A Quick Guide to Lake Como

Guide to Lake Como Italy
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Located in the Northern lakes district of Italy is the crowning jewel of the region: Lago di Como (Italian) or simply, Lake Como. For centuries this lake has attracted an elite crowd of villa owners, from famous celebrities through to successful businessmen and women from around the globe. However you needn’t have a handful of zeros displaying on your bank account statement to visit, as Lake Como is home to an impressive array of accommodation offerings: from luxurious villa resorts through to humble apartment rentals, all allowing visitors to experience the magic of Lake Como, if only for a few nights.

Lake_Como_Italy Guide to Lake Como | World of Wanderlust

A Quick Guide to Lake Como

Located just below the Southern border of Switzerland, Lake Como is almost as North as one can go in Italy: the land of pizza, pasta, gelato and welcoming locals. Although I have visited Italy a handful of times, I have never quite made it to Lake Como but the destination has been on my radar for some time. And now that I’ve been? I know what I was missing out on!

The lake is impressive in size, though this does mean you’ll need more than a few nights to see it all. However if time is not on your side you can entirely manage to have the full experience over a 3-4 night stay, allowing enough time to see the highlights and leave you wanting more (which just means a return trip in the future!)

As we only had a few nights to stay in Lako Como and explore the surrounding towns, villages and attractions, below is a complete “quick” guide to Como, focusing only one the must do and see experiences: no more, no less!


Guide to Lake Como Italy

Where to Stay in Lake Como

If we’re speaking of the lake as a whole, then it should be noted that Lake Como is huge in size and thus takes some time and effort to travel around from point to point. The town, Como, is where you will find many shops, restaurants and a great local vibe, though it is away from here where you will have the best experiences of the lake by staying in a lakeside villa, still only a bus or ferry ride away from the main town and nearby attractions.

For our stay in Lake Como we checked in to CastaDiva Resort, one of the area’s leading luxury hotels, housed in a 18th Century Villa that was once the residence of opera singer Giuditta Pasta. The resort was small in size, allowing for an authentic experience whereby staff would remember our names and greet us every morning as we wandered through the lush green gardens on our way to breakfast.

Highlights included a complimentary shuttle service in and out of Como, a gorgeous floating pool on the lake (sadly not in use for our stay at the beginning of Spring), an impressive sauna/steam/spa area and lush gardens to wander around and experience life on the lake.

Guide to Lake Como | World of Wanderlust

How to Get Around

Although the lake is huge and the villages to explore are plentiful, getting around the area is made extremely easy thanks to an extensive ferry service (fast & slow services) and public buses.

If you are staying in Como and wish to explore some of the small lakeside villages and towns, then head down to the ferry pier and take one of the public ferries to where you want to go. I would highly recommend paying a little extra for the fast service one way (if travelling to the most popular town of the region – Bellagio) and taking the slow ferry the other way in order to get a glimpse of the many towns along the lake as you stop in at each one. The fast ferry service takes approximately 45-60 minutes whilst the slow ferry will take around 2 hours.

A Guide to Lake Como Italy

Como City

The city of Como is at the base of the lake (which appears as an upside down “Y” letter) and the heart of the region. It is here where you will find the best atmosphere, ample eateries serving classic Italian meals, shops, boutiques, and a network of ferries heading upstream to explore the smaller villages and lakeside towns.

Below are my few recommendations from our couple of days spent in Como for afternoon strolls and early dinners before retiring back to our villa a short way up the lake.

Gelateria Lariana 

Naturally I tried a lot of gelato in the few days we were in Como because incase you haven’t noticed (in which case I’d say you are new here), I’m a self-confessed ice cream addict. Name a flavour and I’ve tried it. Name the world’s best ice cream parlours and gelaterias – I promise you I’ve been there. My favourite gelato in Como is located just off the main square, right by the waterfront in a small and unassuming little building: Gelateria Lariana. My favourite flavours were Bachi (chocolate hazelnut) and Dark Chocolate (seriously so good that my eyes popped out of my head for the first taste).

La Vita e’ Bella

If you’re looking for a nice little restaurant – not too fancy but great for date night – then I can recommend this great little find on Piazza Domenico Croggi. The menu is typically Italian but with a healthy spin – loads of salads to choose from and great vegetarian options!

Como Cathedral

As one of the key landmarks of the city, a visit to Como would not be complete without at least setting your eyes on the impressive facade of the Como Cathedral.

Funicolare Como-Brunate

If you’re looking to see the lake from a different viewpoint then you will find a great viewing platform by taking the 5-7 minute journey on the funicolare, to the sweeping views of the lake and surrounds below.

Villa Carlotta Lake Como Guide to Lake Como | World of Wanderlust

Villa Carlotta

Located a short 9-15 minute ferry ride from Bellagio is the famous Villa Carlotta, the most visited villa on the lake that is open to the public as a museum. The villa also has extensive gardens that will keep you busy walking around for at least an hour, so be sure to allow a minimum time of 90 minutes here to explore the Villa and gardens, as well as grab a milkshake or ice cream before you depart (the chocolate milkshakes are personally tried and tested and believe me when I say scrumptious!)

Guide to Lake Como | World of Wanderlust

Bellagio; The Jewel of Lake Como

By far the most picturesque town on the lake and certainly the most visited is Bellagio; located at the fork of the “Y” shape of the lake and within short distance to many of Lake Como’s other popular sites and attractions.

La Fontana Ristorante & Pizzeria

Our preferred lunch spot in Bellagio was La Fontana for their great pizzas and cute little outdoor setting. This restaurant is far enough away from the hustle and bustle that you get a very authentic experience and the pizza margarita is delicious! There is a 2.50 euro cover charge per person but the prices are very reasonable.

Far Out

If you’re travelling with a food intolerance or with someone who has one, then head straight for Far Out restaurant, only a short walk from where you depart the ferry. This restaurant caters to vegetarians, vegans and gluten intolerances with ease. There is no cover charge and the prices are moderate.

Guide to Lake Como | World of Wanderlust

Further Recommendations:

Villa Balbianello – Built in 1787 with beautiful terrace gardens and an in-house museum.

Villa Melzi d’Eril – Located in Bellagio, built in neo-classical style and with a stunning garden to explore.

Ciresa Plain on Mt. Barro – For enthusiastic day hikers you can get a stunning view of the lake from high above at the Ciresa Plain lookout on Mt. Barro.

Torno Italy | Lake Como A Guide to Lake Como Italy A Guide to Lake Como Italy A Guide to Lake Como Italy A Guide to Lake Como Italy A Guide to Lake Como Italy A Guide to Lake Como Italy





Casta Diva Resort Lake Como Guide to Lake Como Italy Casta Diva Resort Lake Como

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    May 28, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Love this part of the world….would love to go back one of these days!

    May 25, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I’ve been living in Florence for the last two months and I’m leaving this Saturday, unfortunately without getting the chance to visit Lake Como. I’m so sad I won’t get the chance on this trip, but its on my bucketlist for the next time I’m in Italy. Your photos from this trip are so stunning.

    Gayatri Mantra
    May 22, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Love this part of the world….would love to go back one of these days!

    Stella Lucente
    May 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Beautiful, elegant photos of a magical place! I have wonderful photos of Lago Maggiore, just west of Como on my website and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian. My favorite place in the world.

    May 22, 2016 at 4:43 am

    What time of year would you suggest for visiting Lake Como? Is it packed in the summer?

    May 20, 2016 at 6:07 am

    On my travel wish list!

    soham jain
    May 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    awesome travel stories,,, great fan of yours……

    Kaili Willows
    May 19, 2016 at 4:44 am

    Such a picturesque destination <3

    May 19, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Stunning photos, as always! May I ask what camera and lens you used for these?

    May 18, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    It is my dream to visit lake como, this is a wonderful piece and stunning pictures! Thanks for the recommendations – I will hopefully check them all out when I make it there one day!

    Georgia Bobar
    May 18, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    This place looks magical!


    May 18, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Awesome post

    May 18, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    I’m so glad you made it to Lake Como! Like you, it’s been on my radar for a while but I haven’t been able to get there yet. Hopefully one day!


    Saakshi Kumar
    May 18, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Gorgeous post, I must say! Seems like one of the best places to view picture perfect scenes. Thanks for the recommendations. 🙂

    May 18, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Brooke, I am going to turin for two days and was thinking of extending my trip to lake como. would you advise it for a solo traveler or is it purely romantic?

    May 18, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Bellagio is very pretty but also packed with tourists which makes visiting it not that pleasant. I would say go across the lake to Menaggio, this past summer I took the ferry up the lake the just about all the passengers got off at Bellagio and 3 disembarked at Menaggio! You still get beautiful lake views, nice restaurants and cafes without hordes of people. Varenna, across from Menaggio is also really pretty and less crowded. A trip to Lake Como is a definite when it comes to visiting Italy!

    May 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Amazing and inspiring pictures! Great post, I enjoyed the read!

    May 18, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Your pictures are amazing and inspiring. Great post!

    Shelby @ The Fernweh Wolf
    May 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    It looks beautiful! I tried so hard to make Lake Como work on my Italy trip but couldn’t fit it on. Just another excuse to go back! :]

    May 18, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    We just returned from a tour of Italy a few days ago and Lake Como and Bellagio were the first stop on the tour. We had been there four years ago and it was just as beautiful and stunning the second time around! Villa Carlotta is absolutely beautiful! I would highly recommend that anyone considering a trip to Italy to check out this beautiful area of Italy. Bellagio is beyond charming! A definite favorite!

    May 18, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Lake Como looks absolutely stunning. I’m planning a big Spain/France/Italy/Germany/everywhere else I can possibly fit in trip next year so this will definitely be on the cards.

    Beautiful photos, as always.

    May 18, 2016 at 9:38 am

    This is beautiful and gives me a huge urge to travel here! I am definitely noting this down as a place for me to travel in the future. Beautiful content and beautiful pictures! ☺️

    Stefanie Ni
    May 18, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Europe is just filled with pretty lakes!

    May 18, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Gorgeous post Brooke! I have Lake Como in my blog lineup later this year and this orients me perfectly – great post, keep it up!!

    Kortney @