Lake Como lies in the northern parts of Italy, close to the alps and not far from Switzerland. The lake is one of the deepest in Europe and has attracted many famous people over decades. Just 1.5h train ride from Milan Malpensa airport you will reach this beautiful place. The lake is surrounded by picturesque small villages along the coasts and high mountains which makes for a stunning landscape.
The lake is formed like an up side down letter Y and the most popular villages for tourists are the three in the middle of the lake; Bellagio
(3) and Menaggio
(1). We flew to Milan and from there took the train to Como, the biggest city by the lake. From Como we then took a 70 minute bus ride to Menaggio. It was really easy to travel there from the airport, everything went by very well. Check out the website or app from Trenord
Where to stay in Lake Como?
is considered the pearl of the lake. Many celebrities have come to this place over the years and some of them even have a summer-house here. The village is small with a main street with some cafes and exclusive boutiques. It’s the most popular and well-known town and therefore the prices are a bit higher here than the nearby towns. Still it’s a nice town to stroll around in. From here it’s easy to travel to other towns around Lake Como as well. And I suggest you do, many of the towns are well worth a visit.
The picturesque and colorful old town of Varenna is very nice to visit. More than the beautiful old town here are also some villas and gardens to explore. We were only here for a day but I think it would be nice to stay here too, probably a lot of tourists though since it’s quiet popular. But here are a lot of things to do and I have written more about that here
When we were planning the trip our first choice was to stay in Bellagio
, we had just heard it would be the best place. But we couldn’t find a reasonable hotel that fitted our needs so we went with Menaggio instead. And we couldn’t be happier. The location is everything and that’s that we found. From Menaggio you can easily take a boat trip to Varenna
, and of course you can reach other towns as well. The center is small but it has what you need for a couple of days of vacation; good restaurants and a nice sea-side promenade with a view over the rest of the lake. More photos from Menaggio here
We had four full days in Lake Como to explore, relax and enjoy our vacation. We stayed at Grand Hotel Menaggio which had a great location just by the lake and the port. The pool area was quiet and nice for a couple of hours relaxing after a day of sightseeing. The best thing was of course the view you had from your sunbed. The rooms and breakfast were good too and the only thing I can complain about was that there could have been some more sunbeds.
Things to do around Lake Como
I’ve already mentioned it, but of course visit the other famous towns around the lake is a must. Another popular thing to do is visit any of the villas in the area. The most popular one is Villa del Balbianello which is famous from a James Bond movie and has a beautiful and big garden. The picture below is from the garden of Villa Monastero in Varenna.
Enjoy the view
Well, this is my favorite thing to do wherever I travel. Around Lake Como you have a beautiful view of the lake almost everywhere. But I think my favorite spot for a view was from Castello di Vezio in Varenna.
Swim in the lake or visit a beach club
There are some places around the lake where you can swim in Lake Como. There are even some beach clubs in some of the towns to relax in if you’re just driving through or don’t have a pool at your hotel.
On the western coast of the lake there is a small tourist train called Trombetta Express that goes between some of the towns. It starts and/or ends in the center of Menaggio and goes south to Lenno. Along this road there are several stops and places where you can hop on and off the train. You can choose between different kinds of tickets, either you can buy just a one way ticket, or a ticket for the day so you can visit several spots.
One day we took the train from Menaggio center all the way down to Lenno. The trip takes 30 minutes with the Trombetta Express. One popular thing to do from Lenno is to visit Villa Balbianello. It’s one of the most popular and beautiful villas by Lake Como. We didn’t go there though since we had already visited some villas in Varenna the day before. So we just walked around for a bit and had some lunch at one of the restaurants by the water.
We didn’t stay in Lenno for long though, but hopped on the train again to get off at one of the next stops at Tremezzo. Well, at a risk of repeating myself it was pretty beautiful here too. It’s just so pretty everywhere here! All the small villages seem to have a little church and cute small alleys. That in combination with the location by the water is just perfect.
After the dip in the water we headed north again. The promenade continued to be very nice and easy to walk. Along the road there are some restaurants and big fancy hotels to look at.
After a while the promenade ends and it’s just a road again. And just as your feet are tired the train comes and pick you up again. I have to say I really liked this little tourist train that goes between the villages. It was a very easy way of seeing many villages, and really nice to combine with some walking on your own.
Travel on the lake
It’s quite easy to travel around the lake. There are both buses as well as several types of ferries. Some of them go all the from Como in the south to Colico in the north. In the middle of the lake there are regular ferries between Menaggio, Varenna and Bellagio. On many of them you can bring your car as well and after only 15 minutes you’ve gone from the west part of the lake (Menaggio) to the east side (Varenna). Check out the time-table here