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Milan --> Lake District loop, which direction?

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Jan 23rd, 2015, 07:20 AM
  #1
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Milan --> Lake District loop, which direction?

We arrive in Milan around noon in May, leave 14 days later at 4pm.

Trying to decide which direction of travel makes the most sense logistically and best use of time.

Cities we are vising:

Cannobio, Piedmont, Italy
Lugano Switzerland
Varenna,Italy.

Would we best served to start in Cannobio, then head to Lugano and on to Varenna - in a clockwise direction or should we reverse the order, going counterclockwise?

I know there is no place in Varenna to buy train tickets, so that was one concern if we go clockwise. It is also a longer journey to start the trip in Cannobio after a a transatlantic flight, so fatigue and lack of knowing the surrounding area might play into this direction not being the best way to go.

As of now, I have us staying the first night in Milan and then starting out on the clockwise trip. But this morning, I am thinking that we could head right out to Varenna on the first day as its an easier, shorter trip and it would get us right into the Lake District ASAP.

As always, your insights are appreciated.
Thanks~
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 07:56 AM
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The simplest thing to do would be to take the one hour bus ride to Lugano, and then take public transportation to Varenna, and then, if you need a car, go down to Como (the town) and rent one there. If you need an automatic, you could go back to Malpensa and rent it. I would ask your hotel in Varenna for advice about getting a train ticket.

I am not sure it is a shorter, less complicated driving trip to go to Varenna by car, rather than Cannobio by car. Anytime you need to circumvent Milan, you run the risk of traffic jams and more pressure from aggressive drivers.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 08:42 AM
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What part of this trip, if any, were you planning to do by car?

Train tickets can be purchased in Varenna at the travel agency in town.

If you decide to go to Varenna first, you probably know you have two options. You can go via Milano Centrale. Or you can by-pass central Milan, go to the town of Como via Saronno and then take the ferry up the left "leg" of the lake.

I may be wrong, but I think the Malpensa-Lugano bus ride is more like 90 minutes. I don't know the frequency.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 09:03 AM
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We really prefer not renting a car; I should have emphasized this in OP. We are trying to stick to public transit - bus, train, tram, ferry etc. Sorry...
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 09:35 AM
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The bus ride from Malpensa to Lugano is a bit more than one hour, but not much. It departs Malpensa every two hours.

If you took my suggestion and went to Lugano first and Varenna second, then I suspect the quickest way to Canobbio would be to go back to Lugano and take the train from there to Locarno, and a bus from there to Canobbio -- but I am not sure! But no need to worry about a train ticket out of Varenna (no matter where you put Varenna in the trip).

What time is your flight out? You might want to end your trip in Lugano so you can take the bus from there to the airport.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 09:39 AM
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You can get between Lugano and Varenna by bus to Menaggio and a ferry across Lake Como. Cannobio is harder to get to by public transportation. Is there a particular reason you want to go to that location on Lago Maggiore?
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 09:44 AM
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But here is what I think would be the most relaxing way to go:

Arrive at Malpensa, take the bus to Stresa -- spend the night

Next day, go up to Cannobio (spelled it right this time!)

Then, Lugano (I would probably spring for a taxi for all or some of the journey)

Then, Varenna.

If I wasn't all that interested in visiting Milan, I would go back to Lugano for my last night and take the bus to Malpensa.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 10:07 AM
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Mimar - Cannobio seemed like a lovely spot to spend a few days. No specific reason. We wanted to hit 3 lakes. If you can recommend another town on Lago Maggiore, I'd be all ears and welcome hotel recommendations as well.

We do want to spend a couple of nights in Milan and will do that on the end of trip. We do like to visit cities, but the emphasis of this trip was country.

I will look at staying first night in Stresa as well.

Again, many thanks for your patience as I figure this out!
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 10:48 AM
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We bought train tickets in Varenna from a travel agency in town. Our hotel gave us the name and location. Unfortunately, I cannot remember it.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 10:48 AM
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There are diferent choices:
MXP T1 (Milan Malpensa airport Terminal 1) dp by prebooked alibus 13.40 to Stresa ar 14.30 - Verbania Intra ar 15.00, db by VCObus 15.05 (weekdays) resp 15.50 (daily) to Cannobio ar 15.40 resp 16.25; or Intra dp by boat 16.15 - Cannobio ar 17.39
http://www.safduemila.com/alibus-201...omaggiore.html
http://www.vcotrasporti.it/userdata/...A-BRISSAGO.pdf
or
MXP T1 dp by train 13.50 - Luino ar 15.15, dp by hydrofoil 16.45 - Cannobio ar 17.10 resp Luino dp by bus 15.48 - Ponte Tresa 16.20/16.25 - Lugano ar 16.50

MXP T1 dp by prebooked bus 14.40 - Lugano ar 16.00

MXP dp by train 13.19 - Milano Centrale 14.05/14.20 - Varenna ar 15.23

I would spend the first night at Stresa.

Cannobio - Brissago - Locarno - Lugano: about every 2 hrs
Cannobio - Luino - Lugano: about every 3 hrs
Lugano - Menaggio - Varenna: about every 2 hrs
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 11:01 AM
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Yes, or if Cannobio is not a "must-see" but the point is enjoying Lago Maggiore, then I would take the 60 minute bus ride from Malpensa to Stresa or Baveno and spend the first 3 or 4 nights there. Then I would take the same bus back to Malpensa and board the 60 minute bus ride straight to Lugano. Then on to Varenna by bus and ferry across the lake (great view!). Then train from Varenna to Milano.

But you might want to do it differently!
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 11:01 AM
  #12
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Anyone familiar with Hotel La Palma in Stresa?

I am thinking of keeping the clockwise loop, but skipping Mila on first day and heading to Stresa, spend the night and commence the trip:

Cannobio, to - Lugano - Varenna and then end in Milan.
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 11:02 AM
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posting at same time, sandralist. Thanks, will ponder on that idea!
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 11:37 AM
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>>>I know there is no place in Varenna to buy train tickets<<<

There are places to purchase tickets, but you can also purchase online. Trenord operates the trains in Lombardy and you can purchase on their website. Unlike Trenitalia, you can buy these tickets further in advance (I think 6 months or through the end of current schedules.

http://www.trenord.it/EN/

Distanza Orario Giorno
dalla stazione apertura chiusura

500 m 07:00 / 20:00 domenica

Tabaccheria Bernasconi Claudia
Via IV Novembre 6
Varenna LC
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 12:09 PM
  #15
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{I meant that I knew you couldn't buy them at train station, but obviously it is possible to buy them elsewhere, thanks all.}
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Jan 23rd, 2015, 12:14 PM
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There used to be ticket machines in that unmanned station but that may have changed.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 09:17 AM
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I just googled images of Cannabio and it looks wonderful. I can see why people might want to go there.

However, for your multi-stop trip by public transportation, it makes more sense to just spend your time in Stresa. You can daytrip by boat to Cannbio and do a trip to the beautiful Borromean islands in the lake just north of Stresa.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 09:23 AM
  #18
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I have pretty much decided to keep the original direction - clockwise.

I am also pretty much decided to stay in Stresa for the first 5 nights, coming right from the airport.

Trying to decide on hotel now...
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Jan 24th, 2015, 11:46 AM
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La Palma is very nice and well located, but also more $$$---your call.
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