Lago Maggiore or Como (Varenna) or??

May 21st, 2019, 09:33 PM
  #1  
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Lago Maggiore or Como (Varenna) or??

My daughter and I will spend a bit more than a week hiking in the Dolomites in late August/September. We will have a few days before we fly out of Milan. We were considering staying in Stresa or Baveno on Lago Maggiore or Varenna on Lago Como. We'd rather avoid hordes of tourists, enjoy hiking, exploring small towns, kayaking and swimming. I heard that there are some small towns up above the Lago Como that might be fun to explore if we can get there without a car. We would also consider another town, not on a lake, though we'd like to be able to get to Malpenza Airport without too much difficulty. I know this question has been asked before, but we're still stuck on the decision. Thanks!!
tsmith is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 12:36 AM
  #2  
 
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Stresa, Belgirate, Lesa, Meina, Arona, Lugano are all not more than 1 hr from MXP (by bus and/or train).
But how will you reach the Lakes from the Dolomites? If you travel via Stelvio Pass or via Tonale Pass - Aprica Pass, Lake Como is along your itinerary.
Lake Lugano has the best hiking trail and public transport network by far (for villages along the Lake and in the hinterland).

Places ABOVE the lakes with good public transport:
Pigra (Lake Como): gondola to Arcegno every 30 min
Brunate (Lake Como): rope railway to Como every 15 min
Logo, Ligomena, Calveseglio, Plesio (Lake Como): bus to Menaggio about every 90 min
Rovenna (Lake Como): bus to Cernobbio about every 90 min
Palanzo, Lemna (Lake Como): bus to Como about every 90 min
Carona (Lake Lugano): bus to Lugano every 30-60 min
Arogno, Rovio (Lake Lugano): bus to Capolago train station every hr
Serpiano (Lake Lugano): gondola every 30 min (except Monday-Tuesday)
Montagnola, Agra (Lake Lugano): bus to Lugano every hr
Aldesago (Lake Lugano): rope railway to Lugano every 30 min
Premeno, Bee, Vignone, Arizzano (Lake Maggiore): bus to Pallanza about every 2 hrs
Ronco sopra Ascona (Lake Maggiore): bus about every 1-2 hrs to Locarno or Brissago
Vairano, Piazzogna (Lake Maggiore):bus every 1-2 hrs to Magadino boat, bus and railway station
neckervd is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 07:20 AM
  #3  
 
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How will you be traveling from the Dolomites to either lake? How many days is "a few"?

If you'll already have a car in the Dolomites, you should keep it, head to one of the less-visited towns and return the car when you go to Malpensa.

If you won't have a car, you need to decide how much time you want to devote to just reaching your destination. The train ride from Bolzano (as an example) to Varenna or Stresa is at least 5 hours. If you then have to take a ferry to continue to a less-visited town, it will be a day lost in transit. If your flight out of Malpensa departs in the morning or early afternoon, it may be safer to spend the last night closer to the airport than the lovely less-visited town.

Have you perused the train and ferry timetables and plotted out how you'd go, how you'd get to Malpensa, etc.? The logistics of this short visit could help you decide on a realistic plan.
Jean is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 07:49 AM
  #4  
 
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I love Lake Como and have stayed mid-lake mostly (Bellagio, near Varenna, traveling to Menaggio, Lugano, etc.); they definitely have their share of tourists in high season, however, but taking ferries around the lake is wonderful!

This autumn we will be staying at Garda town on Lake Garda following time in Germany and taking the train to Trento, then to Verona, then staying in Garda before transferring to MXP for the trip home--just mentioning it in case you are open to another route. The train from near Garda town to MXP takes about 2 hours, fyi.
annw is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 10:35 AM
  #5  
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Thanks for the responses. We will finish the trek and spend the night in Belluno. We will not have a car. I figured it would take us several hours (at least 6) to get to wherever we were heading. I had assumed we would go by train to Milan via Padova and then go from there. We would leave Belluno Thursday morning and have a 1:30 flight out of Malpenza on Sunday. I know there is a morning bus from Stresa directly to the airport and I think the train connection from Varena is possible to do also.
tsmith is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 10:50 AM
  #6  
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Or now that I look at a map I wonder if one were going to Varenn
a whether it would make more sense to skip Milan and go to Bergamo and from there to Lecco and Varenna.
tsmith is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 11:17 AM
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You don't have to guess which is faster. The train website will tell you the fastest connections, and you can decide which way you want to go.

Belluno to either Varenna or Stresa is 6 hours or more with multiple connections. If you intend to venture farther, you need to peruse the ferry timetables to see how long you'd have to wait and how it would take to get there.

THEN, you need to figure out how you're going to get to Malpensa and how long that will take.

https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html

Navigazione Laghi | Lago Maggiore | Lago di Garda | Lago di Como
Jean is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 11:21 AM
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You can also search on Rome2rio for additional options, but verify everything you find there on the websites for individual transports. R2R is accurate as to modes of travel (train, bus, etc.) but not always correct with times.

https://www.rome2rio.com/
Jean is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 11:27 AM
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I go to Stresa in the off-season almost every year. Love the place. I am not fond of Lago di Como - too Hollywood.

No matter which lake you choose - and they have different personalities - you have to figure out ferry schedules if that's the way you want to travel. It can be tough off-season.
StCirq is online now  
May 22nd, 2019, 12:41 PM
  #10  
 
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The OP is traveling in late August/September, so no problems with reduced ferry service. But some towns are less frequently served than others at all times of the year.
Jean is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 01:49 PM
  #11  
 
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Do yourself a FAVOR: get a car transfer service from your hotel "above" or anywhere else around Lake Como TO Malpensa. That is unless you are near the rail line in a place like Varenna or you can take a ferry to the nearest town on the rail line. And you have the time to wait for that ferry, take it to the town with the rail connection, take the train to Milan and then another train to MXP. And all of that at what time of day???? This whole thing of thinking you are going to save millions when in fact you aren't seems crazy to me but to each their own.
Dukey1 is offline  
May 23rd, 2019, 12:34 PM
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The train itinerary from Brescia via Bergamo - Lecco to Varenna is shorter in miles and cheaper, but not faster than the easier route via Milan.
neckervd is offline  
May 23rd, 2019, 04:54 PM
  #13  
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Thanks for the help. We are less concerned with the travel logistics than making a choice of locations. It is hard to distinguish differences from guidebooks. We don't want Hollywood by any means and if Varenna is Hollywood like also it would be helpful to know that. Lago Como does appear more visually stunning from photographs but perhaps that isn't true.
tsmith is offline  
May 25th, 2019, 02:47 PM
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Less touristed, Ranco, on Lake Maggiore's south east side is one of the closest towns to Malpensa and will not be over crowded. There is a lovely hotel there,Il Sole di Ranco, and several good places to eat besides the hotel.. There is also ferry service if you want to explore a bit more of the lake.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
May 25th, 2019, 10:43 PM
  #16  
 
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If you want to easily travel to Malpensa by train, then I would choose between Varenna and Stresa (or nearby). Several of the towns around lake Como are small, with narrow streets and very attractive. Stresa itself has an abundance of very upmarket hotels and felt more like a resort to me. I think there's possibly more to do and see around lake Maggiore but you only have two days anyway. There really isn't a bad choice here. I personally have a great deal of nervousness about being more than a taxi ride away from my departure airport in case there is an unexpected problem with public transport - but not everyone feels that way.
dreamon is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 05:53 AM
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Ranco isn't far away from Malpensa, indeed, but public transport (in all directions) is almost inexistant there.
neckervd is offline  
May 30th, 2019, 01:24 PM
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neckerd, we did have a rental car, always do.
HappyTrvlr is online now  

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