The Brissago Islands

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Botanical gardens of the Brissago Islands on Lake Maggiore.

Brissago Islands

Take a boat to a unique island with a subtropic climate and wonderful (often sunny) gardens.

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  • Attraction type: scenic trip, by boat;
    natural site, lake
  • Escort: independent (no guide)
  • Region: Lake Maggiore (Ticino)
  • Duration: 1 day or less

What are the Brissago Islands?

The Brissago Islands (Isole di Brissago) are two tiny islands in Lake Maggiore. San Pancrazio, the larger island, is open to the public, and offers a botanical garden. The "large" island is just over 300 m (1000 ft) long. Sant' Apollinare, the smaller island, is mostly left in its natural state and is not accessible to the general public.

The islands are located in the warm Lake Maggiore and are protected from cold air by the mountain ranges. Even in winter the climate is relatively warm here, so it's a very good place to grow plants from many humid subtropical regions around the world.

The canton of Ticino and nearby towns own the islands since 1949. They were opened to the public in 1959. Before that, the islands were privately owned since 1885. There was a church on the island in the 11th century, but only the ruins are left.

Activities at the large island

  • The botanical gardens feature 1,700 different plants from all over the world, including the "nearby" Mediterranean;
  • It's a pleasure to stroll around and enjoy the views of the gardens, the lake and the surrounding mountains. There is about 1 km of paths to reach all corners of the island;
  • A small hotel with a restaurant and a terrace.

Preparation

Even though the weather is often very good in this area, we recommend to check the weather forecast to see if it at least will not be raining. It can be windy on the boat and the islands. Dressing in multiple thinner layers allows you to adapt quickly. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

Allow at least two hours to explore the island. This does not include the time to get there.

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