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“Save this one till last!”
Review of Isola Bella

Isola Bella
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$105.50*
and up
Lake Maggiore Day Trip from Milan
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$17.78*
and up
Borromean Islands Hop-On Hop-Off Ferry Tour from Stresa
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$49.40*
and up
Private Tour: Lake Maggiore and Borromean Islands Boat Trip from Stresa
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Owner description: One of three magical islands on Lake Maggiore, Isola Bella charms visitors with its magnificent Baroque palace and terraced gardens that slope to the lake.
Cardiff, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
172 reviews
128 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 294 helpful votes
“Save this one till last!”
Reviewed September 22, 2012

Isola Bella
We visited all three Borromean islands on Lake Maggiore (see my reviews on Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori for info on the other two) and this was my favourite! Totally over-the-top – an exercise in impressing other people! The opulence of the palace décor and contents is awesome (as intended!) Take in 16 century Brussels tapestries with their grotesque creatures, the bed in which Napoleon slept and the music room which holds valuable instruments and where the Stresa conference was held and where Mussolini almost joined the Allied cause against Hitler! You can pay extra to visit the Borromean painting gallery (densely packed with more than 2,000 paintings!) and throne room (we didn't} and for an audio guide to the palace (2.50 euros) Look out for the House of Borromeo's symbol (the unicorn) and for their motto (ironically “humilitas”!)
You emerge from the sumptuous palace and grottoes into the spectacular and immaculate Baroque Italian gardens, arguably one of the most famous in Italy There are ten terraces of statues, fountains and basins, the topmost giving spectacular views over Lake Maggiore and excellent photo opportunities (especially if the white peacocks are displaying – they weren't when we visited). Unfortunately the gardens were hit by the 7-minute storm which decimated the Villa Taranto gardens and seem to have hit two of the topmost obelisks on Isola Bella, as well as causing some other damage, so that the gardens were temporarily closed :-( However, they have now reopened and only one or two areas were closed off to the public when we visited .

Warning – there is little to do or see on Isola Bella except visit the tourist shops and cafés UNLESS you buy a ticket for the palace and gardens

Tip: We too 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 if you are 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 Isole Bella (18 euros – they have to be visited on the same day) This saves 8.90 + 6 euros = 14.90 euros pp!

Visited September 2012
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1 Thank Margaret151151
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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South Australia
Level 6 Contributor
728 reviews
427 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 266 helpful votes
“A Big Disappointment”
Reviewed August 31, 2012

We read so much about the island and it all sounded wonderful and a "must do" on our stay at Lake Maggiore, but what a disappointment. The residence itself we found to be pretty ordinary and the rooms nothing really to get excited over. We actually found the grottos/caves a bit bizarre and the gardens not nearly as picturesque as we thought they would be. The best part of our visit was the ferry trip to and from the village where we we're staying - it was very relaxing being on the water and taking in the views.

Visited August 2012
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Thank Valerie037
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
45 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Nice island!”
Reviewed August 12, 2012

If you like architecture and Big Palaces with big gardens ... that's a good place to visit if you're around de Lago Maggiore!
Cruise from Stressa takes less than 10min. Just a little bit expensive, 15euros round trip + 13euros per person to visit the Palace. Nothing to see if you don't go inside the palace!
There's nice restaurants and one cafeteria in the gardens!

Visited August 2012
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1 Thank AdrianoLucio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
45 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“A must see in the area.”
Reviewed August 12, 2012 via mobile

You can take the boat to see this beautiful location. The island is almost entirely occupied by one of the old residences of the Borromeo family. The Gallery is a must see. Also the Caves are wonderful and the Gardens are definitely beautiful. My suggestion is avoid eating there, but to move to the Fishermen's Island instead.

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2 Thank Fulvio77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jaipur, India
Level 6 Contributor
538 reviews
395 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,252 helpful votes
“Just Beautiful”
Reviewed August 8, 2012

Isola Bella 'beautiful island' is one of the Islands of Lago Maggiore in Italy. The island can be approached from town of Stresa. Regular ferry service is available . In isola bella you will find only the Palazzo Borromeo and its very beautiful garden. We were informed that this place was visited by many famous personalities like Napoleon and his wife; by Princess of Wales; who wanted to buy the island , and many more. Isola Bella is a popular tourist attraction. You can enjoy here the annual Stresa music festival.

Visited September 2011
Helpful?
1 Thank RajnishPathak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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