09 Dec Lake Como
Welcome to Lake Como
Lake Como is the third largest Italian lake at the foothills of the Alps in Northern Italy, not far from Switzerland’s borders. It is surrounded by beautiful Swiss Alps and is amongst the most picturesque sceneries in the world. Upscale lakeside towns accessible by ferries are Como, Lecco, Bellagio, Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Varenna.
While visiting Milan, we decided to spend some time exploring Lake Como. And the first few things that come to mind thinking about “Lake Como” is George Clooney, villas, Aperol Spritz, and money. Despite this vision, it is possible to see a lot of Lake Como, on a budget, without spending too much money.
How To Get There
From Milan, two train lines serve Lake Como, Trenitalia and Trenord. We used a rail pass to buy tickets in advance. Alternatively, you can get a bus from Milan to get you into Como. It makes the perfect weekend getaway, less than two hours away from Milan by train and is a bucket list destination. We travelled with Flixbus back from Como to Milan which took us approx one hour. It was comfortable and very economical.
Getting Around Lake Como
Getting around Lake Como is relatively easy as there are public transport options such as buses, and ferries, including a funicular (cable car). Alternatively, you can hire a car to get around Lake Como, but only if you are brave to do so with its narrow twisting roads; it can be a little scary. Click here for times and schedules to help plan your journey.
To experience the best around Lake Como, using the boats and ferry facilities is the most economical and relaxing way to reach either Bellagio, Varenna or the other towns on Lake Como. There are two types of boats, the public and private ones.
Navigazione Laghi provides public services and operates all year round. In the low season, be aware that it has a reduced frequency of service during the period. Alternatively, depending on your budget, for a more intimate personal experience, you can opt for a private boat tour on the lake. Imagine a beautiful sunset with a fine bottle of prosecco?
Places Of Interest
One of the best ways to see Lake Como is to wander around and explore, with Como, Bellagio and Varenna being the three prettiest towns on Lake Como. Strolling around the lakefront towns’ promenades, walking through cobblestone laneways, and shopping in quaint boutique shops is so relaxing. There are plenty of hidden alleyways, gorgeous viewpoints and old churches to discover, together with paths along the waterfront, great for walking or biking. And remember to stop for gelato as you go!
Located in Lombardy, northern Italy, at the foot of the Alps, Lake Como, (also called Lario), offers some of the world’s most romantic and picturesque sceneries. On a map, you will see Como characterised as resembling an inverted Y. The distances between towns are easily accessible by local transportation. Lake Como is so beautiful that you can feel lost amongst the enchanting villas and gardens or relax with a private boat tour and rejuvenate with a healthy nature walk.
Other points of interest in Como are the Gothic Como Cathedral, Museo Storico Giuseppe Garibaldi, Basilica di Sant’ Abbondio, a boat ride on Lake Como, and visiting the town of Cernobbio.
When you visit Como city, you must experience the scenic funicular railway and the waterfront promenade. The funicular (cable car) is open every day of the year as it serves tourists and is also a primary transport source for the locals. Please check their timetable here for the latest schedule, as winter timings may be adjusted due to the non-peak season.
The funicular starts near the lake waterfront. Purchase your tickets at the entry point. Every 15 minutes, you can board a funicular which takes you to the top of a hill reaching the village of Brunate. When you reach the top, you will be amazed at the panoramic views of Lake Como and the Alps. You can also enjoy some lovely walks from Brunate, exploring the town and reaching the lighthouse of San Maurizio. For the adventurous, there is a 2-hour hike to the summit of Mount Boletto. On a beautiful day, with stamina, you can follow a path back down to Como on foot. The walk down will likely take around 3 hours. Alternatively, the funicular departs every 15 minutes from the top too.
Bellagio is a town out of a fairy storybook; with its narrow, steep cobblestoned streets and breathtaking views, it’s so easy to spend the day just wandering the streets. Stop at a cafe or have a long lunch along the lakefront promenade, admiring the stunning views. But be mindful Bellagio is also the most touristy town at Lake Como and is usually very crowded with people during the peak hours of the day. After 6 pm is an excellent time to visit Bellagio for the many restaurants and nightlife.
Don’t forget to order an Aperol Spritz with every meal – it’s one of the most common drinks in Italy!
Varenna is breathtaking; this is one place we could have stayed longer. Generally, people miss it, favouring Bellagio instead. But this place is just as charming without the influx of tourists. If you are visiting Varenna from Bellagio, the easiest way is to hop on a ferry. Check the timetable of the ferry schedules and plan accordingly.
Being a small town, Varenna has little to do besides walking around and exploring. With the narrow passageways, colourful buildings, and delicious pizza, it is so idyllic. Enjoy the many places along the waterfront for coffee or lunch and enjoy the fantastic views. It’s the perfect place to unwind, relax and appreciate the beauty of this area.
Catching a train is possible if you’re not into boats or water transport. Located uphill at the centre of Varenna, you can get to Bellano in 15 minutes. Lecco in 25 minutes and Como in 2 hours (via Monza). There is a lovely little coffee shop to enjoy while waiting for the train.
Where To Stay
There are so many beautiful places around Lake Como, so you will enjoy this lovely, charming place wherever you choose, depending on your time and budget. below are some of our suggestions:
For our stay in Lake Como, we stayed at Albergo Terminus, part of the Lario Hotels. A perfect location to enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Como together with the vibrant life of the city. Just walking distance to the central ferry station to get you to most of the towns on the lake.Search here for ‘Como’ accommodation options.
Villas on Lake Como
- Villa Monastero
- Villa Carlotta
- Villa Melzi d’Eril
Centrally located, Hotel du Lac is a mid-range hotel in a prime location in trendy Bellagio. Hotel Belvedere is a four-star hotel, if you want to splurge a little. Search here for ‘Bellagio’ accommodation options.
Away from the main hustle of central Varenna, Hotel Du Lac is an ideal hotel with excellent views. Alternatively, Hotel Villa Cipressi is a good option. Search here for ‘Varenna’s’ accommodation options.
We visited Lake Como in the off-season, December. Yes, in winter, and it was gorgeous. The weather was bleak, but Lake Como shone in full glory when the sun was out. Being the off-season, we could explore the towns comfortably with fewer crowds, which was a bonus. We enjoyed the Christmas Markets in the main square, drinking mulled wine and talking to the locals. Everyone was in good Christmas spirits. Ho Ho Ho.
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