Lake Como, in Italy’s Lombardy region, is famed as much for its beautiful buildings and jaw-dropping vistas, as it is for the Hollywood glitterati who vacation there. You can find everything Italy is lauded for – cheeses, abundant wine and hospitable service in Como. But, with so many different Lake Como towns bordering its shores, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are four Lake Como towns you must-visit during your time around Como.
How to Get to Lake Como
- Como is easily accessible by train, car, bus and/or ferry.
- If you hire a car, we recommend you choose both a smaller car and opt for full excess. The roads are essentially single lane, pretending to be twin lane with one side flanked by a sharp drop to the water, and the other often unforgiving rock of a tight tunnel carved through the mountainside.
- From Milan, trains leave from Milan Nord Cardona, taking you directly to Como Nord Lago (check fares here). The trip only takes about 35 minutes. From Como, you can get on a bus, ferry or fast boat up the lake to your town.
- If you are basing yourself in Varenna, you can catch a train directly there from Milan. If you are staying in Belaggio or Menaggio, there is also the option to catch the train to Varenna and take the ferry across to either town from there.
- Lake Como day trips are popular too with a full-day tour from Milan a good option for those without a car or short on time.
Where to Stay in Lake Como
Accommodation around Lake Como ranges from quaint, less-expensive Bed and Breakfasts to biggers hotels the likes of the iconic Grand Hotel Tremezzo. If you are travelling in high-season you should book your rooms well in advance as the villages are small and hotels book out quickly. Also, if you are travelling by car be sure to check on parking availability at the hotel, as additional nightly parking costs could blow your bill out substantially. Search Lake Como hotels here.
Read this Next: Things to do in Montepulciano
Lake Como Towns: Bellagio
Bellagio is easily the most well-known of the Lake Como towns. As its main business district, it is a bustling hubbub of activity. Pristine botanical gardens mingle next to a popular lido, churches steeped in history and museums full of relics.
From here, you can catch an easy ferry over to Menaggio or onwards to Varenna, a unique way to see the many harbourfront hotels in pastel shades of pink and peach, and homes steeped way up into the Italian Alps.
Ferries from Bellagio are frequent and good value. You can take a car or travel as a foot passenger. But ensure you are 30-minutes early for the ferry you want to catch to beat the queues and secure your spot. It’s not possible to pre-book ferries.
Read this Next: Florence in Two Days
Lake Como Towns: Varenna
Varenna is full of charm. It has a more laid-back, sleepy feel than some of the other towns on the lake. It offers the same cobblestone alleyways dotted with trattorias and trinket shops. But, there is less traffic and more waterfront dining options. Varenna has a more local feel to it.
Read this Next: What to do in Bologna: A Local’s Guide
Rest your head at Hotel Du Lac whilst in Varenna, and you’re supremely placed for all the town has to offer. Set in an 1823 villa on the shores of Lake Como, it boasts comfortable, understated rooms and attentive service. A leafy terrace plays host to wine tastings and afternoon aperitifs, and there’s also parking for guests – something not to be sniffed at in Como.
Drink the local drop at In Vinis Veritas, where the knowledgeable sommeliers will help guide you through Viogniers and Pinot Noirs alongside a tasty plate of fresh bruschetta. Use this as your amuse bouche before dinner at characterful and cosy Il Cavatappi, where the pumpkin gnocchi is the standout dish.
Read this Next: Why you Must Visit Lucca, Italy
Lake Como Towns: Menaggio
A visit to Menaggio completes the trifecta of Como’s most popular towns, and the ones easily accessed via ferry. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Menaggio with its town squares and plenty of patisseries.
There will also be lots of opportunities to make like Amal and George and hire a boat to see Como from a different perspective. Vespas are another popular way to travel between each of the Lake Como towns (and readily seen throughout Menaggio).
Once you’ve got wheels, take a trip down to Villa Carlotta with its expansive gardens and panoramic lookout spots. Villa Balbianello should be on your list if history is more your thing. Count Guido Monzino, the last person to live in Villa Balbianello, was the first Italian to lead an expedition to Mount Everest.
Read this Next: How to Spend Two Days in Rome
Lake Como Towns: Nesso
Nesso is one of the lesser-known spots on Como. It’s for that reason that you’ll want to seek it out. The pace here is quiet and peaceful – even outside of daily siesta hours. With limited ferry traffic, it is also the perfect spot for a swim.
A stay at Cà del Bif is a taste of true Italian living. Throw open your shutters and listen to the sound of the lapping water just a few feet below; the soft chime of the church bells will wake you at first light, where you can traverse the harbour wall and dive into the crisp waters of Como, all before breakfast.
Whether you choose the buzz of Bellagio or the serenity of Nesso, Como is a place where nothing is too much trouble. Choose your pace, switch off your notifications and kick back with a local red – you’re in Italy’s playground now.
Read this Next: What to See in Paris in Four Days
Lauren is a UK to Sydney expat and is inspired by the great outdoors, adventures, good food and telling stories through words and beautiful visuals.