Category: Italy

Golfo Gabella Lake Resort swimming pool, lake and mountains

Golfo Gabella Lake Resort REVIEW: Lake Maggiore self-catering apartments

Feet dangling into the pool, looking over glistening Lake Maggiore backed by jagged mountains… I couldn’t help but breathe out a big sigh of satisfaction. Golfo Gabella Lake Resort, Maccagno, is situated in such a beautiful spot. With lake swimming, hiking, cycling and kayaking on the doorstep, it’s a fantastic destination for outdoor families, and a great choice if you’re looking for self-catering accommodation around Lake Maggiore.

Golfo Gabella Lake Resort swimming pool, lake and mountains

I was invited on a three night press trip to Lake Maggiore with Bookings for You, staying at Golfo Gabella Lake Resort, with a group of seven other travel bloggers. Complimentary accommodation was provided in exchange for honest coverage on my blog and social media. 

Self-catering apartments on Lake Maggiore

As a family with young kids, we always prefer self-catering accommodation. It gives us the flexibility to eat as and when we want (ie. breakfast at 6 am when the kids are up) and means we don’t have those stressful dinner times trying to keep the kids entertained between courses. We do love a meal out with our boys now and again, but our preference is always to spend our days adventuring and exploring, to then return to a base with facilities to cook for ourselves. Plus, this helps save the pennies for any activities.

Golfo Gabella Lake Resort offers a range of self-catering apartments. Check out this standard apartment tour from Tin Box Traveller:

I stayed in a three-bed standard apartment with partial lake views, with good pals Karen (Mini Travellers) and Carrie (Flying with a Baby). This was a different apartment to the one showed in the video above, although the standard apartments are very similar.

The apartments are clean, fresh and a good size. What it may lack for in character, it gains in practicalities. Fresh linen and towels are provided (although no pool towels), as well as all your cooking facilities, a large fridge freezer, microwave and dishwasher.

Our three-bed apartment consisted of one master bedroom with an ensuite, two twin bedrooms, a bathroom with shower, and a kitchen / lounge / dining area with TV. It sleeps six people in total. There is no bath or washing machine provided in the apartment, but there is a laundry room available on site.

My favourite spot though was our balcony with this view of the terracotta roofs set in the lush hillside.

view of mountains and rooftops Lake Maggiore

View from our apartment balcony at Golfo Gabana Lake Resort

Other self-catering apartments available

Aside from the standard 3 bed apartments where we stayed, there are also standard 1 and 2 bed apartments available in a similar style.

Should you want something a little cosier and with better lake views, you can upgrade to a superior apartment. Or if you want something very special, there is the standard penthouse apartment or the superior four bed apartment. The latter boasts very impressive views over Lake Maggiore from its expansive balcony.

Golfo Gabella Lake Resort penthouse

Superior four bed apartment at Golfo Gabella Lake Resort

Tips for self-catering at Golfo Gabella
  • There is a well stocked supermarket just a 3 minute walk away in the village (click here for supermarket location).
  • There is no tea / coffee / milk provided on arrival, or any snacks. Bring these items with you. You could bring powdered milk for your first cuppa, or pop by a supermarket on the way.
  • When travelling with my boys and self-catering, I tend to pack some tortelloni to cook on arrival. I know it may seem strange bringing pasta to Italy, but it means we have an easy-to-cook meal on arrival to our destination. Once my boys are fed, we can get on with exploring!

Facilities

The swimming pool overlooking Lake Maggiore is the centrepiece of the resort, and the views are sublime. At the time of writing the children’s pool was being renovated, but this should be open in time for summer.

Golfo Gabella Lake Resort apartments and pool

Bike and kayaks are available to hire free of charge on site. There is no minimum age for the kayaks, although young children must be accompanied, and there are no children’s bikes available. Should you wish to hire children’s bikes, head to Germignaga.

Or perhaps a private motorboat is more your thing? These can be hired for €70 per hour. But if you’re one of these people who happen to have your own boat (mine sadly didn’t fit in my Flybe luggage limit from Manchester), you can moor directly in front of the resort.

There is an onsite restaurant (Ristorante Pizzeria Acquaduezero) offering both indoor and outdoor seating. Pizzas are, of course, on the menu; which I know will keep my boys happy. You can even make your own pizzas! Book this in advance with Bookings For You. Breakfast is also provided which includes a buffet of breads, cereals, eggs, juices, and cakes(!).

pizza in bunny shape

My pizza creation! (It’s a bunny… obviously)

If you are self-driving, there is secure, underground parking at the resort. Each apartment has an allocated parking space. Be warned that these spaces are VERY tight, and it make take a few manoeuvres to park.

What to do in the area

Situated in the village of Maccagno, just a stone’s throw away from the Swiss border, there is so much to do in the area. Check out my post on things to do in and around Lake Maggiore for outdoor families or Mini Travellers 10 Things to do near Lake Maggiore with Kids.

view of Maccagno town

View of Maccagno town

In the direct vicinity, you can wander along the beach to the playground or enjoy a dip in the lake. Take the ferry over to Cannobio to explore its pastel-washed alleyways and beach, or take the bus up to Chiesa S.Rocco for a hike to Lago Delio and take in the Alpine views (click here for starting point).

Getting around Lake Maggiore from the Resort

The resort is very well connected by train, ferry, bus and roads. We hired a car from Malpensa Milan airport to drive to the resort, but once we were there, we didn’t use the car at all.

The ferry terminal is a 5 minute walk away and connects you to other lakeside towns including Stresa, Cannobio and Laveno, which are all worth a visit. The train can take you in to Switzerland one way and into Milan the other. Both are worth a day trip. Or perhaps take the train to Luino markets for a morning. The bus is a good option if you want to get up into the mountains for hiking and avoid an initial steep ascent.

lady with bike by lake

And don’t forget about those bikes and kayaks you can hire from the resort. Both are great ways to explore the area.

Would I recommend Golfo Gabella Lake Resort to families?

For me, what sells this resort above other places around the lake is the location and pool views. I love that Switzerland is so close, the ferry terminal to other lakeside towns is a short walk away, and that the resort is right on the lake shore. The views from for the lakeside swimming pool are picture perfect.

Moreover, self-catering is always a winner for us. The apartments may lack character, but they are practical. And if I were here with my boys, I know that the apartment would really just be a base for our explorations. Although once the kids are tucked up in bed, that apartment balcony with a Prosecco has my name on it!

How to book Golfo Gabella Lake Resort

Now we are normally ones that urge you to book directly with an accommodation and arrange your activities and itinerary independently. However, this is one of those rare occasions when I suggest you DON’T book direct.

Bookings for You has a fantastic knowledge of the area and can book your Golfo Gabella Lake Resort apartment for the exact same price as it would be to book direct. The advantage being that you get the personal touch, and access to their knowledge of secret gems in the area. They can advise on everything from car hire to kayak hire, which restaurants are good for young kids, and answer any weird or wonderful questions you may have to get the best out of your holiday.

And if parents are in need of a date night and don’t feel comfortable booking a babysitter, Bookings For You can arrange for a private cook to come to your apartment to prepare and serve you dinner on your private balcony whilst the kids are asleep! On our final evening we experienced the services supreme chef Marco Perocco. Incredible.

If Golfo Gabella Lake Resort isn’t for you but you’re desperate to visit the area, chat to Bookings for You with your requirements and they’ll be able to find that perfect Italian holiday home for you. Carrie from Flying with a Baby also has this great list of Best Places to Stay in Lake Maggiore With Kids.


Disclosure: My visit to Lake Maggiore was part of a press trip with seven other family travel bloggers, arranged by Bookings For You in exchange for coverage on my blog and social media. I paid for my own flights and some expenses. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

You may also like to read:
Lake Maggiore: the perfect destination for outdoor loving families
Glamping in Lanzarote: A review of our stay at Finca de Arrieta
A family-friendly cottage in the Vendée: L’Ecurie Holiday Home REVIEW

mountains and lake

Lake Maggiore: the perfect destination for outdoor loving families

Lake Maggiore, is often overlooked by its better known sisters, Lake Como and Lake Garda. But nestled in the foothills of the Alps straddling the Swiss border just northwest of Milan, lies the glistening waters of Lake Maggiore, framed by colourful villages and snow capped mountains. This is a place off the radar for many tourists, but extremely accessible from the UK due to regular cheap flights in to Malpensa (Milan). Spend your days kayaking along its shores, hiking up in the mountains, or if you want to slow the place, find a spot at one of the many lakeside tratottoria’s and sit back with a local vino as the kids paddle in the ripples of water.

I was invited on a three night press trip to Lake Maggiore with Bookings for You, staying at Golfo Gabella Lake Resort, with a group of other travel bloggers. The boys weren’t with me on this trip, but I was thinking about how much they would love it all the time. So much so, I’m already planning another trip back with them!

It really is the perfect destination in Europe for adventure loving kids, and here’s why I think so, including lots of ideas of things to do in and around Lake Maggiore:

Incredible mountain views

This is the foothills of the Alps after all! On a clear day, the views of the jagged peaks are seriously jaw dropping. One of the easiest ways to appreciate this is by heading up on a Bucket Lift at Laveno (yes, an ACTUAL bucket) – read Mini Travellers review here.

bucket lift overlooking Lake Maggiore

Alternatively, take the Motterone Cable Car from Stresa on the western side for 360° views overlooking seven different lakes. At the top, aside from the views to take in, you will find the Alpine Gardens and a 1200 metre long toboggan. Do note for the toboggan that children under the age of four are not allowed to ride, and children under 100 cm (and over the age of 4) must ride with an adult.

Fantastic hiking trails

Grab a map from the local Tourist Office (Ufficio Turistico) and don your hiking boots. Avoid an initial steep ascent with the little ones and drive up in to the mountains, or take a local bus.

This view from Chiesa S.Rocco over to Cannobio marks the start of our hike.

We did a lovely walk starting from Chiesa S.Rocco (click here for starting point) towards Lago Delio and back again. If you go all the way to the lake and back it’s 7km, but you can stop for cheese tasting along the way and we also passed through a village of stick men at Musignano!

stick men by Lake Maggiore

Another lovely walk to do in this area is to the tiny village of Monteviasco, which can only be reached by foot or cable car. Take the cable car up (from here) and you can walk back down (you can walk up too if you’re so inclined).

On the Western side there are some lovely marked trails starting from Cannobio, or enjoy a gentle stroll (flat, 1 hour) around the wetlands of Fondotoce Nature Reserve.

Cycle paths and ferries around Lake Maggiore

It is possible to cycle all around the lake and it’s easy going as it’s mostly flat. However, if you have young kids on their own bikes, you may want to stick to the footpaths, as the tunnels and main roads can be nerve-wracking with speeding cars.

But you can also take the bikes on the ferries. So a nice day out is to cycle and ferry hop. Both Laveno and Stresa offer nice easy cycle paths along the lake shore suitable for young kids. However, if your kids are confident on the road, it’s a lovely cycle from Maccagno to Luino, where you can treat yourselves to a gelato, before boarding the ferry to Cannobio and back to Maccagno.

lady with bike by lake

If you need to hire bikes during your stay, there are a number of cycle hire shops dotted around the lake. These can be found in Germignaga, Arona, Stresa, and Ghiffa. The latter also offers scooter and boat rentals. Do call/email ahead to check availability of child bikes.

Outdoor adventure parks

There are a few in the region including Parco Aventura in Gordola, and Aquadventure near Stresa. But one of the best is on the Swiss side of the lake at Monte Tamaro. For children 4 year old and up, you can climb their treetops and whizz down the zip wire. There is also a toboggan, a paragliding school, a playground boasting one of the best views of the region, and for the bigger kids aged 9 and up, a big 15 metre jump.

There is also a 1.85 km zipwire at Aurano – Lago Maggiore ZIPline – where you can whizz through the scenery at speeds up to 75 mph. There isn’t a minimum age, rather a minimum height of 120 cm.

Swim in the lake

The lake is crystal clear and perfect for a dip. There are some lovely beaches along the lake shore that make for good swimming spots and a base for a summer afternoon. Macagno Beach offers lots of shade, a playground, beach bar and toilet facilities. Alternatively head to the beach at Cannobio where you will find two large inflatable aqua parks in the lake.

Macagno Beach, Lake Maggiore

Macagno Beach (photo credit: Tin Box Traveller)

However, there are lots of tiny beaches dotted all the way round the lake. You can often enjoy the whole beach to yourself if you get the right spot! If it’s a warm summer’s day, I highly recommend an evening dip in the lake when everyone has gone home.

If you fancy an actual swimming pool though, head to one of the lidos. Locarno Lido at the top of the lake is one of the best. Lots of water slides, an indoor and outdoor pools, and inflatable obstacles courses. Volleyball and table tennis are also on offer.

Lots of watersports

The best place to hire watersports equipment is at La Darsena in Pino, near the Swiss border. They offer waterskiing, tubing (when a boat pulls you along on a large cushion and you have to try and stay on!!!), kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing etc. They can offer lessons for beginners and have special boards for really young children. There is a beach area for anyone not wanting to take part, as well as a cafe serving snacks and light lunches, and a restaurant serving larger meals. Great place and great value for money.

girl and boy on yellow kayak

If you’re looking for more ideas of things to do in and around Lake Maggiore with kids, check out this post from from Travel Loving Family.

 

Where to stay on Lake Maggiore with kids

There are some lovely campsites dotted all around Lake Maggiore from simple grassy pitches, to holiday parks with kids clubs and water slides.

But if you’re looking for something that offers a bit more comfort after your active days exploring, check out this list of apartments and villas from Bookings for You. These guys are absolute specialists in the region and if you tell them the type of place you’re looking for and budget, they will find your perfect holiday home for the exact same price you would pay if you booked directly. They also have a fantastic personal knowledge of the area, and can tell you exactly where to go and suggest some secret gems.

 

swimming pool with mountains in background

The swimming pool at Golfo Gabella where we stayed. Check out Tin Box Traveller review of Golfo Gabella here.

Best time to visit Lake Maggiore

If you are looking for an outdoor family holiday to Lake Maggiore and planning some of the activities mentioned in this post, the best time to visit is between May and October.

Do take into account that this is a mountainous region and there will be the odd rainy day, so pack accordingly. The months of July and August can get very busy, so book ahead. Winters are cold and snow is not uncommon, but prices drop, it’s much quieter, and you could incorporate some skiing in to your trip (Passe Forcora is nearby, or if you crave some longer runs, Pila Ski Resort is just a two hour drive away).


Disclosure: My visit to Lake Maggiore was part of a press trip with seven other family travel bloggers, arranged by Bookings For You in exchange for coverage on my blog and social media. I paid for my own flights and some expenses. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

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Best Châteaux to visit in the Loire with kids
Lanzarote with kids: off the beaten track
35 ALTERNATIVE European city breaks with kids

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