Lake Como is also known as Lago di Como (in Italian), also called Lario, located at the foot of the Alps. Lake Como is one of the most beautiful natural places in the world with poetic, romantic and charming scenery. If you plan visit the Italian lakes, Lake Como is a destination you definitely cannot miss. Around Lake Como are picturesque little villages located scattered next to its romantic lakeshore, reflect itself on the deep blue water. So, what to do in Lake Como, how to visit Lake Como and how to plan a great and perfect budget perfect trip to Lake Como? – A must-visit romantic place in Italy for the first-time? Let’s check out our Lake Como travel blog (Lake Como blog) with the fullest Lake Como travel guide (Lake Como guide, Lake Como Italy travel guide, Lake Como vacation guide) from how to get there, when to visit, where to stay, best places to visit and things to do in Lake Como to find out the answer for the question “is Lake Como worth visiting”?!
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Lake Como is an upside-down Y-shaped lake in Lombardy region, northern Italy, 40km (25 miles) from Milan. Lake Como has long attracted visitors by its majestic natural landscape but also very poetic. Lake Como is also a prefer resting place for the aristocracy and rich people including George Clooney, Madonna or Donatella Versace. Along the lakeshore are magnificent villas interspersed between small beautiful villages and towns. If you have ever been to Lake Como, you cannot forget the beauty of this place.
Lake Como travel blog: Overview of Lago di Como
With a maximum depth of about 410 meters (448 yards), Lake Como is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. The lake was created from the melting of glaciers combined with the erosion of the ancient Adda River.
Lake Como is Italy’s third largest lake after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore and lies at the foot of the world-famous Alps. Because almost its water source comes from the snowy mountains, the lake water is very clear and clean. Due to its shape like a Y upside-down symbol. So, the distance between Lake Como and Milan will depend on the exact location you need to go to. The two main towns by the lake are Como and Lecco, are located at the southern tip of two branches of Y character while the super famous village of Bellagio is sandwiched in the middle right where the two branches converge.
It takes more than an hour by train to the north from the city of Milan, visitors will admire the poetic beauty of Lake Como. Located at the foot of the Alps are ancient European villages, lush greenery and blue Lake Como. All create a picturesque scene that many visitors have been amazed after visiting here. Filmmakers also chose Lake Como as the location for many blockbuster movies. These include: “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (Episode II)”, “Casino Royale” and “Ocean’s Twelve”.
Lake Como travel blog: When to visit?
Due to being located close to Switzerland, the nature in Lake Como is beautiful and the climate is extremely favorable. The highest temperature in summer only around 27 degrees Celsius and lowest in winter around 4 degrees Celsius. The best time to travel to Lake Como is in late April until the end of summer.
You will avoid the burning heat in Italian cities when have a vacation here. At this time, while all other cities in Italy are no different than “a pan of fire”, the temperature here also often ranging from 24 to 27 degrees Celsius which is very pleasant.
Lake Como travel guide: How to getting from Milan to Lake Como
The two most famous places that tourists often visit are Como Town and Bellagio Village. Besides, there are some other places that I see they are also very beautiful like Varenna village or Lecco Town. There are many ways to get here but the most popular, convenient and fastest way is by train. I will suggest some of the most common ways for you to refer to and consider.
Milan – Como Town
It takes about 36 minutes to travel by train from Milano Centrale Railway Station to Como S. Giovanni Station with the fare of €4.8. You can buy tickets online through the Trenitalia homepage or directly at the station. For this type of ticket, you do not need to buy online in advance but go to buy directly for convenience.
You can also take a train to Varenna (stop at Varenna-Esino-Perledo station) or Como Town, then take a ferry to the rest of the villages.
But you should take a train to Varenna because from there you can easy to get to Bellagio and the other villages around the lake. While if you want to go to Bellagio from Como Town, it will take another 1 – 2 hours of traveling. And actually, there isn’t much to see and do in Como Town. The traveling time is about 60 minutes with the fare of 6.7 euros, you can also book tickets on: http://www.trenitalia.com/.
Milan – Lecco
It takes about 40 minutes to travel from Milano Centrale station to Lecco and the fare is 4.8 euros.
Milan – Bellagio
There is no direct train from Milan to Bellagio, so you need to take several trips. There are 3 ways to getting from Milan to Bellagio:
- Take a train from Milan centrale station to Varenna for 1 hour, ticket price is 6.7 euros. Then from there, you can take a boat or ferry for 15 minutes to get to Bellagio which costs €4.6 / one-way. If you buy a day pass, it costs around €15 and you can take unlimit trips to the nearby villages.
- From Milan Centrale Station to Como as above guided (cost €4.8 and 36 minutes of traveling). Then from there, you continue take a train / bus to Bellagio. Take a express train ride for 45 minutes and cost €10.4 while take a bus for 1 hour and cost €3.
- From “Trenord” station (to reach this train station, you can take the metro from central Milan) for 1 hour to Como Nord Lago railway station in Como Town with the fare of 4.8 euros. Then also choose to take the train or bus to get to Bellagio.
Lake Como Italy travel guide: Getting around Lake Como
Ferry is a main means of transportation to travel between the villages of Menaggio, Varenna, Bellagio… in Lake Como. The ferry runs very on time, so please pay attention to its schedules (timetables are posted at the ticket offices at the ferry terminals) and you should come early for 10 – 15 minutes to avoid miss ferry. Another little note is that you pay attention to the last ferry of the day (for those who only want to make a day trip to Lake Como), otherwise, as I mentioned above, you must spend one night here and it will burn your purse with sky-high room rates.
One-way ferry costs €9.20. If you plan to visit only the main villages like Varenna, Menagio or Bellagio, you should buy a Pass which costs € 15 without limit on the number of trips in a day.
Details of fares, timetables and vehicles, you can see here.
Lake Como travel blog: What to do and where to go?
Lake Como is most famous for its two tourist attractions are Bellagio Village and Como Town. In addition, two other stops of Varenna or Lecco Town are also very impressed to me. If you do not have much time, choose to visit places such as Como, Lecco, Varenna when traveling to Lake Como.
The village of Bellagio dubbed the “pearl of Lake Como”, is a picturesque old village facing Lake Como. This place is famous for its ancient houses from the medieval times with beautiful natural scenery. Visiting Bellagio, you will find many ancient shops, guesthouses and small bustling square of Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini which always full of tourists. With its prime location at the foot of the Alps, the climate in Bellagio is always cool and pleasant all year round.
The village gives visitors a feeling of peace and elegance. Visitors can wandering on the paved streets, dropping by small handicraft shops or shopping for clothes and accessories made by locals. Visit Villa Melzi d’Eril, walking along the giant walls that once bordered the castle to feel time as back.
In addition to Mazzini Square, the most attractive point of Bellagio is the magnificent villas and palaces. The luxury resorts in Bellagio with lakeside promenades and cobbled streets always leave an unforgettable impression on visitors.
Visit Santa Marta Church to admire its ancient architecture and well-preserved paintings from the 17th century. If you go straight towards Lake Como you will reach the square of Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. This is the ideal place to sit and drink coffee or enjoy Italian gelato ice cream while enjoy the beauty of the world’s most beautiful lake right in front of your eyes.
Some interesting activities in the village of Bellagio
- Sightseeing along roads and alleys in Bellagio.
- Strolling around La Punta Spartivento park.
- Visit 2 villas of Villa Melzi d’Eril and Villa Serbelloni.
- Visit the picturesque village of Pescallo which is located in the southeast of the Bellagio promontory.
The town of Como
The town is surrounded by defensive walls located on the southwestern tip of Lake Como. It was once under the rule of many empires and it was not until the 19th century that it became a part of Italy.
There are many ancient churches in Como town with arched dome ceilings and towering bell towers that characterize a mix architecture styles of Roman, Renaissance and Gothic. The most typical example is Duomo di Como (Como Cathedral).
Some interesting activities in Como Town
- Visit the Duomo di Como Cathedral.
- Walking around small alleys.
- Visit the Archaeological Museum.
- Take the Como-Brunate Funicular Railway to the top of Brunate village to see the whole Lake Como.
- Visit the village of Cernobbio.
- Visit Villa del Balbianello, the most beautiful villa of the lake, ticket price of 8 euros for student.
Located on the east bank of Lake Como, is a typical tourist village. It has a strange charm right from the sweet Pastel color of the houses. Coming to Varenna, you should visit the San Giorgio church which was built in the 14th century, a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. This place stores many paintings from the late 15th and 16th centuries.
Varenna has something very distinctive from the colorful houses lying on the edge of the lakeshore. But Varenna’s most attractive thing are small walkways along the lake. Among them, the Walk of Lovers is known as the most glamorous lakefront walkway in Italy. The path surface is paved with stone. What could be more romantic than holding hands with your lover and walking on Walk of Lovers and enjoy romantic beauty together by Lake Como.
Castello di Vezio
Medieval fortress located on a high hill with sweeping views of Lake Como. Castello di Vezio is an ideal spot for you to enjoy the panoramic view of Lake Como. However, the way up here is quite tricky and along the path there are some very terrifying statues.
Located in: Comune Di Perledo
Address: Via Del Castellano, 23828 Perledo LC, Italy
In contrast to Varenna and Bellagio, Menaggio is a bit more peaceful and serene. If you want to feel the life of the residents around Lake Como, a cup of coffee in Menaggio village will be the most ideal way.
Villa del Balbianello
Dubbed the most beautiful villa in Lake Como, it is not surprising that Villa del Balbianello was chosen as the setting of the movie Star Wars. Located on the west side of Lake Como on top of Lavedo Hill, Villa del Balbianello offering a beautiful view of the lake. Currently this is the place to hold private events such as weddings and ceremonies. Villa del Balbianello overwhelms visitors with its terraced gardens and stunning architecture. That is why it was chosen as the setting for famous movies. Typical is a scene from the balcony in the movie Star Wars II.
However, to reach this villa, you will have to go through a true tough journey. The first is to take a ferry to Lenno, then take another 25 minutes by car to reach Villa del Balbianello (note that the road is very steep).
Address: Via Guido Monzino, 1, 22016 Tremezzina CO, Italy
Hours: 10AM–4:30PM/Monday; Wednesday: Closed
Originally a monastery with medieval architecture, Villa Monastero increasingly attracts visitors with its own attractive beauty. Just 15 minutes walk from Varenna Esino train station, you will be able to immerse yourself in the beauty of the landscape here. And when you come here, don’t forget to bring your student card (if any) to receive the incentives!
Address: Viale Giovanni Polvani, 2, 23829 Varenna LC, Italy
Hours: 9:30am – 8pm (summer) | 10:30am – 4:30pm (winter)
Admission: EUR3 (entrance fee to visit the garden for student)
* NOTE: When visiting Villa Monastero or Villa del Balbianello, you remember to bring your student card to receive a more preferential price (in fact, the staffs do not check your card, so don’t worry). You should carefully check the opening hours of the villas before coming.
In addition, there are some other famous villas such as: Villa Carlotta, Villa Melzi, Villa d’Este…
How to visit Lake Como? Lake Como day trip itinerary from Milan
Here is my suggested Lake Como itinerary for one day from Milan for you refer to.
- 8:20am – 9:23am: Take a train from Milan Centrale Station to Varenna Esino Station
- 9:45am: Visit Villa Monastero
- 11am: Walking around the village of Varenna
- 11:30am: Lunch
- 1pm: Walking around the village of Bellagio
- 4:30pm: Visit the Villa del Balbianello
- 6:15: Back to Varenna
- 7:07pm – 8:40pm: Take the train from Varenna Esino back to Milano Centrale
Lake Como blog: What and where to eat?
There is no shortage of restaurants offering beautiful views of the lake, but to choosing an affordable restaurant and delicious food is not easy. The easiest way is that you can go to Tripadvisor to see which restaurants get the highest rank, then choose it (the reviews here are quite good).
Also, you should base on your itinerary (depending on where you visit at that time) to choose a good place to eat. Avoid being in this village but want to go to another village to eat because it takes time to take the ferry between villages.
Bar Il Molo
During my trip, I went to Varenna and had lunch here. I chose Il Molo Bar after researching a few travel blogs and on Tripadvisor, which are in the top 10 restaurants in Lake Como. It offering an extremely wonderful view and affordable. Only from 8-10 euros, you have pizza, pasta and other. However, I feel not really delicious compared to other Italian tourist destinations such as Venice, Florence but in return, the view is so beautiful. Among the dishes here, the pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven is the most recommended.
Right near this restaurant, there is a delicious cheap ice cream shop. I remember correctly that only €1.8 with 2 scoops of ice cream. Remember to try it.
Address: Riva Garibaldi, 14, 23829 Varenna LC, Italy
Prices: 14 – 18 euros
I recommend some good restaurants in Lake Como: Bar Il Molo, Ristorante Du Lac, Caffee Varena, Ristorante La Vista, Bar Sanremo, Bar Gelateria Il Gabbiano, Terrazza Metropole, Bstyle Bellagio, Il Ristorante di Paolo, Ristorante Del Porto.
Lake Como blog: Where to stay?
The hotel room rates around Lake Como are quite expensive and there are not many affordable options, so we did not stay overnight but went back during the day.
If you want to stay overnight here, you should book a hotel room in or around the Varenna village, for the following reasons:
- You can easily take a ferry or boat to neighboring villages like Bellagio or Menaggio.
- From Varenna Esino Station you also can easily take a train to go straight to Milano Centrale Railway Station.
In addition, I will also recommend some hotels that visitors often choose to stay in Lake Como such as: Hotel Belvedere Bellagio (Agoda.com or Booking.com), Grand Hotel Tremezzo (Agoda.com or Booking.com), Hotel Villa Flori (Agoda.com or Booking.com), Hotel Metropole Bellagio (Agoda.com or Booking.com), Mandarin Oriental, Hotel Du Lac, Hotel Garni Corona, Hotel Lenno, Villa d’Este.
Lake Como travel blog: Some useful tips before you go
- Just spend 1 day you can take a fully tour Lake Como and beautiful villages of Menaggio, Varenna, Bellagio because these villages are very small. Or you can visit Como Town first, then take a 2 hour slow train to back Bellagio village. This train stops at many villages and you can enjoy beautiful views of the lake while traveling.
- If you only have half a day but still want to explore Lake Como Italy, you should go to Como Town or Lecco Village. Both of these places are only 36 minutes away Milan by Trenitalia train, so half a day is possible.
- Personally for me, Lake Como is a worth visiting. Maybe because I’m living in Finland, the nature is not as “magnificent” as in Italy, so when I came here, I was very excited and satisfied.
- Wearing a comfortable shoes to explore because you have to walking a lot.
Lake Como Italy travel guide: Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Lake Como you can refer to
- Guided Day Trip to Lake Como and Bellagio
- Lake Como, Bellagio, and Lugano Switzerland Day Tour from Milan
- Lake Como Day Tour From Verona
- Lake Como Hiking Tour
Are you looking for more top things to do in many destinations in Italy: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here.