Isole Borromee
Isole Borromee
4.5

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles655 reviews
Excellent
414
Very good
173
Average
31
Poor
19
Terrible
18

Rodrigo P
Maastricht, The Netherlands466 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
Great experience.

Important tips:
-It is very very very large so be prepared to spend there 5-6 hours. A quick view will be around 3 hours. So pace yourself, make a pit stop by the garden where you can have a drink and snack, dont try to power it through.
-If you see staff ask them about the room you are in waht is the most impressive thing there, they are super knowledgeable and are really eager to talk and explain
Written October 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Arianne1985
Melrose, UK283 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2013 • Family
Three islands with different character. Madre has the wonderful gardens and, for us, is the best. Bella has the castle & gardens - pretty good. Pescatori - well, hmm - the ugly sister!

We caught the public ferry from Stressa at 9:30am and our plan was to visit all three islands in the day. There's a good size car park right by the pier, although by the time we returned it looked like it had been very busy so arrive early(ish). It's pay & display, the machines take coins and notes but not cards. From memory I think it was about 1€ per hour, or thereabouts.

You are greeted upon arrival in the car park by the 'private' boat captains! They spot your tourist car (number plate) and are waiting for you as soon as you open the car door. They're expensive and other websites warn you to stick to the public ferry. Maybe if you had a big group it might make sense but I don't know how the times work as you will want to shuttle between islands. The ferry is scheduled, frequent and much cheaper. So buy your tickets from the ferry building at the main pier. The lady spoke Engish and they take cards as payment. For the three of us (all adults) the 'hop-on, hop-off' tickets & the tickets to access all Madre & Bella attractions it came to 104€ (about 34€ each). We asked for the 'super-saver' ferry tickets but the lady didn't seem to understand and sold us the more flexible options instead - a shame but we don't speak any Italian so we just accepted the situation. It's still a whole lot cheaper than the private boats and not bad value for three folk all day long. And if you buy your tickets for the attractions here you save a bit compared to purchasing them on the spot when you arrive at each island. The public ferry website is in English and includes a lookup for times and fares - http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/

Isola Madre is the island furthest away from Stressa, about 30mins or so. We did this first and it's the prettiest and best, in our opinion. Almost the whole island is covered by the beautiful gardens and the residence so you'd be mad not to buy the ticket for access. You wander around and enjoy it - the views, the scent, the experience. The residence is interesting to see and we took a morning coffee by the house at the cafe. The quality is good and the layout calm (see picture). It's not cheap but worth it. We then headed for the boat (about 11:30am) for Pescatori because that's where we planned on having lunch.

As you exit the gardens of Isola Madre to wait for the boat you pass by some outside restaurants with terraces by the Lake. On balance and with hindsight we now realise that this would have been the better option for lunch and that's what we would recommend to you. Have an early lunch on Isola Madre.

Isola Pescatori (or Superiore) is not so good, quite dissppointing really with cheap souvenir shops everywhere. We ate lunch by the side of the Lake on the side opposite the pier. It was ok but nothing memorable. You could skip this island and you would not really be missing anything.

Back on the ferry to Isola Bella. The main attraction here is the palace and associated gardens. The palace was interesting as were the gardens, although not as beautiful as Madre's gardens. Bella is worth visiting if you've not done it before and is recommended. Even at the end of the day when we were fading slightly the island and palace is still a great experience.

Back to the ferry for the short return trip to Stressa. The boats are well maintained but get busy on a sunny August afternoon. There's the usual queue jumping and some folk jostle as if this is the last boat from a 'burning platform' - why do people behave like that? But everyone gets aboard and it's just ten minutes between islands so, even if you are standing, it all fine and the views are great. Keep calm and lead by example!

Overall we thought the two major islands are lovely, especially Madre. Of course, you need to appreciate botanical gardens otherwise perhaps this isn't your thing. It took us the whole day. Next time we'll probably just catch the ferry from Baveno to Isola Madre for the gardens which costs just 6€ each (return) per adult. Madre would be worth a visit next year, Bella is something you do once and Pescatori is best skipped!

Arianne
Written August 17, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tracey M
Okehampton, UK493 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2012 • Couples
I liked the frequency of the boat services, we used the 'official' boats which are much larger and run to a timetable, rather than the little, privately run shuttle boats whose salesmen are somewhat pushy. The 3 islands (Madre, Bella and Pescatori Superiore) are different from each other and I would recommend visiting all 3. Madre is the tranquil restful one with it's relatively modest palace set in informal gardens so leave that until later in the day when the others are crowded and hot. Pescatori is a warren of narrow streets with dozens of restaurants so try to do this when you're hungry as there is nothing else to see. Bella has a grand palace, an even grander Italian formal garden, with shops and restaurants squeezed in but suffers from overcrowding at busy times so my advise would be to do this one early.
Written October 1, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

iceman123EastSussex
East Sussex543 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2017 • Couples
There are three islands, all different in many ways. You can buy a ticket that incudes the boat to all three and entry to the palaces on Isola Bells and Isola Madre. They are well worth visiting.
Written October 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JAD15
Llandudno, UK45 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2012 • Friends
This is an extremely busy place and swarming with tourists which somewhat detracts from the visit experience.
You have to visit both villa and gardens as you go through one to the other so allow for plenty of time. Organized coach tours mean you have to rush which again detracts fro the visit experience. It is pricey to enter and you need time.
The Villa is interesting and you can take time to wander through. The shell rooms are fascinating.
The gardens are OTT and unique. Beware the peacocks! They are white and give wonderful displays.
Top tip - go on your own and not with a tour.
The cafeteria is good.
Written June 8, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ianatcambridge
St Ives, UK543 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2017 • Couples
This is the number 1 must do. Ignore the boat “captains” at Stresa ( and the official looking cubicle outside of the main ferry terminal) and other locations who tell you that they are the ones to take you around. The main ferry company (large boats!) do a shuttle around the islands every 30 mins at a good price. Do buy the tickets to visit the palaces and make a day of it. Three totally different islands . Madre with beautiful tree filled gardens and a lovely palace. Bella with the sumptuous palace, lovely garden and a nice outdoor cafe area and Isola Superiore which have various shops, lots of restaurants and is totally different. All the islands have super vantage points over the lake and mountains.
Written July 8, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lillyjane26
Brisbane, Australia41 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2014 • Family
Beautiful character-filled islands! Different to anything I have seen I think and each are different to each other.

Isola madre was probably my favourite. It was rather tranquil compared to the other two and you could imagine how the family spent their summers there. In the avary, they have baby peacocks which I have never seen before. The puppets are intriguing!

Isola superiore is... well, not superior at all. Complete tourist trap! I think if you got the ferry past it to isola bella then you wouldn't be missing out! All there is there is over-priced restaurants and shops selling tourist tack. Rather pointless and you'd do better to have lunch in Stresa - its much prettier!

Isola bella is... something else. The wealth of the family to create this must have been immense. (and probably still is from the amount they charge for ticket prices!!!) Though the grandeur is utterly tasteless in most places, it really is a sight to see. We were in the gardens in the heat of mid-day and we struggled a little with the heat - we were clinging to the shadows! Something to bear in mind I suppose.

All in all, worth a visit. But don't bother with Isola superiore.
Written July 4, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pichtee
Lausanne, Switzerland179 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2019 • Family
Must see if you go to lake maggiore. You will need one day to visit all three island. The best way to go is with the public ferry boat. When you reach the counter a lot of people will try to sell you private rides. I prefer to stick with Navigazione Lago Maggiore. They have a 18€ ticket for the three islands available for one day. There is frequent boats (about every 45 min) and they are on time. Isola bella has a very nice palaze to visit. You can easily spent a few hours. Try to arrive early. You can buy a ticket to visit isola Bella and isola madre. The second island (Isola Superiore dei Pascatori) is a small island with only restaurants and souvenir shops. We had a panini by the lake and left for Isola Madre. If you don’t want to pay for the visit of the garden don’t go there is nothing else to see. But it is really worth the visit, the garden is luxurious. A small caffe is in the middle of the garden. It’s an expensive day, but really worth it.
Written July 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Graham w
Mims, FL1,097 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Couples
I studied dozens of guide books before this trip to Italy, and many recommended Isola Bella for the gardens, which are indeed fabulous, but none mentioned the Palace of the Borromeos which was a complete surprise for us. Magnificent ceilngs , rooms, paintings, priceless Tapestries, a grotto, unique children's toys/puppets, so much to see before enjoying the many levelled gardens. The boat ride to and from island is fun a s well, we hired a boat to ourselves for 60 euros for 4 just as cheap as going on the big ships. Do not miss this island and the palace and gardens. 13 euros entrance.
Written August 20, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marcela12
Melnik, Czech Republic589 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2013 • Friends
We went by train from Milan to Stresa /slow train is Ok/ and then bought the tickets for the three Boromean islands. I recommend buying the super saver ticket in Tomassucci Travel, Stresa just opposite the ferry /which is called Navigazione de Lago di Maggiore/ . They speak very good English, are friendly and explain to you all the options. With the super saver we also bought the reduced ticket to the palace and the botanical garden. The only disadvantage with the super saver ticket is that you have to travel to Palanza, i.e. the last destination and then visit the islands in the given order, which was not a problem for us and we saved a few euros. The islands are fantastic. Isola Madre- a botanical garden where you can easily spend 2 hours. Isola Pescatori - a fishing village with loads of fish restaurants and Isola Bela with a huge palace with interesting furniture and particularly grottoes in the basement. There is efficient water transport between the islands, the ship goes roughly every 30 minutes and the time is marked at the entrance so you can double check it with the paper timetable you are given together with the tickets. We set out at 10.30am and came back at aroung 6pm and we spent a beautiful day on the islands.
Written June 24, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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