The cable-car trip up Monte Mottarone (1491m) from the northwestern end of Stresa offers pretty views over Lake Maggiore, including Isola Bella and Isola Superiore. From the summit on a clear day you can see Lake Orta, several other smaller lakes and Monte Rosa, on the Alpine border with Switzerland.
The 20-minute cable-car journey on the Funivia Stresa–Mottarone takes you to the Mottarone station at 1385m, from where it's a 15-minute walk or free chairlift (when it's working) up to the summit. At the Alpino midstation (803m) more than 1000 Alpine and sub-Alpine species flourish in the Giardino Botanico Alpinia, a botanic garden dating from 1934. On a clear day, the views from here over Maggiore are truly special.
For the more active, there are plenty of good hiking trails on the mountain. Walkers can ask at the cable-car station or the tourist office for a free copy of Trekking on the Slopes of Mount Mottarone, which outlines a two-hour walk from Stresa to the Giardino Botanico Alpinia and a four-hour walk to the top of Mottarone.
Skiing Mottarone’s gentle slopes (www.mottaroneski.it) is limited to five green and two blue runs, making it good for beginners. The ski pass includes the cost of the cable car and you can hire gear from the station at the top of Mottarone. The ski pass costs €17 per adult per day (€24 on weekends) while equipment costs extra.
Also possible from the summit is Alpyland, a 1200m-long bobsled descent with adjustable speeds that makes it ideal for families.