Lago di Como is one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy. Celebrities such as George Clooney, Giovanni Versace, Lionel Messi and Madonna have their homes here. To help you plan your holiday, the complete guide will tell you everything you need to know – the best things to do and see at Lago di Como, swimming, hiking, transport, boating on Lago di Como, accommodation and other useful information and tips.
I only discovered Lago di Como a few years ago. You could say I came to him like a blind man to a violin. I was looking for tips on interesting places to visit around Milan. Uncle Google advised Lake Como and I must admit that he advised perfectly.
- Why visit Lago di Como
- Interesting facts about Lago di Como
- Best Things to do at Lago di Como: Must-see places
- Swimming and beaches at Lago di Como
- Hiking around Lago di Como
- Accommodation near Lago di Como
- How to get to Lake Como
- Transport at Lago di Como
- Weather at Lake Como
- Prices at Lake Como
- Practical information before travelling to Lago di Como
- The best booking resources for visiting Lago di Como
- More information about Italy
- Summary: Lago di Como
Why visit Lago di Como
Lake Como, it’s one big kitsch. Picturesque towns with narrow streets, colourful houses lining the coast and clear water reflecting the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. Not for nothing is it one of the most beautiful Italian lakes.
Lago di Como offers a wealth of activities. You can relax by the water with a delicious Italian gelato, stroll along the promenade in the evening, take a ferry trip to the surrounding towns or hike to one of the peaks where you’ll have Lake Como in the palm of your hand.
Interesting facts about Lago di Como
The shape of the lake resembles an inverted letter Y. At the left end you will find the largest town on the lake – Como and at the right end lies the town of Lecco.
Lake Como has an area of 146 km², a length of 51 km and a width of 4.5 km. These measures make it the third largest lake in northern Italy after Lago di Garda and Lago di Maggiore. With a depth of 410 m below sea level, it is the fifth deepest lake in Europe. The first four positions are occupied by Norwegian lakes.
On the lake is the 146 km² island of Isola Comacina, where the Lombard kings hid from the invaders.
Best Things to do at Lago di Como: Must-see places
Here it is clear – among the most beautiful places are the resorts of Varenna and Bellagio in the central part of the lake. The resorts are connected by ferry and the journey between them takes about a quarter of an hour.
Bellagio – the most beautiful town on Lago di Como
The pearl of the island, according to many, is the town of Bellagio. This is mainly due to its ideal location, thanks to which you can enjoy all sides of the lake.
Bellagio is characterised by steep and narrow streets full of small shops and cafés. You can also take a walk along the local promenade, from where you can enjoy beautiful views. If you like history, visit the Romanesque Basilica of St. James and the Church of St. George.
There is no doubt that Bellagio is a beautiful place. But as beautiful as it is, it’s crowded. In the summer, it is literally a headache, which is further enhanced by the narrow streets.
The best time to visit is winter or late autumn and early spring. On the other hand, some shops and restaurants may be closed during this period.
Varenna – the must-visit place on Lago di Como
Varenna is a resort on the eastern shore of the lake. It is called the City of a Thousand Opportunities and a Thousand Reasons to Visit. For myself, I have to say that I’m thrilled with this city.
What I missed at Bellagio, I found at Varenna. Peace and tranquility emanated from every corner. Plus the beautiful colourful houses that lined the coast.
For beautiful gardens, head to the Monastero and Cipresi villas. Another piece of history can be found above the town on a 150 m high rock outcropping, where the ruins of the Vezio Castle stand. It will take you about 1.5 hours to go up.
In Varenna you will find the shortest river in Italy – the Finmelatte, which is only 250 metres long. You can see it only from March to October. It is so short that you won’t even find it on Google maps.
Are you going to Varenna by train? From Lecco, the train runs at regular intervals at least once an hour. The ticket will cost you 3 €. Get off at Varenna-Esino station, and then just run down the hill to the city centre.
Como – the largest town on the lake with a magnificent cathedral
In Como you will find everything. Beaches, shops, restaurants, sights and attractions. Despite its location at the very south of the lake, it is an ideal starting point for exploring Lake Como.
From Como you can take a ferry to other towns along the lake shore. There are also a number of hiking trails that start in the surroundings, from which you can enjoy great views of the lake and the surrounding Alps.
Or take the cable car to the town of Brunate, high above Como and offering fantastic views.
Como is dominated by the magnificent Renaissance cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta or Duomo di Como. Just a short walk away is the Archaeological Museum, which displays artefacts and finds from Ancient Greece found in the area.
Boating on the lake
A boat trip gives you different views of the lake, the towns on its shores and the peaks of the Alps above. A breathtaking sight you want to experience.
Ferries sail regularly throughout the year and the price varies according to distance. For example, the popular Varenna – Menaggio – Bellagio route will cost you €4.60. For ferry prices, visit the official Lago di Como ferry website. You buy your ticket directly at the dock.
Villa Balbianello is set on a promontory that juts out into the lake near Lenno. It is a baroque villa complex from the 18th century. century, from whose terraces you can see to the opposite shore and the towns of Vergonese and Bellagio.
Many popular films such as Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II Clones Attack were filmed here. You can get here from the bay of Lenno on the western shore of the lake.
Swimming and beaches at Lago di Como
Lago di Como is an alpine lake. And the combination of the Alps and swimming doesn’t sound very appealing, I admit. However, Lake Como belongs to the so-called. Warm Alpine lakes where you can swim without any problems.
The water temperature here is a pleasant 23-25 degrees in summer. In spring, the temperature stays between 18-22 degrees. I assume you won’t be swimming here at any other time of year :).
Beaches at Lago di Como + map
Are you planning to spend most of your holiday by the water? Not all places around the lake are suitable for swimming, so it is good to choose your accommodation strategically.
The beach areas can be divided into 3 geographical areas:
- south-western area around the town of Como
- south-eastern area around Lecco
- and the northern area around the town of Colico
Beaches around Como – southwest
- Argegno beach near the small harbour in the town. Fully equipped grassy beach, which includes a snack bar.
- Sandy beach in Bellagio, where you will also find refreshments, sun loungers and free WIFI.
- Pebble beach of San Giovanni in Bellagio – public beach with free admission
- Open grassy beach – Lido di Villa Geno in Como – you can rent an umbrella and sun lounger on site and have a snack in the restaurant.
- Lido di Faggeto in the resort of Faggeto Lario – it has the advantage of free entry, but it tends to be crowded
- Rocky beach in Griante – you can rent umbrellas, sunbeds, canoes. Free
- Careno Beach in Nesso is half grass and half sand. Admission is free.
- Pognana Lario is a grassy beach with a free entrance fee, but there is a steep and long path to get there.
- Beach in Tremezzina (Lido di Lenno) with all facilities. In the evening it turns into a nightclub.
- The grassy beach of Lido di Ossuccio is again in Tremezzina, with free entrance. It gets crowded.
- In the same resort you will also find Mayer Park with a rocky beach and a volleyball court.
Beaches around Lecco – southeast
- The grassy beach of Lido di Abbadia (Lecco) with a beautiful and peaceful park and free entrance.
- The sandy beach of Lido Orsa Maggiore is fully equipped and offers pedal boats and canoes for hire.
- Sandy beach in Mandello del Lario with free entrance. Again, you can use deck chairs, umbrellas, refreshments.
- Oliveto Lario beach with free entrance fee – a long pebble beach with crystal clear water and full facilities.
- The sandy beach in Perledo (near Varenna) – like the other beaches, you can rent sun loungers and have a snack.
Beaches around Colico – north
- Are you going with your family? Then the fully equipped sandy beach in Bellano will be ideal. Children can splash around in the adjacent swimming pool.
- Lido di Colico in the resort of Colico with full facilities including a tennis court, football pitch and a windsurfing and kitesurfing school. You can spread the towel on the grass or sand.
- Another beach in Colico is the grassy beach of Laghetto di Piona. Free admission and big shade trees, what more could you ask for :).
- Sandy and grassy beach of Dervio without facilities.
- Lido di Menaggio – a large beach including two swimming pools, ideal for the whole family. Refreshments are available in the restaurant, which can accommodate hundreds of guests. You don’t have to worry about going hungry :).
- Menaggio also has a pebble beach, Lerai , with free entrance. Services here are not as extensive as at the previous beach in Menaggio, but this is compensated by the possibility of renting pedal boats, canoes and rowing boats.
Hiking around Lago di Como
Do you prefer an active holiday? Then don’t forget your trekking boots, as there are wonderful hiking trails around Lake Como where you can enjoy great views of the lake and the surrounding Alpine peaks.
For beginners, the Sentiero del Viandante, which winds along the eastern shore of the lake, or the Greenway del Lago di Como on the western shore, are ideal. Both routes are long, so you can choose the start of the route according to your accommodation.
Ascent of Monte Legnone
Monte Legnone (2609 m) is the highest mountain in the area – the peak is 2400 m higher than the lake. And that’s quite an elevation. The summit is a vast plateau from which you can see Lago di Lugano to the west and Piz Bernina to the northeast in Switzerland.
You start your journey at the Rifugio Roccoli Lorla (1406 m), reached by car from Tremenico. The road is narrow but paved. There is no water available to fill up along the way, so take plenty with you.
Ascent of Monte Bregnano
Monte Bregagno (2107 m) is known as the balcony above Lago di Como. You can choose between two routes. The starting point for the first route is Monte di Breglia, above the town of Breglia, which you can reach by car. The trip is charged with a symbolic 3 €. The vending machine is located right at the start of the mountain trail above Breglia. Parking at the top is then free.
An alternative is to take the bus to Breglia and then walk to the car park (1 hour).
Head towards the Rifugio Menaggio hut (1383 m) and follow the red trail past the Chapel of St. Amate to the top. Total time for ascent and descent is about 5.5 hours without breaks.
The second route is more suitable in the winter and spring months, when the path to the top is still covered with snow. Pack your winter hiking gear. You leave the car parked above the town of Treccione, where the road turns into a hiking trail.
Ascent to Monte Grona
Monte Grona (1736 m) is a peak near Monte Bregnano. The starting point is again the Rifugio Menaggio hut, reached from Monte di Breglia, where there is a large car park.
The alternative is to take the bus to Breglia and then walk to Monte di Breglia on the asphalt road (about an hour extra). From Monte di Breglia, you can take the Sentiero Panoramico, a panoramic route with views of the lake and the surrounding area. In 50 minutes you are at the mountain hut, which is wedged steeply into the cliff and the lake is just a stone’s throw away.
The route to the hut takes less than 2 hours and is easy. From there you can continue to Monte Grona (about 1 hour to the top depending on the route you choose).
From the hut, choose one of 3 routes – divided by difficulty + links to download the route:
- ascent of Monte Grona via Via Normale – the easiest route leads through the mountain saddle (Forcoletta), from where you will follow a steep rock path to the top.
- ascent of Monte Grona via Via Direttissima – a moderately difficult route, following the south side of the mountain.
- ascent to Monte Grona via Via Panoramica – the most difficult route with ferrata; difficulty EEA -AR-IV-D.
Ascent of Monte Palanzone
Monte Palanzone (1,436 m) is a peak between the spurs of the lake. There are several routes leading to it, the most popular of which starts in Brunate. To get here, take the cable car from Como and follow the red Dorsale del Triangolo Lariano (Lariano Triangle) trail past the Chiesa di Sant Andrea church and over the mountain pass.
Ascent of Monte San Primo
Monte San Primo (1,681 m) can be found, like Monte Palanzone, on the Larian Triangle, just a few kilometres from Bellagio. There are several routes to it. The path is lined with large boulders or Pitera Lentina, which were formed by glacial erosion.
The time commitment varies between 4-6 hours depending on the chosen route.
Climb to the Grigna mountain massif
Grigna is a mountain massif reminiscent of the Dolomites. It is one of the most striking places around Lago di Como. Its distinct peaks are the North Grigna (Grigna Settentrionale) with its altitude of 2410 m and the South Grigna (Grigna Meridionale) with its altitude of 2177 m.
Ascent of South Grigna/Grignetta – the starting point is Piani Resinelli, reached by car or bus from Lecco. The journey up takes around 3 hours, but there are also shorter routes to lower peaks, mountain saddles or mountain huts in the area.
Climb to North Grigna – the trek to North Grigna is ideal especially for those who live in the central part of the lake (Varenna, Bellagio, etc.). Park your car in the small ski village of Cainallo near the Vó di Moncodeno mountain pass, where you can choose one of the trails:
- Route to Mount Grigna via the Rifugio Arnaldo Bogani hut
- Route to Grigna via the Rifugio Bietti Buzzi hut
Accommodation near Lago di Como
Hotel Abbadia: A cosy hotel, surrounded by mountains on one side and overlooking the lake on the other. Clean rooms with private bathroom and breakfast, swimming in the lake, garden with seating, hiking trails, possibility of boat or train trips along the lake shore (Bellagio, Varenna and others), good connections from Bergamo.
Residence Alessandra A: This accommodation is located on the north-west shore of the lake and is very accessible by car. The apartments are sufficient for 2-4 people, furnished in a clean and modern style, including a balcony and private bathroom. There is also a swimming pool, sun loungers and a garden.
Hotel Vista Lago : This hotel is located at the western end of the lake in the high altitude village of Brunate. From Como, you can reach the town in a few minutes by car, or take the funicular, from which you will have the town of Como in the palm of your hand. Brunate is a great base for hiking the Larian Triangle, a trail that follows the local peaks and offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding area. Rooms are cosy with private bathrooms and breakfast included.
Hotel Il Loggiato Dei Serviti Description : Clean and practical accommodation in Como, at the western end of the lake. 5 minutes to the centre, the station and the lake. Rooms are en suite and breakfast is included. Great price considering the location.
How to get to Lake Como
Lago Como is located in the provinces of Como and Lecco in Lombardy – it is the western edge of the Bergamo Alps, which literally enclose the lake. They rise like fjords out of the water.
Como is well connected to Milan. Lecco is well connected to both Milan and Bergamo, where Orio Al Serio Airport is located. The most interesting tourist area is the centre of the lake with the towns of Bellagio and Varenna.
By air to Lago di Como
Lago di Como is very accessible by air, as there are 3 airports nearby:
- Bergamo Orio Al Serio Airport (BGY) – Bergamo Airport is located on the outskirts of Bergamo
- Malpensa Airport (MXP) – Malpensa Airport is located northwest of Milan.
- Linate Airport (LIN) – this airport is located on the outskirts of Milan
How to get to Lake Como from Bergamo
At Orio Al Serio Airport in Bergamo, take bus no. 1 to Bergamo, which runs on frequent and regular services. You can buy your ticket at the information desk or at the ticket machine at the exit of the terminal. The price is 2,60 €. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes and can be used for other transport within Bergamo, including the cable car to Città Alta.
Get off at the train and bus station (15-20 minutes from the airport), where you can take a train straight to Lecco at the southern tip of Lake Como.
A ticket to Lecco costs €3.80 and the journey takes 40 minutes. Trains run regularly every hour between 6:08-22:08. You can also buy your ticket online.
It’s then up to you whether you stay in Lecco or continue north towards Varenna, where ferries leave for Bellagio. The Lecco-Varenna route costs €3 and takes 22-38 minutes depending on the connection.
Along the way, the train stops at several other towns along the east coast, including Mandello Del Lario and Lierna. From Varenna you can take the ferry to Bellagio or Menaggio.
How to get to Lake Como from Milan
Arriving at Malpensa Airport? Malpensa Airport is located north-west of Milan. You can choose between direct buses or Malpensa Express trains. Once you arrive at the airport, follow the signs to see which transport option you have chosen for the city centre.
The airport bus costs €10 and tickets can be booked online. Then you just show it on your mobile on the spot. If you miss the nearest connection, you can take the next one without any problems. It takes 50 minutes to get to the main train station in the city centre.
The Malpensa Express costs €13, but on the other hand is more comfortable. It takes less than an hour to reach Centrale Station.
At Centrale Station, you take the train to Como, which lies at the end of the left end of the lake. The ticket costs €5 and the journey to S. Giovanni Central Station in Como takes 39 minutes. Direct trains run once an hour between 6:43 and 21:43.
Trenitalia’s Italian train website will help you find all train connections in Italy.
By car to Lago di Como
Lake Como is located in northern Italy in Lombardy, where there is an excellent network of good roads. There are fees along the way, which vary depending on where you are starting from and where exactly you are staying at the lake.
If you go via Innsbruck, Austria, you will incur the following charges along the way:
- Motorway vignette for Austria for 9,90 € for 10 days and for motorbikes for 5,80 €
- Payment of 11 € for crossing the Brenner Pass between Innsbruck and the Austrian-Italian border
- The toll in Italy comes out to about €8-9 per 100 km. You can pay in cash or by card. Each payment gateway has a symbol at the top showing how you can pay.
The Brenner Pass vignette and payment for Austria can be purchased online in one place.
If you are driving from Vienna, you do not pass through the Brenner Pass. On the other hand, you will pay more in tolls. You can calculate the toll here.
Charges when travelling through Switzerland: theSwiss vignette for CHF 40. It is more expensive because only vignettes valid for 1 year are sold.
Follow this link for up-to-date information on traffic in Italy (tolls, closures, etc.). Google maps will also provide you with sufficient information.
Transport at Lago di Como
Water transport is a suitable transport option at the lake. Motor boats and ferries are on offer. It depends on where you need to get to and from.
Motorboats operate on the routes:
- Como – Colico
- Colico – Como
- Resorts in the central part of the lake
- Lecco – Bellagio – Lecco
The ferry connects the central resorts of Cadenabbia – Varenna – Menaggio – Bellagio and runs every quarter of an hour. The ferry price list can be found here. You can also find the current prices at the platform on a large sign.
Use the ferry to transport your vehicle. This saves you the hassle of a long detour around the lake. The price of tickets varies according to the length of the car:
- 4 € under 3,5 m
- 6,30 € between 3,5-4,5 m
- 9,80 € over 4,5 m
Weather at Lake Como
Do you want to enjoy swimming and warm weather? Go to the lake June-August.
January is the coldest month, but on the other hand there are far fewer tourists and you can enjoy the otherwise crowded Bellagio all to yourself.
The compromise is then April-May and September-October. Temperatures are pleasant and there are just enough tourists. Especially autumn is ideal for hiking around the lake.
Prices at Lake Como
Prices in Lombardy are generally slightly higher than in other parts of Italy. In Lombardy, this is especially true for Milan and the tourist areas of Lago di Como (Varenna, Bellagio). The following prices are valid for Milan and will be slightly lower for most of Lombardy.
You’ll pay around €20 for a meal in a cheap restaurant and around €80 for a 3-course dinner for two. The prices of basic foodstuffs are as follows:
- Milk 1 l – 1,43 €
- White bread 500 g – 2,27 €
- Eggs 12 pcs – 3,53 €
- Cheese 1 kg – 13,82 €
- Chicken breast 1 kg – 10,30 €
- Bananas 1 kg – 1,88 €
- Water 1,5 l – 0,47 €
- Potatoes 1 kg – 1,44 €
Practical information before travelling to Lago di Como
Currency: euro (EUR)
Payment: For small purchases and payments, it is smaller to have cash with you, but otherwise you will pay by card in most places. Take a look at what fees your bank charges and what exchange rates are in order not to overdo it. We can recommend the World card from mBank for us.
Electric socket: In Italy they use electrical sockets type C, F and L. Types C and F are compatible with most sockets in Europe and are widely used in northern Italy (including in hotels). L sockets are mainly found in older houses. If you are travelling from the UK or Ireland, you will need a socket reducer. In Italy, the electrical sockets used are types C, F and L. Types C and F are compatible with most sockets in Europe. Hotels and other tourist places have them too. Type L sockets are mainly found in older houses. It’s better to pack a reducer, but you can buy it in almost any store for a few tens of crowns if needed.
Language: The official language is Italian. In tourist areas and hotels, you can usually speak English too.
Safety: Lago di Como is located in Lombardy, which is generally considered a safe area. In the more touristy places (e.g. Bellagio), there may be the usual risk of pickpocketing, so keep a close eye on your belongings and hide them well.
The best booking resources for visiting Lago di Como
Via Booking.com we search for all accommodation. It is the largest accommodation portal in the world and you will find everything from modern hotels, cosy guesthouses to seaside villas.
Get Your Guide is a huge booking system for buying tickets, guided tours and all sorts of activities. In one place you can read other travellers’ experiences and book tickets to the Vatican Museums, a cruise on the Danube or a desert safari in Dubai.
If you are planning to rent a car in Lombardy, the best experience we have with Rentalcars.com which has the widest range at good prices. Insurance and free cancellation is a matter of course.
If you have a question about this guide on what to visit at Lago di Como, let us know in the comments below. Have a safe journey!
More information about Italy
LOMBARDIA: Lombardy has plenty of other beautiful places to see – see more in our list of things to do in Lombardy.
Milan is the capital of Lombardy, famous for its magnificent cathedral. For more tips and practical information on where to stay in Milan, read our guide to accommodation in Milan (budget accommodation, airport and sightseeing connections, map).
Or check out our 15 tips on what to see in Bergamo.
ITALY: Get inspired by the most beautiful places in Italy.
ROME: Rome is one of the most popular cities in Europe. Here’s a list of the best things to see in Rome. Build your 3-day Rome itinerary and see how to save in Rome. Find out all about the Vatican Museums or the Colosseum.
VENICE: In the article What to visit in Venice we bring you tips on the most beautiful places and other useful tips.
NAPLES: Naples has one of the oldest historic centres in the world and many other beautiful places to see.
Pisa is another wonderful city to see in Tuscany.
DOLOMITES: One of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world can be found in northern Italy. What to see in the Dolomites is in a separate article. In the Dolomites guide we share useful tips on how to plan your trip to the Dolomites.
Read even more tips on travelling in Italy.
Summary: Lago di Como
Lago di Como is a beautiful alpine lake with crystal clear water surrounded by the peaks of the Alps. It’s also warm and you can swim in the summer without any problems. The shores of Lago di Como are lined with colourful houses, old boats and flowers. It is a wonderful spectacle at any time of the year.
Lake Como is very accessible by car and air. If you’re flying, you’ll take a train from the airport to Milan or Bergamo. In half an hour you are at the finish line. For a detailed description of the routes and fees (whether by car or by air), see the article.
You will see the best in the central part of the lake – the towns of Varenna and Bellagio, which are connected by ferry. Wander the narrow winding streets and promenade, visit the charming squares and enjoy the view from the ferry. Lago di Como is also an ideal place for hiking on the surrounding peaks. For more tips on what to visit and where to go hiking, see the article.