Top 10 Things To Do in Lake Como

Tuesday, 28 Nov 2023 - 5 mins read

Last modified on December 30, 2023

by Stefania

Set against snow-capped mountains and dotted with picturesque lakeside towns, Lake Como gets full marks for the spectacular views. A holiday hideaway since Roman times, the area remains a celebrity favorite and has built a wealth of attractions on top of its natural beauty. Make sure you don’t miss any must-sees with our round up of the top 10 things to do in Lake Como.

Visit the luxurious Villas

Lake Como is dotted with exquisite villas dating back centuries; a throwback to its past as a holiday destination for the aristocracy. Villa Carlotta sits in the village of Tremezzo and is famous for its botanic gardens and impressive art collection, while Villa del Balbianello is an exclusive wedding destination overlooking the lake that starred in 2006’s Casino Royale, amongst others. Boat tours across the lake are the best way to get around the villas and enjoy the journey, too.

Taste the local lavarello

Lake Como’s impressive restaurant scene ranges from French fine-dining to traditional Lombard dishes; heartier than southern Italy, with a focus on pork and veal, local vegetables and mature cheeses. Freshwater fish is naturally in abundance, so try the local specialty lavarello, served either fried with a squeeze of lemon or sautéed with butter. For more recommendations, check out our top 10 Lake Como's best restaurants with a view.

Shop for silk

Como’s Silk District provides the world’s most famous designers with the luxury fabric, from Chanel to Versace. The region produces 85% of Italy’s silk, and silk ties and scarves are a particularly popular souvenir from Lake Como. Visit the famous ‘Silk Road’ to browse the most exclusive boutiques, or head to Bellagio for more affordable options.

Catch a boat

Don’t leave Lake Como without sailing across it – one way or the other. Ferries are frequent and easy to catch, whisking you between lakeside towns throughout the day while allowing you beautiful views across the water at the same time. If you fancy getting more hands-on, there are plenty of opportunities for sailing lessons and boat hire, from dinghies to luxury yachts.

Ride the funicular

The funicular railway has connected the city of Como with Brunate since 1894. Brunate is a tiny traditional town that sits at 750 metres above sea level, so although the journey only takes seven minutes, it ascends sharply and offers breathtaking, panoramic views. You can see the city of Como and the glittering lake beyond, with the famous Duomo dominating the skyline. Don’t forget your camera!

See the Cathedral of Como

The cathedral is the heart of Lake Como. A stunning four centuries in the making, the Duomo di Como is often called the last Gothic cathedral built in Italy, although it features a Romanesque basilica as well as Renaissance and baroque features. Dominating Lake Como’s skyline, the cathedral is a magnificent sight and opens out onto the charming Duomo square, which is particularly magical lit up at night.

Explore Bellagio

The lakeside town of Bellagio is the busiest spot in Lake Como, but also the loveliest. Its steep, cobbled streets, tiny boutiques and eateries are full of local charm, and Bellagio is also a good place to explore some of the region’s best-known villas, including Villa Melzi.

Celebrate Sagra de San Giovanni

If you’re visiting Lake Como during the last weekend in June, then you’re in luck. Sagra de San Giovanni is the region’s oldest festival, celebrating Como’s vibrant culture and heritage. Naturally, the locals are at the heart of the festival, putting on folk dancing, music, a boat procession and lots of delicious food. The finale takes place after dark, when floating lamps are thrown onto the lake and a huge firework display rounds things off.

Try some watersports

Summer is the best time to get out on the lake, but the water is still mild enough in spring and autumn for thrill-seekers to try some water sports. The lake is perfectly suited to water-based activities, and Como has even hosted championship motorboat races and sailing competitions. The wind is strongest in the north for surfing, and water skiing and boat hire is readily available – you can sail yourself or hire a crew.

Go hiking

Lake Como is encircled by soaring mountains and lush, green countryside filled with walking trails. Getting out in the crisp mountain air is the best way to soak up the breathtaking views across the lake, and even out to neighboring Switzerland. Guided tours are available, and can include boat trips and stop-offs at lakeside towns for the full Lake Como experience.

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Questions about Lake Como?

Where is Lake Como?

Lake Como is located in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, about 40 miles north of Milan. It is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning natural beauty, picturesque villages, and luxurious villas.

The lake is shaped like an upside-down Y, with three long branches that meet at the town of Bellagio. The branches are surrounded by the foothills of the Alps, which provide stunning backdrops for the lake's many picturesque villages.

Some of the most popular towns on Lake Como include Como, Bellagio, Menaggio, and Varenna. These towns are known for their charming architecture, cobblestone streets, and waterfront promenades.

Lake Como is also home to a number of luxurious villas, including the Villa Carlotta, the Villa del Balbianello, and the Villa Serbelloni. These villas are open to the public and offer stunning views of the lake.

How big is Lake Como?

Lake Como has a surface area of 146 square kilometers (56 square miles), making it the third largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. It is also one of the deepest lakes in Europe, with a maximum depth of 410 meters (1,348 feet).

The lake is about 47 kilometers (29 miles) long and up to 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) wide. It has a distinctive Y-shape, with three branches that meet at the town of Bellagio. The three branches are approximately equal in length, each about 26 kilometers (16 miles) long.

What is the difference between Como and Lake Como?

The terms "Como" and "Lake Como" are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight distinction between the two.

Como is the name of a city located on the southwestern shore of Lake Como in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Como and has a population of over 85,000 people. The city is known for its beautiful architecture, including its medieval cathedral and its Roman ruins. It is also a popular tourist destination, thanks to its proximity to Lake Como and its charming atmosphere.

Lake Como is the name of the lake itself. It is a large, freshwater lake that is shaped like an upside-down Y. It is surrounded by the foothills of the Alps and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. The lake is known for its stunning scenery, its luxurious villas, and its picturesque villages.

What is the best way to reach Lake Como from Milan?

The fastest way is to drive. The drive is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) and takes about 2 hours and 8 minutes. You can take the A9 motorway from Milan to Como.

How far is lake Como from Venice?

The driving distance between Venice and Lake Como is 287 km along A4, and it should take approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes.

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

The best time to visit Lake Como depends on your preferences. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of visiting during different seasons:

Spring (April-May): This is a great time to visit Lake Como if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy pleasant weather. The temperatures are mild, the flowers are in bloom, and the lakeside villages are charming. However, some businesses may not be fully open yet, and the water may still be too cold for swimming.

Summer (June-August): This is the peak season for tourism on Lake Como, so expect crowds and higher prices. However, the weather is hot and sunny, perfect for swimming, boating, and hiking. All businesses are open and there are plenty of events and festivals taking place.

Autumn (September-October): This is a shoulder season that offers a good balance of warm weather and fewer crowds. The leaves change color, making for some stunning scenery. However, some businesses may start to close up for the season.

Winter (November-March): Lake Como is a beautiful place to visit in the winter, especially if you want to experience a traditional Italian Christmas. The towns are decorated for the holidays, and there are often snow sports available in the nearby mountains. However, many businesses are closed, and the weather can be cold and rainy.

The ideal length of time to spend on Lake Como?

The number of days you spend on Lake Como depends on your interests and how much time you have. However, we would recommend spending at least 3 days on Lake Como to fully experience all that the area has to offer. This will give you enough time to explore the towns and villages, go for walks and hikes, take boat trips, and relax at the lake.

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