Well, Lake Como is officially the prettiest lake I’ve ever seen. Sorry Tahoe, you’ll always have a special place in my heart, but Lake Como takes the cake! Here are all my tips for Lake Como, whether you’re spending a few days there or visiting in a day trip!
Know before you go:
There are many different towns all around Lake Como, and the town of Como that the lake is named after actually isn’t the prettiest one. Bellagio is known for being the most picturesque. And if you’re like me, you didn’t know that Bellagio is a real place and thought it was a fancy hotel with fountains in Vegas. 😂 But it is a real place, or more like a fairy tale dreamy place that you can hardly believe is real.
I was a bit surprised to find that some hotels on Lake Como can have rather surly staff. Perhaps they’re sick of tourists, but then I’m not sure why you’d choose to work at a hotel…Hotel Du Lac is beautiful and has lovely service, and is conveniently located in Bellagio, the prettiest little town in all of the Lake Como lands.
Top things to do in Lake Como:
- Take a boat ride around the lake. You can either hire a private boat with a driver, do a small group tour, or rent a boat that you drive around yourself for an incredible experience. The views from the water are just stunning, and you can gawk at all of the millionaires’ villas (and take epic Instagram photos of you on your boat in front of them).
- Explore some of the villas’ gardens. What’s a villa without an epic garden? Many of them are public and you can purchase a ticket to stroll through them. The gardens at Hotel Villa Cipressi (book tickets here) and Villa del Balbianello are absolutely breath taking.
- Go shopping in Bellagio. Explore some of the cute little shops where you’ll find a lot of silk products. I picked out a couple silk hair scarves for myself and larger scarves to bring home as gifts.
- Go on an incredible hike. There are tons of hiking trails around Lake Como, but the Sentiero del Viandante hike from Varenna to Bellano is a wonderful place to start. You’ll start with a steep incline, and then enjoy gorgeous views of the lake, olive groves, and pretty villages and churches. Varenna’s tourist office offers trail maps and more info.
- Enjoy an afternoon espresso or glass of wine by the water. Grab a table with amazing views at one of the many cafes along the water, and sip an espresso (but for the love of God, don’t order a cappuccino in Italy any time other than in the morning 😆) or a glass of wine while taking in the views. We picked a spot in Varenna by the water and didn’t want to leave!
Where to eat in Lake Como:
- Alle Darsene di Loppia. Known for being one of the best restaurants in Bellagio, you won’t want to miss this spot.
- La Goletta. We had a delicious lunch here and loved the views overlooking the pool and the lake.
How to take a day trip from Milan to Lake Como:
I could not believe how easy and cheap it is to do a day trip to Lake Como from Milan! You will want to take the train to Varenna, which takes just over one hour. You can easily book your tickets to Varenna on Rail Europe, and it only costs 8 Euro! Once you’ve reached Varenna, grab a train time table at the tiny station, so you know what your options are for heading back (the trains usually run every hour but sometimes they skip a random hour like 3:30pm). From the Varenna train, you just stroll down the hill a few minutes towards the water, and can hop on the ferry which will bring you across the lake to Bellagio. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and if you’re in Milan or anywhere else nearby, it’s absolutely worth a day trip. Next time, I definitely want to come and spend more time here!
Delicious lunch at La Goletta