Located in the northern part of Italy (a.k.a. land of pizza, pasta and gelato) and near the border of Switzerland, Lake Como has been a place for celebrities and successful business owners who craved a bit of tranquillity in their life. Contrary to belief, you don’t need to break your wallet in order to experience this stunning region.
After seeing more than a thousand photos on Instagram of this seemingly perfect place in Italy, I finally decided to book a trip and find out myself what’s all the fuss about this place. And let me tell you this, it did not disappoint!
The best time to visit Lake Como
I really want to say that there is simply no bad time to visit Lake Como. It looks stunning during all seasons.
However, if you prefer to experience this beautiful region in peace with as little crowds as possible, then you should avoid summer months at all cost. Or choose to stay overnight in more remote towns instead of popular ones such as Varenna, Bellagio and Como.
That being said, the best time to visit Lake Como would be either early spring or autumn months. You could book a trip during winter as well to get the most tranquil experience.
Plus, chances are that the prices will be significantly lower, so that’s a win.
How to get to Lake Como from Milan
The fastest and easiest way to reach Lake Como is by taking a train from Milan. It can take you less than an hour to reach the lake depending on your destination of choice.
If you’ll look at the map, you’ll notice that Lake Como is shaped like a Y. One of the branches starts at Como and the other one at Lecco. The smartest way is to choose one of those towns as your first destination. You can reach other towns easily from Como or Lecco.
You can catch a train either from Milano Centrale or Porta Garibaldi train stations. The main difference is that the train from Centrale will make fewer stops, thus shorter ride while the train from Porta Garibaldi will take an hour or longer to reach the destination.
One way ticket from Milan to Como or Lecco will cost you 4.80 EUR if you take a slower regional train and up to 14 EUR if you choose a fast train option.
Personally, I would suggest taking cheaper. It takes around 40 minutes and it’s not that type of trip that you’d want to splurge on. Believe me, you’ll have a chance while getting around Lake Como.
You can check out prices and timetables at Trenitalia website. This is the train provider that I used during my trip to Italy and I had no issues with it whatsoever.
How to get around Lake Como
Since the lake is shaped like this, it is a bit harder to get around it. You will not be able to have a relaxing walk around the whole lake, that’s for sure…
One of the most popular options is to take a ferry from one town to another. This is an option most locals and visitors take.
Now, I have to be honest and tell you that the ferry system is a bit confusing at first. You can choose from a variety of different types of ferries which I’m not even going to bother to list because I simply do not understand the differences.
BUT! Here is a very detailed guide of Lake Como ferries that explain it a lot better than I ever could, so check it out.
In short, there are slower and faster ferries with according prices. You can buy the tickets just before the ferry, no need to book a reservation. Just make sure to come at least 20 minutes earlier or even more to make it on time. The prices are usually around 5 EUR or more for adults.
The best things to do near Lake Como and its surroundings
I had such a limited time to explore Lake Como but I’ve still managed to do quite a lot. So here’s a list of things I would definitely recommend to do while there.
Wander around Bellagio
The most famous of all villages in the region – Bellagio. Easily the most crowded of them all as well.
Bellagio is incredibly beautiful and easy to get around because it’s tiny. There is the main promenade street, deeper into the town, you’ll find the Instagram famous street of Bellagio and there is a nice park perched on the hill where you can find shade during hot days.
One tip I would give is to come to Bellagio somewhere in the evening, maybe around 6 p.m. At this hour, a majority of people will be going out of the town and you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of Bellagio more freely.
Plus, less hassle to find a seat in cafes or restaurants as they get super crowded during the day.
Spend an afternoon in Varenna
To be completely honest with you, I prefer Varenna over Bellagio.
Why? It’s so much less crowded than Bellagio! I don’t know why but a part of people who come to Lake Como skip Varenna or don’t give it much thought.
BIG MISTAKE! Varenna is everything you’d want a picturesque lakeside village to be like. Narrow small streets, fewer people, stunning lake view and easy to find a seat in a restaurant. An ultimate bingo if you ask me.
You can reach Varenna by taking a train from Lecco or a ferry from Bellagio (20 minutes ride – or sail in this case?). Just make sure to be as early as possible for a ferry, especially in summer.
Walk around Como
Another easily overlooked town. It is usually a simple stopover for people travelling to further towns of Lake Como. However, Como can offer quite a few amazing things if you do decide to give it a chance (why did this sound like a phrase someone would use when asking out for a date…?).
Anyway. You can spend the day walking around narrow streets of Como, visiting the famous 15th-century church or even taking a funicular to Brunate. This high point will give you the most beautiful panoramic view of the town and its surroundings.
Unfortunately, due to time constraint, I didn’t get a chance to try Brunate funicular, so I have no inside tips to share. But hey! It’s one more reason to come back to Lake Como again.
Hike Greenway del Lago di Como
Would it even be a travel guide if I didn’t include a hike?
Lake Como has a beautiful scenic 10-km-long hike by the name of Greenway del Lago di Como. The hike takes about 3 and a half hours to complete at an easy pace and with a few stops for photos.
The Greenway starts at Colonno and ends in Cadenabbia. On the way, you will see the most enchanting views of Alps, Lake Como and little villages. Also, the route takes you through small towns of Sala Comacina, Lenno, Tremezzo for the best experience.
You can either start in Colonno or Cadenabbia depending on your location. The trail is marked and easy to follow. If you feel like you can’t continue anymore, you can always catch a bus near the towns.
TIP: Wear comfortable shoes as the trail is quite rocky and very uphill in some ranges.
Take a tour
If you prefer to take a tour rather than driving around yourself, I have a few options for you that I think are great if you want to see more of Lake Como.
Where to stay around Lake Como
Now there are quite a few places where you can stay once in Lake Como. I chose to do a day trip from Milan to Lake Como rather than have an overnight stay. But if I have had more time, I would have definitely stayed in one of these places:
Camping Cole Vento – beautiful campground with a stunning lake view. I wouldn’t mind waking up with this view! Price: 48 EUR per night for 2 adults.
Bellagio Center apartment – cosy studio with balcony right in the middle of Bellagio. I’d say a perfect match for the price. Price: 100 EUR per night for 2 adults.
Rumi Rooms – deluxe rooms in Como town. A good location, pretty interior and reviews are exceptional as well. Price: 120 EUR per night for 2 adults.
Have you been to Lake Como?
If you could, would you consider living near Lake Como?