It was during our stay in Milan that we had the chance to visit Lake Como from Milan! Lake Como is one of the very famous Italian lakes, located in northern Italy.
The small town of Como is the gateway to visit this lake. On the program, picturesque little villages on the mountainside, breathtaking landscapes, colorful houses, winding roads or movie sets! There are things to discover at Lake Como. But the best is to opt for a boat cruise on Lake Como to not miss this spectacle.
In this article, I present to you precisely this lake, the things to do and to visit. We will also see the different ways to visit Lake Como, the possible cruises or excursions from the city of Milan, about 1 hour drive from Como. At the end of the article, you will find some practical advice to help you prepare for your stay.
How to visit Lake Como?
Before presenting this magical place to you in more detail, I suggest that you look together at the different possibilities for visiting Lake Como. I am thinking in particular of guided tours of certain places, cruises on the lake or excursions from cities like Milan for example. In this part you can find all the information you need to book the visit you want to do.
Choose a cruise on Lake Como
To get started on these things to do in Lake Como, here is probably one of the main activities: a cruise! Indeed, Lake Como can be visited from land, but also and above all, from the water. From the lake, you will discover breathtaking landscapes where colorful villages are perched between water and mountains. You will also have the privilege of being able to admire some absolutely magnificent villas which have breathtaking views of the lake.
During your cruise on the lake, it is also an opportunity to learn more about the places, villas and villages bordering this lake. Indeed, I offer you here a guided tour in French that can last 3 hours or 4 hours depending on the option you choose.
In this option, transportation to Lake Como is not included. We will therefore have to find a way, whether by train, bus or car. We will see in the practical part at the end of the article this transport aspect! If you want a visit including transport, the following proposal should interest you.
Take a trip to Lake Como from Milan
The second possibility to visit Lake Como is to opt for an excursion departing from Milan. This excursion can be very convenient if you have planned to visit Milan, but without renting a car. This option still allows you to get out of town for a day, but without having to rent a car locally.
Personally, this is the excursion we did and it was an excellent experience.
Morning departure from the center of Milan. Then, we had about 1 hour drive to reach the first stage of this excursion: the visit of the city of Como. Our guide really taught us many things about this city. We had time to walk around freely before taking the bus back.
Then, we took the direction of the departure of the cruise. On the way, we made a stop at Villa Olmo, a sumptuous mansion located on the shores of Lake Como. All along this journey, we followed the shores of the lake and the landscapes were just magnificent!
Then comes the famous and unmissable cruise on Lake Como. The landscapes are even more beautiful than from the road! It was during this cruise that we were able to admire, among other things, one of the most famous villas on the lake, since it has served as the setting for many films, including Star Wars.
We then arrived in Bellagio for the meal. A charming and truly atypical place. Then we took a boat to reach Varenna, a very picturesque little village that deserves a little tour of its cobbled streets.
The return to Milan by bus departs from Varenna, which allowed us to take another side of the lake for the return.
Opt for a guided tour
The last possibility that I offer you here is a guided tour of the city of Como. This option is less complete and diversified than the previous ones, but it can be interesting if you stay several days to visit Lake Como and especially if you stay in the city of Como. This visit can very well be combined with the cruise presented just before.
During this guided tour of Como, you will learn more about this city which occupied an important place in history, but also about its architecture, its medieval center,… For 2 hours, you will criss-cross the alleys of Como accompanied by your English-speaking guide. !
What to visit at Lake Como?
Let’s start with a must-see at Lake Como: the small town of Como. Located on the southwestern tip of the lake, it acts as a real gateway from the south. The town of Como has an important history, closely linked to its location on the lake. During your visit to this city, you can admire an ancient city, surrounded by its ramparts dating from the 12th century. Inside the city, some emblematic monuments are to be seen:
The Duomo: in the Lombard Renaissance style, take the time to go inside, but also to admire its doors, its portal and its dome, in Baroque style;
The Palazzo del Broletto: a stone’s throw from the Duomo, you can admire the splendid facade of this building dating from the 13th century;
The medieval alleys: the center of Como conceals small typical alleys, with crazy charm. So do not hesitate to get lost, you will surely come across a magnificent place!
The port: the port of Como is a very pleasant place along the lake to take a walk.
Certainly one of the most beautiful villages on Lake Como, Menaggio is renowned for its port, its colorful houses and its charming historic centre. This is the place to come if you are looking for a chic place for your vacation. You can enjoy both the cultural and historical aspect of the place, but also enjoy its pleasant beach, accessible to all.
Bellagio is surely the most essential village to visit at Lake Como. Indeed, the latter has a somewhat special geographical location: it is located where the 3 arms of the lake meet. From Bellagio, you will therefore have a breathtaking view of all sides of the lake, you will be right in the heart of the latter.
Visitors to Bellagio will particularly appreciate its cobbled streets, which lead up to the heart of the city, where sumptuous little shops and delicious restaurants have taken up residence. You will be surprised by the many terraces that occupy the premises in summer.
Otherwise, you can also stay near the lake and enjoy the view of it from a terrace as well.
Among the visits we were able to make around Lake Como, the village of Bellagio is one of our favorites! Colorful houses, alleys, cobblestones, breathtaking views of the lake, … make Bellagio a must-see place! The discovery will be all the more beautiful if you arrive by boat.
Located roughly opposite Bellagio and Menaggio, this pretty little medieval village is absolutely stunning! It is still a place with crazy charm with its colorful houses, its cobbled streets and its extremely cute little port. We had the opportunity to make a stop here, the time to take a walk and eat an ice cream while walking along the lake. A very romantic place that we recommend!
Located north of the lake, Gravedona is a peaceful place, which is very pleasant to visit. You will be able to find a quiet little town, with alleys sheltering some beautiful shops. Its view of the lake is magnificent. Do not miss its church, the Chiesa Santa Maria del Tiglio, located by the lake. It has an amazing bell tower.
Villa del Balbianello:
Now let’s talk about the most famous villa on Lake Como: the Villa del Balbianello. This name may not mean anything to you, but you have surely seen it in a film. Indeed, this villa served as sets for various famous films such as Star Wars or Casino Royale.
This sumptuous residence sits majestically on Lake Como and offers an exceptional panorama to its visitors. Between this palace which is magnificent, and the gardens which are absolutely splendid, the setting is quite charming and magical! To visit or admire during a cruise, you can only appreciate this villa.
Here is a second villa to visit along Lake Como, it is Villa Carlotta. The latter dates from the 18th century and houses very beautiful rooms where a few unique pieces are exhibited. Once you have visited the interior, take the time to discover its gardens, which are just as worth a detour. Maintained to perfection, they offer a breathtaking view of the lake.
Abbazia di Ponta:
Finally, I would like to introduce you to this abbey, the Abbazia di Santa Maria di Piona. Still inhabited by monks, they make liqueurs and herbal teas there. You can visit this quiet place conducive to rest. This abbey dates from the 12th century, a church and a cloister are also to be seen.
Practical tips for visiting Lake Como
When to visit Lake Como?
The most pleasant season to visit Lake Como will be between May and October. This is when you will have the most beautiful days with temperatures between 20 and 27 degrees. Of course, like the majority of tourist places, the months of July and August are the busiest. Lake Como is located in the north of Italy and close to the Alps, so it is best to always have a little sweater with you, especially if you plan to take a cruise on the lake.
How long to visit Lake Como?
It depends… between 1 day and 4 days I would say! You can very well plan a day trip from Milan, which will allow you to see the must-sees, without the hassle of renting a car and driving in Italy. Just as you can plan an extended weekend in roadtrip mode where you book several accommodations to be able to go around over 3-4 days. Over this period, you will have plenty of time to go around the lake, visit the various tourist sites and enjoy this exceptional place!
How to get to Lake Como?
You have several options for getting to Lake Como:
Rent a car and come by car;
Coming by train from a city like Milan for example;
Choose an excursion including the trip and therefore come by bus.
The choice of your means of transport will depend on the time you have on site and the type of visit you wish to make.
How to visit Lake Como?
You have two different options to visit Lake Como:
Visit Lake Como accompanied: in this option you can choose a guided tour of the lake (whether from Milan or from another city around the lake for example), whether by boat, bus or on foot, the possibilities are diverse;
Visit Lake Como alone: in this case, you will have to go to the lake on your own (bus, train, car) and visit the lake on your own.
Can we visit Lake Como from Milan?
Yes, it is quite possible to take a trip to Lake Como from Milan. The excursion we did lasted about 11 hours (travel time included). We had time to visit Como, Villa Olma, cruise on the lake, have lunch in Bellagio and visit this small town, then visit Varenna at the end of the day.
What to do at Lake Como?
The things to visit in Lake Como are quite numerous. Among the must-sees are the charming town of Como; but also Menaggio, one of the most beautiful villages on the lake; the small town of Bellagio, located in the heart of the lake; the Villa del Balbianello, which served as the setting for Star Wars; or the magnificent Villa Calotta and its lush gardens.
Can we go around Lake Como?
Yes, it is quite possible to go around Lake Como. You also have the option of taking one of the many shuttle boats connecting the different shores of the lake to different points. For information, if you want to go around the lake by car, it will take you about 170 kilometers.
What is the most beautiful part of Lake Como to visit?
It is difficult to answer this question objectively since all the banks are beautiful. But the most interesting part will probably be the trio Como, Bellagio and Menaggio. You will be on breathtaking landscapes and you will see the main must-sees of the lake. But that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the north of the lake as well!
What are the other Italian lakes?
The Italian Lakes region in Italy is among the most beautiful places in the country. Lake Como is one of those many lakes. The other lakes are Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Lake Lugano, Lake Iseo and Lake Garda.
Where to sleep to visit Lake Como?
We will dedicate an entire article to answering this vast question, but first, know that there are several places all around the lake that can be interesting to sleep, especially if you want to go around Lake Como. You can easily find accommodation near Como, Bellagio, Menaggio, Varenna, or even north of the lake near Gravedona.
You will find all types of accommodation: from the luxury hotel with a view of the lake, to the typical bed and breakfast, through apartments for rent, the choice is very varied. The prices are also very variable. You will find rooms for less than €100 per night, alongside palaces offering rooms at rates of around €400 or even €500 per night.
To see all the accommodation around Lake Como, I invite you to visit the Booking.com platform which allows you to find the establishment you want, at the price you want!