Best Things to Do in Lake Como, Italy: Top 12 Attractions to Visit

by Emil Backup
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Are you planning to visit Lake Como this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Lake Como. These picturesque sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Tucked in the foothills of the Alps in Northern Italy, Lake Como effortlessly captures the imagination with its shimmering waters, majestic mountains, and quaint Italian villages. This idyllic destination has been a haven for artists, celebrities, and travelers seeking a slice of Italian dolce vita. Offering a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, there are countless things to do in Lake Como, making it more than just a pretty face—it’s a playground for both adventure and relaxation.

From the iconic pastel-hued buildings of Bellagio to the awe-inspiring gardens of Villa Carlotta, Lake Como offers a plethora of experiences that cater to every kind of traveler. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone simply looking to unwind, you’ll find your paradise here. And let’s not forget the culinary delights—imagine savoring a plate of freshly made pasta as you gaze out at the lake, a glass of local wine in hand. Pure bliss!

So, if you’re dreaming of a getaway that combines scenic vistas with cultural treasures, look no further. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the best things to do in Lake Como, Italy. From hidden gems to must-see attractions, we’ve got you covered. Buckle up, because we’re about to embark on an unforgettable journey through Italy‘s most enchanting lake region. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Lake Como.

The best things to do in Lake Como, Italy right now.
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Best Places to Visit in Lake Como

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Lake Como? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this enchanting vacation spot. Some of the best things to do in Italy can be found here. So keep reading to discover all these unique Lake Como places to visit.

Are you looking to indulge in boating across serene waters and explore charming lakeside villages adorned with historic architecture? Or would you prefer to hike through lush landscapes to capture breathtaking views of this Italian paradise? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Lake Como can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Lake Como that you should know about.

1. Sail on Lake Como

There’s no better way to kick off your Lake Como adventure than by sailing across its azure waters. Lake Como is, after all, one of the deepest and most stunning lakes in Europe. Whether you opt for a private yacht or a public ferry, the experience is nothing short of magical. The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the panoramic views of charming villages and grand villas make it one of the coolest things to do in Lake Como.

As you glide along, you’ll pass by iconic landmarks like Villa del Balbianello and Isola Comacina, the lake’s only island. Don’t forget to bring your camera; the photo opportunities are endless. And if you’re a fan of James Bond or Star Wars, you’ll be thrilled to know that Villa del Balbianello has been a filming location for both!

For the romantics out there, consider a sunset cruise. The sky turns into a canvas of pinks and oranges, reflecting on the lake’s surface, as the surrounding mountains darken into silhouettes. It’s a moment you’ll cherish forever, making it a must-see in Lake Como.

Villa del Balbianello: Where History Meets Beauty. This stunning villa, nestled on the shores.
Villa del Balbianello: Where History Meets Beauty. This stunning villa, nestled on the shores.

2. Villa Carlotta

Ah, Villa Carlotta, a place where art, history, and nature converge in a spectacular fashion. Situated in Tremezzina, this 17th-century villa is a Lake Como attraction you simply can’t miss. The villa itself is a masterpiece, adorned with intricate frescoes, historical artifacts, and an art collection that includes works by Canova and Hayez.

But it’s not just the inside that’ll leave you in awe. Step outside, and you’ll find yourself in a botanical paradise. The villa is surrounded by over 20 acres of gardens, featuring exotic plants, ancient trees, and vibrant flower beds. It’s one of those unique places in Lake Como where you can lose yourself in the beauty of nature while soaking up some culture.

And let’s not forget the panoramic views of Lake Como from the villa’s terraces. Imagine sipping on a glass of Italian wine while overlooking the lake’s shimmering waters and the surrounding Alpine peaks. It’s a sight to behold and a memory to treasure.

A breathtaking Italian retreat nestled on the shores of Lake Como, surrounded by lush gardens and timeless elegance.
A breathtaking Italian retreat nestled on the shores of Lake Como, surrounded by lush gardens and timeless elegance.

3. Castello di Vezio

If you’re wondering about the best things to do in Lake Como, look no further than the enchanting Castello di Vezio. Perched high above the charming town of Varenna, this medieval castle offers a distinctive fusion of historical elements and sweeping panoramic views. The castle, dating back to the 11th century, serves as a sentinel overlooking the lake and surrounding mountains.

The journey to the castle is an adventure in itself. A scenic hike leads you through olive groves and lush forests before revealing the castle’s stone walls and watchtowers. Once inside, you’re greeted by a collection of life-sized ghost sculptures, a tribute to the castle’s storied past. These ethereal figures add an element of mystique to the already captivating setting.

The real showstopper here is the view. From the castle’s ramparts, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of Lake Como and the Alpine scenery. It’s among the most captivating Lake Como attractions, especially during sunset when the sky transforms into a canvas of orange and pink hues.

A medieval fortress perched on a hilltop, commanding panoramic views of Lake Como and the charming village of Varenna below.
A medieval fortress perched on a hilltop, commanding panoramic views of Lake Como and the charming village of Varenna below.

4. Cernobbio

Welcome to the culinary scene in Lake Como! If you’re a foodie wondering where to visit in Lake Como, you can’t miss the lakeside town of Cernobbio. Known for its upscale eateries and romantic ambiance, this charming locale is a gastronomic paradise.

Imagine dining al fresco, the lake’s gentle waves providing the perfect backdrop as you savor authentic Italian cuisine. From freshly caught fish to homemade pasta, the menu options are as diverse as they are delicious. And let’s not forget the wine—locally sourced and perfectly paired with your meal.

However, it’s not solely the cuisine that renders Cernobbio a must-visit in Lake Como. The town itself is a feast for the eyes, with its elegant villas and lush gardens. After your meal, take a leisurely stroll along the lakefront promenade, where the views are just as sumptuous as the food you’ve just enjoyed.

Cernobbio offers a dining experience that’s second to none. It’s an essential destination that satisfies both your palate and your soul.

Cernobbio: A picturesque lakeside town on the shores of Lake Como
Cernobbio: A picturesque lakeside town on the shores of Lake Como.

5. Greenway del Lago di Como

Do you crave a bit of adventure? Hiking the Greenway del Lago di Como is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region. This scenic trail stretches for about 10 kilometers and offers some of the best places to go in Lake Como for panoramic views.

The trail takes you through quaint villages, past historic churches, and alongside the shimmering lake. Every step you take is a photo opportunity waiting to happen. The Greenway is well-marked, making it suitable for hikers of all levels. And the exciting part? You can hop on and off at different points, customizing your hike to fit your interests and stamina.

Distinguishing this hiking adventure are the unforeseen delights encountered throughout the journey. From hidden waterfalls to secluded picnic spots, the Greenway is full of unique things to do in Lake Como. Don’t forget to pack some local cheese and bread for a delightful picnic with a view!

Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking to stretch your legs, the Greenway del Lago di Como offers a fulfilling day out in nature. It’s a Lake Como attraction that combines exercise, sightseeing, and the simple joy of being outdoors.

A scenic lakeside trail that winds through the charming villages and lush gardens.
A scenic lakeside trail that winds through the charming villages and lush gardens.

6. Bellagio

Bellagio, known as the “Pearl of Lake Como,” this charming town is a must-see in Lake Como. And what better way to arrive than by a scenic boat tour? As you glide across the water, you’ll be captivated by the surrounding Alpine peaks and elegant villas that dot the shoreline.

Wander through its narrow, cobbled streets filled with boutique shops and cafes. Don’t miss the chance to visit the stunning gardens of Villa Melzi, a neoclassical villa that’s a feast for the eyes and the soul.

Bellagio is also a food lover’s paradise. From fine dining to cozy trattorias, the culinary scene here is as diverse as it is delicious. Imagine savoring a plate of freshly made pasta as you overlook the lake, the sun setting in the distance. It’s the kind of moment that makes you realize just how special this place is.

Thinking about what to do in Lake Como? A boat tour to Bellagio should be high on your list. It’s not just a destination; it’s an experience that captures the essence of Lake Como in every possible way. It’s easy to see why Bellagio is a must-see in Italy.

Exploring Bellagio's charming cobblestone streets. Among the best things to do in Lake Como, Italy.
Exploring Bellagio’s charming cobblestone streets. Among the best things to do in Lake Como, Italy.

7. Piona Abbey

Nestled on the Olgiasca peninsula, Piona Abbey is one of those best places in Lake Como that offers a tranquil escape from the bustling tourist spots. This Cistercian monastery is not just a historical marvel but also a spiritual oasis. The moment you step inside, you’ll feel a sense of peace wash over you.

The Abbey’s architecture is a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, making it a fascinating study for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike. The cloister, with its intricate carvings and serene garden, is the heart of the Abbey. It’s the perfect spot for some quiet reflection or even a bit of sketching if you’re artistically inclined.

Lake Como attractions often focus on natural beauty, but Piona Abbey reminds us that the area is also rich in culture and history. While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to sample the monks’ homemade herbal liqueurs. Trust us; it’s a heavenly experience!

Lake Como places to visit often include bustling towns and scenic viewpoints, but a trip to Piona Abbey offers something different—a chance to slow down and soak in the area’s spiritual and historical essence. It’s easy to see why this is among the best things to do on Lake Como!

Piona Abbey: Nestled amidst the tranquil beauty of Lake Como.
Piona Abbey: Nestled amidst the tranquil beauty of Lake Como.

8. Menaggio

Gracefully situated on the shores of Lake Como, Menaggio is a quintessential Italian lakeside town that’s an essential stop. Imagine cobblestone streets, delightful cafes, and a promenade boasting panoramic lake views. In every corner, a subtle reminder to savor life’s moments.

For the active traveler, Menaggio is a hub for hiking and mountain biking. Trails lead you through lush forests and offer jaw-dropping vistas of the surrounding area. If you’re into golf, the Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club is one of the oldest in Europe and offers a challenging course with stunning lake views.

What are cool destinations in Lake Como when you want a mix of adventure and relaxation? Menaggio has you covered. After a day of exploring, unwind at the Lido di Menaggio. This beach club offers a sandy beach, swimming pools, and a restaurant where you can sip on a spritz as the sun sets.

Lake Como things to do often revolve around the water, but Menaggio proves that the region’s charm extends to its quaint towns as well. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or someone who just wants to relax by the lake, Menaggio offers something for everyone.

Where vibrant piazzas, scenic promenades, and stunning Alpine vistas come together.
Where vibrant piazzas, scenic promenades, and stunning Alpine vistas come together.

9. Tremezzo

Tremezzo is one of those unique places in Lake Como that effortlessly combines natural beauty with cultural richness. Nestled on the western shore of the lake, this charming town is a haven for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle.

Lake Como attractions often focus on grand villas and gardens, and Tremezzo is no exception. The Villa Carlia is a masterpiece of art and architecture, boasting a collection of sculptures, paintings, and antique furniture. The villa’s garden is a labyrinth of terraces, fountains, and flowerbeds, offering a tranquil space to wander.

For the adventure seekers, Tremezzo offers a range of water sports, from paddleboarding to kayaking. The calm waters of the lake make it an ideal spot for beginners and experts alike. If you’re wondering what to do in Lake Como that’s a bit off the beaten path, consider a guided fishing trip. The lake is teeming with fish like perch and trout, making it a rewarding experience for anglers.

In the evening, the waterfront comes alive with local musicians and artists, adding a touch of romance to the already idyllic setting. Best places to go in Lake Como? Tremezzo should definitely be on your list.

Strolling through this enchanting village along the shores of Lake Como. Among best things to do in Lake Como, Italy.
Strolling through this enchanting village along the shores of Lake Como. Among best things to do in Lake Como, Italy.

10. Lenno

On Lake Como’s western edge, Lenno perfectly embodies the allure of its attractions. This serene retreat harmoniously weaves history, nature, and local culture, offering a tranquil escape for visitors.

First on your list of the coolest things to do in Lake Como should be a visit to the Villa del Balbianello. This 18th-century villa is a marvel of Italian architecture, surrounded by terraced gardens that overlook the lake. It’s a popular location for weddings and has even been featured in films like “Star Wars: Episode II” and “Casino Royale.”

Where to go in Lake Como if you love the great outdoors? Lenno provides ample opportunities for hiking and mountain biking. Trails wind through lush forests, leading you to panoramic viewpoints that offer breathtaking vistas of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Coolest activities in Lake Como? Don’t miss out on a visit to the local olive oil mill, where you can learn about the traditional methods of olive oil production and even taste some freshly made oil. It’s a rare experience that allows you to connect with the local culture in a meaningful way.

With the sun’s descent, the lakeside promenade in Lenno awakens under the gentle glow of street lamps, conjuring a romantic ambiance ideal for a leisurely evening walk.

As you wander through the charming streets of this lakeside, you'll be enchanted by the cobblestone paths that lead you past historic buildings.
As you wander through the charming streets of this lakeside, you’ll be enchanted by the cobblestone paths that lead you past historic buildings.

11. Lecco

Lecco is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, yet it’s one of the cool destinations in Lake Como if you’re after a mix of natural beauty and urban charm. Situated at the southeastern tip of the lake, Lecco is a bustling town that offers a different vibe from the serene villages scattered around Lake Como.

Start your day with a visit to the Basilica of San Nicolò, an architectural gem that boasts a 96-meter tall bell tower. The view from the top is a must-see in Lake Como, offering a panoramic sweep of the town and the surrounding mountains.

Lecco is a gateway to some of the most thrilling outdoor activities. From rock climbing to paragliding, the options are endless. The nearby Grigna Mountains are a haven for hikers, with trails that range from beginner to expert levels.

Shopping enthusiasts will find their paradise in Lecco’s bustling market streets. From high-end boutiques to quaint local shops, there’s something for everyone. And let’s not forget the food—Lecco’s culinary scene is a delightful mix of traditional Italian flavors and modern twists.

Take a leisurely walk along the lakeside promenade as the day winds down. The setting sun casts a golden glow on the water, making for a picture-perfect end to your day.

A vibrant lakeside town with stunning mountain vistas and a lively waterfront promenade.
A vibrant lakeside town with stunning mountain vistas and a lively waterfront promenade.

12. Varenna’s Streets

Varenna, a picturesque fishing village, is a labyrinth of cobbled lanes and charming squares. It’s one of those Lake Como places to visit that you’ll remember long after you’ve returned home. The village is a splash of color, with pastel houses clinging to the hillside and fishing boats bobbing in the harbor.

Commence your day at the 14th-century marvel, the Church of San Giorgio, adorned with intricate frescoes. This peaceful sanctuary offers an escape from tourist crowds, allowing a moment of quiet contemplation.

Looking for unique things to do in Lake Como? Varenna has you covered. Visit the Villa Monastero, a former monastery turned museum, and wander through its extensive botanical gardens. The villa also hosts scientific conferences, so you might just stumble upon a gathering of brilliant minds!

For the romantics, the “Lovers’ Walk,” known as “Passeggiata degli Innamorati,” is a must. This scenic pathway hugs the lake and offers some of the most breathtaking views. It’s the perfect spot for that Instagram-worthy photo or a quiet moment with your loved one.

As night descends, seek out a charming café to savor a glass of local wine. Varenna’s culinary panorama mirrors its diverse landscape, presenting a range from classic Italian fare to global delicacies.

Meandering pathways lined with colorful buildings inviting you to explore the authentic beauty of this lakeside Italian village.
Meandering pathways lined with colorful buildings inviting you to explore the authentic beauty of this lakeside Italian village.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Lake Como

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Lake Como? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Lake Como:

What’s the best time to visit Lake Como?

The best time to visit Lake Como is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) seasons. The weather is mild, and the tourist crowds are thinner, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the lake, its surroundings, and attractions more peacefully.

Is there a lot to do around Lake Como?

Absolutely! Lake Como is not only renowned for its stunning natural beauty but also offers a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors. Here’s a rundown of things to do around Lake Como:

  1. Villa Visits: Lake Como is dotted with historic villas and gardens. Some of the most famous include Villa Carlotta, Villa del Balbianello, and Villa Melzi. These villas often have beautifully manicured gardens and offer panoramic views of the lake.
  2. Boat Tours: One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Lake Como is from the water. You can rent a boat, join a guided tour, or use the regular ferry service to hop between towns.
  3. Explore Charming Towns: Towns like Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio are picturesque and perfect for strolling, shopping, and dining. Bellagio, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Lake,” is particularly popular.
  4. Hiking: The area around Lake Como offers numerous hiking trails that cater to all levels. The trails offer spectacular views of the lake, mountains, and surrounding countryside.
  5. Water Activities: Apart from boating, the lake is great for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
  6. Culinary Delights: Indulge in delicious Italian cuisine at lakeside restaurants and cafes. Don’t forget to try local specialties and wines.
  7. Cycling: Rent a bike and explore the scenic routes around the lake. There are paths suitable for casual cyclists as well as challenging routes for more experienced riders.

How do I get around Lake Como?

Getting around Lake Como is facilitated by ferries, providing scenic and efficient transport between towns. Buses and trains offer inland connections. Consider renting a car for flexibility, though parking can be limited. Cycling and walking are enjoyable for shorter distances, offering a closer experience of the lakeside beauty.

Is Lake Como expensive?

Lake Como can be relatively expensive, especially in popular tourist areas. Accommodation, dining, and attractions might have higher prices. However, budget options can be found, and exploring during the shoulder seasons can help save money. The experience of Lake Como’s beauty is worth the investment for many travelers.

Embarking on an unforgettable journey to one of Italy's most enchanting destinations.
Embarking on an unforgettable journey to one of Italy’s most enchanting destinations.

What should I pack for Lake Como?

Pack light clothing suitable for the region’s mild climate, including swimwear, sunglasses, and a hat. Comfortable walking shoes are essential for exploring towns and trails. Bring layers for cooler evenings. Consider packing a travel adapter, sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, and appropriate attire for visits to churches and upscale restaurants.

How many days should you do in Lake Como?

The ideal duration for a visit to Lake Como largely depends on your interests and how deeply you wish to explore the region. However, for most visitors, 3 to 4 days is a recommended duration for a trip to Lake Como.

  • Day 1: Begin with the main town of Como. Explore its historic center, visit the Como Cathedral, and take the funicular up to Brunate for panoramic views.
  • Day 2: Dedicate this day to the mid-lake region. Take a ferry to Bellagio, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Lake.” Wander its charming streets, visit Villa Melzi, and enjoy lakeside dining.
  • Day 3: Explore Varenna, another picturesque town. Visit Villa Monastero and the Castello di Vezio. If time permits, also visit Menaggio, a lovely town with a beautiful promenade.
  • Day 4: Dedicate this day to visiting some of the grand villas around the lake, such as Villa Carlotta or Villa del Balbianello. Alternatively, if you’re into hiking, there are several trails around the lake that offer stunning views.

What is the most beautiful part of Lake Como?

The most beautiful part of Lake Como is arguably Bellagio, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Lake.” Nestled at the intersection of the lake’s three arms, Bellagio captivates with its cobblestone streets, lush gardens, and panoramic views that offer a slice of Italian paradise.

Is Lake Como worth visiting?

Absolutely, Lake Como is a must-visit destination. Known for its jaw-dropping natural beauty, luxurious villas, and quaint towns, it’s a haven for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re into boating, hiking, or simply enjoying fine Italian cuisine by the water, Lake Como offers an unforgettable experience.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Lake Como

And there you have it, a curated list of the best places to go in Lake Como that promises an unforgettable Italian escapade. Whether you’re an adventurer at heart, a romantic soul, or a history buff, Lake Como has something for everyone. From the tranquil abbeys to the bustling towns, each corner of this Italian paradise offers a unique experience that will leave you yearning for more.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book that ticket, and set out on a journey to discover the unparalleled beauty and charm of Lake Como. Trust me, it’s a trip you’ll be talking about for years to come.

Best Things to Do in Lake Como, Italy for all types of travelers.
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