Welcome to Isola Bella

It’s difficult to imagine that prior to its construction the island was little more than a chunk of rock inhabited by a handful of hardy fishing families. To this day, only 16 people live year-round on the island, but in summer the place looks like a scene from the Normandy landings of 1944, with countless vessels ferrying battalions of visitors to and fro. Construction of the villa and gardens was thought out in such a way that the island has the vague appearance of a vessel, with the villa at the prow and the gardens at the rear.

Top experiences in Isola Bella

Travel guides

Starting at $36.39

Image for

Isola Bella activities

$17.54 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Borromean Islands Hop-On Hop-Off Ferry Tour from Stresa

Make the most out of your day by arriving in Stresa in early morning. The first public boat leaves at 9am and departures continue about every half an hour throughout the day until the evening (18.00). Step aboard the comfortable boat and try to nab a window seat if you can. From there, peer out over the breathtaking Lake Maggiore and the forested hills and dramatic mountain peaks that rise beyond the shimmering lake’s edge. You are free to hop on and off the boat as much as you please, so you can create a sightseeing itinerary to suit your preferences. Wander through Isola Madre’s English-style gardens at your leisure, strolling among colorful blooms, which include azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and wisteria. You might also visit the 16th-century villa house on the island, where you can explore a collection of period rooms and an exhibit of small puppet theaters.When you’re done on Isola Madre, head back to the harbor and catch the next boat to Isola Pescatori. Use your boat ticket to continue on to Isola dei Pescatori, the only island that is inhabited year-round. Stop for a bite to eat at one of the island's fish restaurants (own expense) or wander around the quaint fishing village, which retains its old-world charm.Use your boat ticket to continue on to Isola dei Pescatori, the only island that is inhabited year-round. Choose to stop  at Isola Bella and pay an entrance fee to explore the sumptuous and ornately decorated 17th-century palace that dominates the island. See the home where the noble Borromeo family lived and entertained. Admire tapestries, fine paintings and antique furniture, all displayed in lavishly gilded, rococo rooms. Afterward, wander around the well-tended formal gardens. Look out for the two white peacocks strutting their stuff amidst the fountains, flowers and topiary. Feel free to revisit any of the islands’ during the day as your ticket is valid for as many journeys as you please during the day (from 9.00 to 18.00 period), but be sure to catch the last boat back to the mainland in early evening.

Isola Bella in detail