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Lake Maggiore offers a true all year round family holiday option. Whether your children are 3 months, 3 years or 13 years old, there is plenty to entertain them, whatever their age. A family holiday on Lake Maggiore will definitely tick the boxes of every single family member!

 

A Summer family holiday to Lake Maggiore in the great outdoors

 

In the Summer, most children are happy to spend their days on the beaches of Lake Maggiore. Once here, the water sports on offer can help to keep them amused all day long. Paddle boarding, kayaking and windsurfing are all popular on Lake Maggiore. You can also hire pedaloes in a number of places.  A couple of our favourite water sports schools include La Darsena on the eastern side of the lake and Tomaso Sail and Surf in Cannobio on the opposite side of Lake Maggiore. Both provide sailing and windsurfing lessons for children. However, for those that are looking for something a little faster paced, you can also try water skiing, wake boarding or even hover boarding and fly boarding on Lake Maggiore.

Another option still allowing you to spend the day lakeside is to head to one of the lidos on Lake Maggiore. Our favourite is the Locarno lido. It’s a great place to spend a whole day with plenty on offer to keep everyone entertained. Outside there are inflatable obstacle courses, four pools (some of which are for specific aged children) and a separate diving pool. Indoors, you’ll find another three pools as well as waterslides. These indoor facilities make the Locarno lido a great option even on wet weather days. There is also an indoor swimming pool in Luino, or at the California Acquapark in Chiasso. Here, there are also water slides, separate children’s pool and jacuzzi.

Another option if they like the water but fancy a change from the lake, is to head to a waterpark. There are a few to choose from. The first is a waterpark in Milan. It’s open every day from 10 until 7 between 1 June and 30th August. The park is extremely popular in peak times. August is the month that Italians are on holiday so expect long queues then. Definitely try and be organised and take a picnic with you to avoid queuing for an hour to buy lunch. Another tip is to hire a rubber tyre as soon as you arrive as it means you can avoid the long queues waiting at each ride. You’ll need to show photo ID to hire one.

The second waterpark is in Vicolungo. There are some pretty scary rides here so it’s popular with older kids and even young adults. But there are still plenty of family rides and areas for small children.

A smaller waterpark but closer to the lake is in Sesto Callende. Wave Parco Acquatico is another waterpark with a handful of waterslides, three of which have height minimum height restrictions. The park opens between June and September each year.

At the opposite end of the Eastern shores of Lake Maggiore is Splash and Spa Tamaro. This is also worth visiting. Again, it’s a great family waterpark with indoor and outdoor pools, wave pool and interactive water games for little ones. There are also a number of waterslides. However, many have a minimum age of eight to ride them. Just be aware of this as families with children under this age may not feel that they are getting as good value for money as those with older children. Since a number of pools are indoors, and it’s open 365 days of the year, this is also a great option even in bad weather.

For children that love the water, Valle Verzasca is also worth a visit during your family holiday on Lake Maggiore. The river here is fantastic to swim in. The setting is also absolutely idyllic. However, there is a big but! Please do be extremely careful. The currents are extremely strong and the water can be icily cold at certain times of year. You certainly need to be on your guard at all times, especially with young children.

For those with young children, nearby Valle Maggia is arguably a better and safer option. Only 10 or 15 minutes away from Valle Verzasca, it also offers you a chance to swim in the river. One of the big plus points of Vallemaggia versus Valle Verzasca is the parking. It’s much easier to find a parking place in peak season. There are a number of parking meters along the side of the road. If you do have young children it’s definitely worth stopping near to the base of the river. This is where you’ll find some great sandy beaches and shallow waters perfect for paddling. The sandy beach here is probably the best option for building sandcastles too. Don’t forget your bucket and spade!

Alternatively, on the other side of the lake, the Cascate di Cittiglio waterfalls are a great family day out. These are a series of waterfalls near Lake Maggiore which are easily accessed via a pleasant walk from the parking area. You’ll usually find that you’re outnumbered by the locals who tend to spend their weekends here!

 

A Winter family holiday to Lake Maggiore

 

But, of course, we’ve already made the point that Lake Maggiore is a great all year round holiday destination. Beaches definitely won’t hold the same appeal in the middle of Winter!!! But at that time, there is skiing on Lake Maggiore to enjoy nearby instead. Wherever you are staying on Lake Maggiore, you won’t be far from the slopes.

On the Eastern side of the lake is Passo Forcora. For those with younger children, you can also hire sledges here. Passo Forcora also boasts a practice run about 300 metres long making it ideal for novices. There is then a longer 1 km run with chair lift here.

Then, above Stresa there are 21 runs in total on the Motterone (10 blue, 8 red and 3 black). And at the opposite end of the lake above Locarno are 5 pistes at Cardada. This is also the home of the Scuola Sci Cardada (Cardada Ski School). The latter organises skiing and snowboarding lessons with experienced and qualified instructors for people of all ages.

Those enjoying a family holiday on Lake Maggiore in the Winter months should also keep an eye out for the temporary ice rinks that pop up. Many towns install them in the run up to Christmas. Locations include the one in the Piazza del Popola Verbania in Arona as well as in the main square in Locarno.

 

Amusement parks and zoos to visit during your family holiday to Lake Maggiore

 

Some other places on Lake Maggiore worth a visit with children include Swissminiatur. Here you will find more than 120 models representing the houses, castles, cathedrals and other buildings of Switzerland. In addition, it has more than 3500 metres of railway with no less than 18 trains, funiculars, rack-railways, cable-cars and boats in motion. It’s open between March and November between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

If your little ones would prefer to see Italy in miniature, then it’s worth visiting Minitalia in Bergamo. It forms part of the much larger Leolandia park, perfect for families with younger children. There are plenty of rides to enjoy as well as a miniature 3D map of Italy you can wander through. Those looking for something educational might also enjoy the multimedia museum within the grounds. The latter is dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. There is also an aquarium to visit as well as a reptile house full of lizards, spiders and poisonous snakes. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes at the park catering to all tastes. This is also set up for those with babies, with highchairs, bottle warmers and baby foods all available.

There is also a safari park in Pombia near Lake Maggiore which is open all year round. The animal park is viewable on closed vehicles (car, bus or train). In addition, entry includes an entertainment park with rides and shows. The park plans to extend its offering and open a waterpark in 2024.

If this option doesn’t satisfy your children’s love of animals, then a second option is the Cornelle Zoo in Valbrembo near Bergamo. This boasts over 100 species of birds, mammals and reptiles to see. There is also a tourist train taking you around the park and plenty of picnic areas. It is open all year round but park opening times are reduced in winter months.

Another place to see animals is the zoo at Magliaso, which houses more than 100 animals from all over the world. Amongst its residents are lions, leopards, panthers, servals, racoons, nasua, gibbons, rhesus and other monkeys. They are also home to a number of feathered friends! Parrots such as the ara, the cacatua and other exotic species also live here. Barbecues and picnics are also possible. The zoo is especially suited for children since the animals can be petted and fed.

Close to this zoo is the 18 hold mini golf course at Caslano. You’ll also find trampolines and ride on cars for the kids to enjoy here. Please note that this is closed off season. Caslano itself is a pretty little village right on the shore of Lake Lugano. It’s worth a short stop. There are some nice restaurants on the lakeside if you fancy a spot of lunch.

If your children have a love of animals and nature, then you could try your hand at falconry in Locarno. Open daily from Tuesday to Sunday, you will get to see birds of prey in flight as well as Spanish horseback riding.

Or, in Stresa, the Parco della Villa Pallavicino is a park built around a large old house. It is home to a botanic garden and various birds and animals such as deer, zebra and wallabies. There is also a small children’s play area in the middle.

 

Adventure Parks to visit during your family holiday to Lake Maggiore

 

For those looking for something active to do, Monte Tamaro is also a great place for all the family to enjoy. Open daily between March and November, there is loads to fill the day. For a start, there is an exciting 880 metre downhill ride on the alpine bob sleigh at Alpe Foppa. Not only that. You can also enjoy a 440 metre flight on the longest flying fox in Switzerland. And there is also a fantastic adventure park which is divided into 5 parts with various levels of difficulty.

The flying fox at Monte Tamaro is not the only flying fox near Lake Maggiore! Lago Maggiore Zipline is an 1850 metres zipline that runs 350 metres above the ground. Situated on the Western side of Lake Maggiore, it reaches speeds of 120 km per hour.

There is also another fun park at Mottarone near Stresa – Alpyland. Located at the peak of the mountain, here you will find a 1200 metre long toboggan track. Climb aboard one of the two seat bobsleighs and you’re in charge of how quickly or slowly you make your way from the top to the bottom. Throughout your descent you will be able to make the most of the phenomenal 360 degree views. For those with more adventurous or older children, there are loads of other activities to enjoy from the Mottarone – winter sports, trekking, hang-gliding or mountain biking.

There is another adventure park in Gordola which is open from April until October each year. This park is best described as a high wire forest adventure or an obstacle course in the trees. The park has a 700 metre long rope course hung amongst their trees. There are also 53 different games with 6 different difficulty levels. These range from the most basic children’s route to demanding routes for those over 150cm tall. The admission price includes the individual protection equipment (harness, pulley, helmet, gloves etc), the briefing and the assistance from the Park’s instructors. The briefing and running the course lasts about 2 ½ hours on average.

You’re certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing an adventure park to visit in this area. The adventure park in Baveno also offers a host of activities from a climbing wall to beach soccer. They also offer bungee trampoling, high ropes, cyclocross and beach volleyball. Linked with the Aqualake park in Baveno you can combine your day with some physical activities in the water too.

You can also go karting on Lake Maggiore near Locarno. 8-13 year olds can kart on Wednesdays and Sundays between 2 and 3 p.m. (CHF15 per 10 minutes). Anyone aged 14 or over has the chance to go karting every day between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (CHF 22 per 10 minutes or a special rate of CHF 50 for 3×10 minutes).

 

Wet weather activities for a family holiday to Lake Maggiore

 

The Locarno go kart tracks are all outdoors. However, For those parents who have boys or girls with a love of cars, there is also a huge indoor karting track too. Dromokart is situated not far from Milan. The track is great fun with plenty of twists and turns to test your child’s driving skills. It’s suitable for children aged 8 upwards. Whilst it does open 7 days a week, opening times vary and they have different time slots for different ages. It’s worth checking the website for details or giving them a call before you go.

There are also a few interactive museums and exhibitions which are also indoors if you need to escape the rain. These include the Alprose Swiss chocolate factory. The museum here presents the world of chocolate from its origins to this day. Following a catwalk, visitors are introduced to the various steps of chocolate making. At the end of the tour a visit to the shop will give you the chance to try some of the Alprose products. The factory is usually open for production on weekdays so it’s best to visit then. The museum is open from 9.00 – 17.30 on weekdays and from 9.00 – 16.30 on weekends.

Children can also enjoy the Ogliari Museum of Transport. Once in Ranco, the artefacts have now been moved to a bigger site near Milan Malpensa airport. This museum guides you through the history of transport from the beginning of the XIX century to today in an open air park. The museum owes its existence to Francesco Ogliari. He was a writer and university lecturer on transport history. He founded the museum in 1954 in Ranco and what you see today if the result of over 40 years of his research.

Incidentally, if your little ones love transport, then the top of Monte Generoso can be reached via a little cogwheel railway which children often enjoy. Just make sure you go on a clear day and take some warmer clothes with you. If you get there and it’s cloudy, it can be pretty cold!

There are plenty of other ideas on what to do when it’s raining on Lake Maggiore on the Bookings For You blog.

 

Sightseeing activities for a family holiday to Lake Maggiore

 

The towns and villages of Lake Maggiore are well worth discovering during your family holiday on Lake Maggiore. We’re always conscious that it’s not necessarily easy to keep children entertained when exploring the area though. However, one option to keep the children happy whilst you also get to enjoy a spot of sightseeing is to hop on one of the tourist trains. There are trains in Cannobio, Stresa, Lugano and Locarno which will allow you to see the main sights without having to drag the children around on foot!

Similarly, the Borromean Islands are one of the main attractions to visit on Lake Maggiore. At first sight, the beautiful gardens and historic palace is not something that will necessarily appeal to all children. However, we find that they’re as mesmerised by the sights as the adults! Children particularly love the famous white peacocks that roam the gardens on the island.

We also always recommend holidaymakers take in at least one of the views over Lake Maggiore. Our favourite is reached by cablecar from Laveno Mombello. From here, bucket lifts take you to the summit of Sasso del Ferro which sits approximately 1100 metres above sea level. Here you can enjoy views over Lake Maggiore as well as the pre Alps, Alps the Po plain and other lakes. Whilst some children may not be old enough to appreciate the view, they’ll definitely enjoy the ride to get there.

With so much to cram in to your family holiday on Lake Maggiore, you’ll need to come back again and again to make sure you see and do everything on offer!