Lake Como, the stunning natural wonder located in Lombardy, Italy, has always been one of my favorite destinations. From the crystal clear waters to the breathtaking mountain scenery, it's hard not to fall in love with this place.
If you're planning a trip to Lake Como, you're in for a treat. In this article, we'll explore some of the best things to do in the area. From indulging in delicious Italian cuisine to exploring historic landmarks and soaking up the sun, there's no shortage of activities to enjoy.
Where is Lake Como?
Lake Como is located in Lombardy, the northernmost region of Italy. It lies to the south of Switzerland and to the east of Milan. The lake is surrounded by several towns and villages, including Bellagio, Menaggio, Varenna, Tremezzo, Como, Lecco, and Cadenabbia.
History of Lago di Como/ Lake Como
Lake Como, or Lago di Como in Italian, is a glacial lake located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. The lake is shaped like an upside-down Y and stretches over an area of 146 square kilometers, making it the third-largest lake in Italy.
The area around Lake Como has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and evidence of human settlements from the Bronze Age has been found in the region. The lake has been a popular destination for tourists since the Roman era, when wealthy Romans built villas along its shores.
During the Middle Ages, Lake Como was a strategic location due to its position on the trade route between Milan and Switzerland. Many towns and villages were founded during this time, and several castles were built to defend the area.
The region became a center of silk production during the Renaissance, and wealthy merchants and aristocrats built elaborate villas and gardens around the lake. In the 19th century, Lake Como became a popular destination for wealthy Europeans, including writers, artists, and composers. Today, the lake remains a popular tourist destination, known for its scenic beauty, historic towns, and luxury villas.
things to know before visiting como
Currency: The official currency of Italy is the Euro.
Language: Italian is the main language spoken in Lake CoMO, though English is widely understood in most areas. Weather: Summers are usually warm with temperatures between 18-30 °C (65-85 °F). Winters are mild with temperatures ranging from 0-15°C (32-60°F).
Public Transportation: Lake Como's main public transportation includes buses, trains, and ferries. The primary train station is called Como San Giovanni.
Time Zone: Lake Como follows Central European Time (CET).
Italian Visa: Depending on where you are from, you may need to obtain a visa before entering Italy. You should check with your local Italian embassy or consulate for more information. If you are an American, Canadian, or Australian citizen, you will not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days.
Electricty Socket: Electrical outlets in Milan are Type F, which accept plugs with round pins or Europlug adapters. The voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.
Italy SIM Card: It is recommended to get a local SIM card when travelling in Italy. This will give you the best coverage and access to data services while roaming.
Car Rentals: If you are planning on renting a car in Como, it is important to do your research beforehand. There are several rental companies that offer competitive rates and good customer service. I recommend this car rental service.
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what is the best travel insurance for italy?
There are a number of different travel insurance companies that offer coverage for Italy. Before purchasing a policy, it is important to do your research and compare policies to make sure you are getting the best coverage for your needs. Some popular choices include World Nomads, Allianz Travel Insurance, and Travelex Insurance Services.
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How to get to Lake Como
Lake Como is accessible by car, bus, and train. If you don't have a car, I recommend the train, there is a station in the center of Como which makes it easy to get around.
How to get from Milan to Como
If you are visiting Milan, you definitely can take a day trip to Lake Como. There are many easy options for transportation you can take.
- Train Stations: Milan has two main train stations: Milano Centrale and Milano Porta Garibaldi. Trains to Lake Como depart from both stations, but Milano Centrale has more frequent departures and is generally more convenient for travelers.
- Train Lines: The train line that connects Milan to Lake Como is operated by Trenord, a regional train company in northern Italy. The line is called the S11 line and it runs from Milan to Como Nord Lago station.
- Frequency: Trains from Milan to Lake Como run frequently throughout the day, with trains departing every 30 minutes during peak hours and every hour during off-peak times.
- Travel Time: The travel time from Milan to Lake Como varies depending on which station you depart from and which station you are heading to. On average, the journey takes about one hour. The fastest trains can take as little as 45 minutes, while slower trains can take up to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Tickets: You can buy train tickets from Milan to Lake Como at the train station ticket counters or vending machines. You can also purchase tickets online in advance through the Trenord website or other third-party ticket sellers. The cost of a one-way ticket varies depending on the type of train and your departure station, but it typically ranges from 4-10 euros.
- Seating: Most trains on the Milan to Lake Como route have both first and second class seating options. First-class seats offer more legroom and a quieter, more comfortable ride, but they are also more expensive.
- Luggage: There are no specific luggage restrictions on Trenord trains, but it's always a good idea to travel light and avoid bringing oversized or heavy bags.
- Arrival Station: Trains from Milan terminate at either Como San Giovanni or Como Nord Lago station, depending on which train you take. From there, you can take a ferry or bus to explore the different towns and villages around Lake Como.
- Tips: It's recommended to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability and avoid long lines at the ticket counters. Also, keep in mind that the scenery on the train journey from Milan to Lake Como is stunning, so be sure to have your camera ready!
- Car: Lake Como is located about 50 kilometers north of Milan, and it takes approximately one hour to get there by car. The journey takes you through the beautiful Italian countryside and there are several car rental options available in Milan.
- Bus: There are also bus services from Milan to the towns around Lake Como, including Como, Bellagio, and Lecco. The journey time is around one to two hours depending on the destination.
How to get to Lake Como from Rome
- Train: There are regular trains from Rome to Milan, and from there you can take a train to the towns around Lake Como. The journey time from Rome to Milan is around three hours, and from Milan to Lake Como it's around one hour.
- Car: Lake Como is located about 600 kilometers north of Rome, and it takes approximately six hours to get there by car. The journey takes you through the beautiful Italian countryside, and there are several car rental options available in Rome.
- Bus: There are also bus services from Rome to Milan, and from there you can take a bus to the towns around Lake Como. The journey time from Rome to Milan is around six hours, and from Milan to Lake Como it's around one hour.
How to get to Lake Como from Venice
- Train: There are regular trains from Venice to Milan, and from there you can take a train to the towns around Lake Como. The journey time from Venice to Milan is around two and a half hours, and from Milan to Lake Como it's around one hour.
- Car: Lake Como is located about 350 kilometers west of Venice, and it takes approximately four hours to get there by car. The journey takes you through the beautiful Italian countryside, and there are several car rental options available in Venice.
- Bus: There are also bus services from Venice to Milan, and from there you can take a bus to the towns around Lake Como. The journey time from Venice to Milan is around three hours, and from Milan to Lake Como it's around one hour.
How to get to Lake Como from Naples
- Train: There are regular trains from Naples to Milan, and from there you can take a train to the towns around Lake Como. The journey time from Naples to Milan is around four and a half hours, and from Milan to Lake Como it's around one hour.
- Car: Lake Como is located about 800 kilometers north of Naples, and it takes approximately eight hours to get there by car. The journey takes you through the beautiful Italian countryside, and there are several car rental options available in Naples.
- Bus: There are also bus services from Naples to Milan, and from there you can take a bus to the towns around Lake Como. The journey time from Naples to Milan is around nine hours, and from Milan to Lake Como it's around one hour.
Where to stay in Lake Como?
Lake Como has many towns and villages around its shore, each with its own unique charm and atmosphere. Here are some popular options for where to stay in Lake Como:
- Bellagio: Known as the "Pearl of Lake Como," Bellagio is a picturesque town located at the intersection of the lake's three branches. It offers stunning views, elegant villas, and beautiful gardens.
- Varenna: Varenna is a charming fishing village located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It offers a relaxed atmosphere, narrow streets, and colorful houses.
- Como: Como is the largest city on Lake Como and a hub for transportation, making it a convenient base for exploring the lake. It offers historic architecture, museums, and shopping.
- Menaggio: Menaggio is a lively town located on the western shore of Lake Como. It offers a range of accommodation options, restaurants, and shops, as well as easy access to other parts of the lake.
- Tremezzo: Tremezzo is a small town located on the western shore of Lake Como, known for its stunning villas and gardens, including the famous Villa Carlotta.
- Cernobbio: Cernobbio is a picturesque town located on the western shore of Lake Como, close to the city of Como. It offers elegant villas, a beautiful lakeside promenade, and a lively nightlife scene.
- Lenno: Lenno is a small town located on the western shore of Lake Como, known for its beautiful beaches, including the popular Lido di Lenno.
- Laglio: Laglio is a small village located on the western shore of Lake Como, known for its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful villas, including the famous Villa Oleandra, owned by George Clooney.
Best Lake Como Hotels
- Hotel Villa Flori
- Avenue Boutique Hotel
- Albergo Firenze
- Locanda dell'Oca Bianca
- Hotel Metropole Suisse
- Park Hotel Meublé
Things to do in Lake Como
1.Visit the Duomo di Como
- The Duomo di Como is a stunning Gothic cathedral located in the heart of the city.
- The cathedral features beautiful stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and a bell tower with panoramic views of the city.
2.Explore the historic center
- The historic center of Como is a maze of narrow streets and alleys, lined with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants. Take a stroll through the historic center and admire the beautiful architecture, including the impressive city walls and towers.
3.Get an aperitivo
- The Italians like to do a happy hour that they call aperitivo. Essentially you just enjoy a drink with free food (typically small bites). In Como, there are many restaurants that offer this, just plan to go after 5pm.
- I find it very enjoyable sitting at an outdoor table and just enjoying the tranquility of the historical center while sipping on a nice glass of wine.
4.Take a funicular ride
- The funicular railway connects Como with the hilltop town of Brunate, offering stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- The ride takes about seven minutes and offers breathtaking panoramic views.
- Sometimes the line gets super long depending what day you go on/
- Visit the Volta Lighthouse, a historic landmark and museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery
5.Visit the Museo Archeologico
- The Museo Archeologico is a must-visit for history buffs, featuring a collection of artifacts from prehistoric times to the Roman era.
- The museum is located in a beautiful Renaissance-era palace and offers a fascinating glimpse into the region's history.
6.Shop at the local markets
- The city is home to several weekly markets, including the popular Mercato di Como, where you can find everything from fresh produce and flowers to clothing and souvenirs.
7.Enjoy the lakeside promenade
- The lakeside promenade in Como offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery.
8.Visit the Tempio Voltiano
- The Tempio Voltiano is a museum dedicated to the famous Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, who invented the first electric battery.
- The museum features exhibits on Volta's life and work and is located in a beautiful neoclassical building.
- Its located right in the center of the lake, you can't miss it!
9.Rent a chair and soak up the sun
- Last summer I spent 2 days renting a chair by the lake where I was able to swim and tan! There are various lake clubs that let you rent chairs or just access their ammenities from prices between 10 euros and 40 euros.
- If you are walking, I recommend going to the lake club called Lido di Villa Geno.
10.Take a Boat Tour of the Lake
- Enjoy a leisurely boat tour of Lake Como and admire the stunning scenery from the water
- Visit the picturesque villages and towns along the lake shore, including Menaggio and Tremezzo
11.Take a Cooking Class
- Learn how to cook authentic Italian dishes with a local chef
- Visit a local market to choose fresh ingredients and learn about Italian culinary traditions
12.Attend a cultural event
- The city is home to several cultural events throughout the year, including music festivals, art exhibitions, and theater performances. Check the local events calendar for upcoming events and plan your visit accordingly.
13.Visit the Villa del Balbianello
- Explore the beautiful gardens and grounds of this historic villa, located on a promontory overlooking the lake
- Take a guided tour of the villa and learn about its fascinating history
- This is also the iconic spot in Star Wars where In Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, the lake and the surrounding area were used as the location for the planet Naboo. The Villa del Balbianello, located on the western shore of Lake Como, was used as the exterior for the Naboo villa where Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala share a romantic moment.
14.Visit Villa D'este
- Discover the grandeur of Villa D’este and its magnificent Italian Gardens, one of the most beautiful parks in Italy.
- The villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features more than 500 fountains, statues, and sculptures throughout its gardens.
- It's best to visit this villa if you have a car. You can park near by and then ask to get a coffee/ walk around
15.Go Hiking in the Mountains
- Explore the beautiful natural scenery of the Lake Como region on a hiking tour
- Take in the stunning views from high mountain trails, including the famous "Path of the Wanderer"
16.Visit the Abbey of Piona
- Explore the beautiful Romanesque architecture of this historic abbey, located on the eastern shore of the lake
- Admire the stunning views of the lake from the abbey's terrace
17.See the Museo della Seta
- Learn about the history of silk production in the Lake Como region at this fascinating museum
- See examples of traditional silk weaving techniques and admire beautiful silk textiles
18.Go to the Orrido di Bellano:
- This natural gorge located in the small town of Bellano is a unique natural wonder.
- It features a narrow gorge with waterfalls and rock formations that make for a breathtaking sight.
19.Visit the Villa Carlotta
- While the Villa Carlotta is a popular tourist attraction, it's worth a visit for its beautiful gardens and art collections.
- The villa features an extensive collection of artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries, including sculptures and paintings.
Charming towns on Lake Como
- Explore the charming streets and colorful houses of this picturesque town
- Visit the Varenna Castle, a historic landmark dating back to the 12th century
- Take a stroll along the beautiful lakefront promenade
- Visit the Villa Melzi Gardens, a stunning botanical garden with breathtaking lake views
- Explore the narrow streets and alleys of the old town
- Take a boat tour of the lake and admire the scenery from the water
22.Relax in Lierna
- Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of this small town on the eastern shore of the lake
- Take a dip in the clear waters of the lake at the beautiful Riva Bianca beach
- Explore the medieval castle and the Romanesque church of San Pietro
- Visit the Villa Carlotta: The Villa Carlotta is a stunning 18th-century villa located on the shores of Lake Como. The villa features beautiful gardens and art collections, including works by Canova, Thorvaldsen, and Hayez.
- Explore the historic center: Menaggio has a charming historic center with narrow streets and alleys, lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Take a stroll through the historic center and admire the beautiful architecture, including the impressive bell tower of the 17th-century church of Santa Marta.
- Take a boat tour: Boat tours of Lake Como depart from Menaggio and offer a unique perspective on the lake and the surrounding towns. Choose from a range of tours, including private tours, group tours, and sunset tours.
- Hike to the Rifugio Menaggio: The Rifugio Menaggio is a mountain hut located on the slopes of Monte Grona. The hut offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains and is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers.
- Play golf: Menaggio is home to the Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club, one of the oldest and most prestigious golf clubs in Italy. The golf club features an 18-hole course and offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Swim in the lake: Menaggio has a beautiful public beach located near the town center, where you can swim in the clear waters of Lake Como and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
- Visit the Chiesa di San Stefano: The Chiesa di San Stefano is a beautiful church located in the historic center of Menaggio. The church features stunning frescoes and a beautiful baroque altar.
- Take a scenic drive: The roads around Menaggio offer some of the most scenic drives in Italy. Take a drive along the western shore of Lake Como and enjoy the beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
24. Check out Lecco
Lecco is a beautiful city located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It has a rich history and culture, with a charming old town center, stunning architecture, and breathtaking natural landscapes.
- Visit the Old Town: The old town of Lecco is a picturesque area with narrow streets, colorful houses, and charming shops and cafes. You can stroll around, admire the architecture, and enjoy some delicious Italian cuisine.
- Explore Lake Como: Lake Como is one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, and Lecco is a great base to explore its surroundings. You can rent a boat and cruise around the lake, hike the trails that lead to panoramic views, or relax on one of the lake's beaches.
- Visit Villa Manzoni: Villa Manzoni is a beautiful neoclassical villa that was once the home of the famous Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni. Today, it is a museum that showcases the life and works of the writer and his family.
- Hike in the Grigne Mountains: The Grigne Mountains are a popular destination for hikers and climbers, with a variety of trails that offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The trails vary in difficulty, so there is something for everyone.
- Taste local cuisine: Lecco is known for its delicious cuisine, which includes dishes such as polenta, risotto, and local fish specialties. You can sample these dishes at one of the many restaurants in the city.
Lake Como Tours
10 amazing and popular restaurants in Lake Como that are worth checking out:
- La Vita è Bella, Menaggio - This restaurant serves delicious Italian cuisine with a modern twist. The outdoor terrace offers stunning lake views.
- La Darsena, Tremezzo - Located on the shore of Lake Como, this restaurant serves fresh seafood and traditional Italian dishes. The terrace offers panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Il Gatto Nero, Cernobbio - This Michelin-starred restaurant serves creative Italian cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. The romantic setting, with a terrace overlooking the lake, is perfect for a special occasion.
- Ristorante La Punta, Bellagio - This restaurant is known for its exceptional seafood dishes, served in a beautiful setting overlooking the lake. The terrace offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
- La Baia di Paré, Moltrasio - This restaurant serves delicious Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, with a focus on seafood. The outdoor terrace offers beautiful views of the lake.
- Trattoria del Glicine, Varenna - This traditional trattoria serves classic Italian dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The outdoor terrace is surrounded by beautiful flowers and offers stunning lake views.
- L'Orangerie, Villa Crespi, Orta San Giulio - This Michelin-starred restaurant is located in a beautiful villa overlooking Lake Orta, about an hour's drive from Lake Como. The cuisine is inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
- Al Veluu, Tremezzo - This rustic restaurant serves traditional Italian dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. The outdoor terrace offers stunning views of Lake Como.
- Imbarcadero, Bellagio - This stylish restaurant offers modern Italian cuisine with a focus on seafood. The outdoor terrace offers beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Salice Blu, Bellagio - This Michelin-starred restaurant serves creative Italian cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. The outdoor terrace offers beautiful views of Lake Como.
Here are ten Instagram photo-worthy spots in Lake Como
- Villa del Balbianello, Via Comoedia, 5, 22016 Lenno CO, Italy - This beautiful villa on the western shore of Lake Como is a popular spot for Instagram photos, with its stunning gardens, terraces, and lake views.
- Bellagio Waterfront, Lungolario Manzoni, 22021 Bellagio CO, Italy - The waterfront promenade in Bellagio offers beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. It's a great spot for photos at sunset.
- Castello di Vezio, Via al Castello, 22010 Perledo LC, Italy - This medieval castle on a hilltop above Varenna offers panoramic views of Lake Como and the surrounding countryside.
- Menaggio Waterfront, Piazza Garibaldi, 22017 Menaggio CO, Italy - The waterfront promenade in Menaggio is a great spot for photos, with views of the lake and the colorful houses along the shore.
- Villa Melzi Gardens, Lungolario Manzoni, 22021 Bellagio CO, Italy - The gardens of this beautiful villa in Bellagio offer a peaceful retreat with stunning lake views. Don't miss the Japanese garden and the neoclassical temple.
- Varenna Waterfront, Via Venini, 22010 Varenna LC, Italy - The colorful houses and boats along the waterfront in Varenna make for a great photo backdrop. Don't miss the charming cobblestone streets and alleys of the old town.
- Fiumelatte, Fiumelatte LC, Italy - This small river on the eastern shore of Lake Como is known for its milky white color and picturesque waterfall. It's a great spot for nature photos.
- Faro Voltiano, Via alla Funicolare, 22032 Brunate CO, Italy - The lighthouse on top of the hill above Como offers panoramic views of the city and the lake. It's a great spot for sunset photos.
- Villa Serbelloni Gardens, Via Roma, 1, 22021 Bellagio CO, Italy - The gardens of this grand villa in Bellagio offer beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Don't miss the colorful flowers and fountains.
- Piona Abbey, Via Abbazia, 1, 23874 Piona CO, Italy - This ancient abbey on the eastern shore of Lake Como offers a glimpse into the region's medieval history. The Romanesque architecture and beautiful gardens make for great photo opportunities.
The length of your stay in Lake Como largely depends on your interests and travel style. However, it is recommended to spend at least two to three days in the area to fully experience its beauty and activities. If you plan to explore the surrounding towns and attractions, consider staying for five to seven days or more.
Lake Como is best known for its stunning natural beauty, surrounded by the picturesque Italian Alps and dotted with charming towns along its shores. The lake is also famous for its historic villas and gardens, including the majestic Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlotta. Additionally, Lake Como is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, and windsurfing.
Yes, there is plenty to do in Lake Como, Italy. Apart from enjoying the beautiful scenery, visitors can explore the historic villas and gardens, take a boat tour, hike the surrounding mountains, visit museums and galleries, and enjoy the local cuisine and wine. There are also many charming towns along the lake's shores to explore, such as Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio.
If you only have one day in Lake Como, start with a boat tour to admire the stunning scenery and historic villas. You can also explore the charming town of Bellagio, known for its cobbled streets, boutique shops, and lakeside cafes. Other popular activities include hiking, visiting museums and galleries, and enjoying the local cuisine and wine.
The Como train station is located at Via Giovanni Battista Pirelli 2, 22100 Como. It is easily accessible by bus or on foot.
The Bellagio ferry runs from dawn to dusk and operates every 30 minutes throughout the day. Tickets can be purchased online or at ticket offices around the lake.
Some of the best restaurants in Lake Como include Trattoria del Glicine in Lenno, Imbarcadero in Bellagio and Salice Blu in Bellagio. All of these restaurants serve modern Italian cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients.
Some of the most popular photography spots around Lake Como include Villa del Balbianello, Bellagio Waterfront, Castello di Vezio, Menaggio Waterfront, Villa Melzi Gardens, Varenna Waterfront, Fiumelatte, Faro Voltiano and Villa Serbelloni Gardens.