Whilst some rental villas offer guests the luxury of a swimming pool, having access to a pool really isn’t a necessity in this area of Italy. The crystal clear lake waters are wonderful for swimming in, reaching a pleasant 20 to 22 degrees across July and August.
Holidaymakers will find that there are numerous beaches on Lake Maggiore dotted all along its shores. You are frequently able to park on the roadside and gain access to a small Lake Maggiore beach. There are also larger beaches with car parking facilities.
The larger beaches include one at Maccagno on the Eastern shore. Alternatively, on the other side of the lake in Cannobio there is another good sized beach. Maccagno’s popularity is helped by the additional facilities on site. It boasts a couple of restaurants, a children’s play park, volleyball courts and skateboard ramps. A water sports centre here also offers boat, pedalo, paddleboard and canoe hire. Similarly, Cannobio also offers water sports hire. The beach here is also bordered by a grassy park with picnic tables and children’s play area.
Just along the lakeside from Cannobio, there is also a great beach at Cannero. Again, you can hire pedalos at this Lake Maggiore beach. And further round the lake, there are a number of smaller beaches along the stretch of shoreline around Stresa, Arona and Lesa. Check out details of all the beaches on Lake Maggiore on our Italy travel blog.
The thing that Lake Maggiore does best though is the lidos it offers. Those of particular note include those at Ascona, Locarno, Lesa and Arona.
The lido at Ascona has a large grassy area, sandy Lake Maggiore beach, play areas for children, volleyball courts and even waterslides. Entry to the lido at Ascona is free but if you do want to hire a sunbed or use certain facilities, there are additional charges. Similarly, the lidos at Lesa and Arona offer a number of facilities in addition to simply providing lake access.
However, the lido in Locarno surpasses them all. It only opened in October 2009. It is open throughout the year and in all weather conditions. It boasts numerous indoor and outdoor swimming pools. These include an Olympic size swimming pool, thermal pool, play pool with water effects and four water chutes. The water slides cater for all tastes. There’s the Melezza Blackhole with light and sound effects and the Isorno Whitehole. Both are suitable for those aged six upwards. In addition, there is the Verzasca Abyss (8 years+) and the Looping slide (12 years +). The slides are inspired by the many rivers that feed Lake Maggiore. In addition, the lido has a gym and café which overlooks the pools and lake. This serves everything from morning coffee to dinner in the evening. Opening hours are 8.30 – 22.00 Monday to Friday and 8.30- 20.30 on Saturday and Sundays.
At the other end of the lake near Stresa, there is a smaller lido in Baveno. It offers good lake access and entry is free. However you do pay for the sun beds, chairs and parasols. The lido also offers water sports on site. The nearby Aquadventure Park in Baveno offers a wider choice of activities, particularly if you have children. There are three waterslides here. These range from 60 to 100 metres in length. In addition, there are three pools – a semi Olympic swimming pool, children’s pool and pool with waterslides. There are two beach areas. The first is free. The second is accessed for a small fee but includes comfortable loungers.
On nearby Lake Lugano, there is also an absolutely fantastic lido which we would highly recommend. Located in Lugano itself, you do have to pay to get in but there is access to the lake there as well as 3 beautifully clean swimming pools. These include one Olympic sized pool, one children’s pool with slides and water spray and another family pool. There are also diving boards.
Another great way to enjoy the water is by taking a visit to either Vallemaggia or Valle Verzasca.
Valle Verzasca is definitely worth a visit, particularly on a hot sunny day. You can visit the Verzasca Dam. The dam features in the opening sequence of Goldeneye. Driving on up the mountain from the dam, there are parking spots which give you access to the river. The river is fantastic to swim in and the setting is absolutely idyllic. Just a word of warning – 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, especially with young children. You’ll notice the warning signs all around the car parking areas. But, don’t let this put you off – it is a wonderful place and the water is exhilarating.
For those with young children, Valle Maggia is probably 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 with parking meters along the side of the road. If you do have young children it’s definitely worth stopping near to the bottom of the river. Here 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 so don’t forget your bucket and spade!
If you’re looking for an event to go to at Valle Maggia, the European Cliff Diving Championships are held in Ponte Brolla, Valle Maggia each year.