Lake Como, located in the north of Italy, covers an area of about 140 square kilometers. The historic towns around the lake, which offer legendary mountain views, fascinated me with their colorful houses, narrow streets and wonderful gardens. I am so happy that I finally had the chance to discover this beauty. There are so many towns around Lake Como and so many places to visit. That’s why I wanted to prepare an article that will guide you based on my own experiences, searches and the recommendations from you. Here is my Lake Como Travel Guide, have a nice read.
Lake Como Travel Guide
The travel guide will include Lake Como transportation guide, accommodation guide, places to visit, food and drink guide and travel budget.
Lake Como Transportation
The easiest way to get to Como is by train from Milan. I took the Tirano train from Milano and arrived at Varenna Esino station on my way there and took the Milano train at San Giovanni train station in Como on my way back.
Lake Como, shaped like an inverted letter Y, is 171 km around. There are dozens of beautiful towns around the lake, which you can visit by hop on hop off ferry or by bus. You can buy a ticket for the ferries for a single destination or an all-day ticket. There are slow and fast ferries, you can also take the car ferry.
Here are the bus routes around Lake Como:
D20 Lecco-Mandello & D21 Bellano-Varenna
Finally, it is also possible to visit the lake by renting private speedboats, but their prices start from 250€. I didn’t prefer it because I was on my own.
Since the towns are very small, you can easily explore them on foot.
Where to stay in Lake Como?
I preferred to stay in Varenna. I made my reservation immediately when I found a cozy and budget-friendly single room considering the prices around Como. I stayed at Albergo Del Sole. It was a clean little place in Varenna square, which also had a restaurant. I recommend it if you don’t expect any luxury. Now I will make some great accommodation recommendations for you in the towns around Lake Como for every budget.
You can check all available hotels around Lake Como here.
Things to see and do in Lake Como
Even if you go to any town around Lake Como and just walk along the waterfront, I am sure you will have a great time. Although I didn’t visit all of them, each town we passed by ferry looked beautiful. I have prioritized the most popular ones. Now I will tell you about my route and things to do on that route.
Lake Como 2 Days Itinerary
I had 2 full days in Como and it was the ideal time to explore the places where I most wanted to visit. My route started with Varenna. From Varenna I went to Bellagio for the day, spent the evening and the next morning in Varenna, then I visited a villa in Lenno and finally I visited Como and returned to Milan by train in the evening.
I went in the last week of March, the weather was nice enough to wear short sleeves one day, rainy and cloudy the other day. I recommend going from April because some villas open in April and all the flowers are in bloom, all the trees are green and everything looks more beautiful.
Things to see and do in Varenna
Walking along the Riva Garibaldi and then the Riva Grande and wandering the streets of Varenna Old Town is actually the best activity to do in Varenna, but let me also mention a few other spots.
Villa Monastero: Spread over a very large area by the lake, the villa offers great views for photography lovers. The garden opens in April and the inside opens at the end of May. Tickets price are 13€ for both and 10€ for the single garden visit. Children up to 14 years old are free.
Castello di Vezio: If you want to see the lake and Varenna from above, you can go up to the castle, entrance into the castle costs 4€. Children up to 7 €2, under 7 free.
Chiesa di San Giorgio: This church is in the square where my hotel is located, it is a 14th century building and there are frescoes inside.
Things to see and do in Bellagio
Bellagio, just like Varenna, is impressive enough even if you just wander the lakeside path and the Old Town streets unconsciously. I still have a few spots to write here. 🙂
Salita Serbelloni: This is probably the photo you see the most in Bellagio, if you enter the map like this, you will go to that view point. In the summer months, when it is crowded, it is essential to go here early in the morning.
Parco Martiri Della Liberta: A magnificent garden with free admission, don’t forget to enjoy some time on the benches overlooking the lake.
Punta Spartivento: This is the most extreme point of Bellagio, when you look across there are only the mountains, the lake and you.
Villa Melzi: The inside of the villa is not open, but the garden is gorgeous and open to the public. Entrance fee is €8, children under 12 are free. Open from March to October.
Lenno – Villa Del Balbianello
In my opinion, this magnificent villa, that you probably will remember from some scenes from Star Wars and James Bond movies, is a place you should prioritize if you are going to visit only one villa around Lake Como. I visited in March and although it was not yet green enough, it was very charming, and by mid-April you can expect a spectacular environment. In the garden there is a 13th century monastery with two towers. This villa belongs to an organization called FAI and on the weekend I was there, this organization was opening all of its structures to the public. Entrance is free, you can make a donation if you want by putting money in the boxes on the tables. Normally the entrance to the garden is 12€, the inside of the villa and the garden together is 23€.
Things to see and do in Como
Como, like all the places around the lake, is a city where you will enjoy getting lost in the Old Town streets and walking along the lake. Here are some of the places I think you should see.
Duomo di Como: Started in the 14th century and completed in the 18th century, this is the 3rd largest cathedral in the Lombardy region, worth seeing.
Porta Torre: One of the most important symbols of the city, the building was connected to the walls surrounding the city, but only this gate tower has survived from the 12th century.
Villa Olmo: This is one of the most famous villas around Lake Como. The best feature of this place is that it is free of charge unlike other villas. 😉
I didn’t take the funicular, but you can take the funicular to the village of Brunate and look at the lake from above, the view looks beautiful in the photos.
Lake Como Food and Drink Guide
Varenna food and drink guide: I had aperitivo at Cafe Varenna, ice cream at La Passarella and a fried seafood platter at the restaurant of the hotel where I stayed, Albergo del Sole Ristorante Pizzeria, all of which I recommend. Let me write down the other places I have in my notes: Osteria Quatro Pass, Il Cavatappi, Al Prato, Bar Il Molo.
Bellagio food and drink guide: I had lasagna and ravioli with pesto at La Lanterna, it’s mainly a pasta restaurant and it was delicious. They also have a very nice decor with the pictures they paint on all kinds of liquor bottles, they also sell them, you can buy them as souvenirs. I had ice cream at Gelateria del Borgo, the hazelnut and dark chocolate was really delicious. Let me write down the other places in my notes: Bilacus, Alle Darsene, Ristorante La Punta, Aperitivo Et Al
Como food and drink guide: I didn’t have enough time to try different places in Como, I only went to Figli Dei Fiori on the recommendation of my friend who lives in Milano, it was really good. I also had I Tigli in Theoria in my notes, a Michelin starred and quite expensive place, keep it in mind if you want a luxury experience 😉
Lake Como Trip Budget
Lake Como is usually seen as an expensive route, but the total cost of a wonderful 2-day vacation was 191€. I didn’t include the price of the flight ticket to Milan because it was a route I added to my Milano trip. The train from Milano to Varenna and return from Como to Milano is 12€, ferry transportation around Lake Como is 28€, food and beverage is 59€, 1 night single bed and breakfast accommodation is 92€. I went to only one villa and it was free that day. Entrance to the villa gardens normally varies between 8-12 €. If you are going on a villa tour, this expense item should be added. But even if you don’t enter any villa, each of the towns around Lake Como is wonderful.
I hope my Lake Como Travel Guide article will be useful for you and you will have a nice trip to Como. There may be something I missed, if you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments. If you have any extra suggestions, I would like to hear them in the comments as well. Have a nice trip!
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