Wondering if it is possible to explore Lake Como in ONE DAY? The answer is yes! This small city is easy to explore and there are plenty of things to see and do. In this post, I'll share my top tips on how to make the most of your Lake Como day trip.
- Where is Lake Como?
- How to get from Milan to Como by car?
- How to get from Milan to Lake Como by train?
- What to do in Lake Como (day trip)
- 7) Get Gelato
- 8) Rent a chair and umbrella along the lake
- 9) Take a boat tour to the nearby towns
- 10) Go shopping
- 11) Get apperitivo
- Tours you can book:
- other posts like this:
Where is Lake Como?
Lake Como is set along the southern banks of the Alps in northern Italy and is Italy's third largest lake and stretches from Piedmont to Lombardy and the Veneto, Lake Como consists of about 24 towns and villages.
Pliny the Younger, an ancient Roman writer, was one of the first to enjoy Lake Como and owned two villas there. Lake Como is well-loved by the rich and famous (George Clooney has a villa on the lake!) and it is easy to access from Milan. It's no wonder the Milanese choose Lake Como to get away whenever they can!
How to get from Milan to Como by car?
It is even easier to get to the city of Como from Milan on the newly opened Pedemontana highway. This route brings you from Malpensa (the international airport in Milan) to Como in just about 30 minutes.
If you plan to visit this area in the winter, you will find it to be almost deserted. Most of the tourists are gone by the end of August and sometimes it is even warm enough to swim in the lake! The early fall season is when you can truly enjoy the wonders of Lake Como.
This wishbone-shaped lake does reawaken around mid-March when the tourists arrive for the picturesque views and to visit the beautiful towns such as Bellagio, Tremezzo, and Varenna.
There is so much to see and enjoy for the day in the actual city of Como on Lake Como. Although it will be hard to find a spot to capture a romantic view of the lake, as the promenade is still being remodeled, and I am not sure when it will be completed. Perhaps to ease the pain of the lack of beautiful views, we found free WIFI along the promenade this summer.
Although we found it to be spotty, you may have better luck than we did! There are some spots to sneak in a shot of that iconic view. There is plenty to enjoy for free in the beautiful historic center.
How to get from Milan to Lake Como by train?
It takes about 37 minutes on the regional train from Milano Centrale station directly to Como San Giovanni Station. You can purchase tickets through the Trenitalia website or app.
What to do in Lake Como (day trip)
1) Visit the Duomo di Como
The first spot you must check out is the impressive cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta; Duomo di Como). The cathedral, like most in Italy, took over 350 years to build and has incredible Gothic and Renaissance paintings and tapestries.
Como was built by the Romans and you can find monuments from almost every era of its history. Roman ruins of the city gate and walls remain. The impressive cathedral (Duomo, which is Gothic-Renassaince), like most in Italy, was built and added to over a period of centuries, so you can admire Gothic and Renaissance features including some fine tapestries and paintings. Baroque decorations can be seen on some churches and palazzos of the center.
2) Visit the San Fedele
Another cathedral not to miss is San Fedele (Romanesque), built in the tenth century. Be sure to see the Porta Torre in the Piazza Vittoria (it’s 40 meters high) on the edge of the historic center.
3) Go to the Pinacoteca art gallery
Make the time to visit art gallery Pinacoteca. Also to see is the nine-hundred-year-old gateway, Torre di Porta Vittoria, and the Romanesque church Sant'Abbondio. It's worth paying a visit to the Casa del Fascio (it's free to visit!), a 1930’s geometric work by the rationalist architect Giuseppe Terragni.
4) Take the funicular up the mountain
If you still have time after visiting some of these places, take the funicular to capture spectacular views of the lake from the village of Brunate. It takes about 7 minutes to ride 750 meters above sea level. It is super fast and I 100% recommend going. You can see the entire panorama of the lake, so enjoy the views and get that perfect Instagram shot!
5) Wander the Citta' Murata
Not interested in taking the funicular (or not into heights??)? No problem! You could stay around la Citta’ Murata (the walled city)and wander around. During Medieval times, Como was an entirely walled city. It’s such a pleasure to stroll along the narrow via’s.
Some of the streets are cobbled and are lined with different shops, café’s and gelaterie. Don’t miss photographing some of the old windows and flowered balconies.
6) Try the Beretta Bakery
What do we think is really NOT to be MISSED?!? A visit to the Beretta bakery. It is worth a trip to buy La Nuvola. It is a loaf of paradise! It is more than I would normally pay for a sweet bread (I believe it was about 10 Euros), but it is just incredible! I even attempted to make a bread similar one time, and it was a great bread, but not the same!
7) Get Gelato
If you are spending more than one day in Como and have seen all the sites, do as the Italians do and enjoy the people watching in a piazza! Take the time to enjoy a GELATO! The gelato in Como is something you have to try, there are so many gelatarias to choose from. My favorite one is located right across the lake near the piazza, you can't miss it.
If you are visiting Piazza Cavour, which is right across from the lakeside, you will find plenty of benches to catch the locals passionately discussing politics. Head over to an outdoor café’ in Piazza Duomo to have a drink or a coffee and relax.
8) Rent a chair and umbrella along the lake
Have the budget and time to spend, why not rent a chair on the lake? It's usually around €15 per person (with an umbrella) for a whole day. The best part is that you can just relax in the sunshine and soak up the view of Lake Como from the shore.
9) Take a boat tour to the nearby towns
You can take a boat tour from Como to some of the other nearby towns. Bellagio and Varenna are two beautiful towns that would be worth visiting.Their quaint atmosphere is complimented by a variety of picturesque eateries dotting the lakeshore, making it an ideal destination for a pleasant evening. The views will be breathtaking!
10) Go shopping
From designer boutiques and local artisan shops to outdoor markets and vintage stores- there are so many charming stores. If you're looking for souvenirs or gifts, I recommend strolling through the Italian vias because there are many shops to choose from.
11) Get apperitivo
for something more fun- Aperitivo! Most bars serve aperitivo from 6pm to 8pm, it's the Italian way of having dinner. All you need to do is buy one drink and they'll send you little snacks to munch on.
Tours you can book:
Yes! There is a direct train.
The train ride is about 37-45 minutes.
The train costs about 6 euros
The train is a little bit scenic.
Yes. There is a comprehensive network of buses, ferries, funicular services and cable cars that can take you around the city and even other towns.
One day is just for Lake Como, but if you'd like to visit other villages around the lake, then 3 days is perfect.
100% yes! Lake Como is definitely worth visiting.
Now these are merely some suggestions and we don't say you should rush and do all of them at once. I've had the chance to spend period of time in and around Como these last 15 years and these are places that simply wonderful. But there is so much more I didn't include! Look for more posts coming up soon!
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