I visited Lake Como for 4 nights over the summer after a work trip to Milan. I forgot how much I loved Europe as I hadn’t been on a European holiday/vacation in a number of years. The peacefulness of Lake Como was unbelievable. I have wanted to go there for some time so tagged it on to my Milan trip as it is so close (48 km north). The place is picture perfect with the most amazing restaurants, tours and views. I can’t wait to go back again!
How I got there
I flew from San Francisco to Milan with Lufthansa. There were no direct flights from San Francisco so I stopped over in Germany first. I now realize how close I was to everywhere when living in Ireland! I stayed in Milan for almost a week with work and then took the train from Milan Centrale to Lake Como (Como Borghi stop) for less than one hour. Train tickets were only €5/$6 one way. The views as we whizzed by made me excited for the beauty that was to come.
Where we stayed
We based ourselves in the town of Como and stayed at Hotel Como. The hotel was a 3 minute walk from the train station and a ten minute walk from the heart of the town. I would definitely stay here again. The hotel had a pool and bar on the top floor with beautiful views. The room, breakfast, facilities and staff were all great. There are lots of other hotels in Como by the Lake such as the Palace Hotel which is beautiful but wasn’t available for our stay as I booked last minute. There are lots of cheaper hotels also and Airbnb has great listings around the Lake.
What we did
Firstly, I relaxed by the amazing pool and took in the view. The Lake is so peaceful that we spent so much time relaxing in the sunshine by the Lake. Como is a beautiful town to wander about in and get lost. The cobbled streets are full of boutiques, restaurants, cafes and shops with locally produced goods such as silk, jewelry, shoes and bags.
We took a cable car in Como up to the top of the mountain - the views and journey was incredible. The front of the cable car has the best views. The cable car is inexpensive and leaves every couple of minutes so if there is a line, it will move fast. At the top of the mountain, there are some restaurants and shops to wander through. The Cathedral in Como is beautiful and can be found in the heart of the town.
We took a 2.5 hour cruise on the Lake which stopped at all of the little towns around the Lake. There are other ferries from the Ferry Pier that get you from town to town quickly (45-60 mins from Como to Bellagio) but we took the longer cruise which had an open top and bar on board - the perfect start to a weekend of adventuring. My favorite town I visited was Bellagio which again offers amazing views of the Lake, restaurants and cobbled streets lined with shops, restaurants & gelaterias. The town is incredibly pretty both during the day and at night. We went wandering in this town and found the cutest churches, secret paths to the Lake and views. Other beautiful towns are Menaggio, Tremezzo Lenno and Varenna. Check the ferry services prior to your trip to help you plan when you will visit each town. Not all ferries will stop at each town.
Villa Carlotta is a short 15 minute ferry ride from Bellagio. It is the most visited villa on the lake that is open to the public as a museum. Allow 90 minutes to explore the villa and the beautiful gardens.
I only had 4 nights in Como but could have spent much longer there exploring the other smaller towns and relaxing. Other things to do in Lake Como that we didn’t have time for are:
Food tasting tour around Como, walking tour around Como, cycling around the Lake and trails, visiting Villa del Balbianello and visiting Giardini di Villa Melzi. Dinner cruises, Italian cooking classes, gelato making, kayaking on the lake and day trips to Switzerland are also to-dos when visiting Lake Como.
Where we dined
A lot of gelato, pizza, pasta and wine were consumed on our trip. Any meal we had was delicious and restaurants were reasonably priced.
For gelato, my favorite was just off the Main Square and right by the waterfront; Gelateria Lariana. The small traditional gelateria had delicious flavors and also had some sorbets.
We returned to the beautiful restaurants along the Lake each night as the views were too good to be missed. I enjoyed The Dock Restaurant, Ristorante Pizzeria Il Carrettiere, Restaurant Funicolare and Osteria Le Tana Dei Pescatori but there are many choices along the lake each evening.
There are lots of different cafes which serve great wine and desserts in the evenings. My favorite was the Palace Hotel’s outdoor area by the lake (the sundaes are quite the treat!)
I highly recommend a trip to Lake Como as there is so much to do and see as well as being a location where you can completely relax and enjoy the views.