Isola Madre

Isola Madre, Lake Maggiore: Hours, Address, Isola Madre Reviews: 4.5/5

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Isola Madre
4.5
Temporarily closedClosed until further notice
About
Part of the Borromean archipelago and home to an exotic garden of plants, birds and flowers, this magical island is considered a botanical garden on water.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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4.5
935 reviews
Excellent
605
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230
Average
58
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17
Terrible
25

Cambridge Guru
Cambridge, UK880 contributions
Aug 2020
You feel you have to visit this and the other islands when you are visiting Lake Maggiore. And while the gardens were well worth a visit, the palace itself felt a but underwhelming, dominated by wax models in servants clothing and lots of puppets.
We bought a joint 24 Euro ticket for here and Isola Bella but i am not sure I would recommend Isola Madre unless you are bothered about FOMO.
Written September 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Judy S
Port Saint Lucie, FL139 contributions
Sep 2013 • Friends
A beautiful day at Lake Maggiore is a real treat. If you don't have all day to spend visiting all 3 islands, pick Isola Madre The botanical gardens are a real treat and beautifully designed. Don't miss the peacocks and other brightly colored birds and aviary full of small parrots. The palazzo and small church are also beautiful and interesting and the coffee shop has a nice view of the lake and city of Stresa.
Written September 22, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Arianne1985
Melrose, UK267 contributions
Aug 2013 • Family
Fantastic gardens and a lovely residence. A quiet calm everywhere on this island with well maintained gardens, blossom and scent. Almost the whole island is given over to the botanical gardens and residence so there's little point visiting unless you buy the tickets to access these. You can take the shortest ferry crossing from Baveno (about 6€ return) or the hop-on / hop-off ferry from Stressa, visiting the other two islands (Bella being the other good one and Pescatori can be skipped). Best to use the public ferry service for their fast, frequent and cheaper boats - http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/ The private boat 'captains' will try and entice you to go with them as soon as they spot you but that's much more expensive so be warned.

There's a lovely cafe on Madre within the gardens itself. And there are some restaurants with terraces onto the lake, down near the boat pier.

Isola Madre is superb if you love gardens and great views. We do and we recommend it.
Written August 17, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jeff B
Banbury, UK121 contributions
Aug 2014 • Couples
We visited Isola Madre last week, whilst staying in Baveno, it's the island which is often overlooked by visitors who prefer to visit Isola Bella or Isola Piscatori, however Isola Madre has much to offer. The island has a palace to visit, and extensive grounds with formal and informal gardens, and many exotic birds, many of which wander around freely. There is an entrance fee of 11 Euros, but you can spend a long time wandering around the island. However, I would definitely avoid the café on the island, which is ridiculously expensive with very poor service. We just had a coffee and a mineral water, and ordered these at the counter and I carried them to my own table but was still charged 1.5 Euros per person service charge, which is ridiculous, so either take a bottle of water with you, or find an alternative when you leave the island. We'd definitely visit the island again, but wouldn't bother with the café.
Written August 8, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

VanTvyl
Pontoise, France236 contributions
Jun 2013 • Friends
This is another Borromeo great! As I said in my other reviews of the islands if you're gunna see one you should see the other 2. It's totally worth it! If you take a private boat then you can spend as much, or as little, time on each island as you want. So this place is the garden, or "summer" home, of the Borromeo family. They were wanting to make this place not just an island get away but a place like no other. They have plants imported from around the globe which all call this place home. Really exotic! Also the exotic birds are pretty neat to see! Can't pass this one up! Have plenty of memory card space...
Written September 9, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Margaret151151
Cardiff, UK2,313 contributions
Sep 2012 • Couples
We visited all three Borromean islands on Lake Maggiore, beginning with this one (see my reviews on Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori for info on the other two) and my husband claims this was his favourite! The 16 century palace is not so spectacular as the one on Isola Bella, but has its own charms, with interesting paintings, porcelain, liveries and furniture, as well as the Borromean family's well-loved marionette puppets and theatre dating from the 17-19 centuries. Look out for the backdrops hung on the walls designed by San Quirico, scenographer of Milan's La Scala opera house, as well as the grotesque characters from Hell!

The botanical garden is delightful, more English (formal and informal) than Italian, although it sometimes seems more exotic when you encounter the peacocks and pheasants which roam freely. Also look out for the Kashmir cypress near the entrance to the palace which is over 200 years old and the largest in Europe. Unfortunately it was hit by a freak storm in 2006 (like the one which decimated and closed the nearby Villa Taranto gardens recently) but seems to be surviving. The terrace gardens were the most spectacular when we visited in September. Earlier in the year the gardens are renowned for azaleas, rhododendrons and wisteria.

Warning – the villa and gardens occupy practically the whole island: there is nothing to do or see on Isola Madre except visit the restaurant UNLESS you buy a ticket for the palace and gardens.

Tip 1: allow plenty of time to reach the ferry – it's further than you remember!

Tip 2: We bought our ticket at the ferry terminal which gave a day's unlimited ferry travel and access to the two paid islands, saving time queuing up on the island and making considerable savings, especially as we were planning on taking the Lago Maggiore Express the previous or following day. Ask for the 2 day programme (40 euros for travel ) and then buy a joint ticket for Isola Madre and Isola Bella palaces and gardens (18 euros – they have to be visited on the same day) This saves 8.90 + 6 euros = 14.90 euros pp!
Written September 22, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

grzegorz_krol
Warsaw, Poland79 contributions
May 2012 • Friends
Compared to Isola Pescatori or even Isola Bella (which is a true Kitch) there is nothing typical on it. Huge crowd, no space to walk (literally) unless you intend to see the gardens. Quite claustrophobic place. Costy entrance is a big disadvantage. Spend more time Verbania instead.
Written August 14, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

EmiRu
Yorkshire32 contributions
Jul 2014 • Couples
We visited all three of the Borromeo islands on the same day, and enjoyed all of them for different reasons. Although the palace on Isola Madre is less spectacular than that on Isola Bella, it has a different sort of charm. The gardens here are less formal, but certainly no less impressive and are a joy to wander around. Would definitely recommend a trip here.
Written June 21, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ophir Z
Rishon Lezion, Israel54 contributions
Jun 2015 • Couples
Not as extravagant as Isola Bella.
It is a beutiful garden - more of a botanical garden and not so geometric
very interesting walk between plants from all over the world.

The palace is also beautiful, again - not as extravagant as Isola Bella.
Written June 9, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

MummaBear59
Hobart, Australia147 contributions
Oct 2014 • Couples
Lovely day trip from Milan by train to Stresa followed by ferry ride to Isola Madre and then Isola Bella. Those very different in character, both gardens were beautiful and Isola Madre was very relaxing to wander through and enjoy the wonderful surroundings of this uncomplicated and pretty garden. We were amazed by the work and effort that has gone in to saving a very old cypress tree damaged in a storm - hope it pays off. Well worth the trip and highly recommended.
Written November 5, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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  • Sun - Sat 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
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