Surrounded by vast mountains, the crystal clear lake is framed by cypresses and colorful Italian towns. Dolce Vita is calling for you. Fancy a Spritz by the lake or rather exciting activities in the water or the mountains? And why not both? Lake Como has it all! You’ll fall in love with it for sure.

Tucked at the foot of the Alps, many people have fallen for Lake Como’s beauty – some of them rich and famous. Besides, the scenic towns along its coast are mentioned in some of Italy’s most famous novels – such as Manzoni’s “Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed).

Having family in Lecco, in this Lake Como travel guide I want to give you a broad overview of how to enjoy Lago di Como from a local’s perspective.
Head off the beaten path in Lake Como, and you’ll find a lake for all budgets and kinds of holidays.
You’ll be surprised by scenic hikes that only the locals know, family-run osterias, and hidden beaches.

The lake invites you to spend an activity holiday or to simply hang out by the lake enjoying La Dolce Vita.
If you’re looking for popular or unusual things to do in Lake Como from a local’s perspective, you’re in the right place. Join me on a journey to the native side of Lake Como and get enchanted.

Things to do in Lake Como | Lecco | Reisetipps Comer See | jillonjourney

Lakeside Promenade | Lecco, Lake Como

Lake Como travel guide | Things to do in Lake Como

Want to spend a holiday where Milanesi go for a weekend escape?

Lake Como is a major weekend getaway for Milanesi, escaping the city in search of a fresh breeze and relief in nature.
So here you can spend your holidays like a real Italian. While there are so many things to do in Lake Como, the Italian nativeness shapes the true charm of holidays here.

Despite pompous villas, Micheline-starred restaurants, and private boats, Lake Como is not just a playground for the wealthy and famous. There is another, very down-to-earth side of Lake Como – found mainly on the eastern side.
While the area around the lake has gained its wealth through the silk industry and numerous wealthy businessmen have settled along the lake, building precious villas, many villages and towns have kept their serenity.

Called “Lario” by locals (due to its old Latin name), Lake Como is not only the third largest and the deepest Italian lake. Above all, it’s still the most Italian among the country’s northern lakes.
Despite being loved by tourists, it has kept its Italian flair and nativeness. The blend between the landscape of the Alps, colorful lively towns, and the food and hospitality that are so iconic to Italy is truly unique.

Things to do in Lake Como | Sentiero del Viandante

A village at the east coast of Lake Como


Things to do in Lake Como | Small villages and precious towns

Special about Lake Como is its unique shape. With its three branches, it looks like an upside-down Ypsilon. Up north there is the rural area of Colico, south-west you find Como and the crème de la crème, and south-east is the branch of Lecco, also called Lago di Lecco among locals.

Alessandro Manzoni romanticizes the eastern branch and Lecco at the beginning of his novel “The Betrothed”: An area of uninterrupted mountain chains and many bays as you head south towards Lecco encircled by the mountains San Martino and Resegone.
Unlike the western side, the east is less covered with towns. There is less traffic and fewer tourists to be found at Lago di Lecco. Here you can get off the beaten path in Lake Como. Hence, not only this Lake Como travel guide but also locals will recommend you to go east to have a more authentic experience.

The best way to explore the lake is either by boat or by car. There is a great boat and ferry connection between many of the lake’s towns:
Things to do in Lake Como - map of boats and ferries

Map of the boat and ferry routes | Source: Como and its Lake

Among the most visited are Bellagio, Tremezzo and Varenna. I’d recommend not staying in these touristy places. Choose a town in the south-east and explore all the things to do in Lake Como during day trips. On the stunning ride along those windy roads by the lake, you’re surrounded by cypresses, and every now and then catch a glimpse of some boats and pastel-colored villages peppering the coastline.

Lecco – for an authentic experience

Oh, Lecco. This place for me embodies true Italian hospitality. How often do I find myself sitting in our apartment in Germany longing for a walk along Lecco’s lakeside promenade, sunkissed and ice cream in hand. And when I’m here, I still can’t get enough of it.

With its pretty historic center, numerous hiking paths around the area, the yummy food, and its welcoming locals, it’s always a pleasure to be here.
The heart of Lecco is Piazza XX Settembre, where you can sip a coffee and watch the hustle and bustle, while the atmosphere is still laid-back. From here you can also enjoy the scenic view of Basilica San Nicolò with its church tower in front of the mountain San Martino.
Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Lecco

Lake Como | Lecco

Eat at the locals’ favorite spots

The beauty of Italian cuisine is that you don’t need to dine at Michelin star restaurants to enjoy good food.
Some of the best locations to enjoy Italian food are family-run restaurants. This Lake Como travel guide wouldn’t be complete without my top picks for restaurants in Lake Como. So here are my favorite restaurants around Lecco:
  • Soqquadro – For extraordinary Pizza variations on Piazza Era, a pretty Plaza right next to the river Adda. My favorite is their own Pizza Soqquadro while enjoying the view of the river. In my opinion, the best Pizza in Lecco.
    (Update 2023: They’ve just opened a second Soqquadro restaurant in Malgrate, but with much higher prices for the lake view location).
  • Corte Fiorina – A small selection of lovely pasta, fish, and meat dishes. Try the homemade lake fish Ravioli or the Risotto with asparagus and local taleggio cheese.
  • Crotto del Capraio (Civate) – As authentic as you can get. A charming, family-owned cottage located on a perfect spot on the foot of a beautiful hiking path in Civate, serving traditional local dishes. Treat yourself to a hearty meal after a beautiful hike.
  • Herba Monstrum – For Burgers and Beer (with amazing Vegan Burger variations) in a hip backyard.
  • Filet Bistrot –For Lunch, Aperitivo or simply a glass of wine any time of the day in a tiny alley
  • La Capri – The second-oldest Pizzeria in Lecco with a nice location close to the lake. Always a good choice.
  • Baba Du Lac (Abbadia Lariana) – A somewhat hidden, but beautiful sea view terrace in Abbadia Lariana.

Best take away Pizza in Lecco:

  • Pizzeria Napule – Yummy, Neapolitan-style pizza with thin dough but a fluffy crust. Loved by locals for their untouristy prices.
  • Al Borgo Antico City – Tucked in a backyard that you may miss if you don’t know it, this is a real hidden gem in Lake Como. The smell of the fresh pizza makes your mouth water already when walking into the courtyard.

The best ice cream in Lecco

We’re in Italy! A gelato a day keeps the doctor away. Following this famous proverb, I can’t withhold from you my favorite gelaterias in Lecco:
  • Gelateria Toldo – Creamy homemade ice cream variations with lots of vegan options. Your waffle is held under the chocolate fountain before you can start feasting. My favorite is Gianduia Lampone (nougat raspberry).
  • Capo Horn – Real Sicilian ice cream and refreshing Granitas (ice cream slush). Try the chocolate granita, the original almond granita, or a fruity one right next to the lake.
Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Ice cream

Where to stay in Lecco?

We’ve been so many times in Lecco, so I’ve stayed in all parts of town and many surrounding areas. Here are my favorites. Check them out:
  • Agriturismo Deviscio – A beautiful Agriturismo outside Lecco where you can enjoy nature & your surroundings
  • La Nostra Casa in Centro – A simple but clean room close to Lecco’s center, so you can walk to all the yummy Pizza and Gelato places

And if you want to treat yourself, have a look at those two gems:

  • Rocopom Luxury Suites – for a more special experience in the beautiful village Malgrate right next to the lake
  • Casa sul Albero – a minimalist wooden house in the middle of nature overlooking the lake

Centro Lago | on top of the major things to do in Lake Como

Heading up north, where the branches of Lago di Como and Lago di Lecco meet, you’ll find the area called “Centro Lago”. It’s the most visited part of the lake with beautiful towns such as Varenna and Bellagio as well as some ritzy old villas. No Lake Como travel guide is complete without covering this area.

By car, you get to Varenna in 25 minutes from Lecco. That means wonderful 25 minutes along the gorgeous windy roads along the lake, passing through terracotta-colored villages.
Most towns on the lake are built along the hill, so you should be ready to walk up some stairs. Yet, they are all fairly small and can easily be explored on foot.

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Varenna

Lake Como | Varenna

Varenna – a picturesque fairytale

Are you looking for a picture-perfect Italian town?
With a lakeside promenade full of small lake-view restaurants, brightly colored houses, as well as numerous tiny alleys inviting you to get lost, Varenna has got it all.
And this is exactly what I’d recommend doing in Varenna: climb up some of Varenna’s many stairs and get lost in its winding alleys. Best done with an ice cream in hand.
Even if you don’t know where the cobbled alleys and steep stairs will lead you, enjoy exploring this little gem and the view over the rooftops.

Since many Lake Como travel guides call Varenna Lake Como’s most beautiful town, it can get really crowded, especially on weekends. Visiting Varenna is simply one of the most popular things to do in Lake Como, so come early to be able to enjoy it.
Also worth seeing in Varenna is the Villa Monastero and its gardens.

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Varenna

Lake Como | Lakeside Restaurants Varenna

Walk the Passeggiata Degli Innamorati

Make sure to walk along the Passegiata Degli Inammorati (“Walk of Lovers”) from the ferry station to Varenna’s historic center. The path has beautiful lakeside views.

Hike up to Castello di Vezio

From Varenna, you should also take the chance to hike up to Castello di Vezio. Following the signs and hike up the 30 minutes along the trail.
Up there you’re rewarded with awesome panoramic views of the blue lake, the mountains, and the scenic lakeside villages.

Recommended places to stay in Varenna

  • Agriturismo Castello di Vezio – For a stunning view across the roofs of Varenna and, of course, the Lake
  • Casa San Georgio – In a dreamy location in Varenna with a spectacular view from the terrace
  • Hotel Du Lac – If you want to experience the hustle and bustle of Varenna’s center, this is the place to go

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Varenna

View on Varenna from the lake

Bellagio – Between romantic charm and selfie sticks

First things first: Don’t visit Bellagio on a weekend or during high season. It’s on top of the list of things to do in Lake Como for many tourists.
Thus, you’ll be overwhelmed by crowds of impatient tourists hopping on and off the boats and flooding the road with their cars and the alleys with their selfie sticks. Everyone reads about Bellagio in their Lake Como travel guides, no matter what age or what kind of tourist.

I’m lucky to have seen Bellagio during the low season, and it can’t be denied that it’s worth seeing. Stroll along its lakeside promenade lined with oleanders and lime trees or up its winding alleyways.
After you’ve passed a few overpriced lakefront restaurants and classy boutiques, there are some stairs that take you up the picturesque hill.
The most scenic photo spot is on top of the staircase Salita Antonio Mella – found on everyone’s Instagram.
I’d recommend walking up a bit, escaping the crowd. Then you may find yourself in a more relaxed part of Bellagio, such as the sleepy Pescallo.

Of course, Bellagio also has some pompous villas that can be visited. If you fancy doing so, Villa Melzi and its park is said to be a lush dream.

Hotels around Bellagio

If you can’t resist staying close to Bellagio, take a look at these beautiful accommodations:

  • Acqua & Co Bellagio – An eco-conscious stay with modern rooms and beautiful surroundings outside Bellagio
  • Domus – A bit further outside of Bellagio, but a view that’s hard to resist
  • Residence Limonera – For an authentic experience even though it’s so close to Bellagio’s center

Alleys in Bellagio

Como – a stroll through the town

Even though Como and Lecco have been rivals ever since and some may ask whether Como or Lecco is more beautiful, I really like both. In a Lake Como travel guide, both towns can’t be missing.
For centuries Como has been Italy’s capital of silk production, giving the lake its name. Located on the southwestern tip of Lake Como, the town offers some medieval flair with its wall and towers and a nice dome (Duomo di Como).
The town has the right size if you fancy some shopping. There are many shops and boutiques and an awesome market on Saturdays where you can buy all kinds of cheese and some Italian bread that you can feast in one of Como’s cute corners.
Como is also planning to finish their new lakeside promenade soon. Let’s see if they manage to do so in 2023.

From Como, take the funicular up to Brunate

When you walk along the harbor, you can easily reach the station of Como’s “Funicolare” (cable car). It has connected Como with the village Brunate up the hill since 1894.
If you go there early, you’re rewarded with a shorter queue. Yet, on weekends and sunny days, you have to be prepared for long waiting times. On these days, I’d recommend walking up the charming shaded path up to Brunate (here is the starting point for the stairs, and it takes around 1h to get to Brunate on foot). Or you take the Funicolare to go up but walk back down.

After a nice ride up the mountain, you have a panoramic view across Como and the lake. But don’t miss the 30-minute hike up to the lighthouse Faro Voltiano from which you get the truly spectacular view of the Lake and its surrounding mountains.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a drink in the cute cafe Il Balcone sul Lago with its incredible view of the lake.

Brunate may also be one of the most beautiful spots to watch the sunset at Lake Como. The view across the mountains and the lake, dipped into the orange light of the setting sun, is truly unique.
And don’t worry, the cable car runs until 10 p.m. so even after sunset you can easily get back down to Como.

Where to stay in Como?

  • Agriturismo Cascina Mirandola – A beautiful farm stay in an Northern Italian house for the most authentic time
  • Il Vicolo – Beautifully furnished studios right in the heart of Como, if you want to treat yourself

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See

Lake Como travel guide | Getting around Lake Como

Rent a scooter

My pro-tip to experience Lake Como like a local: Rent a motorbike or scooter (of course a Vespa, if you want the proper Italian style). Everyone’s always talking about boat trips, so renting a scooter is among the more unusual things to do in Lake Como. But it gives you the ultimate feeling of freedom!
This way, you can ride along the towns and lakeside, stop everywhere you catch a picturesque view, and you don’t have to search for a parking lot in those narrow alleys of the Italian villages.

Cruise around Centro Lago on the Batelli – Lake Como’s boats

Among the most spectacular things to do in Lake Como, you can’t miss seeing the lake from a boat. From the boat, you can marvel at the colorful towns and ritzy villas and their gardens.

The cheaper version of a boat tour is to do it like the locals: Take one of the ferries (Traghetti) or the scheduled boats (Batelli). The most popular route is between the beautiful towns in Centro Lago: Between Varenna, Bellagio, Tremezzo, and Menaggio.
They are just a 10-15 minute boat ride apart from each other. With an all-day ticket for just 15 Euros, you can spend all day on different boat routes and hop on and off wherever you want to. Click here to see the timetable.

If you’re looking for a more special experience, there’s also the option for a private boat tour. Either join a sailing boat tour where you can jump into the lake for swimming. We did this on my birthday once and it was so much fun!

Things to do in Lake Como | Lecco | Reisetipps Comer See | jillonjourney

Boat trips in Lake Como

Take a boat to visit one of the pompous villas

Already in Roman times, Lake Como used to be a much-frequented trade route. Hence, wealthy businessmen built pompous villas with lush gardens along the lake.
The density of villas grew even more during the era of the silk trade. Some of Lake Como’s largest villas can be visited:
  • Villa Monastero in Varenna is said to be the most significant villa on Lake Como’s east coast.
  • Right next to the touristy town of Tremezzo you can find Villa Carlotta – with its blooming azaleas and rhododendrons a paradise for amateur gardeners.
  • Villa Balbianello is located in Lenno and familiar to many James Bond fans, as some scenes of Casino Royal were filmed here.

By boat to Villa Carlotta

Things to do in Lake Como | Activities

Lake Como has so much more to offer than pretty towns, villas, and boat rides. Among my favorite things to do in Lake Como is definitely heading into nature. Especially when working in front of the laptop all day, you should go out and experience the beauty of this area with all your senses.
There are plenty of activities and sports waiting for you at Lake Como. The jaw-dropping scenery is calling to be experienced.

By bike around the lake

Fancy circling the whole 160 km coast of the lake by bicycle? It is indeed possible for those hardcore bike freaks among you.
If you love road biking, you will love Lake Como. Some road bikers tend to say that you’re treated like a king in northern Italy when you’re on a bike. Plenty of groups meet up for exciting group rides on weekends and cars treat you with respect.

But hey, with its majestic mountains, Lake Como is a paradise for road bikers as well as mountain bikers. You could spend every day of your Lake Como holiday riding up another steep route with scenic lake views.
And of course, it doesn’t have to be exhausting all the time. You can just as well rent a bike and calmly ride along the lake and take some breaks for ice-cream every now and then.
Another option for a more unusual thing to do in Lake Como is a guided E-bike tour from Lake Como to Lake Lugano with spectacular views of three lakes.

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Biking

By bike around the lake

Water sports for water rats (and those who like to watch)

On warm days the lake calls for many different water activities: kite surfing, sailboarding, waterskiing or kayaking. Especially Lake Como’s northern branch, water sports are quite popular.
The north- and south winds are a mecca for water sports. In the mornings, when the strong northwind (called “Tivano”) lures kite surfers to daring jumps. And those who like to watch and feel the wind in their faces. Later in the afternoons, the thermic south wind (“Breva”) fills the sails of so many sailing boats on the lake.

Also, there are many places where you can rent a canoe, rowing boat, or pedal boat to explore some coastal stretches. And when the lake is calm, it’s a perfect place for stand-up paddleboarding. Stand-up paddling has become more and more popular over here, and it’s not an unusual thing to do in Lake Como anymore.

Activities in Lake Como | Stand Up Paddling & hiking

Enjoying the lake from above

While you’re somewhere on the lakefront between subtropical plants and the scent of lemon trees and elderflowers around your nose, sooner or later you will catch a glimpse of a water plane. It can be viewed quite often and is quite an exclusive and more unusual thing to do in Lake Como. But I guess the views must be amazing.

Moreover, I can highly recommend paragliding above Lake Como and the surrounding lakes. It’s a unique experience to see this paradise from above with your feet dangling in the air.

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Paragliding

Up into the mountains | Hiking in Lake Como

Besides road biking and mountain biking, the mountains surrounding the lake offer the perfect setting for all kinds of activities. If you feel like diving into nature, you can go hiking or even climbing in the Alps.

Believe me, seeing the lake from the top of a mountain on a Lake Como hike is even more stunning than being on the lake. Hence, hiking is one of the unique things to do in Lake Como that you shouldn’t miss. Every drop of sweat is worth it!
Here are some of my top picks for beautiful Lake Como hikes in the southeast:
  • Monte Barro – A beautiful and not too difficult hike starting from a parking lot in Malgrate. From the top, you have a stunning view across several lakes.
  • Sentiero del Viandante – Half up the hills, there is a beautiful path all the way along the east coast from Abbadia Lariana up until Colico. You can pick a part, e.g. 12 km from Abbadia to Lierna. Here you can experience the beauty of the pristine Lake Como while walking through mountain villages, and catch scenic views. Perfect lunch spots are Osteria Sali e Tabacchi and La Zia Berta Agriturismo (at the latter you have to reserve ahead of time).
  • Piani d’Erna – Up here you’re rewarded with a beautiful view on Lecco and the lake. If you feel lazy, you can also reach the plateau under the summit of the mountain Resegone by cable car. Or you can hike up and get down by cable car.
  • Sasso di Preguda – In only 1.5 hours you can hike up from Malgrate to Chiesetta di Sant’Isidoro, where you’re rewarded with a fantastic view of Lago di Lecco. If you’re in the mood for more, you can continue up to Mount Moregallo. Park here and follow the signs to “Preguda”. Afterwards, stop at the eco farm Agriturismo Cascina Don Guanella for lunch or visit their organic shop.
  • Rifugio Ristorante Martina – It’s rather a 30-minute walk instead of a hike, but you can get a beautiful view on both sides of the lake without much effort. You can drive quite far up and park your car here.
  • Mount Resegone with beer tasting – Hiking fans looking for more unusual things to do in Lake Como may like the idea of combining a craft beer tasting with a guided hike to Resegone from where you can watch the spectacular sunset.
Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Hiking

The view from Monte Barro on Lago di Lecco

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Hiking

Sentiero del Viandante hike in Lake Como

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Hiking

Hiking around Lake Como

Lake Como travel guide | Best beaches in Lake Como

If you feel like relaxing after all those activities, you can lay back and enjoy the sun and the clear water on one of Lake Como’s many beaches. Here you can easily while away some time with a book (or a drink) in hand. So I also want to share some of the best beaches in this Lake Como travel guide with you.

All beaches around Lago di Como are gravel beaches. Even though the water temperature in the alpine lake is quite cold, the crystal clear water makes you wanna jump in directly.
Here are some of my favorite beaches in Lake Como (on the Southern part of Lake Como “Lago di Lecco”):
  • Punta Grumo in Lierna – Definitely my favorite beach on Lake Como. A clean beach with some gravel or grass to lay down on. During the summer months, the highlight on this beach is a local guy selling homemade ice cream and refreshing Granita from his carriage.
  • Abbadia Lariana – A nice pebbly beach with a lawn for sunbathing where the sun stays until late in the evening.
  • Onno – A pretty beach between Lecco and Bellagio. Be aware, that here the sun leaves around 3 or 4 p.m.
  • Pradello – Right next to Lido di Orse you can find this small free beach – a real hidden gem in Lake Como mostly visited by locals. You can ride a bike or rollerblade along the lakeside path from Lecco do reach it, or even walk (it’s around 2km).
  • Lido di Orso – A catered beach on Lake Como if you prefer renting sunbeds on which you can sip some drinks. But you have to pay to enter.
Also, the northern part of the lake offers some beautiful beaches, e.g. around Gravedona or Dongo. Sorico is also known for its wide sandy beach and is popular for kitesurfing and sailboarding thanks to the Breva.

I personally prefer and recommend the natural beaches (“Spiagga” in Italian). In my opinion, those are the best beaches in Lake Como. If you fancy being catered on comfy sunbeds, look for the Lidos (e.g. “Lido di Orso”).

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Beaches

Spiagga Punto di Grumo, Lierna

Food in Lake Como

Try some local dishes

Food in northern Italy is heavy. I guess the people in the mountains really need to gain strength.
Of course, there are many places for amazing Pizza and Pasta dishes. But the area offers some unique specialties and true gems.

The Valtellina (the valley in the north-eastern corner of Lake Como) is home to many special cheese variations that are only produced here. Hence, cheese types such as Tallegio and Scimudin are part of many dishes.
Besides, certain fish can only be found in Lago di Como, such as Pesce Persico and Lavarello. They are fished under strict, sustainable fishing regulations by local fishermen and are an important part of the lake’s cuisine.

Typical dishes in Lake Como are:
  • Risotto del Pesce Persico – a risotto with local perch
  • Pizzoccheri alla Valtellina – A rich, tasty dish with buckwheat Tagliatelle with lots of cheese (of course), potatoes, and cabbage
  • Polenta Taragna – A blend of Polenta (yellow corn) made with buckwheat and cheese, traditionally prepared in a copper pan
  • Gnocchi Chiavennaschi – A creamy, cheesy Gnocchi dish made with local cheese (of course!)
  • Sciatt – Crispy cheeseballs (buckwheat fritters with a cheese filling) which are a popular starter
  • Piadine – Originally from the Emiglia Romana region, you can find these delicious, filled flatbread all around Lake Como as well.

Food at Lake Como (Gnocchi | Paccheri alla Norma | Piadine)

Join a local cooking class

A great way to better get to know Northern Italian cuisine, its ingredients, and its traditions, is to join a cooking class. For a genuine experience with a local family, a cooking class in a family home is perfect – an unusual thing to do in Lake Como that will make your mouth water.

Lake Como has several options, such as a local cooking class in Como. That’s a fun way to learn local family recipes and enjoy authentic homemade meals. There’s also the option to make it a vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free cooking class. Just let the hosts know. Buon appetito!

Things to do in Lake Como – Enjoy Aperitivo

Imagine sitting in a café by the lakeside, watching the glittering lake in the afternoon sun. While some boats pass by, the smell of tomatoes and fresh basil reaches your nose and you take a sip from your cold Aperol Spritz.

Drinking a Spritz by the lake embodies La Dolce Vita – the Italian sweet life. Starting your time after work with a drink accompanied by some snacks is quite common in Italy.
The awesome thing about the Aperetivo tradition is that you usually get some free food with your drink – either some served pieces of pizza, cheese, and chips, or sometimes you can even fill your plate on a buffet.
And this happens before dinner – now you know why the Italians eat that late.

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Aperitivo

Aperitivo by the lake

Things to do in Lake Como | A day trip to Milan

Even though this is a Lake Como travel guide, the lake’s proximity to Milan makes it super convenient to do a day trip to bello Milano.
The connection between the lake and Milan is quite convenient. There are direct trains from Lecco, Como or Varenna that take around 40 minutes and one way costs less than 5 Euros.
From the central station, it’s a nice 30-minute walk to the center. I love strolling through cities, finding hidden spots and pretty corners, I’d never get to know when just taking the train.
Yet, if you prefer to take the train to the center, you can easily reach the dome with the yellow line toward San Donato.

When you think about Milan, the first thing that pops into your mind is high-end fashion and designer boutiques. And there are definitely many to be found. Yet, the city has much more to offer – an awesome mix of historical and modern architecture, great food, museums, and historical sites.

On a day trip to Milan, there’s so much to see. Here are some recommendations for your day trip to Milan:
  • Visit the area around Piazza del Duomo: The Duomo di Milano (the city’s famous landmark), La Scala (the famous theater), and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (a spectacular high-class shopping arcade that looks like the entrance to an opera). These are the must-sees in the center of Milan and are all right next to each other.
  • Walk through the old castle Castello Sforzesco and its extensive park (Parco Sempione) – the city’s lung right in the center.
  • Join a Free Walking Tour to learn more about the history of the city, its locals, and some hot insider tips.
  • Spend your lunch break in a small trattoria in the beautiful Brera district and soak up the Italian flair around you.
  • Sip your Spritz, a glass of wine or beer for Aperitivo in Navigli, next to one of the beautiful canals (e.g. Naviglio Grande).
  • Do some window shopping in Via Torino, or stroll through the districts Ticinese or Brera for some alternative and vintage shopping.
Other beautiful day trips from Lake Como are Bergamo, where you can stroll through the old town, and beautiful Verona to follow the traces of Romeo & Juliet. In Verona, I can highly recommend visiting the antique Arena with a guided tour.
Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Milan

Milan | Brera

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See | Milan

Milan | Naviglio Grande

Impressions of Milan

Lake Como travel guide | Good to know before you go

How to get to Lake Como?

  • By car: Heading to Lake Como from the North will usually lead through Switzerland and an Alpine pass. Don’t forget the vignette! On the way, you pass by impressive mountains, lakes, waterfalls and can get in the mood listening to Jovanotti
  • By train: Taking an international train to Lake Como, you need to get to Milan first. After a stopover in beautiful Milan, you can catch a direct train to either Lecco, Como, or Varenna.
  • By plane: Bergamo and Milan are the closest airports to Lake Como. From there, take a train to either Lecco, Como, or Varenna
Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See

On the way to Lake Como

How many days do you need in Lake Como?

Many visitors come for a weekend escape or a day trip from Milan, but believe me. It’s worth staying a while to inhale the multifaceted life by the lake. I’d recommend at least 4-5 days. But already in a long weekend in Lake Como, you can experience some of the best and some more unusual things to do by getting off the beaten path in Lake Como.

Where to stay in Lake Como?

In my opinion, you should avoid staying in Bellagio, Varenna, Tremezzo, or Menaggio – even though they are the most convenient for the ferry connection and mentioned in so many Lake Como travel guides. Believe me, the true Lake Como feeling kicks in away from the tourist crowd.
There are so many incredibly beautiful villages and towns around the lake. As mentioned earlier in this Lake Como travel guide, I’d recommend going east for the most authentic experience!
If you’re wondering where to stay in Lake Como for camping – there are some beautiful campsites right by the lake. Up north in Domaso is quite popular for camping, or more central, in Abbadia Lariana (as from Domaso it will take quite long to explore other places around the lake).

So here are some recommendations on where to stay in Lake Como:

Lecco area:

  • For a more authentic experience:
    • Agriturismo Deviscio – A beautiful Agriturismo outside Lecco where you can enjoy nature & your surroundings
    • La Nostra Casa in Centro – A simple but clean room close to Lecco’s center, so you can walk to all the yummy Pizza and Gelato places
  • For a treat:
    • Rocopom Luxury Suites – for a more special experience in the beautiful village Malgrate right next to the lake
    • Casa sul Albero – a minimalist wooden house in the middle of nature overlooking the lake

Northern Lake Como area:

  • 2 Cuori E un B&B  – What a beautiful name (“2 hearts and a B&B”) and even more beautiful surroundings towards the northern tip of Lake Como


  • Agriturismo Cascina Mirandola – A beautiful farm stay in an authentic, Italian style for the most authentic time
  • Il Vicolo – Beautifully furnished studios right in the heart of Como, if you want to treat yourself
  • Agriturismo Castello di Vezio – For a stunning view across the roofs of Varenna and, of course, the Lake
  • Casa San Georgio – In a dreamy location in Varenna with a spectacular view from the terrace
  • Hotel Du Lac – If you can’t withstand staying in the hustle and bustle in Varenna, this should be the place to go
  • Acqua & Co Bellagio – An eco-conscious stay with modern rooms and beautiful surroundings outside Bellagio
  • Hotel Perlo Panorama – A bit further outside Bellagio, but a view that’s hard to resist
  • Residence Limonera – For an authentic experience even though it’s so close to Bellagio’s center

What is the best time of the year to visit Lake Como?

Although you mostly read about spring and summer trips, Lake Como has something to offer any time of the year. While nights in April are still fresh, temperatures during the day can be warm already and the Italians leave behind their sleepiness and start filling the outdoor cafes and the plants start blooming.

From June to September, it gets warm enough to go swimming and sunbathing on one of Lake Como’s many beaches.
But even during autumn and winter, you will still see a lot of blue skies, snow-topped mountains and the atmosphere is kind of romantic.
Many hiking fans love late autumn weather when the mountains are still calling.

Good to know: The weather forecasts over here are almost always wrong or very pessimistic. So many times I was worried by the rainy forecast but surprised by beautiful sunny days.

Things to do in Lake Como | Reisetipps Comer See

An autumn day at Lake Como

Can you drink tap water at Lake Como?

Yes, you can drink water from the tap without hesitation. Tap water is fine to drink and even quite healthy, as it comes freshly from the Alps.
So you can save tons of plastic bottles, and our planet is happy just as well.
If you plan to go hiking at Lake Como and want to fill up your bottle with water from the mountain rivers, you should bring a water filter bottle.

Lake Como – a wrap-up

Lake Como in three words: clear water | views | dolce vita

Did you know? Lake Como is the deepest Alpine lake, with a depth of more than 400 meters.

Favorite photo spot: From the top of Monte Barro down to five lakes including Lago di Lecco.

Favorite food: Fresh homemade Ricotta from Crotto del Capraio.

Can’t miss: Experiencing the more authentic side of Lake Como along the eastern side (Lago di Lecco).

Have you been to Lake Como and want to share some tips on what to do in Lake Como? Or do you have any recommendations for unusual things to do in Lake Como? I’m always curious about more activities for Lake Como off the beaten path! So feel free to leave a comment below and make this Lake Como travel guide even greater!
Also, if you’ve tried some of the recommendations in this Lake Como travel blog, let me know how you enjoyed them.

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