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What to do in bad weather at Lake Maggiore?

Bad weather Lake Maggiore
Bad weather on Lake Maggiore? Here are our tips (photo: Edward Hendriks)

You usually don't come to Italy for it, but the weather can be bad there too. Even in the summer. Are you sitting comfortably on Lake Maggiore and then it starts to rain! With a bit of luck it will be over in a day or so, but of course you won't be waiting for that. That is why we would like to give you a few smart tips for activities during rain on Lake Maggiore.

If you're a regular visitor to Italy, you know it: on the southern side of the Gotthard Tunnel, the weather is often completely different. The sun is shining, it is immediately 10 degrees warmer, you can feel the Mediterranean vibes. The peaks of the Alps hold rain showers and cool air on the northern side.

Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore (photo: Pixabay)

Lago Maggiore, Mediterranean but it can also rain a lot

But: on Lake Maggiore you are actually in the middle of the Alps, so it can rain heavily and thunderstorms all year round. The Swiss Locarno has the heaviest rainfall of the entire region with 1.900 mm per year.

In winter, the climate around Lake Maggiore, on the border of Switzerland and Italy in the Alps, is wet. In the summer the mercury rises above 30 degrees Celsius, but you will not find the drought that is so characteristic further south.

You usually don't want it when you get there, but luckily there is also a lot to do here in bad weather, especially if you like museums or activities for the whole family.

We are happy to take you through our personal tips.

1. Shopping in Varese, Vicolungo or Mendrisio

Il Centro Shopping Center Varese
Il Centro in Varese (Photo:

A day of rain at Lake Maggiore is easy to get through if you like shopping. That goes well with Il Centro in Arese. With about 200 stores, this is the largest shopping center in Italy. You'll find it between Milan and Malpensa Airport. In terms of design, you seem to be walking in a separate city. The center is based at Covent Garden in London.

Vicolungo is one of the largest outlet villages in Italy, with over 150 stores. If you're planning on doing some shopping during your trip to Italy, Vicolung is a cost-effective, car-friendly alternative to Milan.

On the Swiss side of the border you will find Mendrisio the outlet shopping mall FoxTown Factory Store. Here you will find designer clothes with discounts from 30% to 70%.

2. Various outdoor activities

A little rain shouldn't stop you from going outside. In fact, around Lake Maggiore you will find plenty of sporting activities to develop when the weather is a bit 'less'. Mountain biking, hiking or mountaineering lend themselves well to drizzle or light rain. It is only pleasant if it is not too hot.

3. Visit Stresa

Villa Ducale in Stresa (photo: Wikimedia)

Stresa is not only the most beautiful village on Lake Maggiore. You will also find a special library in the 18th-century Villa Ducale with a collection of about 110.000 books from the 18th and 19th centuries.

You can admire the historical documents kept in the museum, portraits, furniture, as well as clothing and personal items. Maybe not exactly an activity for children, but you will find it enough further down this list!

4. The caves of Campo dei Fiori

If the weather is bad, visit the Campo dei Fiori Natural Park. You can take walks here and admire the waterfalls (only nice if it doesn't really come out of the sky), but you can also enter the caves with a guide. A nice family outing for bad days in terms of weather.

5. Visit a spa

Do you definitely want to swim, but the weather at Lake Maggiore is bad and cold? Why don't you go to the spa? The most famous spa in the vicinity of Lake Maggiore is the Terme di Bognanco

The wellness center is open every day (except Tuesdays) and is the place to have fun with children or to relax as a couple. 

The state-of-the-art center is located in an unspoilt landscape at 700 meters above sea level, at the point where a spring was discovered in 1863. This is how you turn a rainy day into a wonderful pampering day!

Also in Locarno on the Swiss side you will find a complex with baths of 38 degrees Celsius.

6. Alpine Country

Are you staying at Lake Maggiore with children and don't know what to do because it's raining? Plan a trip to one of the many attractions nearby.

alpyland is a 1.200-meter toboggan run atop Mount Mottarone. From the carts you have a beautiful view. It really doesn't have to be nice weather to enjoy this.

7. Umbrella Museum

Museo dell'Ombrello and del Parasole (Photo:

How appropriate with rain! In Gignese you will get to know the traditional craft of making umbrellas and parasols. Its production is historically linked to the mountain slopes of Mottarone. The museum is open every morning and afternoon (except Mondays).

8. The Doll Museum at Rocca d'Angera

The Rocca of Angera (photo: Wikimedia)

At Angera you will find a Borromean fortress on the foothills of the rocks overlooking the lake. A special museum with dolls and toys is located here. Get to know the craftsmanship of doll and toy makers from the history of Italy. The fortress itself is also worth a visit. Angera can be reached by ferries from Arona and Stresa.

9. Chimney Sweep Museum

One of those special museums that you find in Italy: the Chimney Sweeper Museum (photo:

When you step into the Chimney Sweeper Museum (Museo dello Spazzacamino) in Santa Maria Maggiore, you relive an atmosphere of other times. In the rooms of this museum villa of exceptional beauty (open from March to October) you will discover the fascinating stories of Italian chimney sweeps.

10. Aqua Adventure Park in Baveno

Aquadventure Park in Baveno (Photo:

Water games, slides and swimming pools for adults and children. It may not be the first thing that comes to mind on a rainy day, but this water park has a lockable roof that closes in bad weather. Spatter, spatter, spatter!

11. Volandia Aviation Museum

Volandia (photo: Wikimedia)

Volandia Parco e Museo del Volo in Somma Lombarda, near Malpensa Airport, is the largest Italian aviation museum and also one of the largest in Europe. Volandia exhibits more than 100 aircraft. The museum has an area of ​​approximately 60.000 m², of which 20.000 m² indoors. It opened in 2010.

12. Parco Avventura Gordola

You will find it just over the border with Switzerland Parco Avventura Gordola. That describes exactly what it is: an adventure park in Gordola. Climb trees, slide over ropes and engage in a variety of other outdoor activities of varying difficulty.

13. Swiss Miniature

SwissMiniatur in Melide (Photo: Wikimedia)

Madurodam the Swiss way, that is SwissMiniature, which you will find in Melide. Open from March to November and fun for young and old.

14. Antiquarian

Are you interested in archeology? At Mergozzo it's Antiquarium, where you will find a large collection of archaeological material from the city and the surrounding area. From the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. The museum is open every afternoon (except Mondays) from 15.00 PM to 18.00 PM.

15. Alfa Romeo Museum in Varese

Are you a lover of Italian car brands? Then you will have a great time in the Alfa Romeo factory museum in Varese. Over 6 floors and 4.800 m2 you will find the most important Alfas in the history of the illustrious brand.

Website Alfa Romeo Museum

16. Extensive food and drink

Do we even need to mention this? You are in Italy! The land of the most delicious cuisine in the world. When the weather is bad, take the time to eat out in Milan, Como, Varese or Luino or simply where you are staying.

17. Trip to Lago d'Orta

Lake Orta is also magical in bad weather
Lake Orta is also magical in bad weather (photo: Pexels)

If you don't mind getting a little wet, the vibe is on Lake Orta always great. Step back in time and take a boat to the island. You have the whole place to yourself.

18. Wine Tasting

Less than 30 minutes from Arona is the Cantina Fontechiara vineyard. A nice way to spend a rainy afternoon.

19. Visit to Milan

Stylish shopping in Milan
Stylish shopping in Milan (photo: Max Pixel)

A day of rain is also a great opportunity to visit Italy's second city: Milan. From Lake Maggiore you can easily take the train to Milan (40 minutes). You can also book a ticket for unlimited use of the metro. There is a lot to see and do in Milan itselfeven in bad weather.

Do you have other tips for bad weather on Lake Maggiore? Please leave a comment below this article.

Written by This Is Italy

Benvenuto su This is Italy! This is Italy is a web magazine aimed at lovers of the country. We are too. We have been coming to Italy several times a year for almost 25 years to enjoy la dolce vita, good food, the Italian language and 'made in Italy'. On you will find Italy news, fun stories, facts, tips, recipes, travel tips, must-sees and everything more about Italy. Your Italy tips are also welcome!


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