A complete guide to Lake Como’s picturesque villages
February 23, 2023
One province, one lake, and one city are all connected by the musical name Como. It is situated in the north of Lombardy in Italy, very near to Switzerland, and welcomes many tourists. I’m sure you will be captivated by Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian) and it’s green surroundings, picturesque villages, blue shores and fresh air. It’s so pretty! Enjoy all the information in this travel guide and learn about how to get to the lake, where to stay and the top things to do in Lake Como, Italy!
How to get to Lake Como, Italy?
Milan is a convenient starting point for a trip to Lake Como, Italy. Even in the peak of the beach season, you can fly to Milan for little money, with the help of a budget airlines such as WizzAir or RyanAir.
From Milan you can easily take a train or bus to Lake Como. The most popular cities are Como and Lecco. These cities have developed infrastructure and it is convenient to explore the lake further from here. From Milan you can take the regionale and the slightly faster EuroCity trains that offer the route between Milano Centrale station and Como San Giovanni station. Tickets can be bought online via Italiarail. The trip takes between 36 and 49 minutes and a ticket costs around €13. Another option is to book a Flix Bus from Milan to Como S Giovanni Bus Station. This bus ride takes approximately 1,5 hours to complete and a ticket costs around €6. You can use the search box in the next paragraph to find the most convenient bus for your trip.
How to move around Lake Como, Italy?
Much depends on where you decide to stay. Lake Como is large, the terrain is mountainous and the sights and small cosy villages are scattered throughout its territory. Therefore, a rented car or ferry are the most convenient options. Other options are hiring a boat (with or without captain) and see the colorful villages from the water or to use the developed transport system around Lake Como: buses, trains and ferries. The public ferry company Navigazione Laghi offers speedy, regular, or touristic services around lake Como. For taking a bus, I recommend using the 12togasia search box below to find convenient transportation options:
The best time to visit Lake Como, Italy is during June, July or August when the weather is hot and the water temperature is comfortable to swim in. Keep in mind that this is also the busiest and most expensive period! If you prefer more quietness, I recommend visiting Lake Como in April, May, September or October. During these months it’s less crowded, but it’s slightly colder.
Where to stay at Lake Como, Italy?
After arriving at lake Como, Italy you can choose a place based on your preferences. The outline of the alpine lake resembles the letter Y or a slingshot. Each of the so-called arms is called by its own name: the northern arm is Colico, the southern arm is Lecco, and the western arm is Como. Also, each of them is unique and able to surprise with something exceptional.
As mentioned before, Como and Lecco are the most popular cities around Lake Como. These cities are extremely popular, because of its proximity to Milan. If you want solitude, tranquillity and a peaceful flow of life, then you should pay attention to the small picturesque villages near the coast: Menaggio, Bellagio, Varenna or Tremezzo. These places are lovely to stay whether you are a traveler or remote-working person. Nowadays, the last one is the most convenient way to explore the world, You may travel and work any time you want. If your certain work cannot afford such an option, you may try to find another one on Jooble, an international job search website or voluntary jobs at Workaway.info.
Como can be reached by Trenitalia rail quickly and easily from airports near to Milan. Simply pick a departure point that works with your schedule and the route from the airport of arrival. If you’re leaving from Milano Nord Cadorna, you need to take a train to Como Nord Lago, and if you’re leaving from Milano Centrale, you need to take the train to Como S. Giovanni. From Saronno or Monza you can take a train to Como (Como Lago or Como S. Giovanni).
Como is a charm small city with stunning churches, great restaurants, and incredible lake views. Here, you can spend hours exploring the historic district and the Como embankment, discovering new facts about its colorful past, famous residents, and stunning architectural landmarks. Take particular attention to Piazza del Duomo, which is home to the Cathedral of Como, the chapel, and Palazzo Broletto, the former residence of the city’s leaders. I can also recommend taking a stroll down Via Alessandro Volta and see the opulent Villa Olmo, which is situated near Via Cantoni (Via Simone Cantoni) or to visit a local house to enjoy some local food or to learn how to make pasta or tiramisu.
Next to Como you can find a small village called Brunate. This tiny hidden village sits on the hilltop above Como and is a great one day trip destination if you want to explore something off the beaten track.
A must-have visiting triple: Bellaggio, Varenna and Menaggio
It is difficult to imagine a trip to Lake Como without visiting the so-called golden triangle, small towns located on the picturesque coast. Ferries run between Varenna, Menaggio and Bellaggio every day. The trip takes about 15 minutes. If Milan is the starting point, it is convenient to board a Trenitalia train at Milano Centrale and travel toward Varenna-Esino.
Bellagio is known as the ‘Pearl of Lake Como’ and is one of the most famous villages in the area. Even though it’s packed with people, it’s definitely worth a visit. In Bellaggio you can find great local restaurants, beautiful cobbled streets, charming churches, bustling piazzas and cute shops. It is a great base to visit other nearby villages.
Verenna has a slightly more peaceful vibe than Bellagio. The stunning lakeside village is one of the most picturesque places in the area. You can easily spend a few hours just walking around the peaceful streets and piazzas with their colorful buildings. Popular activities are visiting Passeggiata Degli Innamorati (Walk of Lovers), explore the natural ravine Orrido di Bellano (10 min. drive from Varenna), strolling around Villa Monastero and taking pictures at Porto Riva Grande.
There are not many accommodations located in Varenna, but below I’ve listed some nice accommodations in the surroundings of Varenna for you:
Menaggio is easy to reach from other popular lake destinations like Bellagio and Varenna in 15-30 minutes. And with the C10 bus you can go south to Tremezzina or north to Gravedona, which are beautiful villages to explore.
Menaggio is perfect for a lazy afternoon of wandering. The picturesque village has multiple colored houses, nice nature trails and is, unlike other towns on the lake, completely flat. Here, you can walk through the narrow streets of the historic center and along the very elegant lakefront, visit Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello, swim at Acquafraggia Waterfall (the waterfall is only an hour’s drive from Menaggio), visit two of Menaggio’s most important churches: the Church of Santa Marta and the Church of Santo Stefano, rent an e-bike and cycle to lake Lugano or simply enjoy a coffee at the Piazza Garibaldi.
Lecco is a small town in the south of Lake Como that is nevertheless quite popular among tourists, so here you will not find complete silence and solitude. But you will find beautiful nature, a moderate pleasant climate, and all the opportunities for outdoor activities and travel around the region.
Lecco is attractive primarily because it is both a city in the Alps and a city on a lake. In winter it is not too cold here and in summer the city is blown by a breeze from the mountains. In Lecco you will find all the opportunities for active tourism like diving, paragliding or sailing, as well as for urban recreation like cycling through Lecco or visiting the Museum of Natural History. There are many convenient hiking and cycling routes around Lecco and ferries run from the harbor to different points of the lake.
Despite being a popular spot it is still possible to enjoy Lake Como on a budget. There are plenty of cheap accommodations available, public transport is cheap and there are enough markets where you can buy cheap food and snacks for breakfast or lunch. Restaurants are bit pricey, but there are many traditional trattorias where you can buy reasonable priced dishes. Below you can find an overview of my average costs for Lake Como:
Accommodation: €80 – €200 per night Restaurant: €10 – €20 per meal Transport: €10 – €40 per day Coffee: €2 for a cup of coffee Entree tickets: €5 – €15 per attraction
Organized tours to Lake Como, Italy
If you don’t feel like organizing everything yourself for a trip to Lake Como, you can also book a tour from Milan to one of the picturesque villages in the area. It’s a easy way to explore Lake Como! Below you can find some tours.
There are many picturesque villages around Lake Como, Italy and they all offer something different. I hope this guide gave you a good insight in the different possibilities that Como, Lecco, Varenna, Menaggio and Bellaggio has to offer. If you have any questions or know other fun things to do at Lake Como, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below!
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