EPIC LAKE COMO Itinerary! (February 2020)

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Nestled comfortably at the foot of the Swiss Alps in the northern-most reaches of Italy, Lake Como is amongst the most popular travel destinations in the country. This Lake Como itinerary will show you why. 

The Lake offers a romantic charm quite unlike any other; its shores are lined with some of the most picturesque towns and villages on the planet! The towns are set against the backdrop of spectacular natural scenery with lush vegetation, rolling hills, jagged cliffs, and of course, Lake Como itself.

The lake has the shape of an enormous, inverted ‘Y’, with its most popular towns and villages lying at the intersection of the three arms. Here, you’ll find a rich history, vibrant culture, and laidback lifestyle that will leave you enchanted! 

We’ve planned out a detailed Lake Como travel guide to help you make the most out of your Lake Como vacation!

 

Best time to visit Lake Como

If you’re wondering when to visit Lake Como, Italy, we would recommend the warmer months (May – October). During these months, the temperatures are perfect for lake-side relaxation and water-based activities. The Lake is usually at its warmest and busiest around July and August, but the tourist crowds are often well worth the weather!

Lake Como is celebrated for its wonderful weather; the area surrounding the lake enjoys an average of 200 days of sunshine per year! The climate is mild and consistent, with small variations in temperature both daily and throughout the year.

when to visit lake como

These are the best times to visit Lake Como!

Despite being perched in the mountains, winters at Lake Como aren’t as frigid, and summers not as sweltering as other areas of a similar altitude! This is largely due to the lake acting as a thermal reserve. 

In winter (November – March) tourism on the lake somewhat shuts down, with many of the Lake Como attractions and activities being closed off or not viable in winter. Many hotels and restaurants close their doors, but those which stay open usually offer significant discounts for the offseason. This can make a Lake Como trip itinerary a little more affordable!

 Average TemperaturesChance of RainCrowdOverall Grade
January4°C / 39°FLowQuiet😐
February5°C / 41°FLowQuiet😐
March9°C / 48°FLowQuiet🙂
April12°C / 54°FAverageMedium🙂
May16°C / 61°FHighMedium🙂
June20°C / 68°FHighMedium🙂
July22°C / 72°FAverageBusy🙂
August22°C / 72°FAverageBusy😉
September18°C / 64°FAverageMedium😀
October13°C / 55°FAverageMedium😐
November8°C / 46°FAverageQuiet😐
December5°C / 41°FLowQuiet😐

 

Where to stay in Lake Como

Choosing where to stay in Lake Como is no easy task! A significant portion of the lake’s charm stems from the dozens of historic towns and villages set on its banks. Many of these gorgeous communities offer accommodation for travelers, so the options are plentiful!

The three most popular towns for a Lake Como itinerary are Menaggio, Bellagio, and Varenna, each with its own unique charm.

Bellagio is the most well known. It’s glamorous, classy, and admittedly a little pricey, but it’s also absolutely stunning! Menaggio is one of the largest towns on the lake, with good accommodation and public transport options!

where to stay in lake como

These are the best places to stay in Lake Como! | source: Yasonya (shutterstock)

Varenna is gorgeous. It’s smaller and more laid back than the aforementioned towns, with a relaxed vibe and bountiful tranquility. We think Varenna is the best place to stay in Lake Como in 3 days.

Another option for a weekend in Lake Como is the city of Como itself. Set on the southern tip of the lake’s western arm, Como is a little far removed from the romantic towns of Lake Como, both in location and in atmosphere. However, it does offer some ‘big city’ advantages and comforts, as well as more affordable accommodation!

That being said, pretty much any town on the Lake could act as a comfortable base a 2-day itinerary in Lake Como. Just make sure the town you choose is well connected to the other towns, and well catered to tourists.

 

Ostello Bello Lake Como is our pick for the best hostel in Lake Como!

Best Hostel in Lake Como – Ostello Bello Lake Como

There aren’t many hostels on Lake Como, but the few that exist are outstanding, and none are better than Ostello Bello Lake Como. Located in the city of Como, this hostel is set right next to the lake!

The design is a funky blend of traditional and modern, and there are some amazing places to chill. Try the sun-soaked terrace, hammock lined courtyard, and well-stocked bar! 

Check for Best Price

 

Lake views at an affordable price

Lake views at an affordable price is our pick for the best Airbnb in Lake Como!

Best Airbnb in Lake Como – Lake views at an affordable price

Make the most of your first time by Lake Como and go full-on with the regions rich and glitz vibe. A private lake view terrace would be great for socialising, and we’d personally love soaking in the views that straight through the window from the queen size bed.

Well situated just on the edge of town, you’ll have no problem exploring on foot.

Check on Airbnb

 

Andirivieni Bellagio Guest House is our pick for the best budget hotel in Lake Como!

Best Budget Hotel in Lake Como – Andirivieni Bellagio Guest House

Located just a 10-minute walk from the historic heart of Bellagio, this guest house offers affordable and comfortable accommodation on Lake Como.

The property boasts beautiful views of the lake, and each room is well equipped with a private bathroom, satellite TV, and air conditioning! The garden is lush and the dining area is light and spacious.

Check on Booking.com    Check on HotelsCombined

 

Residence L’Ulivo is our pick for the best luxury hotel in Lake Como!

Best Luxury Hotel in Lake Como – Residence L’Ulivo

Luxury is something that Lake Como does well. If lavish comfort is something you enjoy, Residence L’Ulivo is a stunning option. Set right on the banks of the lake, this hotel is perfectly situated near the center of Bellagio, ideal for our Lake Como itinerary.

A large pool overlooks the lake and a private lake beach is at your disposal! Also enjoy the Turkish baths, fitness center, and indoor pool. This is one of the best places to stay in Lake Como.

Check on Booking.com    Check on HotelsCombined

 

Lake Como Itinerary

Within each of the towns on Lake Como, getting around on foot is the best method of transportation. Each town is small enough to explore almost entirely on foot, and generally, there aren’t many alternatives!

When traveling between the towns, you’ll have a few more options. Buses and trains connect many of them, and the best way to get between the central and most popular towns on Lake Como is by boat.

Lake Como itinerary

Welcome to our EPIC Lake Como itinerary | source: AerialVision_it (shutterstock)

These towns mostly sit across the water from one another on three distinct landmasses: the east and west banks of the expansive lake and the chunky peninsula that divides it in half! Thus, water transport is generally the shortest and quickest method for getting between them, perfect for a 3-day itinerary in Lake Como. It also offers some incredible scenery! 

There are several kinds of boats on offer, but the ferry is what you’ll mostly use to get around the central area of the lake. You must buy ferry tickets from the land-based ticket offices before boarding. They’re located within the immediate vicinity of the departure piers, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find!

You can also opt to take private boats or taxiboats between destinations. These privately owned boats allow you to carry out your Lake Como itinerary with greater flexibility but come with a higher price tag than public transport. Most choose to travel to Lake Como via train or rental car from Milan.

 

Day 1 Itinerary in Lake Como

Bellagio Town Center | Punta Spartivento | Pescallo | Bellagio Water Sports | Menaggio | Sunset Drink

Day 1 of your 2-day Itinerary in Lake Como offers a blend of activity and relaxation! We think this is a great way to start your trip to Lake Como.

 

Day 1 / Stop 1 – Explore Bellagio Town Center

  • Why it’s awesome: The most popular village on Lake Como, Bellagio, is gorgeous and utterly charming. If you’re wondering what to do in Lake Como, Bellagio is the place to start!
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Enjoy a fresh pasty and stellar views at Bar Pasticceria Rossi.

Bellagio is undoubtedly the best-known village on Lake Como. It’s a quaint and gorgeous lakeside paradise, steeped with a rich and far-reaching history. Nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Lake Como.” The town of Bellagio exudes glamour and class, with a lavish lifestyle at its core!

Exploring Bellagio is a necessary addition to any Lake Como Itinerary, and if you only have one day in Lake Como, we suggest you make Bellagio your first stop. Set on a lakeside hill, the narrow lanes of Bellagio meander gracefully down toward the lake, winding their way in a picturesque fashion.

Bellagio Town Center

Bellagio Town Center, Lake Como

The quaint cobblestone streets and staircases pass between pastel buildings and plant-filled terraces, converging in sun-soaked squares.

Bellagio is set in a famously wonderful location on the broad triangular peninsula that splits Lake Como in two! It overlooks the northern arm of the lake, with the sloping lanes offering impossibly romantic views.

After walking through the village, soak up the lakeside atmosphere with a gentle stroll along the waterfront promenade and stop for a cup of coffee with a view.

Insider Tip: Head to the Bellagio Tourist Information Office and organize a Lake Como walking tour of Bellagio. Doing so is a great way to learn more about the town and the lake!

 

Day 1 / Stop 2 – Punta Spartivento

  • Why it’s awesome: Enjoy a relaxing walk to a comfortable park that looks out over the lake, from the tip of the peninsula!
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Restaurant La Punta is set at the tip of the peninsula, with a scenic terrace wonderful views!

Punta Spartivento is a park situated at the very tip of the peninsula. Just a 10-minute scenic stroll from the center of Bellagio, the park offers entirely unobstructed views of the lake!

Punta Spartivento

Punta Spartivento, Lake Como | source: Luca Casartelli (wikicommons)

From here, the vista is expansive; you can see the surrounding villages and the lake stretching out in front of you, topped by the Swiss Alps in the distance.

The scenery at Punta Spartivento is well worth the short uphill walk! It’s wonderful place to kick back and enjoy some scenic tranquility. Pack a picnic and some drinks or pay a visit to Restaurante La Punta.

 

Day 1 / Stop 3 – Pescallo

  • Why it’s awesome: A peaceful fishing hamlet tucked away near Bellagio, perfect for escaping the tourist bustle and experiencing some local authenticity!
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Try La Pergola for a midday meal with a view.

Pescallo is a tiny hamlet just a short walk from Bellagio. Known as a peaceful fishing village, the hamlet is separated from Bellagio by a hill. This makes it a great escape from the crowds of Bellagio, and one of our favorite things to do in Lake Como!

While the walk isn’t long, taking only around 10 – 15 minutes, it’s not exactly simple; the mostly uphill journey entails several stairways and some uneven ground. However, the walk is beautiful and well worth the reward.  

Pescallo

Pescallo, Lake Como | source: AerialVision_it (shutterstock)

Pescallo is gorgeous; Ivy drenched houses in muted colors wrap a cozy harbor. You’ll mostly find locals here, going about their tranquil lives. The atmosphere is quaint and authentic, making this a perfect spot to discover what life is really like on Lake Como!

There’s only one restaurant in Pescallo: La Pergola. Enjoying brunch or lunch here, overlooking the lake, is an amazing way to reward yourself after the walk from Bellagio!

 

The Best Travel Backpack?!

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Backpack.

Check out this post to read our full review!

 

Day 1 / Stop 4 – Bellagio Water Sports

  • Why it’s awesome: Experience the lake from a new perspective and have a bunch of fun!
  • Cost: Guided tours start at around $40 USD
  • Food nearby: Pack a picnic or enjoy some scenic lunch at La Pergola after your water adventure.

Pescallo may be quaint and peaceful, but it’s not lacking in recreation. Bellagio Water Sports, located in Pescallo, offers an awesome range of water-based activities! In fact, they’re considered one of the best water sports providers on the whole of Lake Como!  

On top of that, we don’t think there are many more scenic places to glide along the lake than around Pescallo.  

The specialties here are kayaking and stand up paddleboarding (SUPing). You may choose to rent your own kayak or SUP board and explore the tranquil waters on your own; but, if you want an experienced guide to enhance the experience, you could book onto one of the available tours!

Bellagio Water Sports

Bellagio Water Sports, Lake Como | source: Gherzak (shutterstock)

The various tours take you on a journey of discovery, ducking into hidden corners and past little-known gems of the lake. You’ll get to explore a different side of Lake Como and experience the sights from a whole new perspective! 

Kayaking and SUPing might just be our favorite methods for exploring the lake. Paddling offers an enchanting combination of scenery, fun, and tranquility, with a healthy dose of interesting stories and information if you decide to book a tour! An itinerary for Lake Como wouldn’t be complete without some kind of water-based fun.

Insider Tip: Advanced booking is required, so be sure to book your rentals or tour ahead of time. Also, note that Bellagio Water Sports is generally closed on Sunday afternoons.

 

Day 1 / Stop 5 – Menaggio

  • Why it’s awesome: A historic lakeside town with a beautiful promenade and an inviting town square.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Grab a real pizza at Trattoria la Vecchia Magnolia, perhaps seated on the sun-splashed terrace.

Around mid-afternoon, it’ll be time to make the journey over to Menaggio. Head to the ferry port, and embark on the beautiful 15-minute journey across the lake.

Menaggio was once a walled city, with roots stretching back thousands of years! The town is larger than Bellagio but shares much of the village’s elegant charm. You’ll find a similar array of pastel buildings, but in Menaggio, they’re separated by broader streets and larger squares.

It’s well worth spending some time exploring Menaggio. Start by heading to Piazza Garibaldi, the main square of the town. Here you’ll find several eateries and cafes, where you can enjoy some afternoon refreshments in the sun! 

Menaggio

Menaggio, Lake Como | source: Boris Stroujko (shutterstock)

Next, walk along Via Calvi, where you’ll find boutiques and craft stores selling beautiful, locally produced crafts, from clothing to food! On the same street, you’ll come across Chiesa di Santa Marta, a small but beautiful church with exquisite detailing and centuries-old paintings.

From Piazza Garibaldi stems Menaggio’s celebrated lakefront promenade. Set off on the promenade from the square and meander along the lake, passing lush trees, colorful flower beds, and pastel houses. Enjoy the gentle sounds of the lake and take in the beauty of the scenic surrounds. 

If you have time, perhaps hike up to the medieval part of Menaggio higher up the hill, with steep staircases, narrow alleyways, and stone buildings.

 

Day 1 / Stop 6 – Sunset Drink

  • Why it’s awesome: Sunset is a magical time on the lake and the local towns offer some great places to experience it!
  • Cost: Pay only for what you buy.
  • Food nearby: All of the establishments recommended below serve up delicious food, but our favorite is probably Ristorante La Vista in Varenna.

When the sun is hanging low in the sky, it’ll be time to find a picturesque lakeside bar or restaurant where you can enjoy the scenic sunset drink of a lifetime! Sunset is a beautiful time on the lake. The daytime energy fades into the ambiance of the night, with air still warm from the heat of the sun. Your Lake Como itinerary wouldn’t be complete without experiencing it!

Most of the towns and villages on the lake are home to a lakeside bar or restaurant; just head to the water’s edge of the town you’re staying in and pick one that looks appealing!

Sunset Drink

Sunset Drink, Lake Como | source: Sirikunkrittaphuk (shuttestock)

If your base village doesn’t have any waterside bars or restaurants, enjoy a drink at one of the following before heading back where you’re staying. Just be sure to check the ferry and bus schedule for the evening!

Varenna is just a 13-minute ferry ride from Menaggio and home to some of the most spectacular sunset spots on the lake! Try Ristorante La Vista, with its elevated lakeside terrace, for a sunset aperitif and some exquisitely prepared food. Bar Il Molo also offers sensational lakeside views and tasty local dishes!

A good option for sundowners in Bellagio is Ristorante La Terazza Belveder. Perched high up in the town, this restaurant offers incredible panoramic views and delectable Mediterranean dishes. You’ll also find a good selection of local wines!

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Ostello Bello Lake Como
  • $$
  • Free Breakfast
  • Free WiFi

There aren’t many hostels on Lake Como, but the few that exist are outstanding, and none are better than Ostello Bello Lake Como. Located in the city of Como, this hostel is set right next to the lake!

For more awesome hostel options, check out our favorite hostels in Milan. Milan is super close to Lake Como, and you’ll probably be passing through on your way to the lake.

 

Day 2 itinerary in Lake Como

Varenna | Hike to Castello di Vezio | Walk of Lovers Promenade | Villa Carlotta | Tremezzo | Villa del Balbionello | Lenno

If you’re spending just 2 days in Lake Como, it might be hard to pack in all the best bits, but we highly recommend hitting all of the following stops!

 

Day 2 / Stop 1 – Varenna

  • Why it’s awesome: A small, picturesque, and quiet village with romantic charm. One of our absolute favorite places to visit in Lake Como in 3 days!
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Enjoy a scenic lakeside breakfast at Varenna Caffe Bistrot.

There are dozens of towns and villages on Lake Como, but Varenna is often cited as a favorite amongst those who have visited. Smaller and quieter than its popular neighbors, (Menaggio and Bellagio), Varenna is overflowing with undeniable rustic charm!

Varenna

Varenna, Lake Como

As your ferry pulls up to Varenna, your breath will be taken by its beauty. The colorful buildings are painted in autumnal colors, stacked cozily between the mountains and the lake! The village is steep, set against rugged cliffs, and surrounded by an unspoiled natural landscape.  

There isn’t a whole lot to do in Varenna, but we find that to be part of its charm; a sleepy village that lazes peacefully in the sun. Your morning in Varenna will mostly consist of relaxing and wandering aimlessly, admiring the picturesque scenes and fairytale charm! Enjoy a peaceful portion of your Lake Como itinerary.

 

Day 2 / Stop 2 – Hike to Castello di Vezio

  • Why it’s awesome: A beautiful hike to a historic castle with amazing views!
  • Cost: ± $5 USD
  • Food nearby: Il Ristoro Del Castello offers incredible panoramic views and tasty Italian cuisine. A perfect addition to your itinerary for Lake Como.

Castello di Vezio is a castle perched on the hill above Varenna. Originally built in the 11th and 12th centuries, the now dilapidated castle is a beautiful and important historic site. It’s well worth a visit during your time in Varenna, and the walk up is incredible in its own right!

The best route up to the castle can be found right next to Albergo Ristorante Montecodeno. You’ll see a sign next to the staircase that says ‘Castello di Vezio’, with an arrow pointing up the hill!

The route is well signposted along the way. Just look for the signs that say ‘via per Vezio’ meaning ‘road to Vezio’.

Castello di Vezio

Castello di Vezio, Lake Como | source: Antonio Losa (shutterstock)

The hike is steep but relatively short, taking around 20 – 30 minutes. It’s also exceptionally gorgeous! You’ll wind up the hill over moss-covered bridges and ivy draped buildings. The trail also immerses you in spectacular natural beauty; rugged rock walls and lush greenery to one side, and stunning lake views to the other.

Once you get to the top, panoramic views of the lake will open out in front of you! Spend some time exploring the castle, admiring the view, and sipping on a coffee from the hilltop cafe before heading back down to Varenna. 

 

Day 2 / Stop 4 – Varenna’s Walk of Lovers Promenade

  • Why it’s awesome: A famously romantic lakeside stroll with stunning scenery and gorgeous views!
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Grab some authentic Gelato from La Passarella and take it with for the stroll.

The villages and towns of Lake Como are not short on charming lakeside boardwalks, but perhaps none are as romantic as Varenna’s ‘Walk of Lovers’. The village is fronted by a winding waterside footpath, that’s extremely popular amongst visiting couples!

Varenna’s Walk of Lovers Promenade

Varenna’s Walk of Lovers Promenade, Lake Como | source: Alexandre Rotenberg (shutterstock)

With rough rocky walls and lush villa gardens to your right and the expansive lake to your left, the path meanders elegantly along the water. Beautiful green plants tangle from the walls, trees arch overhead, and the path takes you through a charming tunnel of ivy. The views are amazing and the atmosphere is incredibly romantic!

If you’re visiting with your partner, strolling the promenade is a vital addition to your Lake Como Itinerary, but the walk is a wonderful experience for any kind of traveler.

 

Day 2 / Stop 6 – Villa Carlotta

  • Why it’s awesome: Stunning villa with a museum and exotic botanical gardens – one of the most popular Lake Como landmarks.
  • Cost: ± $11 USD
  • Food nearby: Enjoy a light bite and a warm beverage at La Cafeteria di Villa Carlotta, set right on site.

Villa Carlotta is set in the small town of Tremezzo, a scenic 30-minute ferry ride from Varenna.

Completed in 1745, Villa Carlotta is a beautiful 18th-century villa, surrounded by exotic botanical gardens. While the villa was once a residential estate, it’s now a museum open to the public! Housed within its walls you’ll find artworks in a variety of mediums, including paintings, marble statues, and decorative ornaments.

The art collection includes work from notable artists such as Hayez, Canova, and Migliara. The museum also offers visitors a trip back in time with the private apartments on the 2nd floor, filled with antique furniture. 

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta, Lake Como | source: GhePeU (wikimedia commons)

Venture outside the villa and you’ll discover the incredible exotic gardens that surround it! The variety here is astounding; from bamboo forests and succulent rock gardens to romantic roses, citrus tunnels, and classic Italian gardens.

You’ll find over 500 plant species, embarking on a journey that takes you through the flora of the world!

 

Day 2 / Stop 5 – Tremezzo

  • Why it’s awesome: A quaint lakeside town with a medieval tower and great views.
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Try Cantina Follie for some classic Italian snacks in a historic wine cellar.

By far the most popular attraction in Tremezzo is Villa Carlotta, but the small town is worth exploring in its own right as you pass through! Villa Carlotta is located at the north of the town, so after exploring the villa you can make your way south.

The views from the walk along the water are spectacular! Along the way, you’ll pass the magnificent Grand Hotel Tremezzo, as well as a series of lakeside restaurants where you can stop for a meal or a drink.

Tremezzo

Tremezzo, Lake Como

Make the short journey on foot to The Tower of Rogaro, a medieval tower perched on a hill. Surrounded by greenery, the tower’s location offers some incredible views out over the lake!

You may also choose to stop by at the Church of Saint-Bartholomew. With roots stretching back to the 1100s, this tiny baroque-style church features some stunning paintings. This is a great stop during a weekend in Lake Como.

Insider Tip: You’ll find a series of narrow lanes and alleyways in Tremezzo, so take some time to get lost and appreciate the quaint charm.

 

Day 2 / Stop 6 – Villa del Balbionello

  • Why it’s awesome: A picturesque waterfront villa that’s acted as a filming location for several feature films!
  • Cost: $11 USD for the gardens only, or $22 USD for a guided tour of the whole property.
  • Food nearby: Bring a picnic and drinks to enjoy on the scenic lawns.

The village of Lenno is just a short 20-minute walk (or an even shorter bus ride) from Tremezzo and home to one of the most famous Lake Como points of interest: Villa del Belbionello.

Situated on the tip of a quaint, wooded peninsula, the 18th-century lakeside villa is gorgeous and grand. Surrounded by ornately carved statues and ivy draped stone walls, it boasts exceptional views of the lake, as well as perfectly pruned terraced gardens.

It is more than just a beautiful villa; Villa del Balbionello’s picturesque charm has made it a movie star! A number of feature films have used the villa as a shotting location. 

Villa del Balbionello

Villa del Balbionello, Lake Como

Its first notable on-screen appearance was in the 2002 film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. Next, it solidified its film star status when it appeared as an important shooting location for Casino Royale!

Perhaps the most recognizable feature of the villa is the perfectly dome-shaped tree sitting in the lake-facing garden. The 200-year-old tree has been hand-pruned to this shape each November for several decades, as a way to preserve the villa’s view of Bellagio!

Insider Tip: The villa closes at 4:30 pm each day and is closed on Mondays and Wednesday. Be sure to plan your time accordingly during day 2 of your Lake Como Itinerary!

 

Day 2 / Stop 7 – Lenno

  • Why it’s awesome: A picturesque village known for its incredible olive oil.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Food nearby: Ristorante Lenno offers tranquil lakeside seating in a lush garden.

Together with a couple of other villages, Lenno and Tremezzo make up the comune of Tremezzina.

Just like Tremezzo, it’s one of Lenno’s prized villas that attracts most of its visitors. Villa del Balbionello may be the main attraction, but it’s worth taking some time to enjoy Lenno after your visit! 

Lenno

Lenno, Lake Como | source: Deror_avi (wikimedia commons)

Set on the slopes of Mount Tremezzo, the village offers many of the same charms as the other lakeside villages; A beautiful waterfront promenade, narrow alleyways, and historic buildings.

You’ll find a myriad of restaurants, cafes, and gelaterias, where you can sit and enjoy the views. Lenno is quieter than many of the neighboring towns, making it a good place to enjoy some peace.

Lenno is also well known for its incredible olive oil, so be sure to pick up a bottle to take home with you or enjoy while touring Lake Como! The best place in Lenno to buy some is Oleificia Vanini Osvaldo. Even broke backpackers in Italy will slurge on this wonderful olive oil.

Gardens Neighborhood, Cape Town

You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.

GET IT HERE

 

Day 3 and Beyond

Isola Comacina | Como | Como Brunate Funicular | Orrido di Bellano | Villa Monastero

If you have 3 days in Lake Como or longer, our first suggestion would be to spread out the activities from the first two days in order to really appreciate each stop.

But once you’ve made the most of those stops, there’s still plenty to see and explore! Here are some of our favorites for a 3-day itinerary in Lake Como.

 

Isola Comacina

  • A beautiful island with a fascinating history and roots dating back to the 6th century.
  • The island is covered in rich Mediterranean vegetation.
  • Locanda dell’Isola Comacina is a brilliant restaurant on the island.

A small wooded island in the western arm of Lake Como, Isola Comacina is an important historic site. Its the only island in Lake Como, and it has a fascinating history that stretches back thousands of years!

Throughout the centuries, the island has been both a principal political center and an important religious center. It’s hosted the ancient Roman military and the Lombards of the 6th century.  

After a series of invasions and disputes, the island’s buildings were mostly destroyed in 1169. It remained uninhabited and left to decay for many centuries thereafter until it was eventually given to Belgium after the first world war!

Isola Comacina

Isola Comacina, Lake Como | source: Sergey Berestetsky (shutterstock)

The island has been described as among the most interesting archaeological sites in Northern Italy, specifically for the early middle ages. A series of ancient ruins can still be explored on the island!

But a fascinating history isn’t all that Isola Comacina has to offer. It’s a beautiful green island, covered with flourishing vegetation. Lakeside walkways guide you around the island, past patches of history, beauty, and spectacular vistas!  

Also, be sure to pay a visit to the island’s only restaurant, Locanda dell’Isola Comacina. The views from the terrace are out of this world! The island can be reached via private boat or ferry from Ossuccio, which in turn, is easily accessible from the main towns of the lake.

 

Como 

  • The largest city on Lake Como, with plenty to see and do.
  • Check out the magnificent Como Cathedral and explore the city.
  • Here you’ll find a more lively nightlife than in the villages of Lake Como.

The city of Como, located at the tip of the Lakes western arm, is often overlooked by those traveling to Lake Como. Granted, it doesn’t quite have the same charm as the small towns and villages at the lake’s center, but it does offer its own attractions and appeal! 

The city is often considered amongst the most beautiful spots in the Lombardy region. It features similar pastel houses to some of the lake’s villages, as well as stellar views of the lake, historic architecture, lakeside promenades, and the comforts of a city! 

Perhaps the most impressive building in Como, if not the entire lake, is the magnificent Como Cathedral. Renowned for its spectacular architecture, this 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedral features a gothic design.

Lake Como Cathedral

Como, Lake Como

The imposing facade stands tall in a city square, boasting detailed ornate carvings and incredible stonework. The interior is equally awe-inspiring, with swooping arches and a famous domed ceiling.  

The city is also home to a number of museums, such as the Museo Storica Giuseppe Garibaldi, and the Como Archaeological Museum. Both are worth a visit if you have time!

In Como, you’ll also find a much wider range of evening establishments than in the villages. It’s a good spot to find a bit of nightlife in Lake Como if you’re craving drinks and dancing!

 

Como Brunate Funicular

  • A scenic funicular ride up the mountains surrounding Como.
  • The steep tracks allow for stunning views as the trolley climbs the mountain.
  • The destination is a small town called Brunate, offering great views and places to relax.

Brunate is a tiny town set high up in the mountains above Como. Taking the historic funicular up to Brunate from the city is by far one of the most popular excursions from Como! 

Opened in 1894, the funicular has been hoisting locals and visitors up to 700m (2,300 feet) above sea level, on a track with a gradient as steep as is allowed! For those who are unfamiliar, a funicular is like a tram or a streetcar but set at an angle on a hill.

The 7-minute funicular ride is packed with gorgeous scenery and is an amazing experience in itself. You’ll pass through tunnels and rocky gorges as the city slowly recedes below. Trees and vegetation are plentiful, and the views are wonderful.

Como Brunate Funicular

Como Brunate Funicular, Lake Como | source: Philip Intallura (shutterstock)

The best views, however, will be enjoyed once you reach the top! Scenic lookout points in Brunate offer incredible vistas, covering the lake, mountains, and Como itself. Wander around the town and pick one of the many restaurants for a scenic lunch or drinks.

The relaxed ride back down to the city is just as scenic as the way up!

 

Orrido di Bellano 

  • An ancient gorge with a turquoise river flowing through it.
  • A scenic escape from the towns and villages, immersed in nature.
  • Admission is around $5 USD.

Orrido is a natural gorge, that has been carved by the Pioverna river over the past 15 million years! Set in the comune of Bellano near the central area of Lake Como, the gorge offers some of the most spectacular natural scenery on the lake and you can even go geocaching there.

Orrido di Bellano 

Orrido di Bellano, Lake Como | source: Francescogb (wikimedia commons)

Accessible via an old suspension bridge, Orrido di Bellano features a walkway fixed in stone. The turquoise waters snake between rugged canyon walls draped in greenery, and the sound of rushing water fills the air! The walkway winds its way along the gorge wall, high above the water below and past a wonderful natural waterfall. The scenery really is incredible!

Bellano is easily accessible from Varenna via train, bus, and ferry.

 

Villa Monastero 

  • A stunning villa in Varenna, overlooking the lake.
  • There’s a museum inside and a botanical garden surrounding the villa.
  • The entry price is $7 USD for the gardens alone, or $10 USD for the gardens and museum.

Resting on the shores of Varenna, Villa Monastero is a gorgeous lakeside villa complex, surrounded by a terraced botanical garden. The site originally housed a 12th-century Cistercian convent, which now lies beneath the villa.

Villa Monastero houses a number of famous rooms, 14 of which belong to the Casa Museum. This museum allows visitors to explore four centuries of history by immersing them in fully furnished historic rooms! The rooms are furnished in various styles, housing opulent decorations and precious materials. 

Villa Monastero 

Villa Monastero, Lake Como | source: Geobia (wikimedia commons)

Also worth noting is the magnificent Fermi Hall. The hall is well-known thanks to Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi holding numerous physics classes in it during 1954!

The gardens feature flora from around the globe, resulting in a colorful and exotic scenery, with a variety of scents wafting through the air. Wander around the estate and admire the waterfront views amongst the lush gardens.

 

Don’t forget to pack a good book!

Lonely Planet The Italian Lakes (Travel Guide): This is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.

 

Staying Safe in Lake Como

Generally speaking, Lake Como is a very safe place to visit. Most of the towns and villages around the lake aren’t prone to the usual dangers associated with big cities! That being said, there are some general precautions you can take in order to ensure a smooth and safe trip!

As with pretty much anywhere on Earth, particularly where tourists congregate, there’s always a slight risk of petty theft. When you’re out in public, keep your personal belongings close and try to stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t venture out with large amounts of cash, and don’t bring unnecessary attention to yourself by wearing or carrying flashy or expensive items.

The lake itself can also present some hazards if not treated with respect! Be mindful when walking along the lake, especially after a few evening drinks when the daylight has faded and your senses are skewed! The same applies on the ferries and any other boat on the lake.

Be aware that in around 2010, the lake experienced some issues with pollution, which made it mostly unsuitable for swimming. The lake’s cleanliness has since been restored, but it’s worth checking with a local tourist office that the water is swimmable at the time of your visit.

If you’re swimming or partaking in water sports on the lake during your 3 days at Lake Como, make sure you take common safety precautions. Such as wearing a lifejacket and having someone keep an eye on you!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

Day Trips From Lake Como

We highly recommend making some day trips from Lake Como and exploring its stunning surroundings!

Milan is an elegant and sophisticated city, and one of the most popular travel destinations in Italy. With a wealth of attractions and beauty on offer, it also happens to be just an hour’s drive from Lake Como!

Milan is often paired with Lake Como during a trip to the Lombardy region, and it’s a city that you surely don’t want to miss.

Enjoy a day in Milan, admiring its most beautiful sights and attractions. Some of the most noteworthy include the magnificent Duomo di Milan, Galleria Vittoria Emanuelle II, and La Scala opera house. Leonardo da Vinci’s famous 15th-century mural The Last Supper is also one of the city’s most popular attractions!

 

Verona

Verona

Perhaps the most romantic city in Italy, Verona is also just a short journey from Lake Como. It can be reached by car or public transport in just a couple of hours. Verona is most famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but has a whole lot more to offer those who visit! 

The spectacular Arena of Verona was built in the 1st century and is still remarkably well preserved. Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore is a magnificent ancient church, and Piazza delle Erbe is a stunning city square!

Head to Verona from the lake, then hop on a sightseeing bus and give this ancient city a day of your explorations!

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Locarno and Ascona 

Locarno and Ascona 

The city of Como is actually located just a couple of miles from the Swiss border! This makes hopping over to Switzerland an easily achievable day trip. We recommend checking out the neighboring towns of Locarno and Ascona.

Set on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Locarno has a warmer climate than any other town in Switzerland! With vast piazzas, muted historic buildings, and breathtaking beaches on their shorelines, the towns are ripe for exploration.

Ascona also has an incredible culinary scene hidden amongst its lanes and alleyways!

Check Tour Price

 

Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Lake Garda is arguably the most popular of Italy’s lakes. It’s certainly the largest and offers an unparalleled level of diversity. It’s bordered by three regions; Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino Alto-Adige, giving the lake a multicultural essence.

From vineyards and mountains to lakeside villages and resorts with crystal clear waters, Lake Garda makes for a great day trip from Lake Como. Just a couple of hours by car or public transport will get you there!  

A day at Lake Garda is best enjoyed exploring the scenic coastline and the picturesque villages that line it!

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Franciacorta: Wine Country

Franciacorta: Wine Country

Franciacorta is Italy’s finest sparkling wine region. Home to over 100 wineries, this section of Lombardy is located just an hour’s drive east of Milan! Exclusive varieties of local wine include Satèn and of course, Franciacorta.

If you’re a wine lover, a winery tour through the region is a must! Taste the finest local wines, chat with the local wine producers, and get some insights on the trade and production process.

The vineyards make for a stunning backdrop to wine tastings and lunch!

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Universal Travel AdapterOne of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.

GET IT HERE

 

Conclusion

Lake Como is drenched with quintessential Italian charm. It’s quaint, beautiful, fun, and relaxing, and a perfect place to spend a few days in the sun! A vacation in Lake Como is arguably the most peaceful and romantic on Earth.

Get ready for a trip filled with amazing food, picturesque scenes, and spectacular vistas. Spend your 3 days exploring tiny villages, soaking up some history, and enjoying the wonderful weather! Lake Como is an amazing destination for all kinds of travelers.

Visiting Lake Como may not be an action-packed adventure, but we think it’s one of the most enchanting experiences of a lifetime!

If you’re in the midst of planning a trip to Lake Como, we hope our Lake Como itinerary has helped smooth out the process. Don’t forget to use our Italy packing list too! Most of all, we hope you have an amazing trip!

 

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.


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