Destination Guides Europe

A GUIDE TO LAKE COMO

Lake Como, in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, is a luxurious resort area known for its breathtaking scenery, set against the foothills of the Alps. Como revolves around its lakefront promenade and the adjacent Piazza Cavour, making it easy to explore by foot.

During our two month trip to Europe, Lake Como was our first stop during the Italian leg of the journey. We spent only two nights here, and eagerly want to return as our time in here was certainly too short!

Here’s our quick guide to Lake Como for anyone planning to add this Italian gem to their Europe itinerary. 

What To Do

Cathedral of Como

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, better known as Como Cathedral, is the main place of worship in the city of Como. The 14th-century façade of Como’s cathedral nearly fills one side of Piazza Duomo, it’s a sight you will find hard to miss. Entrance is free, and if you feel up to it we recommend taking to climb up to the 18th-century dome.

Take a walk to Sacro Monte di Varese

One of the nine sacred mountains of Northern Italy, Mount Varese offers an incredible viewpoint of the lakes and the Swiss Alps. Make sure you also check out the historic chapels built  in the 17th & 18th century while you’re there.

Ride the Como-Brunate Funicular

The Como–Brunate funicular is a funicular railway that connects the city of Como with the village of Brunate in Lombardy, Italy. The line has operated since 1894, and is used by both tourists and local residents. The views at the top encompass the town and southern lake, with a stunning backdrop of mountains.

We recommend taking the climb higher to reach a terrace which has a conveniently placed café so you can sip on an Italian coffee while allowing the panoramic views sink in.

Visit Villa Balbianello

A 1km walk along the lake shore from Lenno’s main square you will find Villa Balbianello. Featured in films like Stars Wars II and Casino Royale, this is one of the most beautiful villas in all of Como boasting both stunning  architecture and lake views.

Visitors are only allowed to walk the 1km path from the Lenno landing stage to the estate on Tuesdays and at weekends. On other days, you have to take a taxi boat from Lenno. If you want to see inside the villa, you must join a guided tour by 4.15pm.

Piazza Cavour

Piazza Cavour is Como’s main square and a focal point of the city’s historic center. It is a place to enjoy views of Lake Como and its surrounding hills, to admire striking architecture and were many festivals and cultural events take place.

Visit Villa Carlotta

Waterfront Villa Carlotta is a must go for it’s botanic gardens. They are filled with orange trees to pergolas, and everything in between. This 17th-century villa, filled with paintings, sculptures and tapestries, takes its name from the Prussian princess who was given the place in 1847 as a wedding present from her mother.

Upstairs, rooms with period furniture provide an insight into the royal lifestyle. Roam the villa and imagine just what it must have been like living in luxury by the lake back in the day. Villa Carlotta is a short walk southwest of the Cadenabbia car ferry stop.

Where To Eat

For the best pizzaPizzeria

For the best gelato – Gelateria Rolly

For the best cheap meal – Tigella Bella di Garavaglia Matteocomo

For fine dining – La Darsena

For the best coffee – Poletti

Where To Stay

Luxury Hotel: Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

This luxurious hotel built in 1850 with Italian-style gardens is a fairytale lovers dream hotel. The elegant, traditional rooms with antique furnishings and carpeted floors feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms with bath tubs and double sinks. Some rooms even offer private balconies with lake views! They also have their very own trampoline and diving platform right on the lake.

Budget-friendly Hotel: Hotel Villa Aurora

Surrounded by mountains, this historic hotel dating to 1912 features a detached waterfront villa. The sophisticated rooms and suites have mountain and/or lake views, plus free Wi-Fi & satellite TV. Some accommodations add balconies and all rooms include breakfast, loaner kayaks/canoes and parking. There’s also a pizzeria, a snack bar and a sundeck.

Hostel: Lake Como Hostel La Primula

This cute lakefront hostel lies a 2-minute walk from a bus stop that takes you to any place you want to go. The simple single-sex dorms and private rooms provide shared or en suite bathrooms, as well as free Wi-Fi – and some even have lake views. Continental breakfast is complimentary, and cooked breakfast and simple meals are served in the relaxed restaurant with a lake view terrace.

Self-catered: Lake Como Apartment with views over Bellagio

This cosy apartment is perfect for couples and families. It is a part of an ex hotel, so the room has a private bathroom and a small kitchen. The view is incredible and is very close to the ferry, a bus stop, supermarket and restaurants.

Have you stayed in an Airbnb rental before? If not and you would like to sign up to Airbnb why not use this link here so you can receive a $50 Airbnb travel credit.

Anything we missed? What would you recommend travellers do, eat or stay during a visit to Lake Como?

Stephen and Jess signoff

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  • Hey Jessica, Love this post! But when I was looking at the map, Varese and Sacro Monte is quite far from Como. How did you get here?