Lake Como is a lake in northern Italy, at the feet of the Alps. It is the third greatest lake in Italy. What makes Lake Como a great destination for holidays are the amazing little villages and villas that surround the lake.
The Lake is beloved by locals and tourists alike. Most of its popularity comes from the jaw-dropping views it offers as you walk around the shores and its many small villages. Many come here to seek a tranquil holiday and slow down for a couple of days. Lake Como is a perfect spot for relaxing holidays.
Where to stay on your Lake Como Holiday
As the third-largest lake in Italy, Lake Como is huge! There are many towns and villages on the shores. While we think many of them are great picks for a Lake Como holidays, we will give you a few pointers on places to check out before you decide.
This small village sits on a top of a hill, right in the middle of the lake. Due to it’s central location, it is a great starting point to discover the lake. Even so, if you would like to discover by boat, as the port of the town serves most of the ferry routes along the lake.
The village of Bellagio is one of the more popular destinations for Lake Como holidays. It is an especially charming little village, with colourful architecture and cobblestone streets. The place is filled with small and inviting cafés and restaurants. However, due to the popularity, hotels and apartments in Bellagio are pricey and almost always full. If you plan to visit this gem on the Lake Como, you will need to book your hotel in time.
One of the biggest settlements around Lake Como is the city of Como itself. Although it is a popular tourist destination, partly due to great public transport accessibility, it is much more affordable than many of the smaller towns around the lake. Staying in Como can save you quite a little bit, that you can then spend on the amazing food in Italy.
Don’t be fooled by the cheaper accommodation, Como is as much of a breathtaking place as Bellagio. All around you, the mountains will provide constant eye candy. Como has an amazing old town area, along with a lot of beautiful churches.
Additionally, the city is a good starting point to explore Lake Como. Just like Bellagio, it gets frequent ferry service to towns around the lake.
This small village is just on the opposite side of the lake from Bellagio. It is mostly known for the beautiful villas lining up on the lakeside. You will be able to see the remains of an old town area and an ancient tower just by the lake.
From the other side of the town, there is Mount Crocione. If you can book a room that is up the hills, you will get a view of Lake Como, that you will remember for the rest of your life. Also due to the vicinity of the mountain, this location has easy access for some hiking activities.
Varenna is probably one of the smallest among our destinations for Lake Como holidays. This tiny little village only has one main road going through, everything else is just charming side streets.
Here you will be able to get a sense of a traditional Italian town on the lake. Unlike many other locations, there are not many villas and luxury here. It is a quiet little town, that exchanges luxury for intimacy.
The village of Agregno is built right onto the hillside at the shore. Quite probably the only flat area is the main road going through it. As such it offers unique views of the lake, which gets better the further up you go on the mountainside.
Agregno has a charming little old town area and great road access to neighbouring towns. Agregno is a traditional Italian small town, with narrow streets, colourful buildings and great food.
The top 10 things to do on your Lake Como Holiday
Visit one of the Villas around Lake Como
One of the most famous attractions around Lake Como is the Villas built around it. The lake has been a favourite among nobles, and as such, are full of old Villas you can visit today. It’s a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of the wealthy Italian families of the past.
Villa del Balbianello, Tremezzina
Villa del Balbianello is one of the most famous Villas around the lake. This property allows you to visit both the Villa Gardens and the Interiors.
We recommend starting with a stroll of the gardens. Here you can enjoy a well-maintained collection of flowers and breathtaking terraces. After heading inside you will be greeted with a big collection of sculptures and various paintings from all around the world.
As a beautiful location, it has been featured in movies as well. One of the most famous movies shot here is Star Wars II, The Attack of the Clones. Although the scenes that were shot here are the infamous Anakin & Padme romance scenes, we recommend to check this Villa out if you are a fan.
Villa Monastero, Varenna
This Villa, located in the town of Varenna is a perfect example of eclectic architecture. With its unique looks, Villa Monastero must be on the itinerary for all Lake Como holidays.
The garden around the villa houses numerous plants from all around the world. The climate around the lake is very generous, and you will be able to enjoy all kind of scents and amazing colours almost any time of the year.
Just like Villa del Balbainello, you can visit both the gardens and the museum inside the Villa. The museum consists of 12 rooms, that are fully furnished with era-specific furniture.
Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo
Overlooking the lake, the impressive building of Villa Carlotta, is known for its collection of artworks. One of the special things you can do here is to arrive by boat. The Villa is built right next to the lake and has its own pier.
Once again, you can visit both the Villa and botanical gardens of Villa Carlotta. Although it has a huge botanical garden, the main attraction is inside, as Villa Carlotta fashions one of the best art collection around Lake Como.
Visit Isola Comacina, the only island on Lake Como
Lake Como has only one island. It is called Isola Comacina and you can reach it by ferry, or boat taxi from the neighbouring towns.
This small island is filled with lush vegetation. The island has played a central role in Medieval and Roman times. It has also played a major role in the development of medieval art in Italy.
Today you can visit this island as an archaeological site, where you will be able to immerse yourself in the rich history of the island.
Go up to Brunate
Brunate is a mountain town overlooking the southern region of Lake Como. You can either get up here by taking the funicular or hike.
We recommend taking the funicular on the way to Brunate. It has opened its doors to public service in 1894 and has been the most popular way to reach the mountain town ever since. Once up, you will be able to seek out multiple vantage points to overlook the surrounding area. The breathtaking views will offer you great opportunities for pictures.
Up in Brunate, you can also reach the Volta Lighthouse on foot. It will take you around 30 minutes to get from the funicular station to the lighthouse. You will have to scale 143 steps inside the lighthouse to get to the top, but the views are worth it.
For return into the city of Como, we recommend hiking. If your time allows it is an easy hike downhill through the forest on the hill.
Visit Forte di Fuentes and Forte Montecchio Nord
Just at the north end of the lake, there are to fortifications next to each other. Since they are within minutes of walking distance we recommend visiting at the same time. You can find them in Colico.
Forte di Fuentes
Forte di Fuentes is a ruin of a former military fort, on the hills of Montecchio. It was constructed during the Spanish governance of Milan in 1609. It didn’t see much action during its lifetime and was decommissioned as early as 1782. This short-lived fortress was mostly disassembled as the land was sold off. Today you can see the remaining ruins on site.
Forte Montecchio Nord
Forte Montecchio Nord is an Italian fort, built between 1911 and 1914. It has been constructed as a major defensive fortress in World War I. As it didn’t see any real action during the war, most of the fortification is preserved in its original state.
It is one of it’s kind not only in Italy but in the world. If you are interested in the early days of modern warfare this location is a must on your list of things to do on Lake Como holidays.
Take a boat tour of Lake Como
We always like to recommend renting a car on vacations like this one, where you need to cover a lot of ground. However, Lake Como is special. It seems like to us, that your best bet of getting around is by boat. You can either take the scheduled ferry service on the lake or rent out a lake taxi.
There are also boat tours available on the lake. We highly recommend taking one, as there is no way you can visit everything while there. Taking a tour on the water is a perfect opportunity to marvel at all the beautiful villas lining up on the shore. You will be able to view them from a new perspective.
Visit the other towns on Lake Como
Now, this should go without saying. We have already given you a few pointers on where to stay on Lake Como holidays. However, it doesn’t matter which charming little town you pick on the lake, you are ought to visit the others. Lake Como is full of life, and full of charm all around.
In case you have doubts what are the best picks, here are our top 10 towns you should visit: Bellagio, Tremezzina, Nesso, Cernobbio, Como, Lecco, Varenna, Colico, Argegno, Santa Maria Rezzonico. This list will surely keep you occupied. However, as we always do, we encourage you to explore. Go off the beaten path. If you find yourself marvelling at a town you are driving trough, just stop. Park the car and don’t be afraid to explore it on foot. You might find hidden treasures.
As Lake Como lies just at the feet of the Alps its a perfect place for the people who love hiking. Numerous trails are going up the hills and mountains around the lake. You will be able to do easy or hard trails depending on your preference.
What’s great about hiking around Lake Como is the amazing view you get from the top. All around you, you will be able to see into the valley where the lake sits. If you hike near the western parts you will be able to get to vantage points where you can see into Switzerland and Lugano. For the available trails, we recommend checking out this amazing site.
Visit the Botanical Garden at Hotel Villa Cipressi
Although this Villa hotel in Varenna is only open for guests, anyone can visit the botanical gardens. This garden blends architecture with nature. It has plants on display from all the different regions of Italy. This Botanical garden invites you on a tour of the senses. Your lungs will be filled with amazing scents and your eyes overjoyed with wonderful colours.
Visit the Motorcycle Museum Moto Guzzi
A perfect attraction for anyone interested in the Automotive industry, especially in motorbikes. This museum will present you with the history and culture of motorbikes. They have vintage and rare motorbikes on display here, all in mint condition.
Moto Guzzi is an Italian manufacturer of motorbikes. In fact, it is the oldest manufacturer still in business today in Europe. The museum is a perfect opportunity to get familiar with the brand and its achievements throughout the different eras in the motorcycling world.
Check out the beaches of Lake Como
Although not your typical beach holiday, there are plenty of opportunities to actually swim in the lake if you want to. There are beaches in almost all major towns. Keep in mind, that Lake Como is one of the deepest lakes. As such it can get as deep as 10m already from only a few meters of the shore. Also, this mass of water is very hard to heat, and will always feel quite chilly.
We recommend picking out a beach in a smaller town. Here the quality of the water will be much better than places like the city of Como.
If you are planning an Italian visit, Lake Como is a perfect place for holidays. It offers many unique opportunities and a picturesque view from almost anywhere. We highly recommend anyone to visit this lake at least once.
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