Planning a dream vacation to Lake Como and wondering how to visit it? This Lake Como Itinerary takes you to the best of this idyllic destination in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, with a shimmering blue lake sitting at the base of the Alps.
From luxurious resorts and exotic villas to stunning natural vistas, this itinerary is perfect for anyone visiting Lake Como from 1 to 3 days Itinerary!
For centuries, Lake Como has been a glamorous resort for the rich and famous, but catching a glimpse of your celebrity should be the least attractive thing in Italy’s most famous lake. The lake itself is shaped like an inverted ‘Y’ and comprises picturesque little towns set against imposing mountains, rolling hills, and dramatic natural scenery.
This Lake Como itinerary is not your typical guide. It is packed with insider tips that will help you to make your experience as memorable as mine. Here you will find the best ways to get to Como, the best places to stay in Lake Como, how to get around, and much more useful information. So, without any further ado, let’s discover the very best of Lake Como with this awesome itinerary.
You may also enjoy these articles:
- 5 Best Villages to Stay in Lake Como + Hotel Guide
- 11 Amazing Lake Como Boat Tours to take in 2022
- How to Travel from Milan to Lake Como
- The Best 2-Days Itinerary in Milan
- Lake Como Itinerary Overview
- How To Get To Lake Como
- Best Places to Stay in Lake Como
- How to Get Around Lake Como
- Lake Como Itinerary: 1-3 Days in Lake Como
- Best Tour Options for your Lake Como Itinerary
- What to Pack for your Lake Como Itinerary
- When is the best time to visit Lake Como?
- TRAVEL SAFETY: Travel Insurance for Italy
- Lake Como Itinerary Conclusion
Read More: 11 Most Amazing Boat Tours in Lake Como
Lake Como Itinerary Overview
Before you jump to this amazing Lake Como Itinerary, let’s talk about trip planning and make sure you are prepared for the best experience.
I highly recommend coming to Lake Como with a well-defined itinerary of the top things you want to visit, see and do, in order to maximize your time here.
The good news is that if you are short on time, you can visit Lake Como in as short as a trip from Milan, or if you have more time, I recommend at least 3 days to get the best out of your trip. You can also add Lake Como to your Milan Itinerary.
Make sure you choose accommodation in a good area, where you can easily walk around and explore the main attractions. Making your reservations in advance is also part of a well-planned visit, as Lake Como is a popular destination and it may be hard to find last-minute accommodations.
Lastly, I recommend booking your tickets to attractions in advance, such as a boat tour in Lake Como, as the city is very busy throughout the year. The advantage of a guided tour is that you will spend a short time in line, and with a local guide, you will learn and appreciate Lake Como’s history better.
- LAKE COMO ITINERARY OVERVIEW:
- Day 1: Explore Lake Como city
- Day 2: Tour Lake Como, Visit Bellagio & Varenna
- Day 3: Explore Menaggio & Tremezzo
How To Get To Lake Como
The easiest way to get to Lake Como is from Milan. The southern shore of Lake Como is about 51 km (32 miles) from Milan, and the journey is usually a 40-minute train ride. To get to Lake Como from Milan, take a train from Milano Centrale to either Varenna-Esino or Como San Giovanni. The trains run every hour, check the schedule and tickets here.
This isn’t the only option available, there are other options, such as taking the bus or renting a car to make the drive yourself. Or you can hire a private driver or go on a day trip tour from Milan.
Read More: How to get from Milan to Lake Como
Best Places to Stay in Lake Como
Here is the best overview of the best places to stay for your Lake Como Itinerary! I also recommend you to read my complete article on the 5 Best Villages + Hotel Review in Lake Como for a complete guide to help you to choose the perfect destination and accommodation for you!
Lake Como is shaped like an inverted ‘Y’ and comprises picturesque little towns set against imposing mountains, rolling hills, and dramatic natural scenery. If you are wondering where is the best place to stay in Lake Como, you cannot go wrong choosing one of the 4 towns: Como, Bellagio, Varenna, or Tremezzo.
You can also choose any of the smaller villages around the lake, but keep in mind that you would need to rent a car to get around. I have selected the best hotel options, all with great locations, and very high ratings and that fit all budgets:
GREAT VALUE: Ostello Bello Lake Como
If you are looking for great value accommodation, Ostello Bello Lake Como is a great option. Every room is fitted with a private bathroom and shower and free Wi-Fi. Excellent location, close to the Ferry Terminal, and the Cable Car.
BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Hotel Villa Flori
This restored 19th-century villa is set on the western shores with amazing views of Lake Como. It offers elegant rooms, and a private park and you will love the Venetian stucco work and frescos.
BEST RATED: Como Lake Suits
This hotel has an excellent location with the best views. Very close to the Broletto and the Como Cathedral, the apartments have a balcony with lake views, a seating area, a satellite flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen, and free bikes so you can easily explore lake Como.
TOP LUXURY: Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como
Now if you are looking for luxury, you cannot go wrong with the Mandarin Oriental. The rooms are elegantly decorated with 2 stand-alone villas, in Blevio. With a fine restaurant, free indoor and outdoor pools, free parking, and vast gardens. The wellness center includes 2 massage rooms and 2 private Spa.
How to Get Around Lake Como
To get the best experience during your Lake Como itinerary, you should be able to easily get around without any confusion. And in this section, I discussed all the different ways to move from town to town, discovering all the towns and the treasure they hold. Lake Como has both private and public transportation services, including boats, buses, ferries, and trains. Check here for the best Lake Como boat tour options.
Lake Como Itinerary: 1-3 Days in Lake Como
DAY 1 Lake Como Itinerary: Explore The Best of Como
Take your first day on this Lake Como itinerary to explore its biggest town. Como is a magnificent city known for its Gothic Cathedral, lakefront promenades, delightful streets, stunning mountain views, scenic funicular rides, and amazing piazzas.
The Piazza Cavour is the town square with many restaurants and cafés, Piazza San Fedele was originally a wheat market and hosts the beautiful 12th-century Romanesque church; Basilica di San Fedele. If you are visiting Lake Como for the first time, I recommend finding accommodation here. There is so much to do and see in Como, and here are some attractions you don’t want to miss:
1. Marvel at the Como Cathedral
- Opening Hours: Mon-Fri from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm
- How to Visit it: Free to visit | The Como Cathedral is located near Lake Como, within the magnificent setting of Piazza Duomo.
The Como Cathedral is one of the most magnificent buildings to behold on the entire Lake Como. This 14th-century Roman architecture is nothing short of awe-inspiring and spectacular. The cathedral is from 1396 and it took almost 400 years to build it! Besides the age, this cathedral is in excellent condition, and it is a great place to start your Lake Como Itinerary.
The Catholic Cathedral is an exotic structure with stunning gothic designs, a tour of this impressive Cathedral will most certainly leave you in awe. Pay attention to the mosaic artwork on the ceilings and the stunning stainless glass windows. Most of the sculptures on the façade are made in Gothic style, but some of them have Renaissance features.
2. Stroll through the Piazza del Duomo and Broletto
After visiting the cathedral, spend some time exploring the Piazza del Duomo. A stroll through the beautiful streets of Como city and a tour of the Cathedral wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the remarkable trade center; Piazza del Duomo.
And just by the Cathedral and the Bell Tower is the ancient Broletto, an old town hall that was once used for hosting public assemblies. It was built in the Gothic-Romanesque and Renaissance style, while elements of the façade date back to the fifteenth century. When I visited it, the streets were nearly empty, offering an excellent opportunity to admire the buildings, and take pictures.
3. Explore Villa Olmo
- Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10 am to 6 pm and gardens open daily from 7 am to 7 pm
- How to Visit it: Free admission except for temporary exhibitions and events – Visit this site for more details
A 10-minute walk from the Piazza will take you right to the historic Villa Olmo and its brightly colored gardens. The Villa Olmo is one of the most impressive villas in Lake Como, with an exotic structure that dates back to the 1780s. Nowadays, Villa Olmo is home to a museum with exhibitions, gardens that are open daily for visitors, plus a pool and café.
This was one of my favorite places to visit in Lake Como, and should definitely be on your Lake Como itinerary. And if you like photography, you can spend a couple of hours exploring and taking great photos.
4. Visit the Museum of Silk
- Opening Hours: from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
- Entrance Fee: € 10.00 – Check this website for ticket
If you love history and don’t mind learning something new, then you should totally visit the museum of silk. Here you will learn about the amazing history of Como’s silk industry and the various stages of silk-making; from silkworms to heritage looms and clothing samples.
The Silk Museum opened in 1990, to preserve, while there was still the opportunity, a true account of the history of the silk industry in Como. It is a tangible sign of the continuity, from past to present, of an industry that use to operate an absolute worldwide monopoly.
5. Ride the Como-Brunate Funicular
- Opening Hours: April to September, Mon- Sun, 08:00 – 00:00 | Sep-Apr 14, Mon – Sun, 08:00 – 22:30
- Entrance Fee: € 2.80 – Check this website for tickets
End your tour of the town with a scenic 7-minute funicular ride up to the mountain town of Brunate. This ride will take you up 700 m (2,300 ft.) above sea level, with jaw-dropping views of gorgeous landscapes, the experience is exhilarating.
Brunate is also the ideal starting point for pleasant walks amidst greenery. From this viewpoint, you can see the outline of the historic center, the ancient Roman castrum, and a view over the Alps and the Brianza plain. You can combine the Brunate Funicular with Villa Olmo with this tour.
Read More: The most beautiful towns in Tuscany
DAY 2 Lake Como itinerary: Visit Bellagio & Varenna
The second day of your 3-day Lake Como Itinerary will probably be the busiest, and I am giving you excellent details of some of the most fantastic places to visit in Lake Como. But it is also, one of the most popular destinations in Lake Como – so I recommend arriving early to avoid the crowds.
I suggest that you start your day 2 with a boat tour of the astounding Lake Como. The best place to begin your boat tour is at Bellagio, and prepare to momentarily lose your breath during the tour. The views are splendid! If you are planning to stay in Bellagio, I recommend reading this article about the top accommodations.
1. Stop at Bellagio
Your next stop should be the beautiful and compact town of Bellagio. This town is small and studded with delightful cobblestoned streets, colorful houses, lovely little shops and restaurants, and wonderful views of the lake.
Bellagio can be visited in half day, and while you’re there, here are my suggestions of what to do:
3. Wander the streets of Bellagio
- How to Visit it: One of the best spots to visit to get the best views of the Lake is the streets of Salita Serbelloni and Salita Antonia Mella.
Bellagio is known for its narrow pedestrian-only streets, which are perfect for casual strolls and aimless wander. Via Giuseppe Garibaldi is the only main road in Bellagio, with very colorful buildings and dozens of shops to explore.
4. Visit the Basilica di San Giacomo
- Opening Hours: Open daily | Sunday mass 8:00 am and 11:30 am
- Entrance Fee: The basilica is free to visit, but any donation is welcome
At the heart of the town, you will find the picture-perfect Piazza del Chiesa which houses the Basilica of San Giacomo, a historic Roman Catholic Church dating back to the 12th century. The rest of the structure has undergone numerous restorations, especially during the 18th century.
Marvel at the gorgeous interior of the Basilica, with rich decoration and amazing brick exposed everywhere. Inside are valuable works including a painting of the Deposition, attributed to Perugino, a large statue of the Dead Christ, of Spanish workmanship, and a fine triptych depicting the Virgin Mary with Saints Roche and Sebastian
5. Admire the beautiful Villas in Bellagio
- Opening Hours: Gardens are open for visitors daily from 10 am to 7 pm
- Entrance Fee: Villa Melzi Gardens € 6.50 – Check ticket here | Villa Serbelloni € 10 – Check tickets here
Villa Melzi Gardens and Villa Serbelloni are two elegant structures you wouldn’t want to miss.
Villa Serbelloni is a stunning 15th-century luxury hotel, you can gape at the exterior or book a tour and walk through the 50 acres of park and garden. From the park, you can enjoy unique views of Bellagio and discover the fascinating history that lies behind this almost magical place. We are sure that it will conquer you with all its paths immersed in vegetation and embellished with terraces and statues
Villa Melzi is a historic property with an exotic garden that is open to the public. Take a refreshing walk through the garden and appreciate the colorful flowers. It is famous for its surrounding gardens, containing a variety of botanical specimens from around the world interspersed with statues, promenades, and period architecture
6. Visit Pescallo
- Tips on how to visit: By now you should be hungry, and I recommend the La Punta restaurant for lunch.
- Entrance Fee: Free
After reveling in the beauty of Bellagio, take a short 10 to 15 minutes walk through a stepped pathway from the Bellagio town hall, and you’ll find yourself in Pescallo; a picturesque fishing village, overlooking the Lecco branch of Lake Como.
Here you will be rewarded with charming lakeside views and a quaint atmosphere. Arriving in Pescallo will be enchanted by this ancient little hamlet nestled between the green and the lake, rich in many romantic spots to be discovered that offer the visitor wonderful views.
7. Stop At Varenna
After Bellagio, your next stop should be the splendid town of Varenna. It is only a 14-minute ferry ride from Bellagio, it’s a pretty lakeside village with many ancient structures to discover. Once in Varenna, here are some interesting things to do:
8. Tour the town center of Varenna
Piazza San Giorgio is the town center and home to a magnificent 13th-century Romanesque and Gothic-style church, the Church of San Giorgio. The church was built on a small temple dating back to the 12th century and reworked in later periods, it was rediscovered after several restorations in the second half of the 20th century as an example of Lombard medieval architecture.
When you visit the interior you will notice that the church is preserved with some frescoes dating from the thirteenth century. The floor is made of Varena’s black marble, just stunning!
Just opposite that, you will find the San Giovanni Battista, a smaller and much older church. San Giovanni Battista is the first church built in Varenna and one of the oldest in Lake Como, dating back to the 11th century.
9. Visit the Villa Monastero
- Opening Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am – 8 pm in summertime | 10 am – 5 pm in low season
- Entrance Fee: € 10.40 – Check tickets here
Villa Monastero is a stunning lakeside complex that dates back to the 12th century and was originally used as a Cistercian convent. The property is surrounded by an enchanting botanical garden worth visiting. Within the villa is a historic house museum displaying historic furnishings from four centuries.
During summertime, the Villa Monastero opens every day from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, and during wintertime from 10 am to 5 pm. You can buy the tickets to visit the Villa or combine them with the Botanic Gardens too. Tickets for the Botanic Garden and the House Museum can be purchased online.
10. Wander the gardens of Villa Cipressi
- Opening Hours: The garden opens every day from 9 am to 7 pm
- Entrance Fee: € 8 to visit Villa Cipressi Gardens and € 15 to visit Villa Cipressi + Villa Monastero combo.
A visit to the stunning hotel Villa Cipressi should follow your amazing experience at the Villa Monastero. Villa Cipressi literally means “house of cypresses” and it’s named so because of the beautiful ancient cypress trees in the garden. The entire villa is surrounded by a magical terraced garden, which is fortunately open for public tours.
The Villa Cipressi enchants visitors with its botanical gardens overlooking Lake Como. The entire building is actually nestled in a large green space right alongside the shores of the lake itself. You can buy a ticket to visit the gardens or you can buy a ticket to visit both, Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero combined.
11. Walk the lovers’ promenade
The charming lakeside promenade with the suggestive name “Walk of Lovers” is very popular among tourists, and for good reasons. It’s a scenic boardwalk built over the lake, with the shimmering waters of Lake Como to the left and rocky walls and a beautiful garden to the right.
It is a short pedestrian path that leads from the wharf of Varenna to the center of the village; a footbridge of a few hundred meters jutting out onto the water from which it is possible to admire the lake, the mountains, and the stunning colorful houses perched at the foot of the rocky wall.
12. Hike to the Castello di Vezio
- Opening Hours: Castle is open daily from Mar-Nov 10:00 – 18:00
- Entrance Fee: € 4.00
The Medieval Castle of Castello di Vezio is in a strategic location with incredible vistas of the expansive lake up to the Alps. The beautiful hike to the castle is certainly worth it and rewards you with the best views of this Lake Como Itinerary. The castle dates back to the 11th century and is an important historic site.
Explore the castle is something you don’t want to miss during your Lake Como itinerary. It is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in Italy, offering amazing opportunities for some impressive shots and relaxation at the hilltop café. The hike is not long and it can be done in only 30-minutes, with approximately 1 mile long only and it has signs clearly-marked along the trail.
If you decide to visit the thousand years old castle, make sure you look for the impressive handmade ghost statues that surround the castle.
13. Stop at Orrido di Bellano
- Opening Hours: Summertime is open daily from 10:00 am to 7 pm
- Tip to visit it: € 3.00 per person and you can buy your ticket online.
Orrido di Bellano is a hidden gem natural canyon with an old suspension bridge and a turquoise river flowing below. The scenic walk along a suspended walkway with the thunderous sound of the waterfall below is certainly worth it. From Varenna to Bellano is a 5-minute train, ferry, or taxi ride.
This incredible natural gorge was created 15 million years ago by the erosion of the River Pioverna and the Adda glacier which, over the centuries, have shaped the rock into gigantic potholes, dark ravines, and suggestive caves.
If you are planning to have dinner in Varena I recommend the Bar Il Molo, for breath-taking views overlooking the landscapes of Lake Como.
Day 3 Lake Como itinerary: Explore Menaggio & Tremezzo
On the third and last day of your Lake Como Itinerary, I recommend that you take some time to explore Menaggio and Tremezzo. Make sure you book a boat tour in advance – you have the option to go on a private or group tour.
Menaggio is an awesome historic lakeside town in Lake Como, it’s one of the largest on the western shore of the lake. This beautiful town is best known for its quaint square and an elegant lake promenade. If you are staying in Menaggio, don’t forget to check the best accommodations here. Here’s a list of what to do:
1. Wander through Via Calvi and Visit the Church of Santa Marta
Start your tour from Via Calvi and admire the small shops and boutiques along the street.
Continue your stroll to the Church of Santa Marta, an ancient church that was renovated in the 19th century. Take your time to admire the interior of the church and the ancient paintings. Even if this church has so much history, it was rebuilt 100 years ago, and you still can find many historical remnants of the church.
2. Visit the town center in Menaggio
Your next stop should be at the town center, Piazza Garibaldi. Enjoy the serene atmosphere with beautiful views of the lake. The Piazza has gorgeous stonework on the ground, and it is worth it to admire it while you walk around.
The piazza is surrounded by shops and eateries where you can grab a coffee or ice cream while soaking in the beautiful views of the lake. If you have time, stop for some fresh coffee at the Cafe Del Press.
3. Chill at Lake Promenade
From the Piazza Garibaldi, proceed to the elegant lakeside promenade. This beautiful walkway is flanked by gorgeous flowers, lush green trees, and pastel-colored houses. Enjoy the amazing scenery and the soothing sounds of the lake.
Take your time and chill around the Lake, while you enjoy the gorgeous waterfront views before you continue your busy Lake Como itinerary.
4. Walk through the Mennagio Medieval Town
Next, head up to the medieval part of the town. This part of Menaggio is higher up in the hills, and you will have to follow a stepped path and walk through narrow alleys and ancient buildings.
Taking a walk through the old town of Menaggio is akin to taking a walk back in time. Finally, follow Via Strecium to take a walk over the Senagra Stream and enjoy the sound of the cascading waterfall below.
5. Stop At Tremezzo
Continuing your Lake Itinerary, the next stop is Tremezzo. It is only a 9-minute bus ride from Menaggio. Or you can take a ferry departing from Menaggio and arriving at Tremezzo, with services depart hourly, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 50 min. Or you can hire a private taxi boat to take you.
Tremezzo is a beautiful lakeside town known for historic villas, the medieval Tower of Rogaro, and awesome views of the lake. Here’s what to do in Tremezzo:
6. Visit the famous Villa Carlotta
- Opening Hours: Daily from 10:00 am to 7 pm
- Entrance Fee: € 12.00 and you can check here for tickets
Villa Carlota is one of the most popular places to visit during a Lake Como itinerary, and for a reason!
The Villa is a magnificent property with very gorgeous and expansive gardens. This property dates back to the 17th century and was originally built as a neoclassical villa. A walk through the gardens will leave up in awe of the amazing beauty of nature. But don’t stop there, get inside the villa to wow at the collection of arts and masterpieces, and do a complete tour of the museum.
7. Stop for a cocktail at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is only a 4-minute walk from Villa Carlota and it is a great place to admire the views and to enjoy a cocktail at the T Bar – I recommend a Spritz here. This iconic hotel features a floating swimming pool.
8. Tour the Villa Balbianello
- Opening Hours: Opens daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Tip how to visit it: Make sure you don’t miss your ferry – the last one departs at 6:40 p.m. You can check the ferry schedule here.
Villa Balbianello is a famous villa that has appeared in many great movies, including Star Wars and Casino Royale. This property is surrounded only by nature, a lush manicured garden, and a brilliant lake. You should definitely request a guided tour and discover all the intricacies of the villa.
Best Tour Options for your Lake Como Itinerary
- Check here for the top Lake Como Boat Tours for all the preferences and budgets.
- You can explore Lake Como on a private sailing charter.
- What about taking a kayak tour on Lake Como from Pescallo di Bellagio beach to see the Rockefeller cliffs from the lake?
- Feeling romantic in Lake Como? You can enjoy a romantic experience in the middle of the lake, surrounded by nature and the colors of the sunset with this Lake Como romantic sail and sunset experience.
- If you want to experience the amazing lake Como from above and see the aerial view, it is possible to take a scenic helicopter tour.
What to Pack for your Lake Como Itinerary
I visited Lake Como in July, and it is hot during summertime. If you are also visiting during hot months, think about light clothes and comfortable shoes to walk and explore during the day. Leave your pair of high heels at home, as the villages are hilly, and you won’t need them.
Don’t forget your sunblock, and sunglasses and consider a hat too.
For the evening, especially if you are planning to have dinner at one of the nice restaurants, you can think about a comfortable summer dress and sandals. Or if you are not into dresses, a pair of jeans and a nice top and a nice pair of sandals.
The climate can be mild in Lake Como, because of its location close to the Alps, so consider bringing a pashmina for the evening.
When is the best time to visit Lake Como?
Lake Como is a great destination all year round:
- Summer: Between June-September is the high season, and you can expect to see large crowds, full ferries, and very busy restaurants. The weather is hot with temperatures in the upper 30°C.
- Spring and Fall: Considered the shoulder season, with cooler temperatures and you can expect some rainy days.
- Late Fall to early spring: The temperature is chilly and fewer crowds, but the ferries run less frequently.
TRAVEL SAFETY: Travel Insurance for Italy
I never leave my home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. Things can go wrong, and you don’t want to get stuck paying tons of money if you get sick or have an accident without travel insurance.
World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover their trip essentials. Especially if you are like me, travel insurance is ideal for adventurous travelers. Travel smarter and safer – You can do your quick quote below and find out how little you can pay for the essential benefit of Travel Insurance for your next trip!
Lake Como Itinerary Conclusion
Lake Como is so unique, and after many trips to Italy, I finally got the chance to visit it – and guess what? it didn’t disappoint me. With incredible views, stunning architecture, and lots of history to explore, Lake Como is a must-visit in Italy.
I hope you enjoyed this Lake Como Itinerary and that this helps you to plan your visit. If you have any further questions, just leave me a comment below and I will be happy to answer.
If you are planning to visit Italy, you may also enjoy reading the following:
- 5 Best Villages + Hotel Review in Lake Como
- 11 Top Lake Como Boat Tours to Take in 2022
- Best ways to travel from Milan to Lake Como
- Milan 2-day itinerary, a perfect weekend in Milan
- 30 Most amazing Landmarks in Italy
- The 20 Top Coastal Towns in Italy you need to visit
- The Best Towns and Villages in Tuscany for your bucket list
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