreciate plants and flowers, then a visit to the gardens of Lake Maggiore is a must-do.
Spring is the ideal time of year to visit the Lake Maggiore gardens because everything is lush and green and bursting with new life’s energy. However, this is also the busiest time of year.
We visited in September. And although the spring season was well behind us, some of the summer flowers had also gone over. It was still an exciting time to visit and the season in this part of Italy is much longer than at home.
Where is Lake Maggiore
Lake Maggiore is situated in the northern part of Italy.
It is 212 square km, making it one of the biggest lakes in Italy. Substantially smaller than Lake Garda to the east, but bigger than popular Lake Como, it does do justice to its name: Lago Maggiore. Meaning: the big lake.
Lake Maggiore is shared by the Italian regions of Piedmont (west side) and Lombardy (east side). And it also shares a border with Switzerland. Nearby Locarno in Switzerland is a great base to discover the Swiss part of the lake.
How to visit Lake Maggiore, Italy
As mentioned, the most popular time to visit Lake Maggiore is in Spring. But summer and autumn are equally stunning to explore the lake. Although the climate at Lake Maggiore is mild and almost sub-tropical, not all gardens have a full year’s display of plants and flowers. I think you’ll still get your money’s worth if you visit between April and the end of September.
There are several bigger cities and dozens of small towns to stay. The bigger cities of Verbania and Stresa are a great base to explore the most amazing gardens of Lake Maggiore.
You can easily reach these towns by train from Milan. Or you can rent a car or join a tour of the most famous Lake Maggiore Gardens.
Most beautiful gardens at Lake Maggiore
As my husband and I both love plants and are always looking for ideas for our own garden, it was a no-brainer that we wanted to visit some of the gardens at Lake Maggiore.
But which ones? Isn’t it the case, that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all?
At Lake Maggiore, this is NOT the case. I discovered that each of the gardens offers a unique design, distinct feel, and overall different approach to gardening.
My husband even said: it is ok with me if we don’t visit them all. But I insisted this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we should seize it now. And visit as many of these stunning natural paradises as possible. So here we are, here you’ll find my top 5 of the must-visit gardens at Lake Maggiore.
1. Gardens at Isola Bella at Lake Maggiore
Located at ‘the beautiful island’ or Isola Bella, the gardens of the stunning Borromeo Palace offer sweeping views of Lake Maggiore.
These gardens are part of the Palazzo Borromeo (now a museum) and can be defined as an Italian-style baroque garden. You’ll find plenty of statues and pompous water fountains. The triangle-shaped terraces lead you to an amazing view of Stresa and Lake Maggiore.
I particularly liked these gardens because of the well-thought-out design plan, the line of vision, and the surprising geometry and symmetry in the layout.
You can reach Isola Bella by boat from Stresa. Book your hop-on-hop-off Borromean Island boat tickets via this link.
You need to purchase a ticket to visit the Borromeo palace and gardens. You can save money by getting the combi-ticket that also provides entrance to the gardens of Isola Madre.
2. Gardens of Isola Madre at Lake Maggiore
Another of the Borromean Islands, Isola Madre is home to a magnificent English-style garden.
The park-like setting is filled with rare and exotic plants, ancient trees, and vibrant flowers, creating a serene and romantic atmosphere.
Here you’ll find white peacocks, ancient trees, and a mansion. I particularly loved the twisting streets, little side nooks, and lush greenery. The wisteria plants must be a stunning sight when they are in bloom, but during our visit, we saw vibrant cannas and massive banana plants that were quite impressive.
Pay special attention to the in full detail described rescue mission for the Kashmir cypress from 1862, which makes a stunning story.
You can reach Isola Madre by boat from Stresa. Book your hop-on-hop-off Borromean Island boat tickets via this link.
You need to purchase a ticket to visit the palace and gardens. You can save money by getting the combi-ticket that also provides entrance to the gardens of Isola Bella.
3. Villa Taranto at Verbania
Located in Verbania, Giardini Botanici di Villa Taranto boasts one of the most renowned botanical gardens in Italy. Created in the 1930s, the garden showcases a vast collection of plant species from around the world, including stunning water lilies, camellias, and rhododendrons.
During our visit, we were particularly impressed by the extensive dahlia maze. I think we kept ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ at all the different shapes and Dahlia colors. As our own dahlias had gone over already, it was exciting to see so many still in bloom at the Villa Taranto.
Besides all these pretty flowers and plants, the gardens at Villa Taranto are massive! We kept pointing at the amazing plants, like the shaded plants in the valley. And the amazing stone bridge, or the terrace gardens and ponds. Once we arrived at the Belvedere viewpoint, we were pretty tired and made our way down to the entrance for a nice lunch.
I can easily say that these gardens of Villa Taranto at Lake Maggiore were our favorite gardens. Simply because of the huge variety of plants, trees, and flowers. If you only have a couple of hours or only want to visit one garden, then I’d recommend this 100%.
The Villa Taranto Gardens are located in Verbania. You can buy tickets at the entrance or online, via this link.
4. Alpine Gardens at Stresa
The Giardino Botanico Alpinia is another botanical garden but it focuses on Alpine plants. It is located in Alpino, at 800 meters altitude, above Stresa.
Because of its altitude and location, the garden offers a home to over 700 species of Alpine plants. But to be honest, the views of Lake Maggiore are probably why you should visit this garden.
With the Belvedere, a balcony above Stresa, you’ll have spectacular views of Lake Maggiore and the little towns straddling the lake’s shore.
As we visited in September, almost all the plants had died back. But the walk around the greenery and quiet green space was equally satisfying. And then to top it off with a spectacular view!
I’d say, go visit it, mostly for the view, but depending on the season and your interest in Alpine plants, also for the garden.
5. Park Villa Pallavicino at Stresa
Situated in Stresa, Villa Pallavicino features a beautiful combination of botanical garden and wildlife park. The villa is a mid-19th-century, neoclassical home with surrounding park-like gardens.
You can stroll through the charming gardens filled with colorful flowers, exotic trees, and various animal species, including deer, llamas, and peacocks. Especially nice for young children as it is almost a mixture of a small (petting) zoo and a garden.
Parco Pallavicino belongs to the Borromeo Island organization. You can purchase combination tickets with a visit to Isola Bella and Isola Madre for discounts.
Visit the Lake Maggiore Gardens
As you can tell from my description above, not one of these gardens is similar to the next. Visiting 5 gardens on one visit to Lake Maggiore might sound a bit much, but there is nothing more relaxing than roaming around the greenery and taking in the scenery from Lago Maggiore.
Whether it is for a one-time visit, or you keep coming back to Lake Maggiore in different seasons, I can highly recommend these 5 beautiful gardens at Lake Maggiore.
Which one are you most looking forward to visiting? Let me know in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.