Baveno is about 4km from it's more well know sister Stresa and personally I think it is much nicer place to stay. If you are looking for Sky Sports bars, souvenir shops and long beaches then you will be disappointed. If like us you want a quiet relaxing holiday, based somewhere that allows you to travel around, have choice about places to eat then you will be pleased.
Baveno can be reached by car or like us using boats, trains or bus; we fly to Bergamo, which we mistakenly thought was Milan Airport as advertised by the variety of budget airlines. It would have been possible for us to get a connecting bus or train to Milan, but as we arrived late evening we had an overnight stay in Bergamo instead. very pleasant too. The next morning we caught a train to Milan Central and then a train to Baveno, no hassle; although we booked our tickets before we travelled. There are quite a few restuarants and pizzarias centred around the harbour and town square. There was some form of entertainment on the lakeside most evenings during our stay; but no nightclubs. There are 2 very elegant hotels and lots of smaller, family run ones. See tip.
Baveno has a beautiful medieval church & baptistery in the centre surrounded by lots of narrow roads.
"Trains, boats & buses"
There are fairly regular local buses although they don't appear to run late at night. The tourist office can provide timetables. It costs about 1 euro to go to Stresa and takes approx 10minutes.
The best bus to take is the mini bus to Lake Orta, it only runs twice a day and gets fairly packed. But the journey there is stunning and Lake Orta is beautiful. (see tip)
There are lots of boats plowing backwards and forwards across, & up and down the lake. For some routes you have to travel to Stresa or Intra to change. It is possible to by daily passes.
The landing port at Baveno is Art Deco and worth a look as you come to land.
The station is at the top of the village and has a regular service for both local and national trains. It is also heavy used freight line. Take care at the station as you have to walk across the track to get to the 2nd platform. The train is a great place to start a day trip to Swissland, returning in the evening by boat. (see tip)
"Day on the lake"
We had a day pass to travel anywhere we wanted, including the islands. Although you have to pay entry fee to get into the house & gardens on Isola Bella. Beware of the sun if you intend to spend a long time on the boats.
On our trip we visited both Isola Bella & Pescatoria (also know as Supreme). I preferred Pescatoria (the fisherman's island to it's grander neighbour Bella, know for it's gardens & white peacocks. We spent a short time in Stresa, but there doesn't seem much to see, other than it's very grand hotels & promenade. Just on the outskirts of Stresa is the cable-car station, that is worth a trip (see tip).
We then went quite a long way down the lake to Angera famous for it's fort overlooking the cliffs. Another quite little village. On teh way back we stopped off at Santa Maria Crux, intending to visit the church. Unfortunately we arrived during the lunchtime closing hours (12-2.30), it was too hot to wait & too noisy as there was a school party, so we hopped on the next boat back up the lake to Baveno. We did think about then going north but the sun was too high & the call of the hotel pool too loud.