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  • Writer's pictureJoshua S

How to get to Lake Maggiore

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

Just an hour's journey north of Milan and Turin is Northern Italy's second largest lake, Lake Maggiore, a magical destination resting under the Alps and reaching into southern Switzerland.

For more on Lake Maggiore itself, check out our Lake Maggiore Travel Guide!

In this blog post we'll tell you:

  • What we did;

  • Travelling from Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP);

  • Travelling from Milan Linate Airport (LIN);

  • Travelling from Bergamo Airport (BGY);

  • Our advice!

What we did

We visited, and stayed, on the Borromean Islands as part of a five-night trip:

  • Milan -> 1 night

  • Borromean Islands -> 2 nights

  • Milan -> 2 nights

From Milan, we caught the train from Milano Centrale to Stresa, a small town on the east of Lake Maggiore. Tickets cost between €10-12 per person one-way and takes approximately 1 hour. Tickets are easy to buy from machines - they're in all languages and there are workers to help you too.

For our return journey, we caught the train from Stress to Milano Porta Garibaldi, in Milan. Our tickets cost between €10-12 per person one-way and take 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are ticket machines available in Stresa, and other towns around Lake Maggiore, but not as many staff, unlike Milan.

Two Passports Top Tip: You MUST scan your train tickets before boarding

Before boarding the train, you MUST scan your tickets otherwise you will face a heavy fine from the train guards.

Scanning your train tickets in Milan, Italy
Scan your tickets in Milan at these!

Scanning differs from place to place:

  • In Milan, you scan the tickets at a small yellow box by the trains; push the ticket fully in and you'll hear a beep which tells you it's scanned.

  • In Stresa, put your ticket into a small get box by the ticket machines and move it to the left. It's complicated but needs to be done!

Travelling from Milan Malpensa (MXP)

MXP is located west of the city and is the closest airport to Lake Maggiore.

How to get there:

  • By Car: A journey is 45-50 minutes directly north to Stresa. Cars can't be taken onto any of the islands, but there are places to park and catch a boat if you like.

  • By Train: From Terminal 1 station, get the Trenord S50 to Stazione di Busto Arsizio. Change for the REG Trenitalia train to Domodossola.

    • Be careful, as there are two Busto Arsizio stations, so double check you’re going to the right one. This journey takes approximately 90 minutes.

Milan Malpensa to Lake Maggiore
MXP to Lake Maggiore

Travelling from Milano Linate (LIN)

LIN is located just east of Milan’s city centre. Despite its location, it’s more difficult than you think to get into the city.

How to get there:

  • By Car: Just over 100km away, if you’re hiring a car the journey will take you 90 minutes.

  • By Public Transport: Google Maps gives a far more complicated journey than necessary. Our advice is get the airport coach (€5 each) to Milano Centrale and catch a train to Stresa (as mentioned above).

LIN to Lake Maggiore in Italy
LIN to Lake Maggiore

Travelling from Bergamo Airport (BGY)

Bergamo is its own city, east of Milan with easy links in.

How to get there:

  • By Car: Well, we really would recommend going via another airport because this is nearly 150km away and could take up to two hours.

  • By Public Transport: There are no direct trains from BGY, or Bergamo city centre, so we'd recommend catching either the Orioshuttle (from €4) or the Terravision Bus (€5) to Milano Centrale and catch a train.

Our advice

Don't do what we did and squeeze it in between a city break; it's a lot of travel. If you want to go as part of your trip to Milan, add it onto the end of your trip and fly out of MXP.

It's also possible to travel to/from Turin. It requires a stop in Rho-Fiera Milano and then continuing towards Stresa. A trip of Milan - Lake Maggiore - Turin over 10 days would be a fantastic option! Beautiful cities allowing plenty of time to travel and absorb the culture and sensational food.

If you want to

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