We took the boat on Lake Maggiore from Locarno to Italy and Isola Bella for a day. The train departed from Stressa to return us to Switzerland on a scenic boat and train trip for the day. The Swiss Pass gave us a discount but it cost us about $45 for the round trip. Lunch was served on the boat and was an option.
At Isola Bella there is a palace, once visited by Napoleon. It is located on the high point of the small island with views in all directions. The flower gardens are a "not to be missed". Below the palace are several souvenir stands and restaurants. Boats are available from Stressa or any of the 28 stops along Lake Maggiore.
A very slow ride into the mountains but well worth the trip between Domodossola and Locarno. It is called the Centovalli Line. The villages along the way contain very old stone houses and barns. What a great chance to explore these places. It looks like a scene from hundreds of years ago. This was one of the most scenic and personable train rides we had in Italy and Switzerland. Our house will always recommend this rail trip.
This is the port at Ascona, Switzerland. It was our first stop when taking the boat to Isola Bella. It takes about 10 minutes to load passangers and leave for the next port. Passengers can sit inside or out. Beverages are served and a dining room is available for meals. It took about 4 hours for us to get to the island.
It's an iteresting place to visit... and for several reasons.. First of all, in summer, it's a popular swimming place: the river banks are sandy and the stream isn't too strong. You should pay attention, anyway, as people have drowned in the past here. Still in summer, in the evening, many locals go there to have barbecues, so it might be an idea to go meet some people.
Year-round, in case you are into birdwatching, bring your binoculars and spend a quiet afternoon there: there's many interesting bird species to admire.
The river delta mark the "border" between Locarno and Ascona and it's really easy to find: just follow the signg that point you to the delta campground
off the beaten path? on the beaten path?? I'm quite unsure about this.. this walk is probably more off the beaten path for locals and budget travellers than for visitors. Many expensive hotels are located in this area - while the cheaper ones are located in the old town centre - so not everyone gets around to take a walk by the lake here - and yet it's one of the most charming walks one could take while in town: it's very green - peaceful - and there are a lot of statues, flowers and swans. So come walking here...