Discovering Paradise: The Best Places to See in Lake Como

Lake Como is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Italy, attracting visitors from all over the world who want to enjoy its stunning scenery, charming villages, and luxurious villas. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway, a romantic escape, or an adventurous holiday, Lake Como has something for everyone. In this blog post, we will share with you some of the best things to do in Lake Como, based on our own experience and research.

Discover the stunning beauty of Lake Como and explore its top destinations with our guide. From scenic villas to charming towns, find out the must-see places for an unforgettable experience in this Italian paradise. Plan your trip now and get ready to be mesmerized by the breathtaking views of Lake Como.
Lake Como, Italy

Things to do in Lake Como

  • Explore the picturesque village of Bellagio

Bellagio is often called the "Pearl of Lake Como" and for good reason. It is located at the tip of the peninsula that divides the lake into two branches, offering panoramic views of the water and the mountains. Bellagio is also famous for its elegant architecture, colorful gardens, and quaint shops and cafes. 

You can wander around the narrow streets, admire the historic churches and villas, or take a boat ride to see the lake from a different perspective. Don't miss the Villa Melzi, a 19th-century mansion with beautiful botanical gardens that are open to the public.

  • Rent a boat and cruise around the lake

One of the best ways to experience Lake Como is by renting a boat and cruising around its shores. You can choose from different types of boats, such as motorboats, sailboats, or kayaks, depending on your budget and preference. You can also hire a skipper or guide if you are not confident in driving a boat yourself.

 Renting a boat will allow you to explore the lake at your own pace, discover hidden coves and beaches, and admire the stunning villas and villages that dot the coastline. You can also stop at some of the islands on the lake, such as Isola Comacina or Isola Bella.

  • Visit the lakeside village of Varenna

Varenna is another charming village on Lake Como that is worth visiting. It is located on the eastern shore of the lake, opposite Bellagio, and has a more laid-back and authentic atmosphere than its more famous neighbor. Varenna is known for its colorful houses that line the waterfront, its romantic promenade that leads to a small fishing harbor, and its medieval castle that overlooks the village. 

You can also visit some of the attractions in Varenna, such as the Villa Monastero, a former monastery that now houses a museum and a garden, or the Castello di Vezio, a 12th-century fortress that offers spectacular views of the lake.

  • Swim at Acquafraggia Waterfall

If you are looking for a refreshing dip in nature, you can head to Acquafraggia Waterfall, a stunning cascade that flows into a crystal-clear pool surrounded by greenery. The waterfall is located near Chiavenna, a town about 40 km north of Lake Como, and is easily accessible by car or bus. 

You can hike to the waterfall from the parking lot in about 15 minutes, or take a longer trail that passes through some scenic villages and forests. The waterfall is open all year round, but it is especially impressive in spring and summer when it has more water.

  • Explore Como City

Como City is the largest and most important city on Lake Como, and it is also where most visitors arrive by train or bus from Milan or other nearby cities. Como City has a rich history and culture that dates back to Roman times, and it offers plenty of attractions and activities for tourists. 

You can visit the impressive Cathedral of Como (Duomo), which combines Gothic and Renaissance styles; you can shop at the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, a 19th-century arcade with elegant boutiques and cafes; you can take a funicular ride to Brunate, a hilltop town with amazing views of the lake; or you can simply relax at one of the many parks and gardens that adorn the city.

  • Discover the wonderful vistas of Brunate

Brunate is a small town that sits on top of a hill above Como City, reachable by a funicular railway that runs every 15 minutes from Piazza De Gasperi in Como City. Brunate is known for its panoramic views of Lake Como and its surroundings, as well as its charming villas and churches. 

You can walk around Brunate and enjoy its peaceful atmosphere, or you can hike to some of the nearby viewpoints, such as Faro Voltiano (a lighthouse dedicated to Alessandro Volta) or Pizzo della Croce (a cross-shaped monument). Brunate is also a good base for exploring some of the hiking trails that lead to other towns on Lake Como.

  • Wander the breathtaking gardens of Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta is a magnificent villa and botanical garden located in the town of Tremezzo, on the western shore of Lake Como. The villa was built in the 18th century by a Milanese marquis, and it features beautiful interiors with frescoes, sculptures, and period furniture. 

However, the real highlight of Villa Carlotta are its gardens, which cover an area of over 70,000 square meters and contain a vast collection of exotic plants, flowers, and trees. You can stroll through the terraced gardens, admire the fountains and waterfalls, and enjoy the stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. 

Villa Carlotta is open from March to November, and it hosts various cultural events and exhibitions throughout the year.

  • Taste the local cuisine

Lake Como is known for its delicious food and wine, which reflect the rich traditions and flavors of Lombardy and the Italian Alps. Some of the local specialties that you should try include risotto alla milanese (saffron-flavored rice), polenta uncia (polenta with cheese and butter), pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta with vegetables and cheese), bresaola (air-dried beef), and missoltini (dried fish from Lake Como). 

You can also sample some of the excellent wines produced in the region, such as Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Moscato. Many restaurants and trattorias around Lake Como offer menus based on local ingredients and recipes, so you can indulge in a culinary journey while enjoying the beauty of the lake.

  • Hike in the mountains

Lake Como is surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Alps, which offer endless opportunities for hiking and trekking. There are numerous trails and routes that lead to panoramic viewpoints, mountain huts, and ancient villages, and that cater to all levels of difficulty and experience. 

Some of the most popular hiking destinations near Lake Como include Monte San Primo, Monte Grona, and Rifugio Menaggio. You can also join a guided tour or hire a local guide to discover the hidden gems of the mountain landscape, such as waterfalls, caves, and wildlife.

  • Relax on the beaches

Finally, if you want to unwind and soak up the sun, Lake Como has some lovely beaches and lidos where you can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the lake. Some of the best beaches can be found in the towns of Menaggio, Cernobbio, and Bellagio, and they offer facilities such as umbrellas, sun loungers, and beach bars. 

You can also rent a paddleboat or a kayak and explore the lake from a different perspective, or simply indulge in a good book and a refreshing drink while listening to the gentle lapping of the waves.

Best places to visit in Lake Como

Lake Como is full of breathtaking and charming places to visit, each with their own unique beauty and attractions. Here are some of the best places to visit in Lake Como:

  • Bellagio: Known as the "Pearl of Lake Como," Bellagio is a must-visit destination for its picturesque village, colorful gardens, and stunning architecture.

  • Varenna: Another charming lakeside village, Varenna offers a more laid-back atmosphere and authentic Italian charm.

  • Como City: The largest city on Lake Como, Como City boasts rich history and culture, including the impressive Cathedral of Como (Duomo) and the funicular ride to Brunate for amazing views.

  • Villa Carlotta: A magnificent villa and botanical garden in Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta's gardens feature exotic plants, flowers, and trees.

  • Menaggio: A popular tourist destination with beautiful architecture, charming streets, and stunning lake views.

  • Cernobbio: A small town with a picturesque lakeside promenade, elegant villas, and a lovely park.

  • Piona Abbey: A beautiful Romanesque-style abbey located on the eastern shore of Lake Como.

  • Isola Comacina: An island located in the center of the lake with beautiful scenery and historic ruins dating back to the Roman era.

  • Gravedona: A beautiful town with medieval architecture, a charming harbor, and beautiful mountain views.

  • Lenno: A small town known for its beautiful villas, scenic walks along the lakeshore, and the stunning Villa Balbianello.

FAQs

  • What is the best time to visit Lake Como?

The best time to visit Lake Como is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller. However, the lake is also stunning in the summer months (July to August), though it can be quite busy.

  • How do I get to Lake Como?

Lake Como is easily accessible by train from Milan or other nearby cities. You can take a train to Varenna, Como, or Lecco and then take a ferry or bus to other destinations around the lake. Alternatively, you can drive to Lake Como or hire a private transfer.

  • What are the must-visit attractions around Lake Como?

Some of the must-visit attractions around Lake Como include Bellagio, Villa Carlotta, Varenna, Como City, and Isola Comacina. There are also many other charming towns, beautiful villas, and scenic viewpoints worth exploring.

  • Can I swim in Lake Como?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Como. There are several public beaches and lidos around the lake where you can swim, sunbathe, and relax. However, be aware that the water can be chilly, especially in the spring and fall.

  • What are some popular outdoor activities around Lake Como?

Some popular outdoor activities around Lake Como include hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. There are numerous trails and routes that lead to panoramic viewpoints, mountain huts, and ancient villages, and that cater to all levels of difficulty and experience.

Lake Como is a stunning destination with something to offer for everyone, whether you are looking for relaxation, adventure, or culture. However, like any popular tourist destination, it can get quite busy during peak season, so it's best to plan your trip ahead of time and book accommodations and activities in advance. 

It's also important to be respectful of the local culture and environment, including keeping the lake and its surroundings clean and tidy, following local customs and traditions, and being mindful of noise levels and other disturbances. With proper planning and consideration, Lake Como can be a wonderful and memorable experience for visitors.

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