Lake Como Italy: Best things to Do & See (UPDATED)

O que fazer em Milão: visitar o Lago Como.
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2024-01-25

Explore the stunning Lake Como (Lago di Como), located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.

With its glacial origin, sprawling across an impressive area of 146 km², and boasting depths of up to 410 meters, Lake Como stands as one of Europe’s most profound lakes.

Renowned as an awe-inspiring destination, Lake Como holds the key to a treasure trove that captivates visitors from around the globe.

As the third largest lake in Italy, following Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, Lake Como treats you to breathtaking views in every direction.

Choosing where to direct your gaze becomes a delightful challenge, for each angle reveals an incredible landscape that overwhelms with its beauty. It’s no wonder this place has captured the hearts of travelers worldwide!

Whether embarking on a quick Milan escape or savoring a 2-3 day retreat in Como, this article is your ultimate guide, providing all the necessary insights to plan your journey.

Discover tips on reaching Lake Como from Milan, uncover the best activities to enjoy during your stay in Como and the surrounding region, and explore the charming towns and cities that should be part of your itinerary. This comprehensive resource also provides practical information to enhance your travel experience.

Prepare to be enchanted by the allure of Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio, nestled along the shores of Lake Como. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of Como’s city center, indulge in a leisurely cruise along the serene waters, or ascend the funicular to Brunate Mountain for panoramic vistas that will leave you breathless.

Moreover, find recommendations for accommodations that will ensure your stay is nothing short of extraordinary. So, are you ready to embark on this unforgettable journey with me?

Visit Lake Como on a tour departing from Milan

Vilas nas margens do Lago Como.
Villas on the shores of Lake Como Italy

If you’re in Milan and looking to make the most of your time by visiting Lake Como, joining a group tour is a fantastic option.

There are several companies offering this type of tour, each with varying levels of inclusiveness and pricing.

Discover the wonders of Lake Como with these exciting tour options departing from Milan!

  • For a budget-friendly option, consider the 1-Day Tour to Lake Como and Bellagio. This tour includes bus transfer from Milan to Como, a 2-hour ride to Bellagio (summer) or a 1-hour lake ride and funicular ride to Brunate (winter). A knowledgeable tour guide will accompany you throughout the experience.
  • For a more comprehensive tour, consider the Lake Como, Bellagio and Varenna or Menaggio. This tour includes transport from Milan, a guided tour of Como, a visit to Villa Olmo, a boat trip on the lake, free time to explore Bellagio and Varenna, and a return to Milan.

To explore all available tour options for your trip to Como!

What to Visit in Como (Staying Overnight)

Onde estão as villas das celebridades no Lago Como, Itália.
Where are the celebrity villas on Lake Como, Italy?

If you’re planning to spend the night in Como, here are some must-visit places that I highly recommend including in your itinerary for the stunning Lake Como.

In addition to these captivating attractions, there are also some celebrity-related sights that are worth mentioning.

If you’re curious about where famous actors reside, let me share information about George Clooney’s mansion and a few palaces that have served as backdrops for movies.

Let’s start with George Clooney’s villa in Laglio, a charming town that boasts another tourist attraction you shouldn’t miss, known as the Buco Dell’Orso Cave, or the Hole of the Bear Grotto.

Another noteworthy location is Villa Balbianello in Lenno, renowned for its captivating architecture and lush gardens, which have graced the silver screen in Hollywood movies. Visiting Villa Balbianello will make you feel like you’re stepping into a movie set.

Lastly, there’s Villa d’Este in Cernobbio. Originally constructed as a palace in 1568, it was transformed into a luxurious hotel in 1873. Today, it welcomes celebrities from around the world, offering an exclusive and sophisticated experience. Visiting Villa d’Este allows you to bask in the glamour and charm that surround Lake Como.

In addition to exploring the natural landscapes and lakeside towns, take the time to discover these celebrity-associated spots. They add a special touch to your visit, immersing you in the unique atmosphere that makes Lake Como such an enchanting destination.

Don’t forget to include these attractions in your itinerary and make the most of your trip to Lake Como. Enjoy everything this captivating region of Italy has to offer!

What Places to Visit on Lake Como?

O que fazer em Como: visitar o centro histórico.
Visit Como.

One of the remarkable features of Lake Como is its three arms, forming a Y shape: the Como arm, the Lecco arm, and the Colico arm. Each of these arms is home to charming towns and cities that deserve to be explored at a leisurely pace.

Let’s start with the Como arm, where the city of Como itself takes the spotlight. With its picturesque atmosphere and unique architectural wonders, Como is the perfect place to wander through historic streets and admire the Gothic beauty of the Como Cathedral.

Moving to the east arm, we encounter the city of Lecco, which seamlessly blends lush nature with a rich cultural heritage. With lakeside walking trails and a serene ambiance, Lecco becomes an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts.

Lastly, situated on the northern arm, we find the town of Colico, renowned for its beaches and water-based activities. It is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts, offering opportunities for sailing and windsurfing, infused with a sense of adventure and enjoyment. Additionally, Colico provides a relaxed atmosphere for visitors seeking tranquil moments by the waterfront.

As you can see, each town around Lake Como possesses its own distinct charm, providing visitors with a unique experience.

Therefore, be sure to include these stops in your itinerary and allow yourself to fully immerse in the captivating ambiance of Lake Como, discovering the treasures that each of these Italian locations has to offer.

Visit Bellagio

O que fazer em Milão: visitar o Lago Como.
What to do in Como: visit Bellagio, the pearl of the Lake.

Another renowned town waiting to be explored is Bellagio, often referred to as “the pearl of the lake” due to its captivating beauty.

This city boasts a well-preserved historic center, nestled within ancient walls, with narrow streets that extend from the lakeshore to the promontory. Along the lakeside, you’ll find luxurious hotels and elegant shopping streets.

Bellagio carries a rich history, evident in its 12th-century Romanesque cathedral, dedicated to San Giacomo, which still retains its original charm.

At the pinnacle of the headland, you’ll discover Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi, exquisite examples of 18th and 19th-century mansions. Make sure to explore the expansive historic parks, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding region.

Make the most of your visit to Lake Como by immersing yourself in the unique atmosphere of Bellagio. Allow yourself to be enchanted as you stroll through its charming streets and soak in the panoramic vistas offered by the picturesque parks.

Visit Lecco on Lake Como, the Setting for “The Betrothed”

If you’re planning to explore the southeastern region of Lake Como, a visit to Lecco is a must.

This city has gained worldwide recognition as the backdrop for the renowned novel “The Betrothed”.

With its panoramic beauty, Lecco stands out as the most stunning town on the lake, where the River Adda meets the River Lario, forming Lake Garlate. The surrounding rocky mountains with their extravagant shapes add a special charm to the scenery.

Lecco’s fame is closely tied to Alessandro Manzoni, who spent his youth in the 18th-century country house known as Caleotto (now the Manzoni Museum). It was within these walls that Manzoni drew inspiration for many pages of his masterpiece, “The Betrothed”.

In Lecco, you can embark on a captivating itinerary dedicated to Manzoni, exploring the places associated with this literary work.

For literature enthusiasts, discovering the locations that inspired Manzoni in Lecco is an intriguing experience. The city preserves the memory of the author and allows visitors to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the novel as they follow this unique itinerary.

Therefore, when planning your visit to Lake Como, be sure to include Lecco in your itinerary. Explore the captivating settings that influenced Manzoni’s writing and delve into the literary ambiance of this remarkable city.

Visit Colico

Recantos no Lago di Como.
Hidden Gems on Lake Como (Lago di Como)

Colico, situated on the shores of Lake Como, is a destination that should not be missed. Over the years, the city has gained a reputation for its warm and welcoming atmosphere, attracting both locals from nearby metropolitan areas and visitors from neighboring Switzerland.

One of the main highlights in Colico is its military fortresses, with Forte di Fuentes being a must-visit site. Tourists can explore the historical structures and marvel at the breathtaking views of the lake and its surroundings.

A leisurely stroll along the lakefront is also highly recommended in Colico. You can soak in the tranquil ambiance while taking in the charming central square and its enchanting fountain, which comes alive with beautiful lighting at night.

Moreover, the town offers a range of bars, pizzerias, and rustic-style restaurants, where you can indulge in the delicious cuisine of the Valtellina region and savor the exquisite local wines.

Where to Stay on Lake Como: Accommodation Suggestions

Considering the high tourism in the Lake Como region, there are numerous interesting accommodation options available.

If you prefer to stay in the center of Como, I recommend La Dolce Vita – Downtown Como. This apartment features one bedroom and a sofa bed in the living room, making it ideal for families of up to four people. Additionally, it offers a kitchen and a balcony where you can unwind at the end of the day.

For a luxurious stay, Vista Palazzo – Small Luxury Hotels of the World is highly recommended. This 5-star hotel is situated on the shores of Lake Como, near the ferry terminal, ensuring a convenient location and exceptional service.

Another opulent choice is the 5-star Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como. Although it is not located in Como’s city center, this hotel offers the advantage of free parking.

If you are seeking a more budget-friendly option, consider Hotel Engadina, a 3-star hotel. While it may lack the glamour and amenities of the aforementioned hotels, it provides a viable choice for a few nights in Como’s city center.

If none of the mentioned suggestions pique your interest, I recommend exploring the map and following the link below to explore availability and prices for other hotels and apartments in the Lake Como area.

Hotels in Como

Best things to Do and See in Lake Como

In summary, here is a list of things to do on Lake Como.

Exploring the Enchanting City of Como, Italy

Monumento a Volta, cientista italiano.
Monumento a Volta, cientista italiano.

Let’s explore Como! Did you know that Lago di Como gets its name from the city of Como itself?

Como is famous for its stylish atmosphere, well-preserved historic center, and authentic Italian charm. As you wander through the cobblestone streets, you’ll come across traditional shops, fashionable boutiques, and cozy cafes with lovely outdoor terraces perfect for enjoying an Aperol Spritz.

Make sure to visit the magnificent Como Cathedral, a remarkable Gothic building with intricate details both inside and out. The city also boasts several museums for history and culture enthusiasts.

In addition, the city has several museums for lovers of history and local culture.

The Archaeological Museum of Como, known as Museo Archeologico Giovio, displays fascinating Roman artifacts.

Another interesting site is the Roman Baths (Terme Romane – Sito Archeologico – Como), where you can explore the remains of an ancient spa complex dating back to the 1st century AD. It features a mix of rectangular and octagonal rooms.

Art lovers should definitely include a visit to the Pinacoteca Civica, housed in Palazzo Volpi, a beautiful 17th-century palace. There, you can admire paintings by renowned Italian artists.

For those intrigued by history, a must-visit is the Museo della Seta, showcasing Como’s longstanding silk production. It offers a fascinating glimpse into this ancient craft.

As you can see, Como has so much more to offer beyond its serene lake shores. Don’t miss out on exploring the city’s charming attractions and immersing yourself in its rich cultural heritage.

Take a cruise on Lake Como

Montanhas à volta do Lago Como.
Mountains around Lake Como.

Taking a cruise on Lago di Como is much more than just a tourist activity, it is also a romantic experience to share with your better half.

Imagine sailing together through calm, crystalline waters, while marveling at the natural beauty that surrounds the lake!

When planning your cruise on Lago di Como, you can buy tickets at the ticket booths next to the boats or opt for a tour departing from Milan.

Cruises operate on a Hop-on, Hop-off system, which means you can hop on and off the boat as many times as you like. This flexibility is perfect for exploring the villages around the lake.

The beauty of the landscapes around Lago di Como will certainly leave you with incredible memories. The mountains, which change color with the position of the sun, the lush forests and endless gardens that embellish the shores of the lake will create a romantic setting.

In addition, the silence and tranquility provided by the cruise are ideal for enjoying moments together, enjoying each other’s company and creating unforgettable memories.

Don’t forget to bring your camera, as during the cruise you will have the opportunity to capture stunning photographs. The soft light of the sun reflecting on the waters of the lake is the perfect setting to capture romantic moments together.

Check out this tour from Milan: Lake Como and Bellagio 1-Day Tour

Take the Funicular to the Top of Brunate Mountain

Funicular Como-Brunate.
The Como-Brunate Funicular.

The Como-Brunate Funicular is a must-do experience for many visitors in Como. It offers an unforgettable journey to the top of Brunate Mountain, which sits atop a hill and provides breathtaking views of the lake, mountains, and the city of Como below.

The Funicular, also known as the “Funicolare,” is a convenient and scenic way to reach Brunate. However, if you have a fear of heights or prefer a different mode of transportation, you can also choose to go by car.

Once you arrive in Brunate, take the time to explore the area on foot. Marvel at the charming, colorful houses, take in the panoramic views from various vantage points, or simply relax at one of the cozy outdoor cafes.

One of the main attractions in Brunate is the Voltiano Lighthouse, dedicated to Alessandro Volta, a renowned Italian scientist. Inside the lighthouse, you can learn about Volta’s life and contributions, and for an even more breathtaking view, climb to the top of the lighthouse.

Nature enthusiasts can also enjoy the region’s natural trails, which wind through the surrounding forests, offering a serene and immersive experience in nature.

If you wish to prolong your stay in Brunate, there are accommodation options available, including super cozy hotels and inns that will make your experience even more special.

Consider checking out the Relais Villino Rubini for a dream stay in Brunate!

Discover Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio on the Shores of Lake Como

Andar de barco no Lago di Como.
Boating on Lago di Como.

Exploring the picturesque towns nestled along the shores of Lake Como, such as Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio, is an essential part of any visit to this enchanting region of Italy.

Let’s start with Bellagio, renowned as the “Pearl of Lake Como,” where every moment is a feast for the senses.

Wandering through its narrow, winding streets, you’ll be captivated by the vibrant hues of the houses that embrace you.

Colorful gardens add to the allure, creating a setting straight out of an adventure movie, where imagination soars and every step brings a new and thrilling discovery.

Perched on a peninsula, Bellagio offers panoramic views of both the lake and the surrounding mountains, adding to its undeniable charm.

Varenna, with its romantic ambiance, is another must-visit destination on Lake Como.

Situated on the eastern coast, this town enchants visitors with its architectural details and serene atmosphere.

As you stroll along the streets of Varenna, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, and at every turn, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the lake.

Make sure to explore the 11th-century Castle of Vezio and immerse yourself in the region’s rich history. Don’t miss the splendid gardens of Villa Monastero, where terraces cascade down to the lake’s edge, creating a mesmerizing sight.

Lastly, Menaggio, located on the western shore of Lake Como, exudes a relaxed charm and a laid-back atmosphere.

Take a leisurely walk through the historic center and admire the elegant architecture of its buildings.

Menaggio is the ideal place to savor the region at your own pace, embracing moments of tranquility and immersing yourself in the unforgettable experience of exploring this part of Italy.

Hiking trails and natural wonders

For nature lovers, Lake Como is a paradise waiting to be explored.

Beyond the well-trodden paths, there are hiking trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints, hidden waterfalls, and serene lakeside spots.

One such trail is the Sentiero del Viandante, a historic path that winds its way along the eastern shore of the lake. As you hike, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the shimmering waters of Lake Como.

Another hidden gem is the Orrido di Nesso, a natural gorge located in the village of Nesso. This impressive geological formation is a hidden wonder, with its cascading waterfalls and dramatic rock formations.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll, Lake Como offers a variety of hidden trails and natural wonders waiting to be discovered.

Getting to Lake Como (How to Travel from Milan to Lake Como?)

O que fazer no Lago Como: visitar Brunate.
What to do on Lake Como: visit Brunate.

Lake Como is easily accessible from major cities in Italy and Europe, including Milan. There are several transportation options available to reach the lake from Milan, ensuring a convenient and enjoyable journey.

If you are arriving at Milan Malpensa International Airport, you can take a train or a bus to reach Lake Como. Alternatively, you can rent a car and enjoy a scenic drive through the Italian countryside.

Considering that Lake Como is located just 50 km from Milan, it has become a popular destination for tourists looking to explore the Lombardy region.

For those who prefer the freedom of a car, renting one is a suitable option.

You can silulate the cost of renting a car in Como or Milan to determine the approximate expenses.

With a car, you can easily navigate around Lake Como and explore its different towns at your own pace. However, it’s important to keep in mind the cost associated with car travel, such as toll fees on the A9 motorway, fuel expenses, and parking fees in Como.

If you choose to explore the lake by car, there are also boats available for crossing it.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a more economical option, the train is highly recommended. Departing from Milan’s “Cadorna” station, you can take a train to the “Como Nord Lago” station.

The train journey from Milan to Lake Como takes approximately one hour and costs around 4.80 euros. It is advisable to purchase your train tickets in advance, either online through the Trenitalia website or at the vending machines located at the station.

When to Visit Lake Como: Discover the Perfect Time

Faro Voltiano em Brunate.
Faro Voltiano in Brunate.

Lake Como is a year-round destination, with each season offering its own unique charm.

The best time to visit Lake Como in Italy is from April to October, with the months of June to September being particularly favorable due to their warmer temperatures and ideal conditions for activities like swimming in the lake.

Lake Como has a continental climate, characterized by hot summers and cold winters. The average annual temperature on the lake is 13°C, ranging from 3°C to 26°C throughout the year.

During the summer, the weather is pleasant, with July having the highest average temperature of 23°C. It offers sunny and enjoyable days for outdoor activities.

On average, Lake Como receives 1055 mm of rainfall per year. However, there are approximately 152 rain-free days in a year.

If you prefer to avoid extreme cold, it is advisable to avoid visiting Lake Como during the winter months when temperatures can drop significantly. January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 3°C. While the lake is still beautiful during this time, be prepared for low temperatures.

For the best overall experience, September is an excellent month to visit Lake Como. The temperatures are still pleasant, with an average of 23°C, and the rainfall is relatively low.

Regarding water temperature, it can reach up to 27°C during the hottest months like July and August, making it ideal for swimming and diving. However, during the coldest months such as January, the water temperature can drop as low as 7°C.

The History and Geography of Lake Como

Lake Como has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. The lake was formed by glacial activity and has been a popular retreat for centuries.

It has attracted artists, writers, and nobility throughout history, who were drawn to its natural beauty and serenity.

Lake Como also played a significant role in the region’s economy, as it served as a major trade route during the Roman Empire.

Why Lake Como should be on your travel bucket list

Lake Como is a destination that captures the hearts of all who visit.

Its breathtaking landscapes, historic charm, and luxurious offerings make it a truly magical place. Whether you’re exploring the charming cobblestone streets of Bellagio, taking a leisurely boat ride across the tranquil waters, or indulging in the delectable local cuisine, every moment spent in Lake Como is a feast for the senses.

Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture, as you discover ancient churches, opulent gardens, and mesmerizing art collections.

With its timeless beauty and serene atmosphere, Lake Como promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you spellbound. Get ready to embark on a journey of wonder and awe as you uncover the magic of Lake Como.

Lake Como is not just a destination; it’s an experience that will stay with you long after you leave its shores.

Discover the magic of this hidden gem and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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