Looking for a perfect destination to relax in Italy, lined with a stunning horizon with a backdrop of graceful mountain vistas, charming villages, and luxurious villas? Well, this is it! Lake Como is definitely one of the best places for a romantic getaway or a relaxing family holiday. And the best part? Some of these can be also visited on a day trip from Milan.
Nestled in Lombardy, in the northern region of Italy, Lake Como is the third-largest lake and one of the deepest lakes in the country. Surrounded by the beautiful snow-capped Alps, crystal clear water, gorgeous landscape, and picturesque towns, you are sure to have the perfect romantic rendezvous. If you’re planning a visit to this part of Italy, make sure to visit some of the prettiest towns around Lake Como to make the most of your time in the area. Here are some of my favourite towns around Lake Como:
Dubbed the ‘Pearl of Lake Como’, Bellagio is one of the quaint towns around Lake Como that must not be missed. It is a beautiful and enchanting town that exudes an old-world charm and elegance The perfectly manicured gardens are nothing short of beautiful in themselves. The town is particularly famous for its location where the three branches of Lake Como meet, which is why it is so popular and a must-visit when you are in Lombardy.
Getting to Bellagio:
If you are looking to drive to Bellagio, you can reach the town via the A9 motorway via Milan or Switzerland.
The closest train station to Bellagio is in Varenna-Esino, which is served by trains from Milan and other cities in northern Italy. From the station, take a ferry or taxi to Bellagio.
Top things to do in Bellagio:
Visitors can explore the quaint town, which is home to several shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. Bellagio is also renowned for its luxurious hotels, including the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and the Hotel Metropole, both of which offer splendid views of the lake.
Strolling through the town’s narrow streets and alleys is like taking a walk back in time. You will notice that the town’s charming historical centre features ancient buildings, chapels, and churches with breathtaking frescoes and architectural details. Visitors can wander through the cobbled streets and admire the quaint architecture, or simply relax at one of the many cafes, enjoying a traditional Italian espresso or gelato.
When you are in the city, you should absolutely visit one of the must-see attractions in Bellagio, the stunning Villa Melzi Gardens. Built-in the early 1800s named after Francesco Melzi d’Eril, a prominent Italian politician and art collector, the gardens are known for their lush greenery, beautiful sculptures, and colourful flowering plants. The scenic views of Lake Como are the perfect place to relax and escape the bustle of the town! You could choose to visit this place after you finish shopping for the day and need some refreshing breeze!
The town also has a cute hamlet, called the San Giovanni Hamlet. You can stroll along the promenade and admire the boats and yachts parked in the harbour. Another hamlet is the Punta Spartivento and the hamlet of Pescallo. The breathtaking views from the boats that moor you to this little place will surely be one of the loveliest memories you can take back from this trip. You can also visit the gardens of these hamlets for some relaxed time out from the hustling streets.
Located on the Eastern shore of Lake Como, Varenna is another beautiful town that is known for its beautiful scenery and charming atmosphere.
The scenic town is characterised by pastel-coloured houses where you can walk in the narrow streets and enjoy a little siesta in the beautiful gardens that slope down towards the lake.
Getting to Varenna:
Varenna is easily accessible by train from Milan and other cities in northern Italy. Trains run to Varenna-Esino station on the Lecco-Tirano line, and the journey takes approximately one hour from Milan. From the station, you can take a ferry or walk to reach the town of Varenna.
If you’re driving, Varenna can be reached via the A9 motorway from Milan or Switzerland. Take the exit for Bellano-Varennna and follow the signs to Varenna.
Top things to do in Varenna:
When you are in Varenna, the most famous attraction to visit is the Villa Monastero as well as the Villa Cipressi, a historic mansion and botanical garden located on the lakefront that dates back to the 12th century. The garden is filled with exotic plants and flowers, including azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias.
Varenna is richer in history than the other towns that surround the beautiful Lake Como. A site that you would love if you’re a historical buff, is the Church of San Giorgio, which dates back to the 13th century and features beautiful frescoes and artworks. Do check out the Castello di Vezio, a medieval castle located on a hill overlooking the town, which offers stunning views of Lake Como.
You could also get your body moving, with many outdoor activities that the town does offer, such as hiking and boating. Several hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains, such as the Sentiero del Viandante, a scenic path that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Como. Boating is another popular activity in Varenna, you can rent a boat or take guided tours of the lake.
And finally, when you get hungry, Varenna also caters to the callings of the stomach! You should really try one such popular Italian dish which is “risotto alla pescatora”, a seafood risotto made with fresh ingredients from Lake Como.
Menaggio is a charming little town famously known for its ideal location, mild climate, and stunning scenery. The town is surrounded by majestic mountains and offers visitors spectacular views of Lake Como from its lakefront, which is also one of the largest among the towns surrounding the lake.
Getting to Menaggio:
If you’re travelling to Menaggio by car, you can take the A9 motorway towards Como and then follow the signs for Menaggio.
Top things to do in Menaggio:
Menaggio boasts of a rich history, with its origins dating back to Roman times. One of the beautiful sites of the town is the Baroque-style Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace.
If you’re into exploring ruins, I recommend that you also visit the ancient ruins of the Castello di Menaggio, a castle of medieval times, and the ornate Villa Mylius Vigoni, which was once the residence of a wealthy Italian aristocrat.
After a long day of sightseeing, you can sample traditional Italian cuisine in cosy trattorias and enjoy gelato from local gelaterias. You could also check out the artisanal shops and boutiques on the promenade that sell souvenirs and gifts.
Positioned on the western shore of Lake Como, Lenno is known for its beautiful setting overlooking the lake and its historic architecture, including several interesting churches and villas.
Getting to Lenno:
Since Lenno is located on the western shore of Lake Como, you can easily access it by car via the SS340 road. From Como, it takes around 40 minutes to reach Lenno, and from Menaggio, it takes around 15 minutes.
For a hassle-free ride, you may also want to use the bus. The bus service runs several times a day and takes around 1 hour from Como and around 20 minutes from Menaggio.
Top things to do in Lenno:
When you step foot in Lenno, one of the most famous attractions is the Villa Balbianello, a stunning 18th-century villa that sits on a promontory overlooking the lake. The villa has been famously used in several movies including Star Wars: Episode II and Casino Royale. A tour of the interior villa is a must. The beautiful gardens and terraces surrounding it are a showstopper if natural beauty is what entices you.
Another interesting historic site in Lenno is the Chiesa della Santissima Trinità, a Romanesque-style church that dates back to the 11th century. The beautiful church holds several interesting artworks, such as a 16th-century altarpiece and a 14th-century wooden crucifix.
The best time to visit Lenno is during the summer months when the weather is warm and sunny, and the town is bustling with activity. But if you’re looking for a quieter experience, you may prefer to visit in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn when the crowds thin out, and the scenery is equally as stunning.
Tremezzo is another beautiful town on the shores of Lake Como. This town is easier to navigate since the main attractions are grouped and a majority of it lies just on the banks of the lake. The thing about this little hamlet is that it’s a perfect romantic getaway because of its quaint alleyways and pretty cobbled streets that make it a picturesque destination as well!
Getting to Tremezzo:
If you’re eager to take the road, you can reach Tremezzo from Milan if you take the A9 motorway. The journey takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
You can also reach Tremezzo by ferry. Ferries run regularly between Tremezzo and other towns on Lake Como. If you are coming from Como, you can take the ferry to Tremezzo from the Como Nord Lago station.
Top things to do in Tremezzo:
One of the most popular attractions in Tremezzo is the Villa Carlotta, a stunning 18th-century villa with beautiful gardens and artwork. The gardens have a diverse range of plant species that include palm trees and Japanese maples. Make sure you visit the art museum in the villa that will inspire your sense of sight!
If you’re spending an entire day at Tremezzo, you can enjoy a glass of wine or an aperitivo in one of the many lakeside bars or restaurants, or attend a concert or cultural event at the Villa Carlotta, which opens up in the evening.
Located at the foot of the majestic Grigna mountain range and surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes and scenic views of the lake, Lecco is undoubtedly a very gorgeous city in Lombardy.
Top things to do in Lecco:
Lecco serves to be an important cultural and historical centre with a rich architectural heritage dating back to the Middle Ages. The most impressive landmark in the city is the Basilica of San Nicolò, a beautiful mediaeval church built in the 14th century with stunning frescoes and elaborate decorations.
Famously known for the Palazzo delle Paure, a historic palace built in the 15th century which now houses a museum and art gallery, Lecco’s museums contain a fascinating collection of artefacts and artwork related to the cultural and historical heritage of the region, including paintings, sculptures, and archaeological finds. The Piazza XX Settembre is a bustling square in the heart of the city, surrounded by elegant buildings and featuring a beautiful fountain. You can visit this historic centre to click Instagramable pictures that showcase the palace with the porticos.
Bellano is a delightful little town located just a short distance from Varenna but in the Lecco area. The old town is known for its picturesque, historic architecture, and stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. This is one of the hidden towns around Lake Como that is perfect for relaxing and unwinding.
Getting to Bellano:
If you wish to travel by train to Bellano, trains from Milan, Lecco, and other nearby towns run several times a day.
By car, it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Bellano from Milan. From Lecco, it takes around 30 minutes.
Top things to do in Bellano:
One of the main attractions in Bellano is the Orrido, a steep gorge that has been carved out by the Pioverna River over thousands of years. A pleasant walk on wooden walkways and bridges that run through the gorge offers spectacular views of waterfalls and the cascading water.
You could also visit the Church of Santa Maria, a beautiful Romanesque church dating back to the 12th century. The church boasts a stunning bell tower and houses some of the most impressive frescoes and artwork inside.
For a historical background on Bellano, it also has a mediaeval tower, known as the Torre di Visconti, which was built in the early 14th century as a defensive structure. If you get a chance, do visit the tower that offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Cernobbio is another beautiful town, just 3 miles away from Bellagio. This antiquated town is well known for its luxurious villas, charming streets and beautiful natural surroundings.
Getting to Cernobbio:
Cernobbio is located about 5 km (3 miles) from Como on the western shore of the Lake and can be easily accessed by car via the SS340 road. From Milan, it takes around 1 hour to reach Cernobbio.
If you wish to take the bus, the bus line C10 runs frequently between Como and Cernobbio, with a journey time of about 20 minutes.
Top things to do in Cernobbio:
One of the town’s most famous attractions is the Villa d’Este, a luxurious hotel that dates back to the 16th century. Originally built as a summer residence for the Cardinal of Como, it was later transformed into a hotel. The villa boasts magnificent gardens that overlook the lake and is a popular destination among the chic posh families of Italy.
You could also visit the Villa Erba, a magnificent villa built in the 19th century that is now used for cultural events and exhibitions. The villa is surrounded by towering trees and lush gardens, making it a picturesque and serene location.
Additional Resources for Your Trip to Italy:
Florence Resources: https://merrylstravelandtricks.com/?s=florence
Rome Resources: https://merrylstravelandtricks.com/?s=rome
Milan Resources: https://merrylstravelandtricks.com/?s=Milan+
Venice Resources: https://merrylstravelandtricks.com/?s=Venice
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