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17 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Como In 2024

Pretty towns on Lake Como, Italy

Visit elegant mansions and lakeside gardens, sample delicious Italian cuisine, and try some water sports – these are the best things to do in Lake Como. 

Lake Como offers the ultimate in Italian luxury – a gorgeous lake surrounded by green hills, picture-perfect villages, and sumptuous lakeside mansions. It’s known as the playground of the jet set, and has been attracting visitors for thousands of years.

Lake Como, Italy

I fell in love with the area on my last visit. It’s such a stunning spot, I found myself reaching for my camera over and over again. In addition to its beautiful setting, Lake Como offers a whole host of activities for visitors, whether it’s a boat ride on the lake, hiking the nearby hills and mountains, exploring the mansions, gardens, and lakeside promenades, or simply kicking back at a terrace with a cocktail and admiring the view.

To help you plan the ultimate adventure, here’s my guide to the best things to do in Lake Como. 

If you’re planning a winter trip to this region, I’d recommend checking out my specific guide to the best things to do in Lake Como in winter .

Planning your trip to Lake Como? Here are a few quick highlights:

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Top Things To Do In Lake Como

Watch a lake como sunset in style.

One of the most popular things to do in Lake Como is also the simplest: Watch the sunset! I think the sunsets around Lake Como are absolutely magical, and best viewed with a delicious cocktail in your hand! For the best views, head to the east shore of the lake, where you can enjoy the peachiest shades reflecting on the surface of the water.

For the best sunset cocktails in Lake Como, try the lakeside terrace at T Bar at Grand Hotel Tremezzo or Bar Il Molo in Varenna. Or for a panorama you’ll never forget, hop on the funicular railway at Brunate and enjoy sunset views across the lake!

READ MORE: Find out where to stay in Lake Como – from budget to luxury.

Lake Como sunset

Try Your Hand At Water Sports

If you’re trying to decide what to do in Lake Como, the answer is simple – get out on the water! All visitors to Lake Como will feel the lure of the water at some point during their stay, and there are plenty of opportunities for water sports out on the lake. Try your hand at sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, kite-surfing or even wake boarding. 

There are activities suitable for all tastes and activity levels – if you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, book onto a sailing tour and kick back with a glass of prosecco as your captain shows you some of the best spots on the lake. 

Stand up paddle boarding in Sicily

Eat At One Of Lake Como’s Coolest Restaurants

Lake Como showcases the best in north Italian cuisine and there’s no shortage of amazing places to eat around the lake. For fresh lake fish don’t miss Trattoria al Porto, in the sleepy village of Careno, where the menu changes each day depending on the catch.

Seafood pasta

For fine local produce, visit Agriturismo Sorsasso, a family run restaurant at the northern end of the lake, where every single ingredient is sourced from the local area and the family’s farm. Meals here are simple and made with love – often the way with the tastiest Italian food! Don’t panic about the prices either. I could always find a simple pizza or pasta dish when I visited Lake Como on a budget . 

However, if you want to arrange a special dinner in Lake Como, book a table at the Michelin-starred I Tigli in Theoria , where you’ll be taken on a sensory journey through exceptional gourmet Italian cuisine. 

Lake Como Pizza

Take An E-Bike Tour of Lake Como

Lake Como is an excellent destination for active travellers, with water sports, hiking and cycling opportunities galore. If you’re looking for a fun activity that isn’t too challenging, I’d recommend going hiring e-bikes and going for a cycle around the lake. E-bikes give you that extra boost up the hills, but are still a great way to get out and enjoy the scenery.

To see all the best spots, this 3-hour e-bike tour takes you to see three lakes – Lake Como, Lake Piano and Lake Lugano. You’ll also get to see some authentic mountain villages, lakeside beaches and ride along the old railway line through the Lake Piano nature reserve! It’s such a beautiful place to explore on two wheels and this is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Como! 

You can also check availability using this handy tool…

Pretty towns on Lake Como, Italy

Marvel At The Villa Del Balbianello

Lake Como is famous for its luxurious villas, and if there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Lake Como, it’s the breath taking Villa Balbianello. With its beautifully landscaped gardens and wonderful views over the western shore of the lake, this villa oozes period charm and elegance.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to stay here, but you can explore the gardens, check out architecture and learn more about its curious former owner, Guido Monzini, leader of the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest. The upper floor of the villa has been transformed into a museum devoted to his memory, and even contains a sleigh that he used to travel to the North Pole!

Hotel Villa Flori, Lake Como

Top Up Your Tan By The Lake

Northern Italy might be known as a place where the rich come to splash their cash, but there are also plenty of cheap things to do in Lake Como . If you’re looking for free things to do in Lake Como, simply head down to one of the beaches that line the shore and soak up the sun.

Temperatures in the summer months reach 30 degrees Celsius (although they drop to around 5 degrees Celsius in winter), so late spring, summer and early autumn are the best times to visit if you fancy a spot of sunbathing.

Lido Di Menaggio

Take To The Skies And See Lake Como By Helicopter

Looking for unique things to do in Lake Como? How about an incredible helicopter ride over the lake! There’s nothing more exciting that taking to the sky and viewing the lake from a bird’s eye perspective, and this tour offers you exactly that opportunity.

You’ll see the lake as you’ve never seen it before and get a thrill as the chopper sweeps down and skims the surface of the water! This 15-minute tour doesn’t come cheap, but you’re guaranteed to make some memories that will stay with you forever.

Lake Como helicopter tour

Visit The Forte Di Fuentes

Towering over the hill of Montecchio, the Forte di Fuentes is a lasting reminder of the Spanish presence in northern Italy in the 17 th century. This fascinating site is the ideal way to learn a little more about Italy’s complex past, demonstrating the ways in which Spanish, Polish, Austrian and French interventions have shaped the history and character of this beautiful region. The Forte di Fuentes is a great day trip from Lake Como, and the views from the hill are guaranteed to have you reaching for your camera. 

Sample A Fabulous Food Tour In Como

Food, food, food – in my opinion a trip to Italy would be nothing without feasting on the incredible local cuisine! This food market experience is one of the best things to do in Lake Como, showcasing gorgeous local produce whilst taking in the sights of Como town.

Truffle pasta at Leon d'Oro

You’ll visit the vibrant local farmers market and taste lots of local delicacies. Not only will you get to soak up the authentic side of the lake experience, but you’ll get to learn all about the cuisine too. What better way to spend the day?!

Views over Lake Como, Italy

Stretch Your Legs On The Sentiero Del Viandante

The Sentiero del Viandante is an ancient Roman highway that runs along the eastern side of Lake Como, and has now been transformed into a popular hiking trail. If you’re looking for peace, stillness and the most incredible views of the lake, head up here to stretch your legs or maybe catch a pretty sunset.

You’ll pass by ancient mule tracks, chestnut woods, olive groves and black marble quarries. Towards the end of the day, the vivid colours of the sunset illuminate the lake and the nearby hills, providing a dazzling natural light show.

Lake Como Italy

Go Wine Tasting In Lake Como

What to do in Lake Como when it’s raining? How about heading indoors and sampling some local wine? Northern Italy is a paradise for wine lovers, and if you’re staying in Bellagio, I’d recommend a visit to Enoteca Principessa , one of the lake’s best wine stores.

The shop is crammed with exceptional wines, and the friendly staff are always on hand to provide explanations, recommendations and tastings. It’s an atmospheric treasure trove of a store and is one of Lake Como’s most unique attractions.

lake como tourist spots

Explore the Orrido di Bellano

Fancy seeing an amazing gorge? Then head to Orrido di Bellano ! Located in the town of Bellano, on the eastern shore of Lake Como, this natural wonder offers a unique and thrilling experience.

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Lake Como, this is a great option! What makes it unusual is the opportunity to walk through narrow, rocky passages with waterfalls cascading through the gorge.

Wooden walkways and bridges have been built to allow visitors to explore the gorge safely. It’s a fascinating mix of natural beauty and a sense of adventure that you might not expect to find on Lake Como.

For an extra special treat, book your tickets via GetYourGuide and you’ll get an aperitif included in your trip!

Chill Out In Villa Carlotta’s Botanical Gardens

Como is well known for its glamorous lakeside mansions, and Villa Carlotta is one of the most famous. The stunning villa is a monument to the perfect marriage of architecture and nature and features an elegant villa set amongst 17 acres of lush gardens.

The famous botanical garden is packed with rare trees and plants, including colourful rhododendrons and ancient cedars. You’ll also find an excellent museum with an impressive art collection too, so there’s enough here to keep you entertained for hours, whatever the weather. 

Villa Carlotta, Lake Como

Still planning your trip? Read about the best hotels in Lake Como – from budget to luxury.

Take A Day Trip To Milan

Once you’ve had your fill of exploring the lake, why not go a little further afield and take a day trip to Milan ? I’ve always really enjoyed my time in Milan, with its mix of Renaissance and contemporary art, stunning architecture and chic shopping districts. Plus… the food is great too! Yes – I often plan my trips around my stomach!

Milan is known as the fashion capital of Italy, so a day trip here is the perfect opportunity to do some shopping. Simply hop on a train in Varenna, and within an hour you can be sipping a coffee at one of Milan’s iconic bars. Find out more about the journey from Milan to Lake Como (and tours) in my post here , plus read my guide to spending the ultimate 24 hours in Milan .

Duomo - Milan Cathedral

Marvel at the Gardens in Villa Melzi

Villa Melzi , otherwise known as the ‘pearl of Bellagio’, is yet another gorgeous mansion in Lake Como. This beautiful house is built in a neo-classical style, and set in a huge park that gives wonderful views down to the lake.

Here you’ll find ancient Japanese maples, ponds filled with water-lilies, Egyptian sculptures and Roman statues. It’s one of the finest houses on the lake. Unfortunately it’s not open all year round (usually opens late March), so check the website before you plan your visit.

Villa Melzi, Lake Como

Attend the Sagra di San Giovanni

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Lake Como, don’t miss the region’s biggest festival which takes place every year on the weekend closest to the 24 June. Dedicated to St John the Baptist, this celebration sees Como come alive with music, dancing, storytelling, and an epic fireworks show to top off the evening.

This fabulous party is one of the best things to do in Lake Como at night, as each town is illuminated by glittering lights and fireworks.

Sagra di San Giovanni, Lake Como

Explore Lake Como in Winter

A lot of my suggestions are ideal for summer trips, but how about visiting Lake Como in winter? It’s a very different place as the cool weather rolls in, transforming it into an enchanting winter wonderland.

Nestled amidst the snow-capped Italian Alps, this picturesque destination takes on a quiet charm. Enjoy strolls through the pretty lakeside villages which are adorned with twinkling lights. Tuck into some hearty Italian cuisine in a cosy restaurant, sitting beside a crackling log fire.

You might be less keen to be out on the water of Lake Como in the winter months, but it’s a great time to get up into the mountains for aw winter hike. Plus, if you’re saving your pennies, you’ll save a lot of money on hotels by visiting in the winter season! That’ll leave you more money for delicious pizza, pasta and vino!

If you’re looking for more guides to this region, check out these posts:

  • 20 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Como
  • Where To Stay In Lake Como, Italy – Hotels For Every Budget
  • How To Travel From Milan To Lake Como
  • Lake Como On A Budget
  • What To Do If You Only Have One Day In Milan
  • The Ultimate Italy Road Trip Itineraries: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More
  • 23 Best Hidden Gems In Italy: Venture Off The Beaten Path In Italy
  • Riva del Garda: Restaurants, Food Experiences and Activities
  • Where To Stay In Lake Garda, Italy – Hotels For Every Budget

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Things To Do In Lake Como, Italy

Chloe Gunning

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

1 thought on “17 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Como In 2024”

Staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Appreciate the travel ideas especially the ebike. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Must-see attractions in Lake Como

lake como tourist spots

Villa Balbianello

Lake Como West Bank

A 1km walk along the (partially wooded) lake shore from Lenno's main square, Villa Balbianello has cinematic pedigree: this was where scenes from Star…

Villa Carlotta

The star of the show on a lake shore not bereft of elegant touches, the Villa Carlotta is a fabulous fusion of neoclassical architecture and harmonious…

Como’s awesome marble-clad cathedral is one of the most important buildings on the lake, incorporating a variety of styles – Romanesque, Renaissance and…

World's 50 Best Hotels


This elegant 18th-century villa on the banks of Lake Como was once home to composer Vincenzo Bellini is now an award-winning luxury hotel.

Como is flanked to the east and west by steep and thickly wooded hills (scarred in part by the spread of residential housing). Northeast along the…

Villa Melzi d'Eril

The grounds of neoclassical Villa Melzi d’Eril are a highlight among Lake Como's (many) delightful places. The villa was built in 1808 for one of Napoleon…

Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso

On the heights above Ossuccio, this lavish sanctuary is the destination for devoted pilgrims who make the steep 30-minute climb, passing a series of…

Castello di Vezio

High above the terracotta rooftops of Varenna, the imposing Castello di Vezio offers magnificent views over Lake Como. The 13th-century building was once…

Abbazia di San Pietro al Monte

Birdsong and the rush of a mountain stream accompany you as you make the pilgrimage to the Romanesque Abbazia di San Pietro al Monte (St Peter on the…

Isola Comacina

Once the site of a Roman fort and medieval settlement, Lake Como's only island forms its own little bay with the mainland, just offshore from Ossuccio…

Piazza Garibaldi

Piazza Garibaldi is roughly cobblestoned and it's plain from its time-warped nature that nothing much has changed here down the centuries. Many of the…

Abbazia di Piona

The Cistercian Abbazia di Piona has a magnificent setting on a promontory stretching out into Lago di Como. There's evidence that a small chapel was built…

Villa Bernasconi

One of the most outstanding stile liberty (Italian art nouveau) villas in the lakes area, Villa Bernasconi was built by successful textile merchant Davide…

Lago di Como's northernmost towns of Dongo, Gravedona and Sorico once formed the independent republic of the Tre Pievi (Three Parishes) and were a hotbed…

Basilica di San Fedele

Hemmed in by houses these days and enclosing one side of what was once a medieval grain market, this Lombard Romanesque basilica dates back to the 7th…

Monte Bisbino

Following signs out of central Cernobbio, take the scenic drive that winds 17km up through the residential villages behind Cernobbio to Monte Bisbino …

Basilica di Sant'Abbondio

About 500m south of Como’s city walls is this austere 11th-century Romanesque church, once the seat of a bishopric built on the orders of St Amantius of…

Museo della Seta

Far from being a flashy collection of silk scarves, this highly educational study of Como’s long-standing textile industry explains the full silk-making…

Villa Sucota

A grand villa overlooking the lake, northwest of the centre, Villa Sucota was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been home to various…

Antica Strada Regina

A narrow cobblestone lane that was once part of a Roman road along the western side of Lake Como has been preserved in sections. The Antica Strada Regina…

Passeggiata Lino Gelpi

One of Como's most charming walks is the lakeside stroll west from Piazza Cavour. Passeggiata Lino Gelpi leads past the Monumento ai Caduti, a 1931…

Villa Serbelloni

The lavish gardens of Villa Serbelloni cover much of the promontory on which Bellagio sits. The villa has been a magnet for Europe's great and good,…

Villa Cipressi Botanical Gardens

The villa itself is a hotel, but the steeply terraced grounds are open to anyone willing to part with €6. The gardens bloom with cipressi (cypress trees),…

Barzio & Around

Some 15km northeast of Lecco, the village of Barzio is important above all as the birthplace of Alessandro Manzoni. Nearby, Pasturo retains something of…

Tempio Voltiano

The photogenic lakeside Tempio Voltiano was built in 1927. This neoclassical temple is now a museum devoted to Como-born ­electric-­battery inventor…

Set facing the lake, the grand creamy facade of neoclassical Villa Olmo is one of Como's biggest landmarks. The extravagant structure was built in 1728 in…

Once an industrial centre, Bellano (5km north of Varenna) is a sleepy lakeside town with a singular sight: the Orrido, a powerful waterfall where the…

Chiesa di Santa Maria del Tiglio

This square-based, late-12th-century church has an unusual bell tower (probably added later), which is octagonal at the top and rises from the centre of…

The polychromatic Broletto, or medieval town hall, sits right beside Como's towering duomo. Unusually, it butts right up against the cathedral and is very…

A scenic stony beach located in Rezzonico. To reach the beach, look for the 13th-century stone castle, built by the Della Torre clan and largely intact …

Funivia Argegno-Pigra

This cable car (about 300m north of Argengo's Piazza Roma) makes the five-minute climb to the 860m-high village of tiny Pigra every 30 minutes. From the…

Museo del Ciclismo

Cycling fans might want to make this top of their Lago di Como list. Set in a village that's frequently featured in the Giro d'Italia race, this museum is…

Lido di Lenno

Summer evenings in Lenno take on a hedonistic hue at the Lido di Lenno. People from near and far converge on this artificial sandy beach, located…

Piani dei Resinelli

About 9km northeast of Lecco, at Ballabio Superiore, a turnoff west sees you ascend about 8km of switchbacks through wooded country to Piani dei Resinelli…

Villa Monastero

At Villa Monastero elegant balustrades and statues sit amid exotic shrubs; spiky yucca trees frame lake and mountain views. The villa itself is a former…

Giardino Della Valle

On the east side of Cernobbio, this small but lush garden makes a fine setting for a stroll. What was once an illegal refuse site has been dramatically…

Santuario della Madonna del Ghisallo

This tiny 17th-century church is a major destination for cyclists, who long ago began leaving jerseys, bicycles, medals and other objects. The place's…

Parco della Grigna Settentrionale

Spread around Grigne massif, this 5000-hectare park encompasses a mix of forests, pastures and rolling mountain peaks. There are some fine trails through…

Villa del Grumello

This picturesque villa with extensive gardens is generally open only for special events (conferences, weddings and the like). The grounds, however, open…

Pinacoteca Civica

Despite its inadequate labelling, Como’s art gallery has a sizeable collection with some rich pickings. Most interesting are the frescoes and sculpture…

Not Lake Como... but still worth the visit

Villa del Balbianello, on shores of Lake Como.


Visiting Lake Como & Como Town: Top Attractions, Hotels & Tours

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated Mar 23, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Only 48 kilometers north of Italy's commercial capital of Milan, Como's leafy lakeside and stone-paved streets seem a world away. You can see its Roman origins in the orderly grid of streets of its historic center and the remains of the Roman gate, Porta Pretoria . It's more evident in walled medieval Como, a rare example of Romanesque fortifications, with the imposing Porta Torre (tower gate) at Piazza Vittoria.

Lake Como

If your taste runs to something more modern, Como was a hotbed of Rationalist architects, who laid the foundation of Modernism. The poster-child building of this movement is Como's Casa del Fascio , designed in the early 1930s by Giuseppe Terragni.

Como is easy to walk around, and its tourist attractions are within walking distance of the train station and boat landing. Como revolves around its lakefront promenade and the adjacent Piazza Cavour , from which you can follow the short Via Plinio to Piazza del Duomo .

As you stroll past shops, you can't help notice the abundance of silk; Como has a long history as the center of Italy's silk manufacture, so it's a good place to do some shopping. Bookending the harbor are the beautiful gardens of Villa Olmo on the west and the funicular to Brunate on the east, two of the most popular things to do in Como.

Explore this beautiful region with our list of the top attractions, hotels, and tours in Como Town and around Lake Como.

1. Duomo (Cathedral)

2. museo civico, 3. basilica di sant'abbondio, 5. tempio voltiano (alessandro volta museum), exploring lake como's towns and villas, villa balbianello, villa carlotta, abbazia di piona (abbey of piona), villa monastero, villa serbelloni, villa melzi, how to make the most of your visit to lake como, como, italy - climate chart.

Duomo (Cathedral)

The 14th-century façade of Como's cathedral, which nearly fills one side of Piazza Duomo, is pure Gothic, a marble face highlighted by detailed stone carving and statues around a rose window, edged with delicate carved pinnacles. (Oddly, instead of the expected saints, the statues at either side of the main door are of Pliny the Elder and Younger, Roman residents of the lake who were far from friendly to early Christians.)

It isn't until you enter that you'll see why this church is hailed as Italy's finest example of the 14th-century transition from Gothic to Renaissance styles. Polychrome painting and gilding on the side altars "update" the older look of the rose window and deeply carved main altar, but the mix is harmonious. If you're energetic, climb to the 18th-century dome.

Address: Piazza Duomo 6, Como

Museo Civico

Near the cathedral, two adjoining palaces house the museums of archaeology and history. The Museo Archeologico is filled with an exceptional collection of Neolithic and Roman artifacts unearthed in local excavations, offering glimpses into the lives of the earliest human inhabitants and the Romans who later settled here.

The Museo Storico Giuseppe Garibaldi features the decisive battle of the Risorgiamento (when Italy gained liberation from Austria) that took place in the hills overlooking Como. The former palazzo includes furnished period rooms and exhibits showing local traditions and history. Especially fine and well-displayed is the collection of handmade lace.

Address: Piazza Medaglie d'Oro 1, Como

Basilica di Sant'Abbondio

It's worth the walk from the center to see this exceptional example of an early 11th-century basilica built in the Lombard Romanesque style. The tall, narrow interior seems more like the earliest Christian basilicas and is decorated in 13th-century Gothic fresco cycles, in quite good condition.

The church is the work of the 11 th -century master stoneworkers respected across medieval Europe as the M aestri Comacini -the Como Masters. You can see most of their intricate stone carving from the exterior of Sant'Abbondio in the Museo Civico, where it was taken to protect it from weather and environmental damage.

Address: Via Regina 35, Como

Funicular to Brunate

A funicular from the east end of the lakefront saves the steep climb up to the terrace settlement of Brunate, almost directly above Como. The views encompass the town and southern lake, backed by mountains. Climb higher to reach a terrace (with a conveniently placed café) looking to the north, across a different panorama of lake and mountain views.

Another monument to native son Alessandro Volta, the Volta Lighthouse , stands atop a hill, and when it's open you can climb to the top for even more sweeping views. A two-hour climb from Brunate brings you to the summit of Monte Boletto .

Volta Museum

The prominent, white Neoclassical building on the lake is the Tempio Voltiano, a museum commemorating Alessandro Volta , the local resident whose name is given to the electric volt. His invention of the electric battery in 1800 created the first source of continuous electrical current. Built in 1927 to commemorate the centennial of Volta's death, the museum contains equipment used in his research.

Close to the temple is the beautiful and moving monument commemorating the victims of World War II and the resistance movement. Created by Milan sculptor Gianni Colombo, it incorporates stones from Nazi concentration camps and inscriptions of quotes from those who were victims of the Nazis.

Lake Como

The narrow and fjord-like Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian) is 50 kilometers long and shaped like an inverted Y. But there is little of interest in the southeastern arm, and a ferry conveniently shuttles cars across from the eastern shore to Bellagio , the lake's most beautiful town, sitting at the point of the peninsula where the arms converge.

Como is no stranger to tourists, having been a favorite of upper-crust Romans, whose villas predated those of royalty, and Hollywood stars who have favored it more recently. The lake between its steep, wooded shores is beautiful enough, but on either side rise mountains, and to the north, the Alps, making the views even better.

You can tour the lake on a day excursion for the scenery, with a stop or two at towns. Or if you have a bit more time, you can see the major attractions around the lake by hopping on and off the frequent boats and ferries. To tour at leisure and on your own schedule, take two or three days and drive the 249-kilometer perimeter, crossing on the ferry between Varenna and Bellagio.

Ferry on Lake Como

Regular boat services connect most towns from early spring through fall, but not all routes stop at the smaller towns. The frequent ferry (car and passenger) across the lake makes getting from Menaggio or Tremezzo , on the west shore, to Bellagio and Varenna easy. These are among the best places to visit on Lake Como.

Before setting out by boat, check the day's schedules carefully, so you'll know when the latest one returns and from what town. Summer hydrofoil service is fast, but don't expect to see anything en route.


Palatial Villa d'Este , built for an English queen and now a luxury hotel, sets a high standard for lake villas, with terraced gardens climbing the steep hill behind it. The rest of the town isn't quite so grand, but it has a nice holiday air, some chic shops (look especially for Como silks), and several outstanding Art Nouveau villas .

The most ornate of these is Villa Bernasconi , a short walk from the boat landing. The exterior is covered in intricate decorations representing mulberry leaves, silkworms, and other motifs related to silk production. The villa was built in the early 1900s for the leading silk manufacturer, Davide Bernasconi. Inside, an interactive museum tells the story of the house and those who lived there.

Il Giardino della Valle is a free botanical garden along a stream, with pools and sculptures. Cernobbio is the starting point for a narrow, winding road up 1,310-meter Monte Bisbino to a pilgrimage church and panoramic views.

Villa Balbianello

On the lake shore underneath steep Monte Crocione, Lenno is best known for the villa and gardens that cover Punta di Balbianello , a long peninsula that curves out into the lake. The Baroque villa, built for an 18th-century Cardinal, is surrounded by terraced gardens, where lake views are framed by columns and balustrades.

The best way to get there is by boat from Lenno, or on certain days, you can walk the trail to the villa. You can see the interior, but only on guided hour-long tours, which fill quickly in busy tourist seasons. The highlight is the garden, though, so don't be too disappointed if you miss a house tour.

Address: Via Comoedia 5, Lenno

View from Villa Carlotta

In Lake Como's mildest spot, the Tremezzina Riviera, foliage remains green all winter, so it's no wonder one of Italy's most famous gardens is here. Although the 18th-century palace of Villa Carlotta is filled with sculpture and paintings, most tourists come to see its fabulous hillside of gardens. At their best in May, when the camellias and 12-meter-tall banks of massed rhododendrons are in bloom, the gardens are filled with colorful flowers throughout the season.

Set in its own beautiful gardens that rise up the hillside through groves of rare trees to a scenic belvedere, the nearby luxury Grand Hotel Tremezzo has incomparable lake and mountain views.

Address: Via Regina 2, Tremezzo, Como

Official site: www.villacarlotta.it

Abbazia di Piona (Abbey of Piona)

The 13th-century Cluniac monastery of Piona surrounds the 11th-century church of San Nicola and its beautiful Romanesque cloister. This small enclosure is surrounded by delicate, graceful columns, each with a different stone capital carved in motifs that include plants and animals.

The cloister walls are covered in 14th- and 15th-century frescoes. In a shop near the gate, the Cistercian monks sell herbal lotions, honey, and candies made with products from the abbey gardens.

Address: Via Abbazia di Piona 57, Colico

Villa Monastero

A long flight of stone stairs leads down into the terraced gardens of Villa Monastero. The formal beds of native and exotic plants that stretch along the shore have their share of statues, colonnades, and miniature temples, but with a relaxed and unfussy air.

The villa is now a conference center, open for tours when it's not in use. The gardens are a short walk south of the town (where you should park, if driving), a charming cluster of pastel houses along steep streets. Look for the parish church, with a giant fresco of St. Christopher on its façade.

Address: Viale Giovanni Polvani, Varenna

Official site: www.villamonastero.eu


There's no question that Bellagio knows it's the prettiest town on the lake, with its setting on the long point where the lake's three arms meet. No matter which way you look, the views are superb and usually framed by gardens or carefully maintained buildings.

Pricey shops line its few streets, one of which is a long flight of stone stairs connecting the upper town with the boat landing. Two gardens, one stretching along the lake and the other high above town, are the main tourist attractions – apart from the picture-perfect town itself.

You can save some climbing and get a good overview of the town and lake on the Bellagio Express, a miniature tourist train. The 25-minute circuit includes panoramic views, and you can get off at various places, such as the Melzi Park.

The elegant Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni sits at the tip of the peninsula, overlooking the lake and mountains.

Villa Serbelloni view

High above town, the terraced gardens are spread around the historic Villa Serbelloni, which was clearly built to maximize the views of Lake Como and the Alps beyond. The highlight of the gardens, which are carefully landscaped in the 19th-century Italianate style, are the rose gardens set in boxwood hedges.

The villa is not open to the public, but the park is open for 90-minute guided tours (except during bad weather), which you must reserve at the Promo Bellagio office in Piazza San Giacomo.

Address: Piazza della Chiesa 14, Bellagio

Villa Melzi

As the lake steamer approaches Bellagio, you'll see a swath of green bordering the shore. Those are the gardens of Villa Melzi d'Eril, and a favorite place to stroll. The perfectly landscaped terraces and gardens surrounding the villa are all original to their early-1800s design to frame lake views with cypresses and statues.

Highlights are the water garden, a neo-Moorish pavilion, and the Orangerie. Although the Neoclassical villa is not open to the public, there are often changing art exhibits in the Orangerie.

Address: Lungo Lario Manzoni, Bellagio

Official site: http://www.giardinidivillamelzi.it/GIARDINI_DI_VILLA_MELZI/HOME_PAGE_ENG.html

The town of Como, at the southern end of Lake Como, is an hour from Milan . You can get here by train, then board one of the regular boats that stop at towns around the lake. A convenient way to see both the town and lake from Milan is to take a tour with a professional guide who can point out the highlights.

  • Full-Day Tour to Lake Como from Milan: A Lake Como Day Trip from Milan includes transport to Como by air-conditioned coach, a boat tour of Lake Como, free time for shopping in Como, and visits to the town's highlights. From April to October, tours include time to explore picturesque Bellagio, while tours from November through March include a funicular ride up to the village of Brunate for views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
  • Touring Lake Como and the Swiss Alps from Milan: Combine a visit to Lake Como with one of the world's great train rides and magnificent Alpine scenery, on the 12 ¾-hour Bernina Scenic Train & Lake Como tour . Travel along Como's eastern shore, stopping to visit Varenna, one of its prettiest little towns, then ride along the valley of the Adda River to Tirano, where you board the Bernina Express to travel over the spectacular Bernina Pass in Switzerland.
  • Visiting Lake Como on Your Own: Two different train lines leave Milan for Como, arriving at different stations, both within walking distance of the boat landing for lake ferries. These boats have varying routes, some stopping at more towns than others, but all offer unparalleled views of the lake, lakeside towns and villas, and mountains. You can ride the whole circuit or hop off to explore or stay overnight in lakeside towns.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com


Exploring Italy's Lakes Region : To see more lake scenery, and several more of the most beautiful gardens in Italy , travel west to visit the attractions of Lake Maggiore . Between the two larger lakes is lovely Lake Lugano, which you can explore in the Swiss Ticino region .


Where to Go from Lake Como: Lake Como is within easy reach of many of the best places to visit in Italy. The Duomo and other top attractions in Milan are a short train ride away, and from here, you can take a direct train to visit romantic Verona , perhaps stopping to explore the towns around Lake Garda .

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Home » Travel Guides » Italy » 15 Best Things to Do in Como (Italy)

15 Best Things to Do in Como (Italy)

Como is a commune in the northern region of Italy with a current population of 84,000. Como is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in Lombardy and the commune itself is often overshadowed by the majestic Lake Como that stretches from the northern edge of the city.

Como has been populated since the Bronze Age by Celtic tribes and during the first century BC it became part of the Roman Empire. Due to its location at the edge of the immense Lake Como, the city has always played an important role in Lombardy and was a centre of commerce and trade during the Middle Ages. During this time of development a defensive network was constructed including a series of watch towers – you can still see one of the towers today (The Baradello). After French and Austrian conquests, Como was eventually incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1859.

Today Como is a world renowned tourist destination and thousands of people flock here to explore the impressive Lake Como and the surrounding natural landscape. The city itself has a multitude of historical buildings, fine restaurants and important museums. Furthermore, surrounding the lake, there is a plethora of beautiful towns and villages such as Cernobbio, Menaggio and Bellagio.

The following is a list of 15 of the top things to do in and around Como :

1. Como Cathedral

Como Cathedral

The cathedral in Como is undoubtedly the most impressive building in the city and is renowned for its beautiful architecture.

This church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was constructed in the 14th century.

It features a Gothic design and was not wholly completed until the 18th century.

The front façade features a plethora of ornate stone work, stone statues and is topped with a series of small decorative towers.

The interior is lavishly decorated and one of the main features is the central dome – this is covered with gold artwork and some simply beautiful decoration.

Furthermore, the interior is vast and the various arches, columns and naves are all striking.

When visiting Como, a visit must be given to this magnificent structure.

Suggested tour to start your trip : Como Walking & Eating Tour

2. Como Archaeological Museum

Como Archaeological Museum

Located in close proximity to the cathedral you can find the delightful Como Archaeological Museum.

This museum is actually housed in the Palazzo Giovio and features a fantastic range of artefacts that have been found throughout the Como region.

These artefacts and finds date as far back as the ancient Greek times and present a truly interesting look at the history of Como and its inhabitants throughout the years.

You can expect to find a range of pottery, jewellery, stonework, agricultural machinery and more.

Each display is housed with care and features an insightful range of information about the item and its history.

3. Museo Storico Giuseppe Garibaldi

Museo Storico Giuseppe Garibaldi

This fine museum is also housed within a former palace and is also located on the Piazza Medaglie where the Archaeological Museum is situated.

The historical museum of Giuseppe Garibaldi has a series of lavishly decorated rooms that have been restored to show traditional living from various eras in Italy.

Furthermore the museum contains a plethora of artefacts such as furniture, lace and clothing from Como and the surrounding region.

This collection and restored rooms are simply fantastic and together with the Archaeological Museum paint a fine picture of Como.

4. Basilica di Sant’Abbondio

Basilica di Sant’Abbondio

The Basilica of Saint Addondio is located a little out of the city centre, but it is a majestic church that is worthy of a visit.

The original church was created in the 11th century and the current Romanesque church was created over it by the Benedictines.

The front of the church is quite plain and features simple stonework and a huge main doorway.

Alternatively, the interior features a set of huge stone columns and an ornately decorated main altar.

The altar has a beautiful series of coloured frescos depicting various religious figures and a gorgeous blue and gold decorative ceiling.

5. Take the Funicular up to Brunate

Brunate Funicular

Brunate is a small town that is located high up in the mountains surrounding Lake Como.

If you travel to the eastern edge of the lake near the city of Como you can take a fantastic funicular train that scales the mountain and stops at Brunate.

When you reach the top the views from this town are simply magnificent and you can see both the city of Como and the Lake in all their glory.

There are several terraces and restaurants that offer stunning views and give you a place to relax and take in the clear mountain air.

For the adventurous, there is a 2 hour hike that takes the intrepid to the summit of Mount Boletto for even greater views of this magical region.

6. Take a boat ride on Lake Como

Lake Como

There is possibly no better way to explore Lake Como and see the beautiful landscape the encompasses this body of water than to take a boat ride from Como itself.

There is a wide range of tour companies and boat operators that provide trips on the lake.

You can take one way boat rides from Como to visit some of the coastal towns such as Cernobbio and Bellagio, or alternatively you can take a scenic boat ride that simply travels on the lake while a guide points out different landmarks and explains the history of this region.

Which either type of ride you choose, you are sure to see the majesty of Lake Como up close and personal.

7. Visit the town of Cernobbio


Cernobbio is a town that is located on the western shore of Lake Como only a short distance from the city of Como.

This is one of the larger towns on the lake and features the amazing Villa d’Este which was originally built for an English Queen.

Down by the shore of the lake you can find the Cernobbio Lido and the Piazza Risorgimento – here you can see some beautiful fishing and sailing boats and also grab a bite to eat in one of the fine restaurants or cafes.

Cernobbio is also known as the starting point of the pilgrimage to Monte Bisbino – this 1310m road leads to the top of the mountain and the top offers panoramic views of the countryside.

8. Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello

Punta Balbianello is a promontory that sticks out into Lake Como near the town of Lenno.

This promontory can be reached via a beautiful trail that winds from the bay at Lenno through some gorgeous woodland – this walk is a highlight and is perfect for those who enjoy hiking.

Located on the Punta is the Villa Balbianello – this Baroque villa complex was constructed during the 18th century over the original site of a monastery.

From this villa you are granted with some sublime views of Lake Como – the various terraces open out onto the lake and you can see for miles across to the opposite shore and the towns of Vergonese and Bellagio.

Aside from the gorgeous views, the villa itself has some amazing architecture is an interesting complex to explore.

9. Visit the town of Bellagio


Bellagio is regarded as one of the most beautiful and idyllic towns on Lake Como and it is easy to see why.

This town can be found where the three arms of Lake Como meet therefore the views are unrivalled – you can see each corner of the vast lake and the promenade at La Punta provides one of the best photographic opportunities in the area.

Within the town itself you can find a variety of high-end shops, several beautifully maintained gardens and some amazing restaurants.

Consider taking a boat trip to Bellagio, walking along the promenades and admiring this picture-perfect place.

10. Villa Serbelloni

Villa Serbelloni

When visiting Bellagio, you cannot miss out on the spectacular Villa Serbelloni.

This villa is one of the many historical complexes situated on Lake Como that once served as a lavish retreat for the Sfondrati Family during the 16th century.

It is easy to see why this villa was constructed in this location – at the top of the promontory that the town of Bellagio sits; this complex has amazing views of Lake Como and of the Alps in the far distance.

Although the villa is not open to the public, the expansive gardens are and guided tours are available – these Italian gardens feature a number of different enclosures including a Rose garden and several beautiful wooded areas.

11. Visit the town of Menaggio


Menaggio is another beautiful town on Lake Como and is situated on the western shore just above Bellagio.

As with the other towns on the shores of Lake Como, Menaggio offers some amazing views and the ferry port in particular has a wide open square that is a perfect place to take some photos of the water and the mountains.

Menaggio actually has a tunnel that passes through the entire length of the town that acts as a bypass for motorists looking to travel further afield.

Within the town of Menaggio you can find some fantastic restaurants that overlook the lake, and for the adventurous there is also a boat hire service.

12. Try your hand at Canyoning at Porlezza or Lenno

Canyoning Porlezza

The varied landscape of Lake Como and the surrounding region offers itself to extreme sports.

For those who want to try something different and test their skills, there are companies such as Lake Como Adventures that offer a range of sports and outdoor pursuits.

Lake Como Adventures in particular offers the activity called Canyoning – this involves abseiling, jumping and slinding through a series of canyons and cliffs to reach the ground or water below.

This is a really fun way to explore Lake Como and you can find some truly stunning settings such as the canyons at Porlezza and Lenno.

13. Try your hand at Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

If you do not fancy Canyoning then why not try Rock Climbing instead? The mountainous region of Lake Como has many opportunities for rock climbing and has a myriad of fantastic routes for all levels of skill from beginners to experts.

Companies such as Lake Como Adventures provide rock climbing trips from a simple afternoon exploring the likes of Grimsel and Furkapass.

You can climb on a range of different surface such as granite and limestone and explore some truly stunning parts of Lake Como.

14. Enjoy a meal at Trattoria La Costa

Trattoria La Costa

This gorgeous restaurant is located in the southern part of Como in the small commune of Albate.

The hosts of this restaurant are extremely friendly and will ensure that your dining experience is a memorable one.

The interior is beautifully decorated and has a traditional feel.

You can choose from a variety of traditional Italian meals, all of which are created using locally sourced ingredients where possible.

Furthermore, for those who enjoy a glass of wine, the patrons of Trattoria La Costa will take you into their wine cellar to select your very own bottle!

15. Enjoy a coffee at Caffe Mazzini

Caffe Mazzini

While exploring Como, you may want to relax in a quiet café and enjoy a fine coffee and a snack or a light bite.

Cafe Mazzini is one such establishment and is located in the Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini near the harbour of Como.

This café has a great selection of Italian dishes and light snacks together with a range of mouth-watering desserts and drinks.

In the evening if you visit this café you can also taste a range of delicious cocktails and they sometimes have a happy hour too!

15 Best Things to Do in Como (Italy):

  • Como Cathedral
  • Como Archaeological Museum
  • Museo Storico Giuseppe Garibaldi
  • Basilica di Sant’Abbondio
  • Take the Funicular up to Brunate
  • Take a boat ride on Lake Como
  • Visit the town of Cernobbio
  • Villa Balbianello
  • Visit the town of Bellagio
  • Villa Serbelloni
  • Visit the town of Menaggio
  • Try your hand at Canyoning at Porlezza or Lenno
  • Try your hand at Rock Climbing
  • Enjoy a meal at Trattoria La Costa
  • Enjoy a coffee at Caffe Mazzini

Lake Como Travel logo

LAKE COMO'S TOWNS you really have to see

The entire perimeter of  Lake Como  is studded with  charming villages and towns . Quiet alleys, stunning views,  beaches , enchanting villas … this and much more is what you can expect when visiting Lake Como’s towns.

If you are planning your trip to Italy and want to maximize your stay on Lake Como, here is a list of the most popular towns that every year attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Get ready to live one of the most beautiful experiences ever!

Located on the Italian-Swiss border, the city of Como overlooks the southwest end of its lake and is surrounded by green ridge hills, resulting in unparalleled, natural scenery . Como is home to some of the best attractions in all of Lombardy.

Main attractions

  • The town center with its fascinating squares and churches (Como Cathedral, etc.)
  • The lakefront and its monuments (Life Electric, Volta museum, War memorial)
  • Como-Brunate cable car and Spina Verde Park

Main public transportation services

  • Train stations : Como S. Giovanni , Como Lago
  • Bus lines : C10 , C30
  • Ferry : Como’s main pier and ticket office are located in  Lungo Lario Trento

Information for people with walking difficulties

The city is mostly flat and is therefore suitable for people with walking difficulties.

Places to stay & Experiences

  • Places to stay

Experiences & tours

Bellagio is a small jewel located on the promontory that separates the two southern branches of Lake Como, those culminating in the cities of Como and Lecco. It is one of the most glamorous and romantic destinations in Lombardy.

  • The town center with its colorful alleys and shops 
  • Park of Villa Serbelloni and Gardens of Villa Melzi
  • Punta Spartivento and the hamlet of Pescallo
  • The hamlet of San Giovanni
  • Bus lines : C30
  • Ferry : Bellagio’s main pier is located in  Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini . Some routes or types of boats, however, call at the pier located at  Lungo Lario Manzoni  (a few minutes further south).

The village is quite accessible, but it should be noted that the most characteristic alleys in the old town are full of steps.

Varenna is a picturesque village, located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. Home to elegant villas with botanical gardens , Varenna is an essential stop for anyone wishing to visit one of the most peaceful towns of the lake.

  • The town center with Riva Grande and Passeggiata degli Innamorati
  • The gardens of Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi
  • Castello di Vezio
  • Fiumelatte and Sentiero del Viandante
  • Train stations : Varenna-Esino station
  • Ferry : Varenna’s pier is located in  Via Imbarcadero .

The village is quite accessible, but it should be noted that some of the most characteristic alleys in the old town are full of steps.

Tremezzina is located on the western banks of Lake Como, just opposite Bellagio, and is the result of a recent merger of the municipalities of Lenno, Mezzegra, Ossuccio and Tremezzo. It is home to some of the most beautiful villas on Lake Como .

  • Villa Balbianello & Villa Carlotta
  • The hamlet of Tremezzo
  • The hamlet of Ossuccio and Lenno + Isola Comacina
  • Sacro Monte di Ossuccio and other beautiful walks
  • Bus lines : C10
  • Ferry : Tremezzina has three piers, one in Tremezzo ,  one in Lenno , and  one in front of Villa Carlotta .

The village is mostly flat and is therefore suitable for people with walking difficulties.

Menaggio is a beautiful town of ancient origins. The characteristics of Menaggio make this town unique both for those who simply want to relax on its elegant lakefront (one of the longest on Lake Como) and for those who love nature.

  • The town center with its elegant lakefront
  • The hamlet of Loveno
  • Val Sanagra and Rifugio Menaggio
  • The hamlets of Nobiallo and Croce
  • Ferry : Menaggio’s pier is located in  Via IV Novembre 89 .

Literally split in half by its famous gorge , Nesso is a picturesque village sitting on the banks of Lake Como. Nesso is smaller than the nearby Bellagio, but it’s a real heaven for those who seek peace and all the regenerating aspects of slow-living .

  • The town center with its stone houses and ancient vestiges
  • Nesso Gorge and Ponte della Civera
  • Strada Regia and Valle di Nosée
  • The hamlet of Careno
  • Ferry : Nesso has two piers, the main one  is in the oldest part of the village (Borgovecchio), while  the other  is in the hamlet of Careno.

The village is characterized by the presence of numerous steps and sloping streets.

Located on the tip of the southeastern branch of the lake, Lecco is commonly referred as ‘that branch of Lake Como‘ because of   The Betrothed , the renowned Italian historical novel by Alessandro Manzoni .

  • The historic town center , where medieval age meets modern and neoclassical-style architectures
  • The long and charming lakeside promenade
  • Palazzo delle Paure , a neo-medieval eclectic style palace that hosts contemporary art exhibitions
  • The Manzonian places
  • Bus lines : D10
  • Ferry : Lecco’s main pier is located in Via Lungolario Isonzo .

Argegno is a quaint village that overlooks Lake Como in the area of greatest depth. It is crossed by the Telo stream that divides the historic core of the town into two parts connected by an ancient stone bridge that is its distinguishing feature.

  • The town center with its Roman bridge and the beautiful harbor
  • The ancient churches
  • The Argegno-Pigra cable car
  • Val d'Intelvi
  • Ferry : Argegno’s pier is located in  Piazza Testi , a few steps away from the central Piazza Roma

The village is quite accessible, but it should be noted that the alleys in the old town are full of steps.

Cernobbio is a small city located northwest of Como, nestled between Mount Bisbino and the calm waters of the lake. Home to some of the most famous villas , it is an ideal place to stay away from the crowds that fill the main tourist resorts.

  • The town center with its charming lakefront
  • The villas : Villa Pizzo, Villa Bernasconi, Villa Erba and Villa d'Este
  • Giardino della Valle
  • Sentee de Sort and Via dei Monti Lariani
  • Ferry : Cernobbio’s pier is located in Piazza Risorgimento . 

Located on the north-western banks of Lake Como, Gravedona ed Uniti is the perfect destination for all who seek peacefulness. While walking in the streets of Gravedona, you can’t help but notice how its buildings and churches evoke the charm of its past .

  • Church of Santa Maria del Tiglio
  • The town center with its views on Lake Como and Alessandro Volta's house
  • Palazzo Gallio
  • The ancient churches
  • Ferry : Gravedona’s main pier is located in  Viale Umberto I .

The village is quite accessible, but it should be noted that some alleys in the old town are full of steps.

What is the best town to stay on Lake Como?

Map of the best Lake Como’s towns

If you are planning your trip to Lake Como, I advise you to choose the place to stay depending on the  duration  of your visit, your  needs  and the  budget you have available. Here are some options.

If you plan to visit Lake Como for 3-4 days and have no walking problems, virtually any town will do . In fact, local public services will enable you to reach all other destinations.

Clearly, the central area of the lake is where most of the tourist attractions are concentrated, and therefore it is the one that tends to be most crowded in high season  (this is why I also recommend planning your vacation at different times, such as April or October, when the weather is very good and the area is less crowded).

My advice, therefore, is to first figure out which towns or attractions you do not want to miss and, from there, locate the place that allows you to reach them all most conveniently.

Consider that the towns in the center of the lake are all about 15-30 minutes by boat from each other, while to go from Como to Bellagio , for example, you have to consider about 1 - 2 hours.

If you only want to devote one day to Lake Como, for example because you are coming from Milan , I would choose a town that you can easily reach by train, such as Como , Varenna or Lecco  (and their surroundings).

If you plan your travels carefully, you can also visit more than one town in a single day .

For example, you can reach Varenna from Milan and, from there, take the ferry that will take you to Bellagio or Menaggio in 15 minutes. Or you can reach Como from Milan and visit Cernobbio , also a 15-minute boat ride from the city.

The alleys found in the historic centers of many cities are full of stairs .

Obviously there is the possibility of visiting these cities and their attractions without any particular difficulty, but if you still prefer the flatter cities to make the most of your experience I recommend visiting the larger cities such as Como , Lecco , and Menaggio .

Take some time to read my guides on the Lake Como’s towns that I love the most, and start planning your trip!

Places to stay in Lake Como

Top reviewed on Booking.com from travelers

Hotel Belvedere

Villa Cipressi, Varenna ★★★★

Hotel Filario, Lezzeno

Hotel Filario, Lezzeno ★★★★

Grand Hotel Menaggio

Grand Hotel, Menaggio ★★★★

Want to see more hotels, apartments or villas? Check out my entire selection of the best places to stay in Lake Como!

Make your trip a unique experience !​

Venetian Limousine

This Post Has 10 Comments

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I will be visiting Lake Como during April or May 2023, would like to receive information. Probably will stay 3 days/2 nights. Would love to hear suggestions.

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Good morning Marie! Lake Como has a lot to offer depending on what you like: historic villas to visit , boat tours , hiking , water sports , etc. Unfortunately, I do not currently offer tailor-made consultations (although it is a service I am working on), but I invite you to explore this website and possibly contact me via email for more specific information.

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What is the hike along water & sometimes in the hills on Lake Como but opposite of Bellagio. There is an olive oil plant in a small town-Do you know.

Hi Pat, I bet it is this one: https://lakecomotravel.com/greenway-del-lago-di-como/

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Ciao Alessandro!! I will be in Como the week of November 13th. The ferry schedule only goes to the 5th of November. Do you know how late the ferry runs in off season? Thanks!!

Hi Karen, generally the boats do not operate beyond sunset for safety reasons.

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What a fabulous manual for the best towns around Lake Como! Your depictions and proposals are right on target. I as of late visited Varenna, and it was genuinely an unlikely treasure. The beguiling roads, lakeside promenade, and the Estate Monastero cultivates left me in amazement. Subsequent to understanding this, I can hardly hold on to investigate Bellagio and Menaggio sometime later.

Thanks 🙂 You will not be disappointed!

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Hi, you done wonderful job. I considering your suggestion train from Milan to Varenna-Esino and ferry to Bellagio. from Bellagio to Como and Milan by train. Do you have any info about Varenna ferry\tickets on line. Appreciated your advice. Mark

Hello Mark and thank you very much! You can find all the information about Lake Como ferry service here . If there is anything else I can help you with, write to me from the contact page!

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LAKE COMO Beaches Weather and climate Accommodations Experiences

LAKE COMO’S TOWNS Como Bellagio Varenna Tremezzina

LAKE COMO’ VILLAS Villa Balbianello Villa Melzi Villa Monastero Villa Carlotta

GETTING AROUND Boat trips Bus service Train stations Get to Lake Como

Lake Como Travel | A personal blog by Alessandro Manzi


Lake Como Guide: Planning Your Trip

lake como tourist spots

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Planning Your Trip

Things to do, what to eat and drink, where to stay, getting there, money saving tips.

Tucked away in the Italian Alps, Lake Como has been considered one of the most glamorous travel destinations in Europe since Ancient Roman times. Centuries-old villas that once housed the crème de la crème of Italian aristocracy still skirt the lakeshore, and modern-day residents have included elite celebrities like George Clooney, Giovanni Versace, Lionel Messi, and Madonna. But just because Lake Como has a reputation for luxury doesn't mean it's inaccessible. In fact, this alpine retreat is just a short train ride away from Milan and has plenty to enjoy for travelers on a budget.

As the most popular option of Northern Italy's lakes , there's plenty of incentive to visit Lake Como. Come for the picture-perfect vistas, a romantic weekend getaway, an afternoon of boating on the lake, or for the charm of the idyllic lakeside villages. Whatever your reasons, a trip to Lago di Como never disappoints.

Best Time to Visit

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit since the weather is still quite pleasant and the lake is much less crowded than the summer months. During the winter, ferries will run less frequently and many lakeside hotels and restaurants will close for the season, but you can ski in the nearby mountains and enjoy the wintry solitude of the lake.

Lake Como is a popular weekend destination for people from Milan, so weekdays may be less crowded. July and August are the months when many Italians have vacation from school and work , and the refreshing escape of this alpine lake from the heat makes it one of the most popular destinations to visit.

Since it's become an international tourist destination, English is widely spoken and understood in most hotels, restaurants, and attractions around Como. However, learning some key Italian phrases never hurts. While all of the local residents speak Italian, part of the charm of Lake Como is that each of the small villages around the lake also has its own distinct dialect. Walking around and exploring, it's common to hear neighbors speaking to each other in their local tongue.

As with the rest of Italy—and most of Europe—the local currency is the euro . While paying with a Visa or Mastercard usually isn't an issue, some smaller businesses may only accept cash, but ATMs are widely available in the town of Como. Be aware that if you cross the nearby border into Switzerland, the currency changes to the Swiss franc.

Getting Around

Ferries link the major villages and towns of Lake Como, providing both a cheap form of public transportation and a convenient way to do some sightseeing from the lake. There is also a bus system to villages around the lake and several funiculars to take you for a scenic ride into the hills. You can rent a car in Como if you want to explore other nearby areas on your own, although be aware that most of the local villages are designed for pedestrians and parking isn't easy.

The funicular from Como to Brunate provides rides to a beautiful vista, quiet walks, and some top restaurants. The town of Brunate is just east of the village of Como and although the funicular cars can be crowded, the town generally is not. Rides are less than 6 euros each way, or roughly $7.

Outdoor activities are the best way to take advantage of Lake Como's breathtaking natural beauty, from watersports to hiking to boating. If you're visiting in the winter months, then the Alps are just a stone's throw away for excellent skiing and snowboarding options.

  • Head to the Water: To fully enjoy Lake Como, you have to be on Lake Como. When the weather is warm, nothing beats renting a boat and water-skiing on the lake with friends. If you're traveling alone or seeking a more affordable option, don't overlook the ferries. Not only are they a great way to explore other towns, but they're a cheap way to get scenic views of surrounding mountains from the lake.
  • The Gardens of Villa Carlotta: These luscious gardens in the village of Tremezzo cover 20 acres of rich landscape with exotic plants and flora. Once you're there it's easy to see why it's one of the most popular attractions around Lake Como, not to mention one of the most romantic. After strolling around the gardens, check out the historical art collection inside the villa itself.
  • Get Out of Como: Como is the eponymous town around the lake and the first destination if you arrive by train from Milan, but don't limit yourself to the city limits. The lakeshore is dotted with quaint and picturesque Italian villages, some of the most popular ones being Bellagio , Varenna , and Menaggio.

Read up on the 10 Best Things to Do in Lake Como for more ideas on how to get the most out of your trip.

You don't need to be next to the sea for great seafood, since restaurants around Como often offer fresh-caught fish right from the lake. Perch is one of the specialties of the area and to eat it like a local, try the risotto with perch ( risotto con il pesce persico ). If you're a fan of grilled sardines in the summer, you have to try missoltino , or sun-dried lake shad. Locals will tell you to watch out for wild boar while hiking, but you should seek it out on the menus of Como restaurants, often served braised or in a stew.

Although not as internationally famous as Tuscany, the region of Lombardy where Como is located is one of the biggest wine producers in Italy. If you aren't familiar with what to choose, don't worry. All of the high-end restaurants have a sommelier who can provide guidance and if you're in a small bistro, the owners surely have a delicious house wine to try.

For more must-try dishes and the best places to try them, check out our review of Lake Como's best meals .

Lake Como has a variety of lodging options, from campgrounds to historic villas to luxurious five-star retreats. Bellagio is one of the most popular—and most elegant—cities to stay in, and the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio is a top luxury hotel and one of the oldest. Grand Hotel Tremezzo is another luxury option, while the modern Hilton Lake Como offers a wide range of rates, depending on the season. The Lake Como Hostel in Menaggio is easier on the wallet and also has to be the hostel with the best view in all of Europe.

See the top-rated Lake Como hotels for more of the best places to stay around the lake.

The easiest way to get to Lake Como is by train from Milan. The ride is only 40 minutes from Milano Centrale station to Como San Giovanni station, right in the center of the town of Como. Trains run more frequently in the busy summer months but also book up faster, so buy tickets early to get a seat and snag the best deals.

Read more about train travel in Italy for tips on getting tickets, plus information about the airports near Milan for easy connections.

Lake Como has a reputation for luxury and exorbitant traveling, but you don't need a big budget to visit this scenic paradise. If you want to vacation like a celebrity but at a fraction of the price, just follow these tips.

  • Take a Day Trip: Accommodations tend to be the most expensive part of staying around Lake Como, so you can save a lot of money by visiting for the day. It's a quick train ride from Milan and tickets start at under 10 euros for a roundtrip ticket (about $12). Leave in the morning, spend the day exploring, and head back to Milan by dinnertime for an excursion you'll never forget.
  • Eat Inside the Town: Restaurants with balconies overlooking the lake may provide a beautiful backdrop, but more often than not, you'll be paying for the view when the food is unremarkable. Enjoy the views before and after lunch, but look for restaurants in the town farther away from the water. Not only will you find more authentic and higher quality meals, but you'll also avoid paying a premium for lake views.
  • Go For a Hike: One of the best activities you can do around Lake Como also just happens to be free: hiking. The mountains that circle the lake provide endless routes for trekking and exploring, and all of them promise Instagram-worthy views of the landscape.

The Lakes of Northern Italy

A Budget Guide to Lake Como, Italy

Best Italian Lakes to Visit on Your Vacation

The 15 Best Destinations in Italy

The Most Romantic Places in Italy

10 Best Things to Do in Lake Como

Lombardy Cities Map and Travel Guide

Your Trip to Milan: The Complete Guide

The Top 23 Things to Do in Italy

Best European Countryside Vacation Spots

Bellagio Travel Guide

Capri Italy Guide: Planning Your Visit

Your Trip to Switzerland: The Complete Guide

A Guide to Airports in Italy

Italian Riviera: Planning Your Trip

Your Trip to Florence: The Complete Guide

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A Guide to the Lesser-Known Gems of Lake Como—for Housemade Pasta, Quiet Drives, and Farmstays

By Ella Quittner

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Lake Como was formed about 10,000 years ago when an enormous glacier decided to budge, leaving a gaping cavity in the earth. The surrounding towns received an especially hearty influx of residents in 59 B.C. when Julius Caesar turned his eye toward colonizing the region, and over the ensuing two thousand-ish years, the area has been occupied by the Romans, the Goths, the Huns, the Longobards, the French, the Spanish, and the Austrians. But now, at least from early spring through late fall, it’s heavily occupied by tourists.

There are swarms of them, out for a taste of gelato, or a peek into one of the hulking historic villas perched beside the shoreline that date as far back as the sixteenth century. All of which you have likely seen splashed across the screen of one of your devices, whether it’s someone you didn’t really know in high school announcing an engagement from swanky hotel grounds, or Kourtney Kardashian posting a selfie from a private boat tour .

But there is so much more to Italy’s deepest lake than the conspicuously wonderful—no knock to lakeside Aperol cocktails , or the stately Italian men who captain the sleek Vaporina boats whisking tourists across the water. There are winding trails to walk and Semuda cheese to eat in thick slices. There are warm bowls of nutty polenta held together with finely grated cheese, Romanesque stone footbridges tucked into cobbled paths, and intimate restaurants up in the hills where the housemade pappardelle is equal parts tender and springy‚ where the roasted rabbit will force you to consider canceling your day for another carafe of the house wine. To truly get to know Lago di Como, take to some of these quietly stunning spots—and stay for a while.

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Cliffside villages like this one skirt Lake Como.

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Views from a Villa Lario guest room's balcony

How to get to Lake Como, and areas to know

Trains run multiple times throughout the day from Milan Malpensa Airport, and from downtown Milan . You could also rent a car at the airport and make the one-hour long drive, if you want to avoid renting a car in downtown Como, where the selection of vehicles with automatic transmission is limited. Should you prefer to forgo a rental car altogether, you can take the public ferry from the city of Como (where the train will leave you), to a number of larger towns around the lake, and from there, you can try your luck with the occasionally erratic public bus, or call for a water or land taxi.

The actual lake of Lake Como is shaped like an upside-down ‘Y.’ While there are certainly towns worth exploring on each of its flanks, the bottom half of the western shore, stretching roughly from Cernobbio up to Menaggio, is the most obviously cheerful, with sunny mornings and early afternoons, and tiny towns tucked off of the main road that runs all the way around the water.

The inner, western peninsula of the lake, from around Blevio to Lezzono, is also stunning in its own right, with villages perched higher into the cliffside, and which look down across the water between thickets of moody foliage. Should you visit Como to finish your novel, do it on this run of the shore. If you’re hoping to avoid especially dense areas, you’ll want to pick lodging outside of Bellagio, Lecco, downtown Como (the city), and Varenna, which won’t preclude you from exploring them via ferry or drive.

Villa Monastero's garden loggia frames the water.

Villa Monastero's garden loggia frames the water.

Lake Como off-the-beaten-path

A sunny summer day in Como should be spent beside a pool with a Campari spritz in-hand, or traversing the curves of the lake onboard some sort of aquatic vehicle. But should you find yourself facing off against dreaded rain with skies the color of cuttlefish ink risotto—not uncommon in the region—take a drive. Packing yourself into metal and plastic might seem wrong, but captaining the meandering route around the lake offers a look at the abundant flora of the region. Traffic can be heavy, but the epic rock faces and drop-offs you’ll find yourself loitering beside will force you to consider your speck-ish-ness like little else could.

Quench your thirst at any time of day in one of Lake Como’s tiny cafés or bars. At espresso hour, visit Da Luciano - Bottega e Caffe' in Laglio (skip the pastries) for a lakeside caffeine fix and provisions to go (don’t skip the charcuterie). A little later, use aperitivi as your ticket into the wraparound terrace at Grand Hotel Tremezzo , or the lakeside scene at MUSA Lago di Como . Or, if you’ve sipped enough gem-colored cocktails from excessively scenic armchairs to last you a lifetime, stop by Cantina Follie , tucked up a set of stairs off the main stretch of Tremezzina, for local wine and cheese.

View of Grugliano, Castello di Reschio

If that gives you a taste for sampling the local fare, make a day of it. Latteria Alto Lario Lago di Como up in Dongo has a broad selection of goods from nearby cheesemakers for sale (ask for recommendations), and just a few minutes’ drive away, you can try regional wine and grappa by appointment at Sorsasso . There are also tons of agriturismi—farms with often rustic lodging—in the hills around each town, or a scenic drive away, where you can score things like homemade jam, milled grains, or in the case of Agriturismo Don Guanella in Valmadrera, beer made on the property.

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Walk it off with a journalist-helmed tour of Lenno and Mezzegra, two historic towns on the western shore that encompass the site where Benito Mussolini was executed (call Paolo to book; +39 373 741 1607). Or take a solo walk up the Greenway , a ten kilometer trail stretching from Colonno to Griante. If you decide to stay on the inner peninsula, park in one of the public lots along the main road in Nesso, and walk down to the cobbled alley that abuts the lake. Follow it to the Romanesque bridge. Take the ferry to Varenna and walk through the gardens of Villa Monastero , home to a host of tropical palms, citrus trees, and fragrant botanical rarities. The garden and park at Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio is also worth a visit; aim to hit either garden earlier in the day, to avoid the thickets of fellow visitors.

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At Villa Lario, order the Mezzi Paccheri, made with potatoes, musceles, peppers, and parmigiano reggiano.

Where to eat near Lake Como

For travelers who wish to dine away from the main strip of restaurants along the lake and bustling town corners, Il Gatto Nero (tucked just above Cernobbio) ticks every box, without demanding too much of a trek. Recommended to me first by local photographer Lilly Red , the charming hillside spot proffers a range of rich, meaty dishes, from a classic Milanese cutlet so crispy, cutting into it will make your ears twitch, to a plate of tortellini filled with braised meat and slicked down with a Barolo-butter-Parmesan bath. Erre , a cozy wood-walled dining room up a steed road, on the grounds of Italy’s second oldest golf course in Menaggio, offers a slimmer menu of more experimental fare, like fettuccine with beetroot, daikon, and capers. The dishes may seem at odds with the scenery (sweeping views of ancient lands, a crackling fireplace visible from most tables), but are delicious enough to override the dissonance. Not far off, in an equally cozy stone cottage, the family-run La Fagurida puts out spoon-tender roasted rabbit and grilled skewers of juicy meat best paired with a hearty red.

Further out of the way, Ristorante Crotto del Capraio in Pozzo—high above sea level with views of tiny sibling lake Annone—serves perfectly executed plates indicative of typical Lombardy cuisine, like pizzoccheri alla Valtellinese (short buckwheat tagliatelle with cabbage, potato, and cheese), grilled Missoltini (salted lake fish), and polenta uncia, which comes to the table warm, creamed with local mountain cheese, sage, and garlic, and crowned with melted butter. If you’re not too full, you can stroll down the adjacent path to the basilica of San Pietro al Monte once you’ve finished a few plates of apple strudel and panna cotta.

To immerse yourself in an imaginary game of being the dinner guest to a local nonna, concede all decision-making power to the rustic kitchen of Trattoria Pippi in Faggeto Lario . The set menu is 30 euros and often begins with a plate of cotechino—warm, thick-sliced salami–and polenta, before meandering into an enormous portion of pizzoccheri, then a plate full of braised bone-in meat and gravy-soaked potatoes, and finishing off with a plate of cakes and tarts made that day. Travelers from nearby Bergamo can be seen digesting in between courses with the aid of hand-rolled cigarettes outside the Trattoria in the stone square. Go for dinner on a cold fall night, and be prepared for the low-slung wooden beans and hissing fireplace to woo you into sticking around for a second round of after-dinner amaro.

If you prefer slightly more refined plating (and the illusion of control offered by a menu), head across the square from Trattoria Pippi to Ristorante Antica Molina instead; it’s a beautifully simple dining room on the second floor of a bed and breakfast with a wider selection of similar dishes. Begin with a stellar plate of local charcuterie (affettato misto) that includes ham and buffalo mozzarella—plus house pickles. Consider the tagliatelle with duck ragu, or the exemplary cheesy polenta. (Note: for Trattoria Pippi or Ristorante Antica Molina, park in the lot in front of Bar Pasticceria Tipi Tipici and walk up one of the narrow sets of stone steps, to the square.)

For lunch anywhere along the lake, do not sleep on piadine, a sort of Italian sandwich most similar to a flour tortilla quesadilla. You can get one at almost any bar or café, stuffed with oil-packed tuna and arugula and tomato, or with turkey and vinegary mayonnaise, and the best ones come hot with melty cheese inside and a crispy, flexible exterior.

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The garden at Villa Lario

A guest room at Villa MUSA

A guest room at Villa MUSA

Where to stay

If your budget is on the high end, post up at Passalacqua , the newest luxury hotel in town, which sits at the end of a narrow, winding road on the shore of Moltrasio. As a part of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo family, the restored 18th century super-villa offers impeccable service, vistas, and grounds—plus a bar cart that made me audibly gasp—with virtually no crowd. (It has only 24 rooms and a similar property footprint to the GHT, which has 90 rooms, so Passalacqua feels serene; though if you get lonely, you may visit the fuzzy chickens penned off to one side of the gardens, laying eggs for breakfast.)

For a moderate-to-high budget, if a remote and tranquil sanctuary appeals, consider Villa Lario , a contemporary hotel with 18 rooms tucked into the steep roadside midway between Como and Bellagio. Or if you’re after a sleek spot that allows you to explore by foot, book a room at MUSA Lago di Como , which opened on the shore of charming fisherman village Sala Comacina in June 2022. Its lakefront GAIA Bar has magical superpowers—it can convert work stress into another round of aperitivi in under ten minutes, flat—and a gracious patio with panoramic views from its comfy sofas. There are also plenty of private villas for rent, like the rustic-chic Villa Torno just a few minutes south of Villa Lario, or Villa Musa if you’re after the sunny western shore.

If you’re looking to spend less on lodging, count yourself fortunate if you can snag one of the three stylish rooms at Villa Lina , a bed and breakfast with a stellar location and the kindest owners. Each of its bedrooms is soothingly appointed in neutrals, with head-on views of the lake, and it is conveniently located on the walking path that connects each cluster of restaurants and bars in Tremezzo. For the intrepid, sporty traveler looking for chic-spartan lodging further north— Grand Central for windsurfing and other water sports, as well as some trekking routes—check out Casa Olea in Cremia, a minimalist joint newly opened in a restored 18th-century vicarage. (Come with a rental car, since there aren’t many options for dining nearby.) Or, for lavender-scented poolside slopes, make your way all the way up to Agriturismo Treterre , perched at the top of a looping road with a severe grade. Treterre offers scenic isolation and a landscape that basically forces your shoulders down from around your ears, with a restaurant that culls from the property’s farmland.

And if you do find yourself in need of a room in downtown Como, say to catch an early train, or because you prefer the convenience of staying within a city, book a room at Palazzo Albricci Peregrini , a 15th-century palace-turned-treasure chest of a boutique hotel with Venetian plaster walls, elegant furniture, and plush finishings well worth your time. Como is rife with people for good reason, after all.


The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice

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Lake Como, Italy: Exploring the 10 Most Scenic Spots Of The Italian Lake District

Lake Como is regarded as the most beautiful place in all of Italy, and these spots show just why.

Surrounded by lush mountains and stony villages along serene waters, Lake Como is one of the most beautiful regions in Italy . There are plenty of ways through which visitors can soak in the beauty of Lake Como: hikes along ancient paths on mountain tops, stays at luxury villas whose doors open up to the majestic lake, or even quiet dinners at wine bars and quaint trattorias hidden inside the alleys of Lake Como's charming resort towns. There are many spectacular spots in Lake Como no doubt, but these are some of the best.

Related: 10 Facts About Lake Como You Should Know Before Visiting

10 The Castello Baradello

Panoramic views of Como

Though most visitors go to the town of Como to enjoy the churches, lakeside promenades, and the architecture of the 12th and 13th-century buildings, most visitors overlook the Castello Baradello that sits on top of a hill. Not only is the castle an easy walk up from the town center and free for all who enter, but it also offers striking views of the entire town of Como as it opens up to the great lake behind.

Views of Lake Como

Lake Como has a sea of shoreside towns that are a skip away from the waters of the lake, but many visitors overlook the fact that there are hundreds of tiny towns tucked away on top of the mountains that surround the lake. Pigra is a small village of 250 inhabitants that can be reached from the town of Argegno via a cable car. At the height of 881 meters above the water, the breathtaking views of Lake Como are visible as soon as visitors reach the cable car station at Pigra. As visitors walk more uphill, the views get even better.

Related: From Alpine Retreats To Coastal Escapes: A Guide To The 10 Most Scenic Lake Towns In The World

8 Villa Monastero

Villa Monastero, Italy

The entire village of Varenna is a scenic spot to enjoy the views of Lake Como but if there's one place in Varenna that offers better views than any other, it's the Villa Monastero. While the villa has a museum, a conference center, and luxurious rooms to accommodate overnight conferences, it's the botanical garden of Villa Monastero that deserves a mention. The botanical garden is built over several terraces, which eventually lead all the way down to the shores of Lake Como, with rows of exotic trees and rare botanical species in between.

Views of Lake Como

While most towns that surround the great lakes of Italy sit on the lake's shores, Brunate is located on a wooden plateau above the town of Como. Known as the balcony of the Prealps , Brunate offers unique panoramic views of Lake Como, located way down below. Hop onto a funicular from Como and go all the way up to Brunate for sweeping views of Lake Como and its surrounding mountains from a high altitude -- there are very few spots in the lake district that will offer such views.

6 Monte San Primo

View from Monte San Primo 

For those who want to see Lake Como in all its glory from an altitude higher than Brunate -- and have the stomach for an adventure -- hiking a 4.7-mile loop around Monte San Primo is the best way to go. The mountain rises 1,682 meters above the water and offers a 360-degree view of Lake Como and the Alps that surround it. Though long, the hike is an easy one, and on a good day, trekkers may even be able to spot the skyscrapers of Milan rising at a distance.

Nesso, Italy

There are plenty of picturesque towns that surround Lake Como, but Nesso is perhaps the most underrated of them all. The small town is, quite literally, split in half by a gorge. Located between Como and Bellagio, Nesso is both smaller in size than its lakeside cousins and much quieter than the crowds that usually flock to the towns around Lake Como . Maze-like streets filled with cobbles wind through several waterfalls, but the most famous one is Orrido di Nesso -- a gorge where the Tuf and Nosée rivers meet to create a bubbling waterfall. Beware, however: there are next to no roads in Nesso and just a patchwork of rocky steps.

4 Villa Del Balbianello

Villa Del Balbianello, Italy

Villa del Balbianello seems like a castle that's straight out of a fairytale . Located on the very tip of a promontory in Lenno that juts into the western shores of Lake Como, the 18th-century mansion has long been a host to writers, scholars, and anybody wanting to savor the romantic landscape of Lake Como. Terraces gardens are filled with ornamental trees, green vines crawl up the loggia, and every corner of Villa del Balbianello opens up to the sparkling waters of Lake Como.

A street in Bellagio, Italy

Perched on the southern tip, where Lake Como branches off into two, is the very definition of an old-world Italian town: Bellagio. A lakeside promenade lines the banks of Lake Como, pastel-colored houses flank the streets, aperitive bars and gelatos shops spill over onto piazzas, and the alleyways of Bellagio give peaks of the blue lake below. Ride into Bellagio on a boat and spend a lazy day eating, drinking, walking, shopping, and basking in the beauty of this enchanting Lake Como town.

Related: Indulge In The Beauty Of Lake Como: The 10 Best Places To Visit & Things To Do

2 Orrido Di Bellano

Orrido Di Bellano, Italy

Everything in Lake Como is usually about, well, Lake Como. While the lake is scenic, no doubt, there's a lot of beauty hidden in the district beyond just the lake. Orrido di Bellano is a 15 million-year-old gorge with dark ravines, caves, and waterfalls in the town of Bellano. Accessible by a system of wooden footbridges hanging off the walls and over the emerald waters, the only sound that can be heard in Orrido Di Bellano is that of the thunderous water.

1 Belvedere Of Parco Valentino

Views of Lake Como, Italy

A belvedere is essentially an open gallery on a rooftop with spectacular views, and the belvedere at Parco Valentino in Lecco is all that and more. At the gates, Parco Valentino begins as a lush forest-like park with thick patches of trees and near to no views of Lake Como. A few minutes later, however, the park leads up to the belvedere -- a walkway that hangs thousands of meters in the air above Lake Como!

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The Most Beautiful Towns to Visit Around Lake Como 

Tranquil Nesso features a waterfall that feeds into Lake Como

Travel Writer

Lake Como is mesmerising no matter which part of it you choose to visit. Even more charming, though, are the towns that populate its shores. Their multi-coloured houses and luxury villas contrast against the glittering water to create picture-postcard vistas that are hard to ignore.

From Bellagio’s cosmopolitan allure to Nesso’s raw beauty, the towns around Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy , play a big part in the latter’s popularity. Whether you choose to stay in a sumptuous villa or relax by a gorgeous waterfall, you are bound to fall in love with these precious gems. Read on for our favourite Lake Como towns.

Visit Lake Como for yourself on our 10-day specially curated Northern Italy adventure – after exploring Rome and Tuscany, you’ll hop on a boat for a tour of Lake Como.

Dubbed “the pearl of Lake Como”, this small, elegant village sitting halfway between the two southernmost branches of the lake is the most visited in the area. Bellagio will win you over with its unrivalled coastal views, its cobbled, flower-lined streets and its Instagrammable houses with ivy-covered balconies that come in all kinds of pastel colours. The town is also famous for its classy villas; make sure to visit Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni – their spectacular gardens are open to the public – before you shop in the arcades facing the water or sip on an aperitivo near the ferry dock.

lake como tourist spots

Typically seen as a getaway to other towns around the lake, Como is probably the most underrated of the group. This is indeed where you can catch ferries to various parts of the lake, but Como is so much more than that. If you choose to spend some time here, the town will reward you with its rich history and pretty architecture. Pass by the marvellous churches, such as the 15th-century Duomo or the imposing San Fedele, and stroll along the lovely lakeside promenade. Other must-sees include Porta Pretoria, the ancient gate to the town, and the medieval centre, marked by beautiful 12th- and 13th-century buildings.

Como’s Duomo is worth a visit

It probably doesn’t get more peaceful or rainbow-coloured than Varenna. This steep hillside village owes its charm to the cute fishermen’s houses that contrast with the grand villas of its neighbour, Bellagio. Home to no more than 900 residents, Varenna has kept its authenticity, which shines through in the romantic boardwalk, the picturesque churches and the buildings’ traditional facades. Relax by the lake, or in the lush gardens of the dreamy Villa Monastero, and follow the narrow path all the way up to Castello di Vezio for some incredible lake views; the castle stands out thanks to the eerie ghostlike figures that adorn its walls and that are the subject of many urban legends.

Varenna’s colourful houses and authentic feel are undeniably charming

Directly across the lake from Varenna lies this small town that serves as the more laid-back, less popular sister-village to Bellagio. Once a walled city in medieval times, Menaggio is now a quaint resort brimming with hotels, cafes, characterful boutiques and even a mini-golf course. While away at the lakefront promenade with its bright-coloured houses before climbing up the stairs to the older part of the town to admire the remnants of the walls that once bordered the ancient castle. Don’t miss the lively Piazza Garibaldi and its truly unique 19th-century architecture – it’s where locals gather for a cup of coffee or a fun night out.

Menaggio is a quaint lakeside resort brimming with hotels, cafes and boutiques

If you’re looking for abundant nature amid glamorous villas, then Tremezzo should be your go-to lakeside retreat. The town is most famous for the stunning gardens of Villa Carlotta, which feature azaleas, Japanese maples, palm trees, cacti, bamboo and orchids among more than 500 species. The entire property covers an area of 14 acres (6ha); step inside the 17th-century Neoclassical villa to find an interesting collection of paintings, sculptures and tapestries. Another highlight is the lavish Grand Hotel Tremezzo that looks out at Bellagio across the shimmering lake – the hotel has its own park, while one of its pools literally floats on the lake.

The Villa Carlotta gardens are home to more than 500 plant species

For the ultimate tranquil destination, stop in Nesso. This small town found halfway between Bellagio and Como will appeal to those looking for a low-key stay, amidst unbelievable nature. Nesso is known for its majestic gorge and the series of waterfalls gushing out of it and feeding into the lake. Cross one of the dreamlike bridges and you’ll find yourselves in awe of the green and sparkling-blue scenery. The gorge is so impressive that it has caught the attention of artists through the years. Leonardo da Vinci once referred to Nesso as “a land where a river falls with great violence into a vast rift in the mountain.”

Nesso is a low-key spot between Bellagio and Como

The fishing town of Bellano boasts an even more astonishing, steep ravine, called Orrido di Torrente Pioverna, which was formed by an erosion 15 million years ago. The difference here is that you can actually experience the wondrous gorge from the inside in all its precipitous glory, as long as you follow the catwalks that are fixed in the rock exactly for this purpose. Take photos of the caves as you stare down to the milky waters of the lake and breathe in the natural scents. Painted lakeside homes are once again prominent, as are tall trees and a number of pretty white boats moored on the harbour.

Bellano boasts an impressive ravine

Home to some world-renowned villas, Cernobbio is equal parts serene and cosmopolitan. Standing out are Villa Erba and Villa d’Este; having served as a cardinal’s summer residence from 1568 to 1873, the latter is now a luxurious hotel frequented by the rich and famous. It features landscaped gardens, plush interiors complete with classy chandeliers, an outdoor pool floating on the lake and deluxe spa facilities. Hiking enthusiasts will also appreciate Cernobbio’s location, as the town sits near the start of the Monti Lariani Trail, which extends across 130km (80mi) through the hills on the west side of Lake Como.

Cernobbio’s Villa d’Este has been transformed from a cardinal’s residence to a luxury hotel

Fancy exploring more of Italy? Foodies should book our four-day Mini Trip in Bologna or our five-day adventure in Puglia . After a longer getaway? Check out our Southern Italy or Sicily trips for an immersive experience travelling the region over 10 days.

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lake como tourist spots

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She Wanders Abroad

The Ultimate 4 Days in Lake Como Itinerary You’ll Want to Steal

View of Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como from the water

Lake Como is one of my favorite destinations in Italy and a must-visit for anyone planning a trip to this beautiful country.

Situated in the Northern region of Lombardy, Lake Como is known for its beautiful lakeside villages, jaw-dropping views, and grand villas.

I’ve already been to Lake Como three times and wouldn’t mind going back for a fourth! In this Lake Como 4 day itinerary, I’ll be sharing my favorite spots and tips to help you make the most out of your trip.

* Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link. *

Table of Contents

Are you planning a last-minute trip to Lake Como?

If your trip is coming up soon and you still haven’t booked anything, we have you covered! Below you can find our top picks when it comes to hotels, tours, getting around, and more.

Best Day Trips to Lake Como

  • From Milan: Lake Como, Bellagio, and Varenna Guided Day Trip
  • From Milan: Lake Como and Bellagio Private Boat Cruise

Best Tours and Experiences in Lake Como

  • 1 Hour Private Wooden Boat Tour on Lake Como
  • Villa Del Balbianello Entry Ticket (the famous Star Wars villa)
  • Lakeside Villas Entry Tickets with Ferries (Villa Monastero, Villa Carlotta, and Villa Melzi Gardens)
  • Vintage Vespa Tour Along Lake Como

Best Places to Stay in Lake Como

  • Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como (top luxury hotel with stunning pool and views)
  • Grand Hotel Tremezzo (the most iconic hotel in Lake Como)
  • Albergo Milano (amazing mid-range option in Varenna)
  • Domus Bellagio (great budget option in Bellagio with insane views)

Colorful houses in Varenna, Lake Como

Overview of Your 4 Days in Lake Como Itinerary

Breakdown of your 4 days in lake como.

  • Day 1 (Varenna & Bellano): Villa Cipressi, Villa Monastero, Bar Il Molo, Chiesa San Giorgio, Castello di Vezio, Passerella Innamorati Sul Lago, Orrido di Bellano
  • Day 2 (Bellagio): Bellagio lakefront promenade, I Giardini di Villa Melzi, dai Viga pasta fresca, Gelateria del Borgo, Salita Serbelloni, Piazza della Chiesa & Basilica of St. Giacomo, Parco di Villa Serbelloni, Punta Spartivento
  • Day 3 (Lenno, Tremezzo & Menaggio): Villa del Balbianello, Ristorante Giglio, Villa Carlotta, Sightseeing in Menaggio
  • Day 4 (Nesso & Como): Orrido di Nesso, Villa Olmo, Tempio Voltiano, Life Electric Monument, Saint Mary Assunta Cathedral, Brunate funicular

Map for your 4 day Lake Como itinerary

Below you can find a customized map that includes all the locations you’re going to visit on this Lake Como itinerary.

I marked your 4 days in Lake Como with different colors – I used blue for the first, yellow for the second, green for the third, and red for the fourth day, so you can easily see which places you’re going to visit each day.

How to use this map: This map is fully interactive, so you can move around, zoom in/zoom out, and click on the icons. If you want to see a larger map, click on the bracket in the upper right corner. To see more details and the different layers, click on the tab in the upper left corner. If you want to save it for later, click on the star icon next to the name of the map. Then simply open Google Maps either on your desktop or phone, go to ‘Saved’/’Maps’, and open the map whenever you need it.

Day 1: Varenna & Bellano

Villa cipressi.

Start your 4 days in Lake Como by exploring one of my favorite villas in Lake Como, Villa Cipressi . This stunning villa is located in the charming town of Varenna and features beautiful terraced gardens overlooking the lake.

If you’re staying in Varenna, you’ll be within walking distance of Villa Cipressi. If you’re coming from another town, you can just hop on a ferry and take a scenic 10-minute walk from the ferry port to the villa.

Villa Cipressi, Lake Como

Unfortunately, the inside of the villa is reserved for hotel guests only (the villa now operates as a luxury hotel), but the gardens are open to the public.

I absolutely loved wandering through the gardens and taking in the stunning views of Lake Como, and of course, taking a million pictures!

You can grab entry tickets for the gardens for only €10 and spend an hour or so strolling through the different levels and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

It’s also possible to stay at the Villa Cipressi, but let me warn you, it’s not cheap. But if you want a splurge, I can only recommend booking a stay there .

Imagine waking up and having the botanical gardens every morning to yourself without the crowds!

Girl in yellow dress at Villa Cipressi, Lake Como

Villa Monastero

Sticking with villas, after you’ve had a nice look at Villa Cipressi, make your way to Villa Monastero , one of Varenna’s most prominent historical locations. It’s right next to Villa Cipressi so it’s super easy to get to.

Some would say the facade of the Villa Monastero warrants a visit on its own, but there’s much more to this landmark than meets the eye.

The inside of the building has been converted into a museum and a conference center, and the complex hosts a peaceful set of botanical gardens.

Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como

A combination ticket for both the museum and the botanical gardens will only set you back €13, but if you just want to visit the outdoor spaces, the tickets are only €10.

If you have the time, I would strongly recommend getting the combi ticket as the museum inside the villa is simply fantastic!

You can find 14 rooms inside, each containing original decorations and furniture. From the gorgeous Sala della Musica to the intimate chambers and bathrooms, you’ll get a great insight into the life of former inhabitants.

Interior of Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como

Lunch at Bar Il Molo

After exploring some of the most beautiful villas in Lake Como in the morning, it’s time to indulge in some delicious Italian food!

I recommend having lunch at Bar Il Molo , located right along the shores of the lake. To be completely honest with you, the food can be a bit of a hit or miss at this place, but the view? That’s totally unbeatable!

Bar Il Molo features an outside terrace with some jaw-dropping vantage points. They actually have two terraces: the lower one opens right in the morning for breakfast, while the upper one only opens at noon.

The menu consists of a spread of Italian delights, including bruschetta, a selection of pasta, and pizzas made with fresh local produce. You can accompany your meal with a classic Aperol Spritz, or you can try their version, the Molo Spritz.

Bar Il Molo is only a short five-minute walk from Villa Monastero, so you won’t have to go far for your first taste of the Italian cuisine on your 4 day Lake Como itinerary.

Lunch at Bar Il Molo Varenna, Lake Como

Chiesa San Giorgio

After a relaxing lunch break, continue the first of your 4 days in Lake Como to the Chiesa San Giorgio, an astonishing example of 14th-century Lombard architecture.

I was blown away the first time I saw the inside of the Chiesa San Giorgio. The primary altar is designed in true Baroque style and in contrast, the tabernacle follows a neoclassical style.

The one aspect everyone finds the most impressive is the creative frescos lined along the walls – trust me, you’ll be left speechless when you see them!

You can enter the church for free, and it’s open every day from 8:30 am to 7 pm, but if you want to visit on Saturday or Sunday, make note of the mass times.

Church in Varenna, Lake Como

Climb up to Castello Di Vezio

Next, it’s time for an uphill walk to the Castello di Vezio, which overlooks the beautiful town of Varenna.

The structure has been there for over 1,000 years and used to be a military outpost, but today, it’s a major tourist attraction open to the public.

You can go deep into the remaining dungeons, climb up to the main tower to catch a better view of Lake Como, or wander through the serene gardens.

The climb up to Castello di Vezio is a short but very steep walk. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, preferably sneakers! I was wearing sandals, and the climb down was a real nightmare so learn from my mistake.

You don’t need more than 20-30 minutes to get up to the top but if you’re not in the shape of your life, factor in some time for rest and and rehydration.

Getting up to the castle is definitely not one of the easiest things to do in Varenna but once you make it to the top, the views will more than make up for the sweaty climb!

lake como tourist spots

Stroll around the Passerella Innamorati Sul Lago

The Passerella Innamorati Sul Lago is perfect for a romantic walk along Lake Como’s shores. This little pathway is lined with red railings and starts from the pier of Varenna and leads out to the heart of Varenna town. 

Only a couple hundred meters long, the Passerella Innamorati Sul Lago is an excellent spot to take your photo as it has a lovely mountain backdrop and a love heart photo stand. Plus, it’s not challenging, so you don’t have to worry about wearing appropriate footwear.

lake como tourist spots

Take a train to Bellano

As your time in Varenna comes to a close, take a train to the alluring small town of Bellano on the east side of Lake Como.

The ride takes five minutes from Varenna-Esino Station to Bellano-Tartavalle Terme Station and only costs €2. They typically run twice an hour so you’re pretty flexible regarding when you decide to go.

Boats in Bellano, Lake Como

One of my all-time favorite things to do in Bellano is visiting Orrido di Bellano, a natural gorge suspected of having been brought to life over 15 million years ago by erosion from the powerful River Pioverna. 

With the help of the skywalk built around the gorge, you can enjoy remarkable views of cascading waterfalls and turquoise blue lakes and even enter the inside of some small caves.

Entry tickets to the Orrido di Bellano cost €5, this includes access to all areas of the grounds. Additionally, the walk there from Bellano-Tartavalle Terme Station is only six minutes.

Stairs above the gorge in Orrido di Bellano

Dinner in Varenna

You deserve a true Italian feast after completing the first day of your Lake Como 4 day itinerary. I recommend taking the train back to Varenna before dark and finding somewhere to eat for dinner.

Il Cavatappi Restaurant is a tiny, locally owned eatery wedged between some of Varenna’s oldest buildings, serving some of Lake Como’s most cherished dishes in a warm and personal setting.

Since the venue is so small, booking well in advance is advised, sometimes up to a month beforehand.

If you can’t find a seat at Il Cavatappi Restaurant, a wonderful nearby alternative is Al Prato Restaurant.

Only steps away from Varenna’s lakefront, this establishment offers a mix of seafood and Northern Italian dishes. Their food is honestly sensational, especially the whole wheat ravioli.

Day 2: Bellagio

Stroll around the lakefront promenade in bellagio.

Wake up bright and early and make your way to Bellagio, known as the “Pearl of Lake Como.” It’s a small village located at the tip of the peninsula that divides Lake Como into two branches.

I think it’s one of the best places to stay in Lake Como , but even if you’re staying elsewhere, it’s just a short ferry ride away from most towns.

I recommend spending the whole day in Bellagio, taking your time to explore the winding streets and stunning lakeside views.

Start by strolling along the lakefront promenade that offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The promenade runs from the ferry station to the Villa Melzi Gardens which is perfect, considering this will be the next stop on your 4 day Lake Como itinerary.

The lakefront promenade is one of my absolute favorite places in Bellagio, especially when the flowers are in full bloom! It’s such a peaceful and romantic walk and a literal heaven for photographers.

Girl sitting under pink flowers at the Waterfront promenade at Bellagio, Lake Como

I Giardini di Villa Melzi

Visiting the Villa Melzi Gardens is one of the most popular things to do in Bellagio so you definitely won’t want to miss it.

This stunning complex was built in the early 19th century for Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Vice President of the Italian Republic under Napoleon.

Sadly, you cannot enter the inside of the villa, but the botanical gardens, developed by the well-known architect Luigi Canonica, are open to the public.

The gardens boast a variety of trees, plants, and flowers from all over the world and offer magnificent views of Lake Como. I especially loved walking through the Japanese garden with its peaceful ponds and colorful koi fish.

You can also find some cute benches strategically placed along the shores of Lake Como for some scenic relaxation.

I recommend spending at least an hour here to fully appreciate the beauty and tranquility of Villa Melzi’s gardens. Entry tickets cost €10 per person and include access to the villa museum, chapel, and gardens.

lake como tourist spots

Lunch at Dai Viga Pasta Fresca

Fancy some pasta for lunch? You won’t find a better place to try some than at Dai Viga Pasta Fresca , who are experts when it comes to crafting artisanal pasta.

I don’t know how they do it; maybe it’s their homemade sauces or their toppings, but they serve some of the best pasta I’ve ever tried in Italy!

Since you’re in Italy, it would be a crime to have a meal without a fine glass of wine, and let me tell you, Dai Viga Pasta Fresca has a nice selection on offer, from flavorful whites to full-bodied reds. You might find yourself staying for the bottle after the first glass!

lake como tourist spots

Gelato at Gelateria del Borgo

When in Italy, you should always have time for gelato, and there’s no better place to have some than at Gelateria del Borgo . 

Arguably, Bellagio’s top gelato shop, Gelateria del Borgo, has just about any flavor available, including vanilla, cherry, pistachio, hazelnut, coconut, caramel, and the list goes on.

The line for Gelateria del Borgo can sometimes be pretty long because of its central location but don’t get discouraged because it tends to move quickly.

Trust me, it’s completely worth the wait – during our time in Lake Como, we went back almost daily!

lake como tourist spots

Snap a picture at Salita Serbelloni

No doubt you’ve seen photos of Salita Serbelloni while scrolling through Instagram before your trip.

For those who have never heard it, it’s a quaint passageway tucked away deep in Bellagio’s main center, lined with fashion boutiques, cafes, bars, and traditional restaurants.

Unfortunately, due to how popular Salita Serbelloni has gotten over the years, it tends to get pretty crowded there, and it’s a small enough area, so it can only hold so many people.

If you find it busy when you get there, maybe try to rearrange your visit early the next morning so you have it all to yourself.

Salita Serbelloni in Bellagio, Lake Como

Visit Piazza Della Chiesa & Basilica of St. Giacomo

After Salita Serbelloni, make your way to Piazza della Chiesa, one of the main squares of Bellagio.

One of the must-see things at Piazza della Chiesa is the Basilica of St. Giacomo. Traced back to the 12th century, the Basilica of St. Giacomo has seen many improvements over the years to ensure its preservation.

It’s completely free to enter, and inside, you’ll find several important artifacts like an illustration of the Deposition and a sculpture of Christ.

Make sure to spend some time at the square as it’s one of the best places to people-watch. There are also some cute little cafes where you can swing by for your afternoon coffee.

Main square with church in Bellagio, Lake Como

Afternoon tour of Parco di Villa Serbelloni

Take a break from the crowds of Bellagio and set off on a tour of Parco di Villa Serbelloni, a nature park spread across 50 acres of highland with a dominating view of Lake Como.

The park can only be accessed by a guided tour, only costing €10 per person, but you must book your space in advance because only a maximum of 60 people can visit a day due to park policy. 

Tours run twice a day, at 11 am and 3:30 pm, but keep in mind that the park is closed on Mondays, so make sure to plan the days of your 4 day Lake Como itinerary accordingly.

Throughout your visit to Parco di Villa Serbelloni, you’ll get the chance to learn about Villa Serbelloni’s interesting history amid the park’s lush green gardens and catch a bird’s eye view of Bellagio that barely any tourists get to see.

Unfortunately, you can’t visit the villa itself, but trust me, the views more than make up for it. The only thing you have to be aware of is that the tour will involve a lot of uphill walking, so I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes!

Insider tip: Make sure not to confuse Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni with Parco di Villa Serbelloni! Although both properties have the same name, the first one is a 5-star hotel located along the shore, while the latter is the park that you can tour.

Villa Serbelloni Gardens in Bellagio, Lake Como

Walk to the tip of Bellagio (Punta Spartivento)

Enjoy your last few hours of sunshine walking to the tip of Bellagio. There’s an impressive park called Punta Spartivento, which only takes around 7 minutes to walk from Parco Di Villa Serbelloni.

Punta Spartivento is mainly known for its dazzling scenery; some of the vistas you’ll catch of Laka Como are incomparable. Around the park, you’ll find a bunch of little benches lined on the lake’s edge; it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.

The view from La Punta Spartivento in Bellagio, Lake Como

Dinner in Bellagio 

End your day with dinner at one of Bellagio’s many restaurants. The town has plenty of options for all tastes and budgets, from cozy trattorias to upscale fine dining establishments.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Trattoria San Giacomo : Located on the famous Salita Serbelloni, this traditional trattoria serves up typical Italian classics and the prices are pretty reasonable. They have the cutest little outdoor terrace looking out at the street, but it fills up quickly, so try to get there early.
  • Ristoro Forma e Gusto : This is hands down the best place for some Neapolitan-styled pizza! They produce all of their pizzas with the help of a wood-burning oven, an authentic tradition from Naples, the birthplace of pizza. In addition, their wine menu is unparalleled, with a great variety of reds and whites.
  • Bistrot Antichi Sapori : This cozy restaurant is located in the heart of Bellagio and offers a selection of traditional Italian dishes. The portions are huge, the food quality is phenomenal, and the staff goes above and beyond to ensure guests are enjoying themselves, even if the place is packed.

Pizza at Ristoro Forma e Gusto in Bellagio, Italy

Day 3: Lenno, Tremezzo & Menaggio

Villa del balbianello.

It’s finally time to visit one of my all-time favorite spots in Lake Como – Villa del Balbianello ! Located just across the lake from Bellagio, this stunning villa is famous for being featured in movies such as Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II.

To reach the villa, you first have to take a ferry to Lenno and then you have two options: you can either take a taxi boat or you can tackle the 25-minute uphill walk.

Personally, I recommend taking the taxi boat on the way to the villa and walking back to Lenno after your visit. The taxi boat starts running at 10 am when the villa opens and I suggest getting there 15 minutes before so you can secure a spot.

Having an online booking for Villa del Balbianello is now mandatory so make sure to book your tickets in advance. Entrance to the gardens costs €12 per person and you should book at least a week in advance.

It’s also possible to visit the interiors of the villa but only with a guided tour. It costs €23 but the tickets usually sell out a month in advance so you need to be quick.

I’ve been to Villa del Balbianello twice but I still haven’t visited the interiors yet as I couldn’t secure tickets on time. However, exploring the gardens and admiring the villa from the outside is already a magical experience!

Girl in a white dress in Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como

Lunch in Lenno

After your visit to Villa del Balbianello, take a stroll in Lenno and stop for lunch at one of its charming lakeside restaurants.

We picked Ristorante Giglio and were not disappointed! The menu isn’t overly massive, but everything Chef Dario and his team craft, they do so with perfection.

Plus, their outdoor seating area has a stunning view of the lake which I absolutely loved.

Make sure not to leave without trying one of their homemade pasta dishes and the tiramisu – trust me, it’s to die for!

lake como tourist spots

Villa Carlotta

After lunch, head to Tremezzo and take a tour of another beautiful villa – Villa Carlotta .

The three-story villa features a fabulous art gallery, vintage furnishings, and 18th-century ornaments. If you have an appreciation for art, you won’t want to miss this!

The architecture of the villa is absolutely breathtaking, I especially loved the gorgeous windows and balconies that offer a stunning view of the lake.

Even if you’re not into art, the botanical gardens are still worth a visit. The whole tour of the gardens takes about 90 minutes and you’ll be able to see a variety of plants, flowers, and sculptures.

Of course, if you’re short on time or you’re not keen on walking that much, you can take the shorter 45-minute route, or just explore a small part of the garden.

Tickets to Villa Carlotta cost €15 per person and it includes entry to both the villa and the gardens.

View of Villa Carlotta, Lake Como from the water

Finish your day by exploring the town of Menaggio, located just a short ferry or bus ride away from Tremezzo.

Stroll along the charming streets, stop for some gelato, and take in the beautiful views of Lake Como. One of the places you must visit is Piazza Garibaldi, which offers a stunning overlook of the lake and surrounding villages.

I recommend staying for dinner in Menaggio. Despite how small Menaggio is, the pretty town still has its fair share of dining options. If you need some recommendations, check out the restaurants below.

  • Osteria Il Pozzo : Their menu focuses mainly on dishes made with lake fish, but there are some meat-based alternatives, too, with lamb, beef, or chicken. Don’t miss out on trying their cold-cut meats and cheese for starters, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Pizzeria Lugano : If you love pizza, then Pizzeria Lugano is a must-visit. It’s a no-frills restaurant serving traditional pizzas, and they’re reasonably priced. They also offer takeaways if you prefer to have your pizza by the lake!

View of Menaggio from the water

Day 4: Nesso & Como

Start your day by visiting one of the most unique natural wonders in Lake Como – Orrido di Nesso. This impressive waterfall and gorge are located in the charming town of Nesso, just a short drive from Bellagio.

If you have a rental car, you can easily get there in about 20 minutes from Bellagio. However, if you’re relying on public transportation, you’ll have to take the C30 bus to Nesso.

Once you arrive in Nesso, follow the signs to Orrido di Nesso and be prepared for a steep walk down to the gorge. But trust me, it’s worth it! The views of the waterfall and surrounding nature are simply breathtaking.

There are no entrance fees for Orrido di Nesso, and if you’re visiting in the summer, you can even take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the gorge.

Girl standing on a stone bridge at Nesso, Lake Como

After visiting Orrido di Nesso, head to the city of Como to explore its famous landmarks. You can either drive 30 minutes to get there or take the C30 bus from Nesso to Como.

One of the best things to do in Como is to visit Villa Olmo, a neoclassical villa located on the shores of the lake. The villa dates back to the late 18th century and features stunning architecture and interiors.

Unlike the other villas on this 4 day Lake Como itinerary, Villa Olmo is completely free to visit. You can explore the interior of the villa, take a stroll in the gardens, and even have a picnic on the lawns.

The villa is closed on Mondays, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly.

Villa Olmo at Lake Como

Tempio Voltiano

Next, head to Tempio Voltiano, a striking structure built to commemorate the great Alessandro Volta, the famous man who developed the battery. He was from Como and also died there, and the locals are proud to call him one of their own.

The temple features a museum that displays some of Volta’s inventions, including the original first battery he ever made. The museum also offers a panoramic terrace with beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The entrance fee to Tempio Voltiano is only €4, and similar to Villa Olmo, it’s closed on Mondays.

Tempio Voltiano in Como, Italy

Life Electric Monument

Another attraction dedicated to Alessandro Volta is the Life Electric Monument. It’s a 6-minute walk from Tempio Voltiano.

To reach there, you have to walk out onto a long manmade platform in the middle of Lake Como’s first basin, but it can also be viewed from land if you prefer.

The 16.5-meter tall monument is supposed to replicate two sine waves clashing together with some bends and twists and showcasing scientific features. Its shape will surely have you scratching your head, but it’s quite impressive.

Admission to the Life Electric monument is free, and while I recommend walking right out to it, it looks far better from a distance, and the pictures of it are nicer from a vantage point, too.

Life Electric monument in Como, Italy

Como Cathedral

No trip to Como would be complete without a visit to the beautiful Como Cathedral. The cathedral, also known as Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, is located in the heart of the city and it’s truly an impressive sight to behold.

While the cathedral is mainly celebrated for its design, the main reason it’s famous is because it was constructed as a sign of respect towards the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the 14th and 18th centuries.

From the outside, the impressive Gothic features will blow you away, and as you walk through the main doors, you’ll also be able to spot evidence of Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanesque detail too, which I found really interesting.

The entrance is free so make sure to include this stop in your 4 days in Lake Como itinerary for a dose of history, culture, and stunning architecture.

Como Cathedral, Italy

Take the funicular to Brunate

After exploring the city of Como, end your day by taking the funicular up to Brunate for stunning panoramic views of Lake Como.

The journey up to the top only takes 7 minutes, and the cable trains run every 30 minutes until midnight, so you never have to wait too long for your next ride. A single fare will set you back €3.60, or you can purchase a round-trip ticket for €6.60.

Once you reach Brunate, take some time to explore the quaint village and enjoy the breathtaking views from the viewpoint.

To be completely honest with you, I didn’t find the village itself to be anything extraordinary, but the views are absolutely worth it.

Brunate funicular in Como, Italy

Dinner in Como

After taking in the stunning views from Brunate, head back down to Como for dinner. The city offers a wide range of dining options, from upscale restaurants to casual pizzerias.

Here are my recommendations for the final meal of your Lake Como itinerary:

  • La Darsena : This restaurant is located right by the funicular station in Como, and it offers an extensive seafood and pizza menu. The outdoor seating area overlooks the lake, providing a beautiful setting for your dinner.
  • Riva Cafe : If you’re craving some delicious Italian pizza, Riva Cafe is the place to go. Located by the lake, this restaurant offers an array of traditional pizzas, along with other Italian dishes.

lake como tourist spots

Useful Info for Spending 4 Days in Lake Como

Where to stay in lake como.

The most popular areas for accommodation in Lake Como are Bellagio, Varenna, and Como. These towns have the most tourist attractions and offer great accommodation options ranging from luxurious villas to budget-friendly guesthouses.

Varenna and Como are especially great because they have direct train connections to Milan, so it’s very easy to get to. However, keep in mind that Como is very far from the middle part of the lake where most attractions are located so you’ll spend a lot of time commuting.

If you want to know more about the best places to stay around the lake, check out my in-depth guide about where to stay in Lake Como . It covers all of the best areas and gives you some insider tips on where to find the best deals.

If you’re in a hurry, here are my top recommendations for the best hotels in these towns.

Best places to stay in Bellagio

  • Luxury | Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni
  • Mid-range | Hotel du Lac & SPA
  • Budget | Hotel Bellagio

Best places to stay in Varenna

  • Luxury | Hotel Royal Victoria
  • Mid-range | Hotel Olivedo
  • Budget | Hotel Montecodeno

Best places to stay in Como

  • Luxury | Vista Palazzo – Small Luxury Hotels of the World
  • Mid-range | Hotel Como
  • Budget | Residence Diaz

Bar Giardino at Hotel Royal Victoria, Varenna

How to get to Lake Como

When it comes to getting to Lake Como, you have quite a bit of options, and it will depend on what type of transportation you prefer and where exactly you are planning to stay.

The closest airports are Milano Malpensa and Orio al Serio in Bergamo, so if you’re visiting from abroad, those are likely the best options to take a look at.

Como and Varenna, two of the most popular towns in Lake Como have direct train connections to Milan so if you’re staying at either of these towns, you can just hop on a train and arrive at your accommodation in one hour.

If you’re staying in other towns, you can either take a ferry, train, bus, or taxi to arrive at your final destination.

Another option is to rent a car , which gives you the ultimate freedom and also allows you to do a bigger Northern Italy road trip .

Even if you opt for this, I would recommend leaving your car at the parking lot while you’re in Lake Como and choosing another way to get around (more about this later).

Best time to visit Lake Como

Shoulder seasons – late spring and early fall – are hands down the best time to visit Lake Como. The weather is usually great, prices are lower, and you don’t have to worry about tourist crowds.

The worst time to visit Lake Como, in my opinion, is during the summer months (July and August). It can get quite hot during these months with temperatures reaching up to 33°C (91°F), and the lake is usually flooded with tourists.

View of Bellagio Lake Como from the lakefront promenade

Getting around Lake Como

The best way to get around Lake Como is by public ferry. It’s not only budget-friendly, but you also get to enjoy some spectacular views of the lake. The ferry schedule is very regular, and it’s quite easy to move from one part of the lake to another.

You can easily check the schedule and book your tickets on the official website of Navigazione Laghi website . Usually, you can book your tickets on the same day, but if you’re visiting in peak season, it’s best to book them a few days in advance.

If you’re visiting towns on the same side of the lake, you can also take a bus or a train. There’s also the option to rent a bike or take a taxi, although this can get quite expensive if you’re planning to cover long distances.

As I mentioned before, even if you have a rental car, I recommend leaving it at the parking lot and choosing another way to get around Lake Como.

The roads are quite narrow, and the traffic can get quite congested during peak season, which can take away from your vacation. Not to mention that finding a parking lot during the day is a real nightmare!

Ferries on Lake Como

Planning a trip to Lake Como?

Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about Lake Como. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!

Lake Como hotel guides:

  • Where to Stay in Lake Como: 6 Best Towns & Hotels
  • 23 Stunning Lake Como Hotels with Lake Views
  • 22 Incredible Lake Como Hotels with Pools

Lake Como travel guides:

  • 7 Gorgeous Lake Como Villas & Gardens You Have to Visit
  • Top 10 Best Towns in Lake Como You Can’t Miss
  • 18 Absolute Best Things to Do in Lake Como, Italy
  • 17 Best Things to Do in Bellagio, Italy (+ Practical Tips for Visiting)
  • 15 Best Things to Do in Varenna (+ Practical Tips for Visiting)
  • 18 Best Things to Do in Como, Italy (+ Practical Tips for Visiting)

Lake Como itineraries:

  • Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan: The Best Lake Como One Day Itinerary
  • How to Spend 2 Days in Lake Como, Italy
  • 3 Days in Lake Como: The Perfect Lake Como Itinerary
  • The Ultimate 4 Days in Lake Como Itinerary You’ll Want to Steal

Other Amazing Destinations in Italy: Cinque Terre | Dolomites | Florence | Lake Garda | Rome | Venice

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Traveling to Lake Como for the First Time (Tips & Info for Your Visit)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: November 20, 2023

Traveling to Lake Como for the First Time (Tips & Info for Your Visit)

Traveling to Lake Como, Italy, for the first time  and not sure where to start? Planning a trip to Lake Como might be overwhelming indeed, especially so if this is your first time in this beautiful area.

How much time do you need in Lake Como? When to visit? Where to stay and how to get around Como Lake? Or how to see the best that Lake Como has to offer without the crowds?

To help you plan your first trip to Lago di Como , I selected some of our best tips for visiting Lake Como . This experience-based practical guide will not only help you plan your trip, but will also show you how to make the best of your visit, time, and budget. Find out!

READ ALSO: Best Places to Visit & Things to Do in Lake Como

Varenna town in Lake Como, Italy

These are our top travel tips for visiting Lake Como:

1. Decide how long you’ll stay

Lake Como is one of the largest lakes in Italy. Shaped like an upside-down letter “Y”, Lake Como has a 100-mile (160 km) long shoreline that is lined with countless charming towns and picturesque villages.

So visiting Como Lake is not as straightforward as you may think. It’s not a place where you just drive to one town, do a boat trip, and can see everything in a few hours. In fact, you could spend weeks traveling around Lake Como and still not see ‘everything’.

So before anything else, decide how long you’ll stay at Lake Como . Once you know that, it will be much easier to plan the rest of the trip – starting with getting there, getting around, the best area(s) to stay, places to see, things to do, etc.

But don’t worry – Lake Como is worth it even if you only have a day or two . And you can see many amazing places in a short time – IF you know what to expect and plan well.

Good to know:

  • If you have just 1 day for Lake Como and want to see some of the most popular places, do yourself a favor and take an organized tour . Otherwise, you’ll lose too much time traveling between places and won’t be able to do as much.
  • We recommend planning at least 2-3 days for your first visit to Lake Como. This will give you enough time to see some of the ‘musts’ in a more relaxing way. However, if you want to see all the top places, you should really plan at least 4-5 days or it will be very rushed.
  • If you are traveling in the warm season and like hiking, biking, or want to get a bit off the beaten path and visit some less popular towns and villages, you can easily spend a week or even two in the area.

Villa Carlotta gardens and fountain - Lake Como, Italy

2. Travel in the shoulder season

Being one of the most beautiful destinations in Italy , it will come as no surprise that Lake Como is extremely popular. Furthermore, the main tourist season here is rather short – approximately from March through October, with most tourists visiting in the peak summer months (June – September).

So if you are mostly interested in sightseeing and do not care about swimming etc., see if you can adjust your travel plans and visit Lake Como in the spring or in the fall . It will still be busy, but incomparable to July or August when European countries have their school holidays.

The best months to visit Lake Como are mid-April – May and mid-September to mid-October. That’s when everything is open, the weather is mild, and it’s not too busy.

TIP: Some of the best places to see at Lake Como are historic Lake Como villas with beautiful gardens . So one of the best times to visit Lake Como is when everything is green and the gardens are in full bloom. The gardens are at their nicest when rhododendrons and azaleas bloom, which – depending on the weather – is around the second half of April .

Of course, visiting Lake Como in summer is amazing too. This is the season when you can enjoy everything that the area has to offer to the fullest. However, traveling in the summer, you’ll have to do a bit more advanced planning and prepare to deal with the crowds (especially at the boat harbors of the most popular towns).

Good to know: While the scenery is stunning the whole-year round, traveling to Lake Como in the winte r is a very different experience. This is mostly because the weather can get really cold and lots of businesses shut down between November and February. There are also fewer boats and the main attractions are closed too.

We once visited Lake Como in late October and once also in late November. It was still a great experience, but incomparable to the warmer months. If you are looking for solitude and want to discover the more local side of the area, you’ll enjoy visiting here in the off-season.

Visiting Lake Como in Italy - lake scenery near Menaggio

3. Stay in a central location

If you are visiting Lake Como for a few days and are looking for the best ‘base’ for exploring the area, we recommend staying around the middle of the lake . Bellagio is right in the center of it all, but also Varenna , Menaggio, Griante, Cadenabbia, Tremezzo, and Lenno all are very well located for sightseeing.

Of course, the southern end of the lake ( Como , Cernobbio, Lecco…) is worth considering too. But it all comes down to how much time you have and what you want to see and do.

For the first trip and if looking for just one place to stay in order to visit all the top places, I’d stay in the middle.

This is the area where you will find some of the most charming towns and villas of Lake Como. It also has very good boat connections. The ferry journey between all the main places on the eastern and western shores of the lake will take just 10-30 minutes (vs. 1.5-2 hrs from Lecco or Como towns).

Menaggio town in Lake Como, Italy

Where to stay

Good to know: Bellagio is the most popular town on Lake Como. This means that it’s very busy and accommodations here can be really expensive (even more than in the other areas which aren’t cheap either). A quieter alternative is the nearby quaint village of San Giovanni . It also has a ferry stop and can also be reached by a tourist ‘train’ from Bellagio.

Another very popular town on Lake Como is Varenna . It has a direct train connection to Milan and easy ferry connections to pretty much everywhere on Lake Como.

TIP: If you want to avoid the biggest crowds of day tourists, stay on the western side of the lake in the area between Mennagio and Lenno . You can easily visit everything from here, but this shore is much quieter. From places like Tremezzo or Cadennabia, you can usually take a ferry (and find a seat) without having to arrive half an hour in advance or stand in a huge chaotic line.

Our experience: We’ve been to Lake Como a few times and stayed in three different areas during those trips (Como, Cernobbio, and Cadenabbia). While each was great for the purpose of that specific trip, we found that staying in the central area of the lake was the most convenient for sightseeing. Furthermore, despite the mixed reviews, we really loved the historic Grand Hotel Cadenabbia . It has unparalleled rooftop views, an amazing pool, and free parking.

For more information as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different towns around the lake, please see our detailed guide via the link below. For more info about the ferries – see further below.

LEARN MORE: Where to Stay at Lake Como

Lake Como sunset as seen from a rooftop terrace of Grand Hotel Cadenabbia

4. Reserve as much as possible in advance

This is really becoming the new reality of traveling to popular destinations – you have to reserve as much as possible in advance. Luckily, it’s not yet the case for everything at Lake Como, but it sure helps to do some research before you go.

For example, if you want to visit Villa del Balbianello inside , you really have to book tickets in advance on their website . The visits are guided and the number of people they can take in a day is quite limited. When we traveled to Lake Como in August, the tours of the villa interior were sold out a few weeks in advance.

Most people simply visit the gardens of Villa del Balbianello. Also here, they recommend pre-booking your tickets, but luckily, you can still get in without an advance reservation. Just keep in mind that the queue at the entrance can get quite long, so booking skip-the-line tickets in advance can save you a lot of time.

Villa Carlotta can be visited without an advance reservation, but the queues at the ticket desk can get really long. If you book in advance , you can just walk in via a separate entrance.

TIP:  If you plan on visiting several of the nicest Lake Como villas in one day, check out this  ferry + villa tickets combo . It includes Villa Monastero, Villa Carlotta, and the gardens of Villa Melzi, plus a 1-day ferry ticket.

Also your accommodation is one of the things you better book well in advance. Staying at Lake Como is not cheap and the earlier you book, the more choices you have, and thus better prices. For example, when we checked the rates at our hotel a week before our trip, we saw that it was about 30% more expensive than what we paid when we booked it a few months upfront.

And if you want to dine at a specific restaurant , you better call them in advance too. For most places, you’ll be able to reserve a table just a few hours in advance. But if it’s a very popular restaurant and you are visiting on a weekend, you may want to call them a few days upfront. And if you didn’t reserve – go early. Italians eat late (around 8 pm or even later), so if you come earlier, you have more chance to find a table. Just be sure to check when the restaurant opens – some only open at 7.30 pm.

Oh, and if you want to take a private boat cruise on the lake, it’s also best to book in advance. You can find some of the best options here . When comparing tours, don’t forget to check their duration and in which town they start!

Villa del Balbianello gardens - Lake Como, Italy

5. Book a hotel with a view and a pool

One of the charms of staying at Lake Como is being able to enjoy the spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. So when looking for accommodation, see if you can find a nice hotel with a lake view.

You don’t absolutely need a room with a lake view (you’ll probably hardly spend any time in the room anyway), but it’s really nice to be able to enjoy the views at breakfast or from a bar/ restaurant in the evening.

When we stayed at Grand Hotel Cadenabbia , we opted for the garden-view rooms since we read that the lake-view rooms were quite noisy (lakeside is often also the street side, depending on where exactly you are staying). But we could enjoy the most stunning views from our restaurant every morning and from the rooftop terrace the rest of the day. I’d go back to this hotel in a heartbeat, even if just for the views!

Another thing that you may want to look at is that your hotel has a pool . If visiting Lake Como in the summer, you’ll be glad to spend the hottest hours of the day by the water. Depending on where you stay, there are also some public beaches at Lake Como, but really just a few. The best one is probably the public beach of Bellagio in San Giovanni.

Our hotel had an amazing pool and also the pool of the nearby luxury Grand Hotel Tremezzo looked great too (theirs is directly on the lake). Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio also has a beautiful outdoor pool (and one indoors), and direct access to the lake with a separate swimming area. There are many other hotels with swimming pools along Lake Como. We found that it’s well worth a splurge, and not just for families with kids.

Lake Como luxury hotel pool and lake view - Grand Hotel Cadenabbia

6. Get ferry tickets online or at slow times

Visiting Lake Como will usually involve at least a few ferry journeys. You’ll need a ticket for those ferries, which you can get at any harbor or online.

While it won’t be a big issue in the quieter months, the ferry ticket offices during the day in the peak season are swamped with people. This is especially the case in places like Bellagio or Varenna, but also Como town. So if you don’t want to waste lots of precious time queuing, try to get your ferry tickets in advance.

If you have the patience to try to navigate the official website of Navigazione Laghi , you can book your ferry tickets and day passes online in advance. This is the website where you can get ferry tickets for Lake Como, but also Lake Garda , and Lake Maggiore.

Alternatively, in the morning, get the tickets for all the journeys you are planning to do that day. Or consider a day ticket if you think you’ll want to visit multiple towns in a day. And you can also pass the ticket office the evening before (not too late or it will be closed) and see if you can already get your tickets for the next day(s).

TIP: Depending on your plans, the earlier-mentioned ferry + villa tickets combo can be an easy option allowing you to prebook everything at once.

Lake Como ferry

7. Get to the ferry harbor early

You’ll find the Lake Como ferry schedule in every harbor around the lake. Generally, the boats are quite punctual, so if you are staying in a quieter town, you can just arrive at the harbor a few minutes before the scheduled time.

However, in the most popular towns and at peak times, the harbor often looks like a beehive. There are often at least a few boats arriving/departing at about the same time, and sometimes things can get a bit chaotic.

So save yourself the stress and get to the harbor at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled departure time so that you can try to figure out where exactly to be. And if you want to be sure to have a place to sit on the ferry, you may want to arrive even earlier so that you can get on the boat sooner.

Our experience: We took multiple ferries on Lake Como. In the lower season, it wasn’t busy and you could rely on the schedule. Also in the summer, departing from smaller harbors was never an issue. But the harbors in Bellagio and Varenna were crazy busy. In addition, many passenger boats arrived (and thus departed) too late. There were also ferries that weren’t indicated on the schedule (apparently they sometimes add an extra boat if it gets too busy) adding to the confusion and people trying to get on the wrong boat without realizing where it was going…

If things get crazy, try to stay calm, and don’t be afraid to ask the staff where the ferry is going if you aren’t sure. You don’t want to end up on the other side of the lake if all you need is a 10-minute ferry ride from Varenna to Bellagio or so.

Busy ferry harbor in Varenna town on Lake Como, Italy

8. Visit the most popular towns in the late afternoon

If you are visiting Lake Como in summer, expect it to be very busy everywhere. One of the best ways to avoid crowds in the most popular towns is to arrive very early (before 10 am) or to visit later in the afternoon (after 3-4 pm). The problem with arriving early is that other day-trippers will be there soon too. Whereas late afternoons are much quieter and it just gets better.

When we first arrived in Lake Como, we started our days like everyone else – after a relaxed breakfast. Big mistake! It was so busy everywhere…

But we quickly realized that most places got much quieter in the afternoon. And by the evening, most of the day tourists are gone, and you can actually enjoy the charming towns of Lake Como rather than feeling annoyed about brushing elbows with strangers all the time.

This will be easier to do if you have at least a few days in Lake Como. But if you do, indeed, why not adjust your schedule and visit the towns in the afternoon rather than in the morning. Ferries run quite late in the evening during the summer, and if you are staying in the middle of the lake as we recommended, you can easily visit all the towns in that area this way.

Often, you only need a few hours in a place anyway. Just be sure to keep an eye on the schedule of the attractions that you want to visit inside so that you don’t miss them by arriving too late!

READ ALSO: Most Beautiful Towns & Villages on Lake Como

Empty street in Bellagio in the late afternoon - Lake Como travel tips

9. Don’t count on the ferry schedule 100%

While most ferries on Lake Como run quite punctually, we have experienced quite a few delays during our visit too. Especially on the small passenger ferry which stops in Varenna and Bellagio. One time the ferry was so late and had additional delays waiting to dock in Bellagio that we arrived back at our hotel an hour later than we planned.

Car ferries have a separate dock, so they are usually nicely on time. Whereas passenger ferries have to share the same dock and that’s where things go wrong in the busiest towns during peak times. And if you already have a 10-minute delay on a specific line in the morning, it usually gets worse and worse by the end of the day.

So when planning your sightseeing time at Lake Como, be sure to leave some room for delays, sometimes even up to 30-45 minutes. You can’t rely on the ferry 100% and that’s also what makes it a bit more difficult to visit multiple places in a day in the peak season.

If you just go to one or two towns, it’s normally not a big deal. But if you are visiting Lake Como for just a day and are on a tight schedule (or even have to get back somewhere before a certain time), keep in mind that ferries can have serious delays. This brings us to the next point…

Lake Como ferries in Bellagio harbor

10. Make a plan and don’t try to see it ‘all’

Lake Como has a lot to offer, but if your time is limited, don’t try to pack it all in a day or two . There’s no way to see everything in just a few days anyway and you’ll be spending more time waiting for ferries and riding them than sightseeing…

I’d recommend focussing on just 1-3 places in a day and exploring a bit deeper. Take your time to actually visit the place, have a drink or a meal at a local restaurant, explore the villas and the gardens, take a private boat trip on the lake , and try to get just a bit off the main tourist streets. Remember that often, less is more.

Ideally, you make somewhat of a plan so that you don’t miss any of the musts (such as Como , Bellagio , Varenna , or the most beautiful villas on Lake Como ). But try to also leave some free time for unexpected discoveries and to just relax and absorb the atmosphere.

TIP: If you want to pack more in a single day, you should really consider an organized tour. For example, most Lake Como day tours from Milan visit the towns of Como, Bellagio, and Varenna. But they use a bus and private boats for the travel between these towns (= no wait time or delays). If you try to see these three places in a day on your own, you’d have to rush through and have much less time to actually explore them.

Lake Como view from Villa Monastero in Varenna

11. Get a bit off the beaten path

Lake Como is busy in the high season. But this is the case at all the bucket-list destinations, isn’t it? The good news is that most people just visit a few of the most popular places and never take the time to wander further.

So if you have the time (even if just a few hours), try to explore the area a bit deeper and get off the beaten path. Often, you don’t even have to walk far. A few examples:

  • While Varenna town center is very busy, its castle Castello di Vezio sees just a fraction of the visitors. Granted, it’s located high on the hill and you will need to make an effort to walk to it. But it only takes 20-25 minutes and you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of the lake, the town, and its surroundings. Plus, the castle itself is really cool too – especially if you are visiting Lake Como with kids.
  • The main area close to Bellagio harbor is crowded during the day. The same for the most famous street with the best view in town – Salita Serbelloni . But if you take any of the narrow alleys parallel to this street, the crowds disappear. Not many people even seem to walk to Punta Spartivento , the viewpoint at the very end of the peninsula. And if you take the little tourist train and hop off in Pescallo or San Giovanni, you’ll find a totally different atmosphere than in Bellagio itself.
  • In Lenno (where the famous Villa del Balbianello is located), be sure to also check out the town itself. There’s a beautiful church right in the center – Chiesa Santo Stefano – with an impressive underground crypt. While the villa and the gardens were very busy when we visited, there was nobody in the church…

These are just a few examples at the most popular towns on Lake Como. If you visit smaller towns and turn just a bit off the main streets, you will be able to enjoy a more authentic side of Lake Como without the crowds. Plus, there are countless hiking opportunities and on most trails, you’ll hardly meet any people at all.

Underground crypt of Chiesa Santo Stefano in Lenno, Lake Como, Italy

12. Wear comfortable shoes

If you are planning to do any sightseeing in Lake Como beyond just hopping off the ferry and checking out the main streets in every town, be sure to wear comfortable shoes . Because no matter where you go, you’ll be walking a lot. Often, a lot more than you anticipate.

As already mentioned, many villas around Como Lake have beautiful gardens. Sometimes, you’ll have to negotiate a few steeper trails or gravel paths. Also in towns, there are cobbled streets and often many stairs too…

Sneakers or light walking shoes are ideal. In summer, for most places, sandals with a good sole and comfortable fit will be fine too, but ideally, you avoid flat-bottomed leather sandals or flip-flops. If you are planning to go hiking, you’ll definitely need good hiking shoes or – depending on the season – even hiking boots.

Take my word for it, you’ll enjoy your visit to Lake Como so much more if you are wearing comfortable shoes!

Kids walking on a cobbled path to Castello di Vezio in Varenna

13. Don’t visit by car

For all clarity – you can travel to Lake Como by car (we did a few times). But once you get there, park it and don’t touch it for the rest of the stay.

The traffic is usually not too bad, although many roads are very narrow and there are people, bikes, and scooters everywhere. If you aren’t used to this, it can be a very stressful experience. And if you turn off the main road and get into some very local areas, you can get quite stuck in a narrow street with not much space to turn (back)… We saw a German driver wrecking an entire side of his car by trying to take a turn into a narrow street in Lenno.

In addition, parking can get really problematic around Lake Como in the peak season. If you think it will be faster to just drive to a nearby village by car, reconsider. Often, you’ll spend more time looking for parking than getting there.

Plus even if you find a spot, often, there are time restrictions as to how long you can leave your car there. And in most places, you also have to pay for parking.

We saw LOTS of cars with parking tickets during our stay at Lake Como. Usually, because the cars stood somewhere longer than allowed.

There is a big public parking garage in Varenna, but it’s usually full in the morning already. So if your plan is to drive to Varenna and visit Lake Como for a day by car, try to get there really early. Once it’s full, you won’t even be allowed to wait for a spot to open up. Since the cars waiting to get into this parking block the entire street, the police just send everyone away. And there aren’t many alternatives.

TIP: I guess it goes without saying, but if you are driving to Lake Como by car, be sure that your hotel/accommodation has parking . This is really a must and you can’t just count on being able to find a spot (and leave your car there for as long as you want).

Cars driving on narrow roads in Lake Como area

14. Pack a reusable water bottle and sun protection

There’s one packing essential that you absolutely need when traveling in Italy and that’s a reusable water bottle . There are free drinking fountains everywhere and so you can easily fill them up several times during the day.

Also in Lake Como, we saw many drinking fountains. In the summer, it’s a real lifesaver. You’ll also be able to buy some bottled drinking water, but it’s very expensive. In that case, hold on to that bottle and refill it later.

Another thing that you really need if visiting Lake Como in summer is a good sun hat and sunscreen . And if you didn’t pack a hat, you’ll find plenty of sun hats for sale everywhere.

Drinking fountain on the shores of Lake Como

15. Take some cash

While Italy has come a long way in accepting card payments, there are still some places that only take cash . We encountered this on quite a few occasions at Lake Como.

Luckily, most restaurants, shops, and main tourist attractions take credit cards.

So if you need euros, it will likely be for smaller payments. But it sure helps to have some cash, also for tips at the restaurants.

Summer hats for sale in Lake Como

16. Research where and when to eat

There are so many restaurants in the Lake Como area that you will never have to worry about getting hungry. And the good news is that even the restaurants in the most popular areas usually serve really good traditional Italian food .

However, just as anywhere in the world, it’s also possible to have a less good meal in Lake Como. So do a bit of research before you sit down. Often, just a quick look at the reviews on Google Maps will already give you a good idea of what to expect.

As a general rule, try to avoid restaurants with food pictures on the menu. Usually, restaurants right next to the busy harbors of the main towns of Lake Como will not offer the best local experience either. But if you walk just a few blocks further or turn into a quieter side alley, you can find some local gems.

Also in the Lake Como area, there are huge differences in prices that you pay, depending on the restaurant. So check this in advance in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. Depending on where you eat, you can have a perfectly good pasta dish for 10 euros or for 20…

One more thing to remember is that most restaurants in Italy are only open for lunch and dinner (+- noon to 3 pm and 7 to 10 pm). So if you try to find a place to eat at 3-5 pm, good luck! And, as already said, it pays to reserve a restaurant for dinner in advance, especially if traveling in Lake Como in summer.

Italian cheese and charcuterie board at Bistrot Antichi Sapori restaurant in Bellagio

So this is our first-timer’s guide with some tips for visiting Lake Como.

I hope that this information will give you a better idea of what to expect, help you make the most out of your trip, and enjoy the best that Como Lake has to offer, no matter how much time you have.

Have a great trip!

READ ALSO: ⭑ Best Things to Do in Lake Como ⭑ Best Things to Do in Bellagio ⭑ Most Beautiful Villas to See in Lake Como ⭑ Best Things to Do in Varenna ⭑ Best Things to Do in Milan ⭑ Milan 1-day Itinerary

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Travel tips for visiting Lake Como in Italy

More travel inspiration for Northern Italy:

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  • For many more destinations all over Italy, see our Italy travel guide .

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Tuesday 26th of September 2023

Hi there - this is a great article! We've travelled extensively in Italy for 20 years, but just now made it to Lake Como. Your blog is fantastic - rather than "you must see 'X'", you have fantastic suggestions about how to plan, advice as to what the real parking situation is (bad and lots of tickets), what are the less crowded times, etc. Bravo! One of the few useful travel articles I've found in many years. We will continue to follow you.

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Thank you for the kind feedback, Barbara. Enjoy Lake Como!

Hemant Modi

Monday 11th of September 2023

Hi, We just visited Lake Como for the first time. The Information you shared was very useful & feel lucky I came across your blog.Do keep up the good work. All the Best.

Thank you for your kind feedback, Hemant. Glad to help and hope you enjoyed your trip!

Hasinah Wahab

Wednesday 24th of May 2023

Hi, do you happen to have recommendations for halal places that serve italian food?

Saturday 27th of May 2023

Hi Hasinah, I really wouldn't know, but I am sure you can easily find this information online. Have a great trip!

Tuesday 21st of March 2023

Hi, Do you have any idea how bearable is the weather around the last week of April in Bellagio? We are planning on travelling with a 1 year old and our concern is that since we are travelling from a tropical country, the weather might be harsh for the toddler. However, we don't want to miss the opportunity to see the spring bloom. Any suggestions or recommendations would be highly appreciated!

Thursday 23rd of March 2023

Hi Zahid, nobody can tell you exactly how the weather will be on the day(s) when you will be there, but generally, April is beautiful and pleasantly warm. At the end of April, I would expect temperatures of at least 15-20°C, maybe even warmer. I can't imagine how spring weather in Italy would be a concern to anyone, no matter what you are used to. It's not like you are traveling to the Arctic in the winter. :) Have a great trip!

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

Hello, Speaking about ferry tickets - is not possible to buy them online, though. Not the car ferry and not the fast service.. they seem only to sell the slow boat, at the moment though that runs in winter schedule. Guess I'll wait till winter ends :))

@Jurga, thank you so much for answering. I found out that you can buy only the slow boat still. The fast service you have to buy at the pier. Is much better to get the free circulation ticket as well, I suppose. Was it hard with the English anywhere around? Just curious, as planning...

Hi Kristine, we were at Lake Como this August and you could buy the tickets online at that time. I think it's just not something you can do months in advance for the summer season. But quite frankly, it's usually easier to just get them at the harbor. Ideally, you do that early in the morning for the whole day (or the evening before), because during the day, the queues can be horrendous. Especially in the most popular towns like Bellagio or Varenna.

Where to travel in 2024, without crowds

12 destinations across italy, japan, mexico and more to add to your travel wish list.

We made it through January, which means it’s time to put away resolutions you won’t keep and nurture the habit that will stick: more travel.

Health and wellness experts have determined that taking multiple vacations a year is beneficial to your overall well-being. To actually decompress, though, you’ll want to go somewhere with room to breathe. Crowds have clogged up Paris , Rome and Tokyo , especially in the high seasons.

To plan a trip away from the pack, we asked industry experts for their favorite under-the-radar destinations. We also considered our collective travels, putting a premium on opportunities to spot wildlife, sample local cooking, relax by the water and commune with nature.

lake como tourist spots


lake como tourist spots

Bracciano, Italy

Italy remains one of the most desirable destinations for Americans, meaning popular spots (Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Lake Como) will stay crowded and expensive. Enter Lake Bracciano, a picturesque place that has fallen off Americans’ radars since Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married there in 2006. “You have this really, really rich medieval and Renaissance history, but nobody goes there,” said Rome-based cookbook author and tour guide Katie Parla . You can get to Bracciano easily from Rome in about an hour and change.

Don’t miss: Viterbo, another overlooked gem, is about 30 miles north of Bracciano — or take a direct train from Rome in two hours or less. “It is just a vast, beautiful, haunted, magical, medieval city,” Parla said.

A sunny day on Lake Bracciano near Rome.

Fukui , Japan

If the past few months are any indication, tourism in Japan could surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2024. To escape the urban sprawl and see one of the most spiritual parts of the country, go to Fukui. Naomi Mano, president and chief executive of the Tokyo-based travel company Luxurique , says the city is a destination for temples , onsens (hot spring baths), art and food (specifically Echizen crab ). With a new bullet train line set to open in March , travelers can get to Fukui from Tokyo in about three hours.

Don’t miss: Mano sends visitors to Eiheiji Temple , one of the most important sites for Zen Buddhists. “It’s the temple where all of the Zen monks go to train to become higher monks,” she said.

Eiheiji Temple is an important site for Zen Buddhists monks in training.

Asheville, N.C.

Asheville has achieved the tricky balance of staying down to earth while catering to refined tastes. Restaurants in the western North Carolina city are regulars on the James Beard Awards circuit. Two of its breweries medaled in last year’s World Beer Cup . Independent hotels in repurposed buildings, such as Zelda Dearest , the Radical and the Flat Iron , are opening at a steady clip. Yet, whenever you wish to return to Asheville’s roots, take a walk in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Don’t miss: The mile-long Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail , which encompasses three neighborhoods, introduces visitors to pillars of the community, such as Alderman Newton Shepard, a formerly enslaved man who in 1882 became the city’s first Black person to win an election .

Diners and tourists outside the French Broad Chocolate Lounge near Pack Square in Asheville.

Dhërmi, Albania

Over the past few years, Albania has been quietly heating up as Europe’s next big beach spot. Clear water, rugged coast and affordable accommodations all call out to tourists. And unlike some of its Balkan neighbors, “it is untouched,” said Ema, the anonymous Albanian travel journalist who runs the award-winning magazine and Instagram account Ema’s Light . Rent a car and head to the Albanian Riviera, where you’ll find a constellation of small towns with perfect beaches, such as Dhërmi.

Don’t miss: The capital city of Tirana is a must-visit worth at least two to three days of your trip for its restaurants and history, Ema says.

The Dhërmi Beach at Dhërmi, Albania.

Popayán, Colombia

This UNESCO City of Gastronomy is full of restaurants, outdoor markets and street vendors. Two points of pride in the traditional cuisine are empanadas stuffed with pipián — a puree of potatoes, peanuts and spices — and desamargado valluno , a dessert made from candied fruit peels. The capital of the Cauca state is also known as “La Ciudad Blanca” because of its bone-white buildings.

Don’t miss : Daniel Buitrón Jaramillo of Colombia Ecotravel recommends Mora Castilla , a small cafe in the historic center, for classic empanaditas and champús, a drink made of pineapple, maize and tart lulo fruit.

View of the Cathedral Basilica Our Lady of the Assumption in Popayán, Colombia, in the morning.

lake como tourist spots

(Martin Zwick/Getty Images)

lake como tourist spots

(Robert Harding/Shutterstock)

Orkney Islands, Scotland

The Orkney Islands are more uninhabited than occupied, at least by humans. Of these 70 isles off the northern coast of Scotland, less than two dozen are developed. Gray seals outnumber people by several hundred, and flocks of puffins, guillemots and seaweed-grazing sheep dot the rocky coastlines. Papa Westray , one of the smaller Orkneys, boasts some 60 archaeological sites, and North Ronaldsay lights up at night as a Dark Sky Island .

Don’t miss: The Heart of Neolithic Orkney , part of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, is a collection of ancient sites that includes a domestic settlement with stone furnishings and the Stones of Stenness, a henge of upright monuments standing nearly 20 feet tall.

Standing Stones of Stenness, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

Isla Holbox, Mexico

Holbox heals what ails so much of Mexico’s resort-heavy Yucatán Peninsula. The 26-mile-long island north of Cancún does not have traffic, because of a car ban, or high rises, because of building height restrictions. The main form of transportation is bike or golf cart on dirt roads. To cross from the mainland, visitors must take a 25-minute ferry from Chiquilá (or a private jet). Holbox, which means “Black Box” in the Mayan language, is part of the Yum Balam reserve. One of its biggest return guests is the whale shark.

Don’t miss : On moonless nights, head to Punta Cocos Beach to swim or paddle with bioluminescent plankton that illuminate the water like hundreds of fairy lights.

No cars are allowed on Isla Holbox in Mexico.

The S chist Villages , Portugal

Tucked into mountainsides, through scenic valleys and snaking rivers, the Schist Villages (or Aldeias do Xisto, in Portuguese) is a network of 27 quaint towns. The villages — which date back to the 12th century and are named after the stone with which they were built — are particularly popular with hikers , bikers and nature lovers. You’ll find accommodations for all budgets, with luxury properties, such as the Casas do Côro in Marialva, and the Cerdeira Home for Creativity , a collection of nine restored Schist houses for rent.

Don’t miss: Lisbon-based journalist and food researcher Miguel Andrade says Talasnal is a highlight in the lush Lousã mountain region. Try one of his favorite Portuguese dishes, chanfana, a goat stew traditionally cooked with red wine in a clay pot over an open fire.

The view over the Piodão schist medieval mountain village in Portugal.

Tairawhiti Gisborne, New Zealand

Destination: Gisborne, the largest town in the North Island’s Tairawhiti Gisborne region, is advertised as the first spot in the world to greet the sunrise. No wonder so many surfers rise early to catch some of the best waves in the country. The East Coast area is steeped in Maori culture. The Tairawhiti Museum holds a vast collection of Indigenous art, including stonework, textiles and painted panels. The 2.5-mile Tupapa Heritage Trail is paved with history, landmarks and legends that Maori storytellers summon to life on the Tupapa app.

Don’t miss: Start the day atop Maunga Hikurangi, the sacred mountain of the Ngati Porou people where nine wood carvings of Maui and his whanau (family) bear witness to the rising sun.

Wood carvings of Maui and his family stand on the sacred mountain Maunga Hikurangi in Gisborne, New Zealand.

lake como tourist spots

(Jennifer M. Ramos/Getty Images)

lake como tourist spots

(Christine Wehrmeier/Getty Images)

lake como tourist spots

(Afriandi/Getty Images)

Fredericksburg, Tex.

Swimming holes. Wide-open spaces. Funky towns and burgeoning wineries. The Texas Hill Country screams road trip. Consider Fredericksburg for its German-Texas heritage (with beer gardens and Bavarian fare galore), says Austin-based travel journalist Pam LeBlanc. The town is known for its peaches and its National Museum of the Pacific War , plus a slew of mom-and-pop boutiques and restaurants. The chic Albert Hotel is opening this year, or you can camp in Pedernales Falls State Park, where LeBlanc loves taking a dip in the cypress-lined river.

Don’t miss: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is 17 miles north of Fredericksburg, “where you can hike to the top of a huge dome of pink granite or go rock climbing,” LeBlanc said in an email.

The pink dome of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a draw for hikers and climbers.

Toledo District, Belize

For a Caribbean escape far from crowds, head to the southernmost district of Belize. “There is a lot to do,” Belizean birding guide Roni Martinez said, such as exploring waterfalls, caves and large rainforest reserves, and learning about the mix of people who have made Toledo home, including Maya and East Indian communities.

Don’t miss: As most of Toledo has rocky shores, Martinez recommends taking a boat tour to nearby islands — such as the Port Honduras Marine Reserve — for “picture-perfect” white-sand beaches.

A waterfall in Rio Blanco National Park in the Toledo District of Belize.

Sumba, Indonesia

Bali may be the most well-known of Indonesia’s thousands of islands, but it’s not the only one worth visiting. With new hotels and a population of wild horses that gallop across golden beaches, Sumba comes highly recommended by Catherine Heald, chief executive of the Asia-focused luxury tour operator Remote Lands . Beyond Sumba’s lush hillsides and surfable turquoise water, the island boasts beautiful thatched-roof architecture.

Don’t miss: Consider a side quest to Komodo National Park , home to some 5,700 of its titular dragons as well as world-class scuba diving. You can fly or sail to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

An aerial view of Wainyapu village in Sumba, Indonesia.

About this story

Editing by Gabe Hiatt . Design and development by Katty Huertas . Design editing by Christine Ashack . Photo editing by Lauren Bulbin . Copy editing by Jamie Zega .

Where to go

Our favorite destinations: In 2023, we explored an Alaskan bear paradise, Brooklyn’s famous pizzerias and a hidden gem in Italy, among other highlights . Traveler extraordinaire Rick Steves gave us this hot tip: don’t skip Europe’s second cities .

Travel like a local: Residents share their favorite places in our top city guides: New Orleans , Rome , Tokyo and Mexico City .

National parks: This comprehensive guide has details on all 63 U.S. national parks. For a deep dive into five of the most well-known, you can listen to the Field Trip podcast . Then explore tips from locals for visiting Yosemite , Glacier and Everglades .

Tales from the road: Dolly Parton has opened a new resort at her theme park complex in Tennessee, while “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines have a new hotel in Waco . Road-trippers may be just as excited to see the cartoon beaver at Buc-ee’s , and bargain-hunters should consider a stop at the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro, Ala.


  1. The Top 10 Things to Do in Lake Como

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    lake como tourist spots

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    Lake Como Guide: Planning Your Trip. Tucked away in the Italian Alps, Lake Como has been considered one of the most glamorous travel destinations in Europe since Ancient Roman times. Centuries-old villas that once housed the crème de la crème of Italian aristocracy still skirt the lakeshore, and modern-day residents have included elite ...

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    9 Pigra Pixabay Views of Lake Como Lake Como has a sea of shoreside towns that are a skip away from the waters of the lake, but many visitors overlook the fact that there are hundreds of tiny towns tucked away on top of the mountains that surround the lake.

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    Bellagio Dubbed "the pearl of Lake Como", this small, elegant village sitting halfway between the two southernmost branches of the lake is the most visited in the area.

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    One of the must-see spots in Lake Como is the town of Bellagio that has a quaint yet historic center, magnificent views, and impeccable luxury. There's also the 14th-century Villa del Balbianello, with its lush gardens and breathtaking terraces that have been featured in films like James Bond and Star Wars.

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