The beautiful Lake Como is situated near the Italian Alps, only 48 km (30 miles) north of Milan, and is one of Italy’s most scenic destinations. The best way to explore the lake is by ferry, in order to admire the luxury villas and their parks on the shores of the lake not visible from the street.
Where to stay in Lake Como
Visiting Lake Como is a must-do thing on your Italian itinerary. For each of the Lake Como towns we have listed the best high-quality hotels based on their location and customer reviews. The 10 Best Hotels in Lake Como.
How to reach Lake Como
By plane: The easiest way to arrive to Lake Como is to fly into Milan Malpensa International Airport situated only 48 km (30 miles) south of the lake. Once at the airport the shortest way for visitors to complete their trip is by renting a car or taking the train to Lake Como.
By car: If you are doing a round trip around Italy, renting a car can be a great alternative to relying on public transportation. The easiest way is to rent a car directly at the Milano Malpensa Airport upon arrival. Follow the directions toward Como - Chiasso, highway A36/A9, and you will reach Lake Como in less than an hour. Rent a car in Italy.
By train: From Milano Malpensa Airport you can take the Malpensa Express Train from terminal 1 or 2 to Saronno. In Saronno you have to change and take the train heading to Como Lago. The journey from the airport to Como Lago takes 1 hour and 20 minutes and a one-way ticket costs 11 euros.
From Milan Centrale station there are direct trains to Como Lago every 30 minutes. The journey takes 40 minutes and costs 5 euros one way. If your final destination is Bellagio, choose a train that stops at the Varenna Esino Station. From Varenna take the ferry to Bellagio in 15 minutes.
How to get around Lake Como
A great way to explore the lake is by boat. Jump aboard a boat, relax and reach your favorite destination: Bellagio, Varenna, Cernobbio, or maybe one of the historical villas on the shores of the lake. There are different types of boats: the battelli, slow boats, which are great for taking photos and the traghetti, car ferries, which also take pedestrian passengers. With an all-day battelli ticket for just 15 euros you can spend the day on different boat routes and hop on and off wherever you want to.
You can also charter a boat with driver for a private tour on lake Como to discover the secret spots that you would not be able to see from the land. Alternatively, you can rent a boat with a group of friends. There are various private boat rental companies and you can choose among different types of boats that you can drive even without nautical licence. The boats can be hired for as little as 1 hour or for as long as a whole day.
There are buses going out of Como all along the lake shores. On the western branch of the lake bus services are run by line C30 between Como and Bellagio and the C10 line that connects Como with Colico, passing through Tremezzina and Menaggio. On the eastern branch of the lake, on the Lecco side, bus services are less frequent. Trains are running all along the lake's easternmost shore.
What to see around Lake Como
• Visit Bellagio, the Pearl of Lake Como, and its famous villas overlooking the water. The best way to discover Bellagio is by taking a walk through the picturesque old town. The most famous street is Salita Serbelloni; climb all the way to the top and you will have a great view of the village and the lake. Walk along the beautiful lakeshore in the southwestern direction from the harbor. Do not miss the famous Gardens of Villa Melzi and the Park of Villa Serbelloni.
• Cernobbio is situated on the western shore of Lake Como, only 2 km north of Como. Visit the old town with its narrow streets and walk along the beautiful lakefront with bars and restaurants. Cernobbio houses some of the most famous Italian villas. The Villa Bernasconi, one of the most important examples of the liberty style in Italy, is undoubtedly worth a visit.
• Varenna is a picturesque and traditional village, located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. The ferry between Bellagio and Varenna takes only 15 minutes. You can even take your car with you on this ferry. Explore the old town of Varenna and the main square Piazza San Giorgio. The most famous attraction in Varenna is the Villa Monastero. The Villa is open to the public, otherwise you can just pay to enter the botanical garden.
• From Varenna take the ferry across the lake to Menaggio on the west side of Lake Como. Menaggio is a town with very ancient origins and a historical centre characterized by a beautiful central square and narrow streets. Walk along the lakeside promenade with its elegant and renowned hotels. Visit the medieval castle and the Villa Mylius Vigoni with its large English-style park.
• Tremezzo is located on the western shore of Lake Como just 5 km south of Menaggio. Visit the Villa Carlotta, a fabulous residence located in a panoramic position overlooking the lake, Bellagio and the Grigna mountain. Springtime is the best season to visit the villa: enjoy the perfume and colors of azaleas, rhododendrons, and hundreds of other plants from every corner of the world. South of Tremezzo, in the hamlet of Lenno, you can visit the beautiful Villa Balbianello.
• Hike the Lake Como Greenway trail that runs for appr. 10 km between Colonno, Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, Tremezzo and Griante. This is a perfect way to discover the historic villages and the incredible villas with their gardens and wonderful lake views. The greenway route is simple and breathtaking and takes about 3-4 hours. Alternatively, you can hike only a part of the trail. There are several contact points with buses and navigation boats.