A trip around Lake Como is what it takes for those who love nature and the sumptuous buildings of the past. There are splendid villages that arise on its banks, all rich in an artistic, cultural, historical and landscape heritage worthy of our beautiful country . From the main cities such as Como and Lecco, to smaller and less known towns that hide some unique gems. All united by the Como charm characterized by flower gardens, woods, inlets, valleys, prestigious villas and medieval architecture .
The most beautiful locations and villages
1 – Como
It is the city that gives its name to the lake and therefore the most important center in which to stop . Reaching Como is very simple: by direct train from Milan (40 min) or with the numerous guided tours that always depart from the Lombard capital.
Absolutely to see in Como: the Duomo, considered one of the most beautiful monuments in northern Italy, with the nearby Palazzo Broletto, Villa Olmo, the Voltiano Temple and the entire lakefront.
Among the many things you can do in the Lombard city, we suggest you take the Como-Brunate funicular , which connects the lake to the top of the mountain in less than 7 minutes, thus giving you a beautiful panorama during the climb and once you arrive.
2 – Tremezzo
Tremezzo is known as ” the village of gardens “, it best represents the most authentic expression of the villages of Lake Como. Its name means ” middle ground ” and is due to its position, exactly halfway between the Swiss pass of the Canton of Graubünden and the Po Valley.
This country is ideal for finding some peace in the middle of the green . The palaces, churches and villas that enrich its architectural and artistic value are all to be admired, such as Villa Carlotta and its beautiful and well-kept Italian garden, Villa Carlia, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo and the Church of San Lorenzo.
Moreover, thanks to its position surrounded by nature, the town of Tremezzo isa paradise for trekking lovers : it is possible to venture along the Greenway , a 10 km route that crosses various municipalities.
3 – Menaggio
The municipality of Menaggio is located on the western shore of the lake , at the entrance to the valley that bears the name of the town. It is easily reachable by boat from Varenna or Bellagio.
Absolutely to see is the elegant lakefront that Menaggio offers, among flower beds, palm trees and a wrought iron railing with refined curlicues to enjoy the lake in a refined and peaceful setting. In the innermost area you can discover the churches and villas , such as Villa Mylius Vigoni , immersed in an English garden.
For lovers of walking, in this charming town it is possible to take the ancient Strada Regina up to La Crocetta, a panoramic point at 500 meters above sea level from which you can enjoy an enchanting view of Lake Como.
4 – Bellagio
Bellagio is known for its characteristic historic center and its enchanting position, so much so that it is called the pearl of Lake Como . It rises romantically on the tip of the promontory that divides the lake exactly into the two branches of Como and Lecco. If you are in Milan, Bellagio is often visited with a day trip that also includes a visit to Como .
Walking through its streets you will come across colorful houses, picturesque alleys, stairways and ancient churches . Among the stops not to be missed are Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni, they are the symbols of Bellagio and famous all over the world for their splendor and manicured gardens.
There are also numerous boat toursdeparting from Bellagio to go around the lake. Finally, you can also easily reach the village of Lezzeno , where the famous Devil’s Bridge is located.
5 – Lecco
It is the city that gives its name to the eastern branch of Lake Como, and here everything recalls the famous Alessandro Manzoni and his novel The Betrothed , which he wrote drawing inspiration from these places.
There are numerous important monuments in Lecco, including the Basilica of San Nicolò with the bell tower, symbol of the city and called ” Il Matitone “, the Palazzo delle Paure, Villa Manzoni, which was the paternal residence of the writer and today a Manzoni museum, the Church dei Santi Vitale and Valeria considered the parish of Don Abbondio.
The presumed house of Lucia Mondella is also very curious, is located in Via Caldone at number 19, while in via Resegone, from the courtyard of an ancient trattoria, you can clearly observe the hill of Don Rodrigo’s Palazzotto. Finally, the Azzone Visconti Bridge, built in the Renaissance era, served to connect Lecco to the Duchy of Milan, and still today represents the access to the city for those arriving from Milan or Como.
6 – Cernobbio
Cernobbio is located on the western shore and has a largely mountainous territory . It rises up to touch the 1,300 m asl with Monte Bisbino, which can be reached via a carriage road.
This town, like all the others that characterize the lake, is full of prestigious villas and enchanting views. Villa Erba is the most famous, built in 1898, it is an extensive complex consisting of a manor house, guest house, greenhouses, dock, stables, service homes, and surrounded by a large park. It was the residence of the director Luchino Visconti who loved to spend his summer holidays here. Another gem of Cernobbio is Villa d’Este, dating back to the sixteenth century and in 1873 it became a luxurious hotel with princely furnishings and a beautiful Italian garden overlooking the lake.
But not only that, the city also attracts trekking enthusiasts , from here in fact one of the most popular hiking trails in Italy starts, the Via dei Monti Lariani , which winds for over 100 km at a height between 600 and 1,200 meters.
7 – Comacina Island
Not a real town, but a strip of land entirely surrounded by Lake Como . It is located in the municipality of Tremezzina and can be reached by taxi boat in a few minutes from Ossuccio, a fraction of the municipality.
It is famous above all for the remains of the Church of Sant’Eufemia , dating back to the 11th century and considered one of the most representative monuments of the Romanesque of Como. The division with three naves and three apses, the beautiful crypt and the front wing portico are still visible. Also worth seeing are the three Houses for Artists , built in 1940 by the architect Pietro Lingeri, they were intended to host artists, painters, sculptors and writers in search of inspiration for short periods.
8 – Brunate
Brunate can be reached simply with the Como funicular , a real attraction initially conceived for the rich Milanese bourgeoisie, owner of the prestigious villas located in this village at almost 800 meters above sea level. Over the years, the target has progressively internationalized and today tourists from all over the world take advantage of this means.
” The balcony on the Alps“, this is how Brunate is called, known for its Art Nouveau villas, all to be admired by following a pedestrian path, which allows you to enjoy a spectacular view of the entire western Alps, the Po Valley and the Apennines. the small churches of the town and the narrow streets of the historic center are characteristic, enriched by stone portals and various courtyards.
9 – Laglio
The town of Laglio has only 905 inhabitants, and it is here that the famous actor George Clooney bought a villa . It extends on the western shore of the lake and is located exactly on the route of the ancient Roman road Via Regina that connected Como to Chiavenna.
Absolutely to see in Laglio: the Church of San Giorgio and Villa Oleandra built in the eighteenth century and now summer property of Clooney.
The whole town is perfect for walks thanks to the lakeside promenade and the surrounding hills planted with vineyards and olive groves that offer a breathtaking view. Furthermore, the Monte di Torriggia area is ideal for birdwatchers, here you can admire hawks and migratory waves of flocks headed for Switzerland and Northern Europe.
10 – Varenna
It is the village of lovers : if Lake Como already offers a certain charm, Varenna offers a very special one. It is 30 minutes from the city of Lecco, and can also be reached by boat via the lake from the opposite side, from Bellagio. In the past it was a small fishing village, with the dominion of the Visconti and Sforza families, it soon became one of the richest villages in Lombardy , with a rich artistic heritage.
If you visit it with your sweetheart, the Lovers’ Walk is perfect, a short arched metal walkway set in the rock and overhanging the lake. But still worth seeing are Villa Monastero, the Church of San Giorgio and the Church of San Giovanni Battista which overlook the central square considered the heart of the town.
What to see: hidden places and attractions
- Val Senagra Park : reachable from Menaggio. It is a mix of naturalistic beauty and important historical traces, here an old brick factory is now a museum, and an old needle factory is now a trout farm
- Village of Lezzeno : a few minutes from Bellagio, it is a mysterious place linked to a legend for some disturbing, it is said that the witches felt at home here. From the Ponte del Diavolo you can enjoy a paradisiacal landscape on Lake Como
- Ossuccio : fraction of the municipality of Tremezzina, the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list and stands on a cliff at 419 meters above sea level in front of the Comacina Island, here there are 14 chapels
- Sentiero del Viandante : hiking route consisting largely of footpaths and mule tracks. On the eastern side of the lake, it starts from Abbadia Lariana, passes through Varenna, Bellano, Dervio and ends in Colico. The journey is approximately 45 km long
- Spina Verde Regional Park : extends over the hilly area north-west of Como and mostly borders with Switzerland. Here the important historical traces of the Como area are present with the Baradello Castle and the Cadorna line
- Orrido di Bellano : is a waterfall located in a gorge in the municipality of Bellano, which can be visited thanks to a walkway anchored to the rocky walls. According to a local legend, a warrior is buried here together with his immense treasure
- Path of the Olives : takes its name from the Amalfi Coast, a stretch that extends for 8 km in the municipality of Oliveto Lario. Along the way there are expanses of olive trees from which a precious oil is obtained
- Troggia Waterfall : with its 100 meters it crosses the entire Val Biandino. It is already visible by car from the road that climbs from Lecco to Valsassina, it can be reached along a path that starts near the Ciresa factory.
- Ponte della Civera : is one of the main attractions of the town of Nesso. It is famous because it is the set of many films, it crosses the mouth of two local streams, and during the summer the bravest ones try their hand at acrobatics and dives
- Rezzonico : is one of those little known towns on the lake. Behind the snow-capped mountains until spring and the ever-present wind, but the unique feature of this place is the seret beach that opens at the end of a path
What to see in a weekend: recommended itinerary
To be able to visit each of the places as it deserves it would take at least a week , even if thanks to the tours by lake by boat it is possible to enjoy the best even with a day trip. Here we recommend an itinerary to follow for a weekend.
The first day you leave from Como , which can be reached by train from Milan. Visit the center with its picturesque streets, beautiful architecture and incredible views. Stop at the Duomo (7: 30-19: 30), and strolling along the lakeside stop at Villa Olmo, which can be visited during exhibitions and events (10: 00-18: 00), and at the Volta Temple (10: 00- 18:00, € 4.00). In the afternoon, reach Bellagio by boat (2 hours, € 10.40 each way).
On the second day, move to Lecco, from Como-Via Dante in just over an hour (ASF line C40). You will come across the places that inspired Manzoni for his most famous novel. Don’t miss Villa Manzoni, former home of the writer and now a museum (Thu, Sat and Sun 10: 00-13: 00, Fri 14: 30-18: 30, € 6.00). In the afternoon, enjoy the lakeside promenade, where there is no shortage of refreshment points, benches and shops.
On the last day, reach Varenna by train from Lecco (40 min, € 2.90). Here you can visit the Lovers’ Walk, Villa Monastero (9: 30-19: 30, € 10.00) and the town square overlooked by the Church of San Giorgio and that of San Giovanni Battista. In the afternoon you could rent a boat and take an unforgettable tour independently (starting from 1 h € 80.00, 4 h € 230.00).
How much does a weekend on Lake Como cost?
There is no telling whether Lake Como is a cheap or expensive location, it all depends on your needs and preferences . For example, the prices for eating out are around € 35.00 in the restaurants of the city centers, if instead you go to the restaurants on the lakeside they will be much higher. Also with regard to accommodation, to save money, choose small hotels within the village , overlooking the lake there are more wealthy hotels.
The costs for the attractions are to be considered, rather than for the museums which are cheap, for the boat excursions and guided tours. Transport is convenient, within the villages you can move on foot while to move from one country to anotherrely on Trenord (starting from € 2.90) or the ASF buses (starting from € 1.40).
The following figures are average or minimum costs for a weekend in these places following the recommended itinerary above .
- Costs for eating : about € 70.00 per day per person (including breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- Costs for museums and attractions : about € 100.00 per person following the itinerary we suggest (including boat ride on the last day)
- Transport : about € 25.00 per person in total for the weekend
- Hotels, accommodation and b & b : from € 60.00 per room
- Leisure : from € 20.00 per person per day
- Total cost of a weekend : from € 450.00 per person (flights and private transfers excluded)
Where is it
Lake Como, or Lario, is located in the territories belonging to the provinces of Como and Lecco , 50 km north of Milan. Between the Po Valley and the Alps, it is the deepest lake in Italy, the two capitals rise in the two southern ends of their respective branches that give the lake an inverted Y shape.
Before leaving: useful tips
- How to get: by train from Milan with Trenord (40 min, each way € 4.80)
- How to get around : you can move from one country to another with regional trains, with local ASF buses or, when available, with taxi boats