Your Ultimate Lake Como Travel Guide 2023
Lake Como is one of the world’s most breathtaking destinations. Nestled in the Italian Alps, Lake Como is a stunningly beautiful lake that has been a popular destination for centuries. From its breathtaking views to its luxurious villas, Lake Como is the perfect destination for an unforgettable getaway. Whether you’re looking to explore the crystal clear waters and lush gardens of the lake, or just relax in the sun with a glass of wine, Lake Como has something for everyone. You may also want to check out our Turin travel guide!
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Lake Como
- Explore The Lake And Its Villages: Lake Como is the third-largest lake in Italy, offering scenic views and crystal-clear waters. You can rent a boat or hop on a ferry to explore the lake’s charming villages, such as Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio, which are known for their colorful houses, historic churches, and bustling markets.
- Visit Villa Carlotta: Located in Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta is a neoclassical mansion that houses an impressive collection of artwork, sculptures, and botanical gardens. It also offers breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Take A Hike: Lake Como’s mountains and hills offer numerous hiking trails that cater to different levels of fitness and experience. Some popular hiking spots include Monte Grona, Monte San Primo, and Sentiero del Viandante.
- Indulge In Local Cuisine: Lake Como’s cuisine is heavily influenced by neighboring regions such as Lombardy, Switzerland, and Austria. You can sample local specialties such as risotto alla pescatora, bresaola, polenta, and wine from the lake’s vineyards at traditional trattorias or Michelin-starred restaurants.
- Visit Como Cathedral: The cathedral is one of Lake Como’s most iconic landmarks and dates back to the 14th century. It boasts intricate Gothic architecture, beautiful stained glass windows, and stunning views of the city and the lake.
Best Lake Como Tours
Tours in Lake Como are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Lake Como (which we don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
Where To Stay In Lake Como
- Como: The city of Como is the largest and most accessible town on Lake Como, making it an excellent choice for first-time visitors. It has several hotels and apartments for different budgets and is close to some of the best attractions on the lake, such as the funicular railway and the historic cathedral.
- Bellagio: Known as the “pearl of Lake Como,” Bellagio is a charming town located in the middle of the lake. It offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the lake’s three branches. Bellagio is also home to some of the lake’s most luxurious hotels and restaurants.
- Varenna: Varenna is another charming town located on the eastern shore of the lake, opposite Bellagio. It has narrow streets, pastel-colored houses, and beautiful gardens. Varenna is also known for its castle and its excellent seafood restaurants.
- Menaggio: Menaggio is a popular destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts. It has a beautiful promenade, a lido with a swimming pool, and several hiking trails that lead to panoramic views of the lake. Menaggio is also home to some affordable accommodation options.
- Tremezzo: Tremezzo is located on the western shore of Lake Como, between Menaggio and Bellagio. It is known for its grand villas and lush gardens, such as Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello. Tremezzo is also home to some upscale hotels, such as the Grand Hotel Tremezzo and the Villa d’Este.
Top Lake Como Hotels
- Villa D’Este: Located in Cernobbio, this 16th-century villa turned hotel is an absolute must-see. With stunning lake views, a private beach, lush gardens, and elegant rooms, Villa D’Este is the epitome of luxury. Guests can also enjoy two pools, a spa, and several restaurants and bars on the property.
- Grand Hotel Tremezzo: This iconic hotel sits right on the shores of Lake Como and boasts unbeatable views of the water and mountains. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a mix of modern and classic touches, and the hotel’s amenities include three pools, a spa, a private beach, and several restaurants and bars.
- Il Sereno: If you’re looking for a more contemporary hotel option, Il Sereno in Torno is a great choice. Designed by famed architect Patricia Urquiola, this hotel is sleek, stylish, and minimalist, with plenty of natural materials and stunning lake views. Guests can also enjoy a spa, restaurant, and bar.
- CastaDiva Resort & Spa: Located in Blevio, this stunning resort is housed in a 19th-century villa and offers luxurious rooms and suites, several pools, a spa, and multiple restaurants and bars. The highlight, however, is the floating pool that sits right on the lake and offers incredible views of the surrounding area.
- Mandarin Oriental, Lake Como: Set in the charming town of Blevio, this recently opened hotel is already making waves with its impeccable service, gorgeous rooms, and stunning lakefront setting. Guests can take advantage of the hotel’s spa, fitness center, and several dining options, as well as explore the surrounding area by boat or on foot.
Where To Eat In Lake Como
If you’re planning a trip to Lake Como, you can’t leave without trying the local cuisine. From traditional Italian dishes to local delicacies, Lake Como has something for everyone. Here are the top five places to eat in Lake Como:
- La Contrada: Located in the heart of Como, La Contrada offers a unique dining experience with a focus on regional dishes made with local ingredients. From homemade pasta to fresh fish, the menu is designed to highlight the flavors of the area.
- Trattoria Del Glicine: This charming trattoria is situated in a historic building overlooking Lake Como. The menu features classic Italian dishes like risotto and osso buco, as well as local specialties such as pizzoccheri, a hearty buckwheat pasta.
- Il Gatto Nero: Nestled in the picturesque town of Cernobbio, Il Gatto Nero is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The restaurant has a beautiful garden terrace and a menu that highlights fresh fish and seasonal ingredients.
- Ristorante Silvio: Located in the town of Bellagio, Ristorante Silvio is known for its excellent seafood dishes and stunning lake views. The menu changes daily based on the freshest ingredients available, so you’re sure to find something new each time you visit.
- Al Veluu: For a truly special dining experience, head to Al Veluu, a Michelin-starred restaurant overlooking Lake Como. The menu features creative takes on Italian cuisine, such as rabbit with polenta and licorice sauce, as well as a fantastic selection of Italian wines.
No matter where you choose to dine in Lake Como, you’re sure to enjoy the incredible flavors of this beautiful region. Buon appetito!
How To Get Around Lake Como
Lake Como is a stunning destination that is worth exploring, and fortunately, getting around is fairly easy. Here are some of the methods of transportation that you can use to explore Lake Como:
- Ferry: One of the most popular ways to explore Lake Como is by ferry. Ferries operate throughout the year, and there are various routes and schedules available. They provide an excellent way to enjoy the lake’s stunning scenery from the water, and you can easily access different towns and villages along the way.
- Bus: Another way to get around Lake Como is by bus. Buses operate regularly, and they provide a convenient way to access the lake’s various attractions and destinations. However, be prepared for narrow and winding roads, so if you get motion sickness, this may not be the best option for you.
- Car: Renting a car is a great way to explore Lake Como at your own pace. However, driving in Lake Como can be challenging due to narrow roads, winding streets, and traffic. Be prepared to pay for parking if you choose this option.
- Bike: Cycling is a fantastic way to get around Lake Como if you are fit and adventurous. There are several cycling routes available, including off-road tracks, and the scenery is breathtaking. Just be aware that some routes are steep and challenging.
- Train: Lake Como is well connected by train, and it provides an affordable way to explore the region. There are several train stations around the lake, and you can easily access Milan, Como, and other nearby towns and cities.
Overall, getting around Lake Como is relatively easy, and the choice of transportation depends on your preferences and budget. Regardless of the option you choose, exploring Lake Como is a fantastic experience that you won’t forget.
Lake Como Weather
Lake Como is a popular destination all year round due to its stunning landscapes, but its weather can vary depending on the season. Here’s a breakdown of the weather you can expect during Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter in Lake Como.
- Spring: The Spring season in Lake Como usually starts in March and lasts until May. During this season, the temperatures start to rise, and the weather becomes mild. The average temperature during the day ranges from 16°C (60°F) to 20°C (68°F). Although there can be some occasional rain, it doesn’t last for long, and it’s often followed by clear skies.
- Summer: The Summer season in Lake Como runs from June to August and is the busiest time of the year. The weather during this season is sunny and hot, with the average temperature during the day ranging from 27°C (81°F) to 30°C (86°F). It’s important to note that July and August can also be quite humid, which can make it feel even hotter.
- Fall: The Fall season in Lake Como usually runs from September to November. During this season, the weather starts to cool down, and the leaves change colors, creating a beautiful atmosphere. The average temperature during the day ranges from 13°C (55°F) to 18°C (64°F), and it can rain more frequently than during the summer. However, it’s still a great season to visit, as the crowds start to thin out.
- Winter: The Winter season in Lake Como runs from December to February and is the quietest time of the year. The weather during this season is cold, with the average temperature during the day ranging from 7°C (45°F) to 11°C (52°F). Snowfall is quite common, especially in the mountains, creating a stunning winter wonderland. It’s worth noting that many of the attractions and restaurants close during this season, but it’s still a great time to visit if you want to experience a quieter Lake Como.
No matter what season you choose to visit, Lake Como’s stunning landscapes will always take your breath away. Remember to check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.
Best Time To Visit Lake Como
Like Monaco, Lake Como is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to experience. Summer is the most popular time to visit, as the weather is warm and sunny, and many festivals and events take place during this time. The summer months, from June to August, are the busiest and most crowded, and prices are generally higher.
If you prefer a quieter and more peaceful experience, visit Lake Como in spring or fall. The weather is mild, and there are fewer tourists around. In spring, from March to May, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery with blooming flowers and trees. In fall, from September to November, the landscape changes color, creating a beautiful and unique scenery.
Winter is the least popular time to visit Lake Como, but it has its own charm. The weather is cold, but you can enjoy the Christmas markets, skiing, and snowboarding. If you don’t mind the cold and the crowds, visiting Lake Como during the holiday season is a great option.
Overall, the best time to visit Lake Como depends on your personal preferences and interests. Whether you want to enjoy the sunny weather and festivals in summer or the peaceful atmosphere in spring or fall, Lake Como is a great destination for an unforgettable getaway.
How To Stay Safe In Lake Como
Like any destination, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety while traveling in Lake Como. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Be Mindful Of Pickpockets: As with any tourist destination, pickpockets can be a problem in crowded areas like markets, train stations, and public transportation. Keep your valuables close and secure.
- Stay Aware Of Your Surroundings: Whether you’re exploring the city streets or hiking in the mountains, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and be mindful of any potential dangers.
- Use Caution When Swimming: While Lake Como is a beautiful place to swim, it’s important to be aware of any hazards in the water, such as rocks or currents.
- Follow Local Customs: In Italy, it’s important to follow local customs and etiquette, such as dressing modestly in churches and other religious sites, and respecting quiet hours in residential areas.
- Be Cautious When Driving: If you plan to rent a car in Lake Como, be aware that Italian drivers can be aggressive, and roads in rural areas can be narrow and winding. Make sure to familiarize yourself with local driving laws and customs.
By taking these simple precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Lake Como. Remember to always stay aware, and don’t hesitate to ask locals or hotel staff for any safety advice specific to the area you’re visiting.
Lake Como Customs And Etiquette
Like any other destination, it’s important to understand and respect the customs and etiquette of the locals in Lake Como. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Dress Appropriately: Italy is known for its fashion, but it’s important to remember that Lake Como is a more relaxed and casual area. While you don’t have to dress up all the time, it’s still important to dress modestly when visiting churches and other religious sites.
- Respect Local Traditions: Lake Como is steeped in history and traditions, such as the celebration of the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Take the time to learn about these traditions and show respect for them.
- Learn Basic Italian: While many locals in Lake Como speak English, it’s still a good idea to learn some basic Italian phrases. This will show that you respect their culture and are making an effort to communicate with them.
- Mind Your Manners: Italians value good manners, so make sure to say “please” and “thank you” when interacting with locals. It’s also important to be punctual, as lateness is seen as a sign of disrespect.
- Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory in Italy, but it’s still a nice gesture to leave a small tip for good service. It’s also common to round up the bill to the nearest Euro.
By keeping these customs and etiquette in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy your time in Lake Como to the fullest and show respect for the local culture.
Other Things To Know About Lake Como
When traveling to a new destination, it’s important to know the basics of the country you’ll be visiting. Lake Como is located in the northern region of Italy, and the official currency used is the Euro (€). Italian is the main language spoken in the region, although many locals also speak English and other European languages. The time zone in Lake Como is Central European Time (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1).
It’s also important to note that Lake Como is a popular tourist destination, which means that during peak travel season, you can expect crowds and long lines at popular attractions. If you’re planning on visiting during the summer months, be prepared for higher prices and busier streets. While Lake Como is generally a safe destination for travelers, it’s always important to take basic precautions to ensure your safety. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables close to you, and avoid traveling alone at night.
One of the unique aspects of Lake Como is the customs and etiquette of the locals. Italians value politeness, and it’s considered polite to greet shopkeepers and restaurant staff when entering their establishment. Tipping is not expected, but it’s appreciated if you receive exceptional service. When dining in a restaurant, it’s common for Italians to take their time with their meals and enjoy the company of those they are with, so don’t be surprised if service seems slower than you’re used to.
Finally, it’s important to note that Lake Como has a rich cultural heritage and many historic landmarks and museums to explore. Take the time to learn about the region’s history and customs, and be respectful of the locals and their way of life. By doing so, you’ll not only have a more meaningful travel experience, but you’ll also gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for this beautiful destination.
Lake Como Travel Costs
As with any travel destination, the cost of a trip to Lake Como can vary depending on your budget and travel style. However, Lake Como can be quite expensive, especially during peak tourist season. Here are some things to consider when planning your budget for your Lake Como getaway.
- Accommodation: Lake Como has a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels and villas. Prices can vary greatly depending on location and amenities. A budget traveler could expect to pay around €25-40 per night for a hostel, while a more luxurious hotel could cost upwards of €200 per night.
- Food And Drink: Like most places in Italy, food is a big part of the Lake Como experience. Expect to spend around €10-20 per meal at a mid-range restaurant, with drinks adding to the cost. A coffee can cost around €2-3, while a glass of wine can cost upwards of €5. To save money, try grocery shopping and preparing some of your own meals.
- Transportation: Getting around Lake Como can be done by bus, train, ferry or car. A single bus or train ticket can cost around €2-4, while a ferry ride can cost around €5-10. If you plan on renting a car, expect to pay around €50-100 per day, not including fuel costs.
- Activities: There are many things to do in Lake Como, from hiking and boating to visiting historic villas and gardens. Entrance fees can vary, with some attractions offering discounted rates for students and seniors. It’s also worth considering guided tours or hiring a local guide to make the most of your experience.
Overall, a budget traveler could expect to spend around €50-70 per day, while a mid-range traveler could spend around €100-150 per day. For those looking for a luxury experience, costs can easily exceed €200 per day. Keep in mind that peak tourist season can drive up prices, so it’s worth considering traveling during the off-season if you’re on a tight budget.
Finding Affordable Flights To Lake Como
Lake Como is a dream destination for many travelers. However, one of the major concerns for those planning a trip to Lake Como is the cost of flights. While airfare to Lake Como can be expensive, there are ways to find affordable flights without compromising on the quality of your travel experience.
- Use Flight Comparison Sites: Start by using flight comparison sites like Kayak, Skyscanner, and Google Flights. These sites allow you to compare prices from multiple airlines and choose the cheapest option available.
- Book Early: Booking early can help you save money on your flight tickets. Try to book your tickets at least two to three months before your planned travel date. This way, you can take advantage of early bird discounts and get cheaper airfare.
- Be Flexible With Travel Dates: Being flexible with your travel dates can also help you save money on flights. Try to book your flights during the low season or mid-week when prices are generally lower. Also, consider flying at odd hours like early mornings or late nights when the demand is low and prices are more affordable.
- Look For Flight Deals And Discounts: Many airlines offer flight deals and discounts from time to time. Keep an eye out for these deals and grab them as soon as they become available. Signing up for airline newsletters and following them on social media can help you stay updated on these deals.
- Use Travel Rewards And Miles: If you have travel rewards or miles, you can use them to book flights to Lake Como. This way, you can save money and enjoy a more comfortable flight experience.
Finding affordable flights to Lake Como requires some research and planning. But by following these tips, you can save money on airfare and have a memorable travel experience.
Backpacking Lake Como Suggested Budgets
Lake Como is known for its luxurious lifestyle, but it is also possible to experience the beauty of the lake on a budget. Backpacking in Lake Como can be a great way to explore the area while keeping expenses low. Here are some suggested budgets for backpackers visiting Lake Como.
Low Budget: 40-50 euros per day
For those on a tight budget, there are plenty of hostels and budget accommodations available. Dorm beds can be found for as low as 20 euros per night, and many hostels offer free breakfast. Budget meals can be found in local pizzerias and cafes for around 10-15 euros per meal. Public transportation is cheap, with a day pass costing only 4 euros.
Mid-Range Budget: 80-100 euros per day
For those who want to enjoy a bit more luxury but still keep expenses under control, mid-range options are available. Comfortable hotel rooms can be found for around 80-100 euros per night. Mid-range restaurants and cafes offer quality meals for around 25 euros per meal. Private transportation, such as taxis or car rentals, can be expensive, but public transportation is still affordable.
Luxury Budget: 200 euros or more per day
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, Lake Como has plenty of options for those seeking a luxurious experience. Luxury hotels and resorts can be found for upwards of 200 euros per night, and high-end restaurants can cost 50 euros or more per meal. Private transportation is recommended for those seeking luxury, and hiring a car or boat is possible.
Regardless of your budget, there are plenty of ways to experience the beauty and culture of Lake Como without breaking the bank. Plan accordingly and enjoy the trip of a lifetime!
Lake Como Money Saving Tips
Traveling to Lake Como, Italy doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to save money while enjoying the beautiful scenery and rich culture of this stunning destination. Here are some tips for saving money on your Lake Como getaway:
- Travel During The Off-Season: Peak tourist season in Lake Como is from June to September, which means higher prices for everything from flights to accommodations. If you can, plan your trip during the off-season when prices are lower.
- Stay Outside The City Center: Lake Como has plenty of charming towns and villages surrounding the lake, and staying in one of these areas can be more affordable than staying in the bustling city center.
- Cook Your Own Meals: Eating out in Lake Como can be expensive, especially if you’re dining in the tourist hotspots. Consider renting an apartment or Airbnb with a kitchen, and cook your own meals using local ingredients from the markets.
- Use Public Transportation: Taxis and private car services can be costly in Lake Como. Instead, opt for public transportation like buses or trains to get around.
- Take Advantage Of Free Activities: There are plenty of free activities to enjoy in Lake Como, like hiking, swimming, and visiting public gardens and parks.
- Use Cash: Many restaurants and shops in Lake Como don’t accept credit cards, so make sure to carry cash with you to avoid unexpected fees.
- Visit Museums And Attractions During Free Hours: Many museums and attractions in Lake Como offer free admission during certain hours or days. Do your research beforehand and plan your visits accordingly.
By following these money-saving tips, you can enjoy all that Lake Como has to offer without breaking the bank. Happy travels!
What To Pack For Lake Como
Lake Como is a breathtaking destination, offering the perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. When planning a trip to this stunning location, it’s important to pack the right essentials to make your stay more enjoyable. Here’s a list of items that you should consider packing in your suitcase:
- Comfortable Shoes: You will need comfortable shoes for all the walking and exploring you’ll be doing. Make sure they are sturdy and can handle different terrains.
- Swimwear: Lake Como offers plenty of opportunities for swimming and water sports, so don’t forget your swimsuit!
- Sunscreen: Lake Como has plenty of sunshine, so make sure to pack some sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Lightweight Clothes: The weather in Lake Como can be warm, especially in the summer months, so pack lightweight clothes that will keep you cool and comfortable.
- Insect Repellent: The area around Lake Como has its fair share of mosquitoes, so make sure to pack insect repellent to avoid any pesky bites.
- Camera: Lake Como is a photographer’s paradise, so make sure to pack a camera to capture all the stunning scenery.
- Adaptor: Italy uses Type L plugs, so make sure to bring a travel adaptor to charge your electronic devices.
- Umbrella/Rain Jacket: The weather in Lake Como can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to pack an umbrella or rain jacket just in case.
- Hat And Sunglasses: Don’t forget to pack a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from the sun.
- Scarf Or Shawl: Lake Como can get cooler in the evenings, so consider packing a scarf or shawl to keep warm.
By packing these essentials, you’ll be ready to enjoy all the beauty and charm that Lake Como has to offer. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you go to ensure you pack appropriately for your trip!
Can You Drink Tap Water In Lake Como?
One of the most common questions among tourists visiting Lake Como is whether or not the tap water is safe to drink. The answer is a resounding yes! Tap water in Lake Como is considered safe for consumption, as it undergoes regular testing to ensure it meets the necessary health and safety standards.
This means you can fill up your reusable water bottle from any tap in Lake Como without worrying about getting sick. Drinking tap water in Lake Como is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and avoid the cost of buying bottled water. However, if you prefer bottled water, there are plenty of options available at supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants throughout the region. It’s worth noting that bottled water in Lake Como can be quite expensive, so if you’re on a budget, stick to tap water whenever possible. Overall, there’s no need to worry about staying hydrated while exploring Lake Como. You can rest assured that the tap water is safe and drinkable, so fill up your water bottle and enjoy the beautiful scenery without any worries!
Other Things To See And Do In Lake Como
Besides the top attractions mentioned earlier, Lake Como has plenty of other interesting and unique things to offer visitors. Here are some additional things to see and do in Lake Como:
- Villa Balbianello: This beautiful villa is located on a steep hillside overlooking Lake Como and offers stunning views of the lake. It has been featured in several movies including Star Wars and Casino Royale.
- Varenna: A charming and picturesque town located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It is known for its colorful houses, narrow alleys, and beautiful waterfront promenade.
- Bellagio: Known as the “pearl of Lake Como”, Bellagio is a picturesque town with stunning views of the lake. It is also famous for its gardens, villas, and artisan shops.
- Ferry Rides: One of the best ways to explore Lake Como is by taking a ferry ride. It is a great way to see the lake from different angles and to visit different towns and attractions.
- Watersports: Lake Como is a popular destination for watersports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding. There are several places along the lake where you can rent equipment and take lessons.
- Hiking: Lake Como has plenty of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Some popular trails include the Greenway del Lago di Como, the Sentiero del Viandante, and the Mount Grona Trail.
- Museums: Lake Como has several museums that are worth visiting, including the Museum of Silk in Como, the Civic Art Gallery of Como, and the Museum of Navigation Instruments in Bellagio.
- Nightlife: Lake Como may not be known for its nightlife, but there are still plenty of bars and clubs where you can enjoy a night out. Some popular spots include Bar Bellini in Como, Gatto Nero in Cernobbio, and Bar Italia in Menaggio.
No matter what your interests are, Lake Como has something for everyone. Make sure to include some of these additional things to see and do in your itinerary for an unforgettable trip to Lake Como.
The Bottom Line
Lake Como, Italy is the perfect destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse themselves in stunning natural scenery, rich history and culture. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff or just seeking some relaxation time, Lake Como has something to offer everyone.
Make sure to take advantage of all the top things to see and do, including exploring the beautiful gardens and villas, taking a boat tour, and trying the delicious local cuisine. There are also many affordable accommodations to choose from, ranging from cozy B&Bs to luxurious hotels. Keep in mind the local customs and etiquette, and be sure to pack accordingly for the weather and activities you plan to do. Overall, a trip to Lake Como will be unforgettable, and one you’ll cherish for a lifetime. So start planning your dream getaway to Lake Como today, and get ready for an experience of a lifetime!