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If you’re heading to the north of Italy next summer and you would like to explore the region around Lake Maggiore, the Lago Maggiore Express is the trip you should take. Not just an ordinary round trip, but a panoramic tour with train and boat in the border region of Switzerland and Italy. In this blog post, you can discover the full itinerary and you can read some practical details.

Boat crosses Lago Maggiore

Lago Maggiore Express – an overview

In Domodossola, in the upper north of Italy, the Centovalli train leaves for an unforgettable two hours journey. Place of arrival is Locarno, a vivid town located at the Swiss side of Lake Maggiore. From Locarno, a motor ship takes you on a 3 hours panoramic cruise over Lake Maggiore, all the way to Stresa, back in Italy. From Stresa, you can return to Domodossola by regional train, unless you have other transport options.

An overview of the Lago Maggiore Express itinerary

Centovalli Railway – from Domodossola to Locarno

The Centovalli – Vigezzina railway line is 52 kilometers long and connects Domodossola, in the north of Italy, with Locarno in Switzerland. ‘Centovalli’ is Italian for a hundred valleys, by the way. And that seems to be the perfect description for this train journey, often described as one of the most scenic railway journeys in Europe. In about two hours, you cross some spectacular railway bridges and galleries and you go through lush green valleys. This amazing landscape will take your breath in all seasons. You will also pass a number of picturesque villages such as Re and Intragna. Click here to go directly to the railway company’s website and to view the full itinerary.

Exploring Locarno

Before starting the boat trip over Lake Maggiore, I can highly recommend to spend a few hours in Locarno. With its mild climate and 2300 hours of sunshine per year, Locarno is a sun-kissed destination in the south of Switzerland. The Swiss canton of Ticino is the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, where everything looks and feels like Italy. There are plenty of palm trees along the lakeside promenade and the dishes on the menu definitely have an Italian twist.

Port of Locarno
Lakeside promenade in Locarno

Boat trip over Lake Maggiore – from Locarno to Stresa

After exploring Locarno, you take one of the ferries of the shipping company ‘Navigazione Laghi‘ for a panoramic cruise. Lake Maggiore is a very large and elongated lake that spreads over Italy and Switzerland, with some charming villages located at the lake shore. The ferry stops at the main shore towns such as Cannobio and Intra. To get the most out of your day trip, you can go all the way to Stresa. Or even a little further, to Arona. Short before arrival, you will pass the Borromean Islands, an idyllic islands group at the Italian side of Lake Maggiore.

Spending the evening in Stresa

As one of the most exclusive tourist destinations in the north of Italy, Stresa houses a number of prestigious five-star hotels and luxury villas. Nevertheless, there are also some budget friendly restaurants and bars located in the small town centre, so you can spend a relaxing evening after a whole day of exploring.


Practical details

  • A ticket for the Lago Maggiore Express includes the Centovalli railway journey, as well as the boat trip across Lake Maggiore.
  • If you want to return to Domodossola from Stresa, you can take the regional train. The train station is only one kilometer away from the port. The train ride between Stresa and Domodossola, however, is excluded from the Lago Maggiore Express ticket.
  • Lago Maggiore Express tickets can be purchased at the Domodossola train station (or at the port of Stresa if you want to do this trip in the opposite direction). Please note, these special combination tickets are only available between April and October.
  • You can choose between a day ticket or a ticket that is valid for two days. If you choose a two-day trip, you will have to arrange an overnight stay yourself.
  • Keep in mind that Switzerland is not a member state of the EU. Using mobile data while traveling through Switzerland can become very expensive very quickly.

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