6 days

Follow the best panoramic trails amid the stunning scenery of lakes Maggiore and Orta

You’ll be mesmerised by the shimmering waters against the dramatic backdrop of the Italian Alps

 Discover the three Borromean islands with their beautiful gardens

Explore Lake Orta, San Giulio island and the 21 chapels of the Sacro Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Stay 1 night in a mountain refuge at 1,480 m at the top of Mt. Mottarone

Self-guided walking holiday at lakes Maggiore and Orta

Easy reachable from Milan, this delightful walking holiday explores two of  Northern Italy’s most captivating lakes. With the Alps painting a dramatic backdrop, the lakes of Piedmont offer a charming and romantic landscape to discover on foot. Over the years, this idyllic part of the country has become home to many villas and magnificent botanical gardens. During this self-guided walking holiday you will discover the prettiest walking trails and admire the ‘must see’s’ of the 2 beautiful lakes of Piemonte: Lake Maggiore & Lake Orta.

The first stop is Lake Maggiore with its fairy tale setting. Often considered the most peaceful of northern Italy’s great lakes, the star attractions are the Borromean islands with their stunning palaces and ornamental gardens, along with the majestic promenade of Stresa. You are then transferred to the summit of the Mottarone mountain at 1 489 metres. You stay in a typical mountain refuge, with a typical Italian dinner and beautiful views of the Alps! You end your tour by Lake Orta, the smallest and yet most charming of the Italian lakes. You walk through olive groves and vineyards, past hamlets and charming villages. A paradise for any walker keen on lush nature, charming small mountain villages.

The region offers a fantastic network of trails and ancient mule tracks, leading from pretty villages to spectacular villas and gardens. Each lake has its own unique atmosphere. If Lake Maggiore for the garden lovers, then Lake Orta is for travellers who like to be the first to discover hidden gems.

6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS €799 per person sharing*

*A single supplement charge will apply for solo walkers


Upgrade options are also available. Please enquire for info.

AVAILABILITY You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between March and November.
4 x nights in selected hotels
1 x night in a mountain refuge
5 x breakfasts
2 x dinners
Day 2: Boat to the Borromean islands & Return
Day 3: Taxi transfer from Stresa to Mottarone
Day 4: Taxi transfer from Mottarone to Orta
Day 5: Boat tickets Orta San Giulio/Pella and Ronco/Ile San Giuilio/Orta San Giulio.
Roadbook with detailed notes and highlighted maps
GPS tracks
Emergency telephone support
Flights & travel insurance
Boat tickets not mentioned above
Lunches & Dinners not specifically mentioned
Entrance fees to villas or gardens
Local tourist taxes
Additional nights before, during or after the walk
Single room supplement

Day 1: Arrival in Stresa at Lake Maggiore

Stresa is renowned for its beautiful countryside, architectural gems and mild climate. Arrive in this elegant lakeside town and check into your hotel before taking a peaceful stroll along the lakeside promenade lined with luxury villas and opulent Art Nouveau hotels. There are many small beaches along the lake for swimming.

Overnight in Stresa with dinner included.


Day 2: The magnificent Borromean Islands

Boat transfer to the 3 famous Borromean islands (included).

From Stresa, you take a boat across the lake to the Borromean Islands that have made Lake Maggiore famous. The boat runs all day between Stresa and the three islands.  you can take your time and visit each island and discover the history of the Borromeo family that had a profound effect on the history of Italy and France.

The public boat first takes you to Isola Bella, with its amazing 17th century palace, followed by Isola Madre, the largest of the 3 islands, covered with a beautiful terraced garden with olive trees, magnolias, giant bamboos and with a 16th century villa at its centre. Finally, you will visit Isola dei Pescatori, a picturesque little fishing village with narrow streets and traditional houses converted into lovely restaurants. This is the ideal spot to stop for lunch before returning by boat to Stresa.

Overnight in Stresa


Day 3: The Chestnut Trail

Walk from Stresa to Belgirate on the Chestnut Trail

Distance: 8 km | Ascent: 200 m | Descent: 200 m | 3½ hrs approx.

You will enjoy panoramic views on this walking trail overlooking Lake Maggiore from Stresa to Belgirate; a charming village with traditional houses and flowered gardens. You will walk mainly on cobbled mule tracks as you follow an old roman trail dotted with frescoed chapels and ruined farm buildings. When you reach Belgirate you return either by boat or train to Stresa (not included – not bookable in advance).

When you return to Stresa, you will be transferred to the the summit of the Mottarone mountain at 1,489 meters. You will stay in a typical mountain refuge, with a typical Italian dinner and beautiful views of the Alps!

Overnight in Mottarone with dinner included. Please note : the refuge is very welcoming but still remains simple, with very simple rooms.


Day 4: Motttarone Loop Walk

Walk Mottarone > Monte Zucchero > Mottarone

Distance: 5 km | Ascent: 200 m | Descent: 200 m | 3½ hrs approx.

Panoramic loop walk to the Mottarone summit (1491m), one of Piemonte’s most remarkable natural balconies. Your walk begins with an ascent through centuries-old forests and pastures to the Mottarone peak. From there, you will have a breathtaking 360 ° view of the Po Valley and the summit of Monte Rosa, as well as 7 different lakes: Orta, Maggiore, Mergozzo, Comabbio, Monate, Varese and Biandronno.

Transfer in the afternoon to the smallest yet most charming of the Italian lakes : Lake Orta. Orta San Giulio is a small pedestrian village listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy with its old stone houses and impressive mansions.

Overnight in Orta San Giulio


Day 5: Medieval Orta San Giulio

Loop walk: Pella – Ronco

Distance: 7 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 400 m | 3½ hrs approx.

You walk to the pier and cross the lake by boat to the small medieval village of Pella on the western shore. From there you have a panoramic walk along a ridge overlooking the lake. You follow ancient cobbled paths through forests and small hamlets with intermittent viewing points offering wonderful views over the lake and island below. Upon arrival in the tiny lakeside village of Ronco you can cool off with a refreshing swim at the lake!

You then take the boat back to discover the tiny island of San Giulio, home to a basilica and a Benedictine convent. You can stop for a gelato before continuing by boat to Orta San Giulio.

Overnight in Orta


Day 6: Arrividerci Orta

Your walking holiday comes to an end after breakfast this morning, unless you have booked any additional services with us. Before leaving, take the time to visit the Sacro Monte of Orta: a UNESCO World Heritage site perched on the hill above the village and nestled in centuries old forest. It tells the life story of St Francis of Assisi through 20 chapels decorated with colourful frescoes and life-size statues.

When you are ready to leave you can take a train to Milan for onward travel.

Getting to Lake Maggiore

  Milan’s Linate (LIN)/Malpensa (MXP) Airports are the closest ones and are served by many flights.
From either airport, take the local bus or train to Milano Centrale. There are regular direct trains from Milan to Stresa throughout the day. The journey takes just 1 hour. For further information please visit www.trenitalia.it.

Departure from Lake Orta

  On departure from Orta San Giulio, you can take a train to Milan with change in Novara. Journey time 1 hr 45 mins approx. For further information please visit www.trenitalia.it.
  If you have parked your car in Stresa and need to return there, you can take local bus no. 32 from Orta to Stresa. Journey time 50 mins. Plan your journey using Rome2Rio
Lake Orta and Maggiore walking holiday
Stresa, Lake Maggiore
Stresa, Lake Maggiore
Lake Maggiore
Borromean islands, Lake Maggiore
Isola Bella
Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore
Isola dei Pescatori, Lake Maggiore
Hiking at Lake Maggiore
View over Lake Maggiore and Isola Bella
Hiking above Lake Maggiore
View over Lake Maggiore
Lake Maggiore path
Morning view on Mottarone
Mottarone landscape
View to Monte Rosa from Mottarone
Lake Orta
Orta San Giulio
Orta San Giulio
Orta village
Lake Orta view from Sacro Monte

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