Discovering Stresa – The Italian Lakes

Hotel La Palma Stresa

Last month we took the opportunity to have a few whirlwind days in Italy, we spent three days in Stresa and two in Verona. Trying to book a last minute holiday to the Italian lakes in September was no easy feat. Lake Como was our original choice, but at short notice most hotels and nice Air BnBs were either full or extortionate. Due to needing to book specific dates, and after the stress of my mum passing, we had a f*ck it moment and booked a lovely hotel in Stresa, Lake Maggiore.

*None of our trip was gifted or discounted. I have used affiliate links within this post.

So, where is Stresa?

Lake Maggiore is the most western of the Italian lakes, a section of which crosses the Swiss border. We chose to stay in Stresa – one of the more tourist flocked destinations on the lake as Ernest Hemmingway is said to have found inspiration for his A Farewell to Arms there. In a letter to his parents in 1918, Hemingway wrote “I’m up here in Stresa, a little resort on Lake Maggiore. One of the most beautiful Italian lakes.”.

Stresa is a tranquil town with beautiful lake-front views. The decor and demographic of Stresa was definitely slightly older than what we are used to, but we were looking for a chance to relax by a pool for a few days, so Stresa was perfect. It is perfect if you are wanting to unwind and take in beautiful views. There isn’t too much of a nightlife, so if you are looking for a party I would opt for somewhere else.

I flew to Milan MXP and got a bus straight from the airport 45 minutes north to Stresa. If you are doing this, make sure you reserve a space online. A lovely gentleman with a spare ticket saved me from being denied on the bus because I didn’t know you had to make an advance reservation.

Where we stayed

We chose to stay at Hotel La Palma in Stresa, because of the rooftop bar and lakeside pool offerings. This was one of the more expensive hotels in Stresa because of the amenities & views. The SkyBar is open to non-guests if you want to visit Stresa but not stay at Hotel La Palma. There were some beautiful Air BnB’s in the area that were fully booked on our dates (get £25 off your Air BnB booking here).

The lakeside pool area is for guests only and is seasonal from March – September. Breakfast was included in our room rate and was beautiful on the alfresco patio facing the lake. I’ve complied most of our images from our stay below, do let me know if you have any hotel questions in the comments section!

(*be prepared, the following images contain a lot of Aperol Spritz & sunsets.)

Where we ate

There is no shortage of traditional Italian restaurants to visit. We were only in Stresa for a few nights but luckily this was during the porcini mushroom season. We feasted on steak & mushrooms most nights. Oh and don’t get me started on the semifreddo. The restaurants we ate at were;

What we did

We took a trip on the Mottarone cable car, to one of the most stunning views in Italy. At the summit, you can take in views across Lake Maggiore and the Swiss Alps from nearly 5000ft in the air. I will admit nerves, I didn’t realise how high this was going to be and the chair lift to the summit seemed a bit daunting but it was 100% worth it.

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Hayley X

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