Lake Como is a lake in northern Italy, at the feet of the Alps. It is the third greatest lake in Italy. What makes Lake Como a great destination for holidays are the amazing little villages and villas that surround the lake.
The Lake is beloved by locals and tourists alike. Most of its popularity comes from the jaw-dropping views it offers as you walk around the shores and its many small villages. Many come here to seek a tranquil holiday and slow down for a couple of days. Lake Como is a perfect spot for relaxing holidays. Book your flight tickets well in advance to get the best deals.
Best Places to stay in Lake Como
As the third-largest lake in Italy, Lake Como is huge! There are many towns and villages on the shores. While we think many of them are great picks for a Lake Como holidays, we will give you a few pointers on places to check out before you decide.
There are plenty of beautiful places to stay on Lake Como holidays. However, it doesn’t matter which charming little town you pick on the lake, you are ought to visit the others. Lake Como is full of life, and full of charm all around.
In case you have doubts what are the best picks, here are our top 10 towns you should visit: Bellagio, Tremezzina, Nesso, Cernobbio, Como, Lecco, Varenna, Colico, Argegno, Santa Maria Rezzonico. This list will surely keep you occupied. However, as we always do, we encourage you to explore. Go off the beaten path. If you find yourself marvelling at a town you are driving trough, just stop. Park the car and don’t be afraid to explore it on foot. You might find hidden treasures.
This small village sits on a top of a hill, right in the middle of the lake. Due to it’s central location, it is a great starting point to discover the lake. Even so, if you would like to discover by boat, as the port of the town serves most of the ferry routes along the lake.
The village of Bellagio is one of the more popular destinations for Lake Como holidays. It is an especially charming little village, with colourful architecture and cobblestone streets. The place is filled with small and inviting cafés and restaurants. However, due to the popularity, hotels and apartments in Bellagio are pricey and almost always full. If you plan to visit this gem on the Lake Como, you will need to book your hotel in time.
Varenna is probably one of the smallest among our destinations for Lake Como holidays. This tiny little village only has one main road going through, everything else is just charming side streets.
Here you will be able to get a sense of a traditional Italian town on the lake. Unlike many other locations, there are not many villas and luxury here. It is a quiet little town, that exchanges luxury for intimacy.
One of the biggest settlements around Lake Como is the city of Como itself. Although it is a popular tourist destination, partly due to great public transport accessibility, it is much more affordable than many of the smaller towns around the lake. Staying in Como can save you quite a little bit, that you can then spend on the amazing food in Italy.
Don’t be fooled by the cheaper accommodation, Como is as much of a breathtaking place as Bellagio. All around you, the mountains will provide constant eye candy. Como has an amazing old town area, along with a lot of beautiful churches.
Additionally, the city is a good starting point to explore Lake Como. Just like Bellagio, it gets frequent ferry service to towns around the lake. Even better you could hire a yacht and soak in the beautiful scenic lake coast and go at your own pace.
One of the most famous attractions around Lake Como is the Villas built around it. The lake has been a favourite among nobles, and as such, are full of old Villas you can visit today. It’s a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of the wealthy Italian families of the past.
We always like to recommend hiring a car on vacations like this one, where you need to cover a lot of ground. However, Lake Como is special. It seems like to us, that your best bet of getting around is by boat. You can either take the scheduled ferry service on the lake or rent out a lake taxi.
There are also boat tours available on the lake. We highly recommend taking one, as there is no way you can visit everything while there. Taking a tour on the water is a perfect opportunity to marvel at all the beautiful villas lining up on the shore. You will be able to view them from a new perspective.
Villa del Balbianello, Tremezzina
Villa del Balbianello is one of the most famous Villas around the lake. This property allows you to visit both the Villa Gardens and the Interiors.
We recommend starting with a stroll of the gardens. Here you can enjoy a well-maintained collection of flowers and breathtaking terraces. After heading inside you will be greeted with a big collection of sculptures and various paintings from all around the world.
As a beautiful location, it has been featured in movies as well. One of the most famous movies shot here is Star Wars II, The Attack of the Clones. Although the scenes that were shot here are the infamous Anakin & Padme romance scenes, we recommend to check this Villa out if you are a fan.
This small village is just on the opposite side of the lake from Bellagio. It is mostly known for the beautiful villas lining up on the lakeside. You will be able to see the remains of an old town area and an ancient tower just by the lake.
From the other side of the town, there is Mount Crocione. If you can book a room that is up the hills, you will get a view of Lake Como, that you will remember for the rest of your life. Also due to the vicinity of the mountain, this location has easy access for some hiking activities.
Overlooking the lake, the impressive building of Villa Carlotta, is known for its collection of artworks. One of the special things you can do here is to arrive by boat. The Villa is built right next to the lake and has its own pier.
Once again, you can visit both the Villa and botanical gardens of Villa Carlotta. Although it has a huge botanical garden, the main attraction is inside, as Villa Carlotta fashions one of the best art collection around Lake Como.
Lake Como has only one island. It is called Isola Comacina and you can reach it by ferry, or boat taxi from the neighbouring towns.
This small island is filled with lush vegetation. The island has played a central role in Medieval and Roman times. It has also played a major role in the development of medieval art in Italy.
Today you can visit this island as an archaeological site, where you will be able to immerse yourself in the rich history of the island.
Brunate is a mountain town overlooking the southern region of Lake Como. You can either get up here by taking the funicular or hike.
We recommend taking the funicular on the way to Brunate. It has opened its doors to public service in 1894 and has been the most popular way to reach the mountain town ever since. Once up, you will be able to seek out multiple vantage points to overlook the surrounding area. The breathtaking views will offer you great opportunities for pictures.
Up in Brunate, you can also reach the Volta Lighthouse on foot. It will take you around 30 minutes to get from the funicular station to the lighthouse. You will have to scale 143 steps inside the lighthouse to get to the top, but the views are worth it.
For return into the city of Como, we recommend hiking. If your time allows it is an easy hike downhill through the forest on the hill.
Forte di Fuentes and Forte Montecchio Nord
Just at the north end of the lake, there are to fortifications next to each other. Since they are within minutes of walking distance we recommend visiting at the same time. You can find them in Colico.
Forte di Fuentes
Forte di Fuentes is a ruin of a former military fort, on the hills of Montecchio. It was constructed during the Spanish governance of Milan in 1609. It didn’t see much action during its lifetime and was decommissioned as early as 1782. This short-lived fortress was mostly disassembled as the land was sold off. Today you can see the remaining ruins on site.
Forte Montecchio Nord
Forte Montecchio Nord is an Italian fort, built between 1911 and 1914. It has been constructed as a major defensive fortress in World War I. As it didn’t see any real action during the war, most of the fortification is preserved in its original state.
It is one of it’s kind not only in Italy but in the world. If you are interested in the early days of modern warfare this location is a must on your list of things to do on Lake Como holidays.