01. Pombia Safari Park
Varallo Pombia – Fantastic amusement park where it is possible to take a safari through the wild animal park, either in your car or in the minitrain and view the lions, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, siberian tigers, giraffes and perhaps even the “white lion”. For the younger members there is a farm yard where they can touch the cows, donkeys, geese, and pigs. There is also an area where children can experience a pony ride and watch a spectacular show of falconry and visit the condors, owls and even an eagle. For the insatiable there is a dinosaur park, an acquarium and a reptile park. To finish off there is also an area with rides, waterslides, dogems and minigolf. Everything for the perfect family day. www.safaripark.it March-October daily 10-17.00 November-February only weekends 10-17.00 Entry € 17 Children 5-13 €12 Remember to go online and download the discount coupon €3 per adult and €2 per child up to maximum of 5 people in a car.
02.Villa Pallavicino Zoo and Park
The beautiful gardens overlooking the Lake house a small zoo where it is possible for the children to stroke the lamas, goats and perhaps even a roedeer. They can then wander around and admire the zebras, as well as the beavers, the turtles and the swans in the park lake. There is also a playground and a picnic area, as well as a restaurant in the old Stables, a Bar and a shop. A lovely day for all the family. www.parcozoopallavicino.it Entry April to September €9, children €6.00
03. Stresa Mini-Train
Take the minitrain from Stresa. It will show you some of the more interesting sights of Stresa and then take you to the Villa Pallavicini from behind, allowing you all to stroll through the gardens downhill – effortless and undoubtedly appreciated by the younger generation . Every day April to September 9.30 to 16.30 One way €2.50 Return €4.00
04. Rodari Park
An amusement Park where the imagination holds sway. Gianni Rodari is an Italian writer of fairy stories and fables and the Park is based on a series of his well known tales. Here children can pretend play, build things, or create things using paper and pencil.The day is structured in work shops, usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon – 10-16.00 The Ludoteca, the auditorium for shows, a covered central square for activities and the Garden of the Pie in the Sky for summer fun activities offer a variety of places for a day’s entertainment. It is necessary to book (online) . www.rodariparcofantasia.it Entry Adults €5 children €8.00
05. Isola Borromeo
A day navigating the waters of Lake Maggiore on the Ferry boat, cruising between the Borromee Islands. The younger members will enjoy the puppet theatre on Isola Madre as well as the white peacocks that wander free around the manicured lawns of the Palazzo Borromeo on Isola Bella. Stop for lunch on Isola Pescatori and a wander through the narrow streets, where the local fishermen still ply their trade. www.borromeoturismo.it Open end March to end October Entry to 2 Islands €17,50 children 6-15 €8.00. For cost of ferries www.navigazionelaghi.it Try the Roving Day Fare for all the family
06. Waterland Fun
Ondaland attached to the Shopping Outlet at Vicolunga, Biandrate is a marvellous placet o spend a sunny day. There are special areas for young children, teeneagers and adults with water slides, hydrotubes, Happy Boats and Foam. Sunbathing and Spa sectors as well. www.ondaland.it Opens 29 May Entry €20 adults, €15 children under 12.
The 3-Re Pool complex at Fara offers an Olympic sized pool, water slides, acqua shuttle, foam and a special children’s pool as well as beach volley.. www.piscina3re.com Open from 6/6 al 31/8 every day Entry adults €13 Children under 10 €9
07. Baveno Beach
The place to spend a peaceful day by the Lake, the Lido in Baveno, just beyond Stresa offers everything for a succesful and relaxing day. Sunbather beds, sun umbrellas, hire of small boats and canoes, beach volley. Excellent restaurant and bar. www.lidobaveno.it
08. Adventure PlayGround
Take the family to the Adventure PlayGround in Baveno and let them loose on the wide range of exciting and testing corse. Tibetan hanging bridges, ladders, swinging platforms, absailing, all in complete safety thanks to modern equipment. There is also an artificial free-climbing wall, and try out the acro-jump, trampoline jumping in a safety harness for ease of turning somersaults. There are three courses which cover all ages: Mini Junior for children up to 110cm; Junior for children with a minimum height of 110cm and Top Adult for everyone over 140cm. PreBooking is advisable given that the Course is sometimes booked out by Groups. Entry: Adults €24, Juniors up to 140cm in height €17.www.lagomaggioreadventurepark.com open from 10-19.00 May to September, weekends the rest of the year.
An afternoon playing MiniGolf, an inter family competition where anyone can win thanks to skill or a lucky stroke. Chose from Orta (near the Car Park at the entrance ) Tel. 0322.90445 or Dormelletto where the Sempione MiniGolf is in Corso Cavour.
Winter skiing in the area is extremely varied. Choose from the different localities Mottarone, Macugnaga, the Val Formazza, the Piana of the Val Vigezzo, the Alpe Ciamporino in San Domenico, the Lusentino above Domodossola. All within an hour’s drive from the Lake and all offering excellent lifts and a wide variety of pistes . Mottarone, 20 minutes from Castello Dal Pozzo, has an excellent children’s ski school, and it is possible to hire all the equipment on the slopes. www.neveazzurra.it www.mottaronesci.it and www.scuolascimottarone.it/ Season from December to April. Le Marmotte Ski School 2 hour Lessons €30 + €6 for the ski pass.
11. Riding Club Ippico Ticino
The Riding Club at Glisente is run by a qualified instructor and offers a choice of both horses and ponies for hire. Let your child experience the joy of riding a pony, or hire a horse and enjoy a morning’s ride in the surrounding woods. Trekking, lessons in riding or jumping, cross country. Don’t forget to download the discount voucher from the website for your pony ride. www.clubippicoticino.com/
The Castello Dal Pozzo www.castellodalpozzo.com is the perfect base for those who like biking. It is possible to hire bikes for the period of your stay or bring your own and keep it in the bike room in the Hotel. Excellent excursions of all lengths and difficulties: all round the Lake, through the Park of Lagoni, inside the Castello grounds.
There is an excellent MX track in the Adventure Playground at Baveno, and they frequently hold special courses for the younger children. You can take your own bike or hire one there – helmets obligatory. Entry: Adults €24, Juniors up to 140cm in height €17.www.lagomaggioreadventurepark.com open from 10-19.00 May to September, weekends the rest of the year.
13. Go-Karting in Borgoticino
Hire a Go-Kart Honda 4 stroke 200cc and 6,5 horsepower, which will allow the aspiring racing driver to reach a speed of around 60km on the straight. An ideal way to spend an afternoon, especially if there is a group of youngsters that can compete against each other. Add a cup for the winner and the day’s success is guaranteed.
Kart hire : Weekdays (closed Monday) from 14.00 – 19.00 Weekends 18.00 – 19.00 June-September 21-24.00 except Sundays www.pistazzurra.it Cost of hire €10 for 7 minutes.
Piero Chiara writes in his novel The Bishops Room: “The sight from the lake is beyond description. You cannot conceive what the banks are, seen from offshore, a villa after the other, rivers, streams, waterfalls flowing from mountains, the towns”. Why not experience this for yourself and your family by hiring a boat for the day?
1 Day Cruise with Skipper -– Dufour 15mt sailboat -Departure from Solcio (or another port) at 09.30 a.m., navigation in direction of the monastery Santa Caterina, followed by a tour around the beautiful islands off the Stresa, lunch will be provided on board at an achorage near Pallanza or Cerro (Lombardian coast). Further sailing cruise between Laveno and Verbania and finally return to Solcio at around 17.30 p.m. www.lagomaggiorecharter.com €1110 per day cruising with skipper for 8 people May to September, October-April €800
Or hire a sail boat for a day or two. The Windy Waves base in Angera offers SunOdyssey 32 – 9.6mt sailing boat or a Freeway 21ft 6 seater cruiser. www.windywaves.com .
During the summer the various yacht clubs round the lake hold sailing lessons for youngsters. Ask the hotel concierge for more information.
15. Extreme Sports
Why not let your youngster learn how to windsurf. For children under 12 years 2 half day lessons to get them started €85. Hire of windsurf for half a day for those that already know how to do it €36 http://www.ladarsenawindsurf.com/. At Zenna. For the more adventuresome and for teenagers who like extreme sports, the area of the Valsesia offers a range of activities from kayak to rafting, hydrospeed, canyoning and tubing . www.monrosarafting.it Balmuccia (VC) . Try two different activities in one day for €80.
16. Cable Car from Stresa to Mottarone
The cable car ride from Stresa to Mottarone, stopping off to visit the magnificent gardens at Alpinia on the way up, is certain to appeal to the younger members of the family. The Mottarone Cable Car departs every 20 minutes from the Lido in Stresa and is one of the best ways to view Lake Maggiore. The first stage of the cable car takes you to Alpino where, a 5 minute stroll from the cable car station, you will find the Alpine Gardens. The entrance fee is included in the price of a return cable car ticket (otherwise it is €2/€1.50). Covering nearly 10 acres, the Alpine gardens are well worth a visit and are a welcome break from the heat in the summer. The second stage of the cable car takes you to Mottarone where, a 10/15 minute walk will take you to the summit. From there you have a 360° view which includes 7 lakes and the beautiful Mount Rosa Departures every 20 minutes Stresa Lido 09.30-12.30/13.30-17.30 www.stresa-mottarone.it Return ticket including Gardens €17.50
17. Toce Waterfall in the Formazza Valley
A day out to view one of natures spectacular works of art. At La Frua (1861 m a.s.l.), the Formazza Valley offers what is considered to be the “Alps” most beautiful leap”: The Toce Waterfall. The waters of this sensational natural display launch themselves into the void from a height of 143m and reach a width of 60 meters at the base. Easily reached via road, direction Domodossola, the journey will also take you through the important spa centres of Crodo, Baceno and Premia before reaching the Valle Formazza and La Frua. The waterfall can be visited during summer, from the end of June until September every Sunday morning, Saturdays (not fixed) and during the August holiday week. During summer there are also weekly openings, which vary from year to year. The waters are most spectacular viewed from the wooden balcony.
18. Orridi in the Antigorio Valley
The Glaciology Park of Valle Antigorio is a unique scenario… a mix of narrow canyons, ravines, and crevasses created by water erosion. One of the most fascinating excursions is to the Orridi di Uriezzo. The orridi are very deep and narrow canyons created by subglacial water erosions. During the Ice Age, a very large glacier covered the area. When the glacier started to melt the water dug deep furrows as it moved downhill. The distinctive feature of the Uriezzo Gorges is that since water no longer flows through these narrow and deep incisions in the rock, it is possible to walk inside three of them. The most spectacular spot is undoubtedly the South Gorge, which is about 200m long and between 20 and 30m deep and which is called “the Tomba d’Uriezzo” (The Uriezzo Tomb) by the people of the area. Signboards and metal stairs guide the visitors. The “marmitte dei giganti” are also the result of water erosion. You can see these spectacular rock formations in the shape of giant cylinders along the Toce River. The Orridi are reached by car via Domodossola, and Baceno. Recommended trekking shoes.
19. Trekking the Cadorna Line
A day’s trekking following the Cadorna Line built along the lines of the Maginot line in France during WW1. Start out from Piancavallo, inland from Oggebbio, and follow the fortifications, bunkers and trenchs built to defend the area from a hypothetical german attack via Switzerland. Morissolo, Colle, Monte Spalavera and back via Pian d’Alpe. 5 hours of easy trekking sure to hold the attention of everyone, given the variety of things to explore en route. www.gustoamonte.it/eng/ for a descrition of various treks and a map of their location.
20. Mercurago Lagoni Park
Lake Maggiore offers a variety of Parks and Wilderness areas. The Lagoni Park at Mercurago, at the sothern end of the Lake, covers an area of 450 hectares, and is easily reachable on foot from Castello Dal Pozzo. www.castellodalpozzo.com. The wet areas of the Park, together with those of the adjoining La Torbiera Park, are home to a large variety of flora and fauna. It is possible to see squirrels, foxes, hares as well as ducks, moorhens, herons, and eagles, all attracted by the ponds in the Park. http://www.parks.it/parco.lagoni.mercurago/ Open from March to December.
21. Doll Museum in Angera
The Doll Museum in the Rocca d’Angera, is a collection of hundreds of dolls, put together by the Princess Bona Borromeo. There are also miniature pieces of furniture, toys and books. Certain to enchant every young child. www.borromeoturismo.it Open from end March to end October. 9.30-12.30 ;14.00-18.00; Entry €7.50/€5.00
22. Umbrella Museum in Gignese/ Chimney Sweep Museum in Santa Maria Maggiore
A fun museum for children, where they can wander around and view how an everyday object – the umbrella – has evolved over time. Open April-September closed Mondays Entry €2.50 www.gignese.it/museo/
Also fun for children is the Chimney Sweep Museum in the beautiful village of Santa Maria Maggiore in the Val Vigezzo. Excellent interactive exhibition. Well worth a day’s trip. 20/6-20/9 Every Day 10-12.00 & 15-17 .00 April-June & October open weekends. Entry €2 www.museospazzacamino.it
23. Walzer in Macugnaga
Macugnaga in the Anzasca Valley. This mountain village is a perfect example of the Walser culture. The Walsers, of Germanic origin, settled in the Valley almost 10 centuries ago. Take the chairlift to the Belvedere at 1200mts, the start of a short Trek to the Glacier, or visit the Walser Museum . Pleasant day out and plenty of places for lunch. Combine with the Gold Museum.
24. GoldMine in Macugnaga
Visit a real gold mine , carved out of the mountain side in Macugnaga, walk through the tunnels and galleries carved out during the centuries as the miners searched for goldnuggets. 40 minutes, an easy 800mt on the level. www.minieradoro.it Open every Sunday 10.00-17.00 Entry
25. Transport Museums – Ranco and Castelletto Ticino
Take a boat ride from Arona across to Ranco and visit the Ogliari Transport Museum, www.museo-ogliari.it. An explosion of everything that moves. Open all year round, closed Mondays Entry free. Another transport Museum has been built up by Mr Gotthard and is housed in Castelletto Ticino A n eclectic collection of tanks, amphibious vehicules, over 300 motorbikes, trains, airplanes and almost anything that moves. www.museogottardpark.it Open all year round Entry €5
I have tried my best to ensure that all the information is correct. Please forgive me if there are any inconsistencies. Entry prices, taken from websites or checked by phone were correct at end of April 2010.