Embark on an unforgettable getaway to Lake Como with my full weekend travel guide! Picture-perfect mountain views and the crystal-clear lake paint a view unlike any other, and the cobblestone roads and vibrant towns dotting the lake coast are pure magic. Below you will find a guide to the perfect travel guide to a weekend in Lake Como, with the best things to do and where to stay in Lake Como, Italy.
The best way to reach Lake Como is by flying into the city of Milan. Here, you will want to spend a day or two enjoying the bustling city before heading north to the quaint Lake Como. Lake Como is located just south of Switzerland, and right next to Lake Lugano, another wonderful place to pay a visit! When arriving in Milan, you can opt for a 1 hour drive, or you can take a train ride ranging between 37 minutes to 1 hour to the town of Como, located at the southernmost point of the lake. Como is certainly the largest and busiest of the lake towns, and the further north you go you’ll find smaller villages with plenty of character. If you are driving to Lake Como, keep in mind that the roads are narrow and have many hairpin turns, and they’re also a hot spot for road bikers. That being said, the smaller car you can rent the better!
How long should I spend in Lake Como?
I suggest planning for at least 3 days in Lake Como, though, you could easily spend an entire summer enjoying the lake! There are several towns to choose from, and while many people just take day trips to the towns, others choose to spend a night in each. I recommend planning enough time to dedicate one day to tour the villas, one day for a classic boat tour and lounging in the sun, and enough time to wander through the most famous towns of Bellagio, Varenea, and Menaggio. Like I said, Lake Como is a destination designed simply to enjoy the moment and not worry about a busy schedule. You’ll want to dedicate enough time to exploring and getting lost in the winding streets.
Where should I stay?
The most popular towns to stay in include Bellagio, Varena, and Mennagio, famous for their charming cobblestone roads and winding alleyways, stunning villas, and botanical gardens. The town of Como is a large town located at the most southern point of the lake, and many people choose to stay there and take a ferry ride to the main towns as the accommodations are typically cheaper there. Como has a lot of incredible restaurants, cafes, and shops, and should definitely be on your itinerary to explore, however, keep in mind it is about a 45 minute drive from the main towns.
Bellagio, Varena, and Mennagio are not cheap, however, one very affordable hotel option is Seta Hotel in Bellagio. This hotel is a small modern boutique hotel with a perfect location in the center of the town. Each room has a balcony overlooking the courtyard, as well as hotel parking available which is very convenient considering the limited street parking in town. The service is wonderful and there is a delicious complimentary breakfast! For reference, I paid less than 150 euro per night during my stay in July, which was by far the most affordable option with the best quality! If you have a more expansive budget, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a beautiful, luxurious option, most famous for its pool located right on the lake.
What is there to do?
While there are numerous activities and tours in Lake Como, a big part of the destination is enjoying the peaceful atmosphere at a slow pace. You can spend hours walking along the lake, lounging in the sun, or sitting at a cafe with a gelato or Aperol Spritz.
Lake Como is home to several famous villas with beautiful architecture and glamorous gardens. One of the most famous is the Villa del Balbianello, featured in the movies Star Wars and Casino Royale. This villa is located in the town of Lenno. There are ferries that run every 20 minutes throughout the day, and a dock located right in Lenno. From here, it’s about a 20 minute walk to reach the villa. Other beautiful villas to add to your list include Villa Monastero and Villa Carlotta.
Lake Como is also known for the numerous luxurious classic wooden style boats, which can be rented for anywhere from an hour to the entire day. The price for these tours typically start around 300 euros. You can decide for yourself if it’s worth the splurge! Another option is renting a speed boat through a company like Bellagio Rent a Boat, which you get to drive yourself. This option is a bit cheaper, starting at 100 euros for 1 hour. While on the boat, be sure to pass by the villas the admire them from the waterfront. Another great destination to sail to is the Civera Bridge in the quiet town of Nesso. Here you can park your boat and as many others do, jump off the bridge into the lake, or you can see the waterfall behind the bridge and take in the beautiful scenery.
Despite the enticing crystal clear blue waters, most people don’t swim in Lake Como for the sole reason of the water being pretty cold even in the summertime. The average water temperature is 60 degrees fahrenheit, but can reach up to 77 degrees on very hot days. That being said, there are several beaches and beach clubs where you can lounge outside and decide yourself if you are able to brave the water temperature! Lido di Lenno is a beach club packed with beach beds and a restaurant, perfect for spending a sunny day.
Aside from the glamorous villas and boat tours, Lake Como is a destination known for its charming towns sprinkled throughout the lake coast. You can spend hours wandering around the shops and cafes and enjoying the incredible pasta, pizza, and gelato. There are tons of corners and alleys for endless instagrammable photo op. If you’re looking for the perfect picture, the towns are not crowded in the morning before 9am or the evening before sunset. If you are looking for a bit of adventure, head outside of the villages and you’ll find plenty of hiking trails in the mountains with spectacular views of the lake.