One of the most famous lakes in Italy is the picturesque Lake Como, with an area of 146 km². The holiday paradise is considered by many to be even more beautiful than Lake Garda. It is one of the most popular places in Europe. Tourists who come here in the summer are amazed by the sight of the lake, primarily due to the surrounding mountains.
It is not only worth organizing a trip here for those who want to bathe. There will be plenty of opportunities to go on trips, hikes, and bike rides, and history almost comes alive in the local villas.
Lario (as the locals call the lake) is part of the Northern Italian lake region, which includes several small and sizeable lakes.
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|Milan distance||50 km / 1 hour|
|Lake Garda distance||210 km/ 3 hours|
|Popular cities||Como, Bellgio, Menaggio, Lecco, Lenno|
|Can you swim in Lake Como?||Yes|
|Average depth||145 m (deepest: 410 m)|
|Parameters||4,5 km width, 46 km length|
Map - Where is Lake Como?
- Distance from Milan: 50 km / 1 hour
- Distance from Venice: 350 km / 4 hours
- Distance from Bolzano: 250 km / 4.5 hours
- Distance from Lake Garda: 210 km / 3 hours
- Distance from Lake Maggiore: 60 km / 1.5 hours
You will enjoy a beautiful view if you drive around the lake by car. Calculate 3.5 hours for driving without any break.
Getting there by plane or train
- The nearest airport is in Milan, from where you can travel further by train, bus or a rented car.
- If you want to go by train, you can use trainline to get a ticket. Trains depart every day from all significant cities.
A high-quality ferry network has been established between the cities of Lake Como. The most popular ferry route (passenger only) connects the city of Como on the southwestern tip of the lake with Colico in the north. It stops in Bellagio on its way (and also connects Varenna). In addition to ferries, you can also sail by motorboat.
- Due to its shape, the lake has two popular spots. One is Como in the southwest corner, while the other is in the middle of the letter "Y": the towns of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio.
- Ferries run every day of the year. During the season, you can choose from several ships. You can also buy your ticket online. Prices for 2023 (one way):
|Lake Como ferry||Prices||Duration|
|Como - Bellagio||12 euros||1.5 - 2 hours|
|Como - Bellagio napijegy||25 euros||-|
|Bellagio-Varenna||5 euros||15 mins|
More about the lake
The country's 3rd largest lake with an area of 146 km2. Its average depth is 145 meters, while its deepest point reaches 410 meters - making it the deepest lake in Europe. The lake owes its formation to the work of glaciers from the north. By the way, the higher mountains can still be found on the northern side of the lake.
It is fed by the 310 km long Adda river in northern Italy, a tributary of the more well-known Po river. The river enters the lake in the north and leaves the lake in the southeast at the town of Lecco. The western branch of the lake is a backwater, where the water sometimes leaves its bed due to the lack of drainage.
Its shape resembles an inverted letter 'Y', and in its waters, there is only one small island, the island of Comacina. Due to the elongated shape of the lake, you can legitimately feel that you are walking on the banks of a wide river. It is 4.5 km wide and 46 km long.
Why is Lake Como special?
The scenery of Lago di Como is unparalleled. Its atmosphere combines the Mediterranean and Alpine worlds. You can find ancient villas, spas, and restaurants in its charming towns. The stronghold of culture and history. Top 3 reasons for Lake Como:
- fabulous nature
- special villas
- delicious local food
Can you swim in Lake Como?
Yes, you can swim in the lake, for which there are many beaches along the coast. Don't expect huge, long ones. Smaller, more intimate - gravel or concrete - bathing places have been created. One of the criticisms of the lake is that its water is not as clean as Lake Garda's.
Expect mainly smaller beaches scattered around the lake. Most of them are gravel, but there are grassy and concrete ones as well.
Beaches on the west side
- In the city of Como: Lido di Villa Olmo, Lido di Villa Geno
- Ossuccio beach (Miralago beach)
- Pianello: windy, pebble beach, which is ideal for our surfers
- Rezzonico: popular pebble beach located a few minutes from the main road
- Dongo: beach close to the local campsite
- Domaso: beach on the north side (grass and gravel), ideal for surfing in the afternoon due to the increasing wind
- Lenno town: beach at Villa Balbianello and one by the ferry
Beaches on the east side
- Lecco - Orsa Maggiore
- Abbadia Lariana - Pradello
- Abbadia Lariana - Parco Chiesa Rotta
- Abbadia Lariana - Poncia, Bellano - Oro
- Dervio - Colico
- Oliveto Lario - Onno
- Varenna - Olivedo - Malpensata
Cities on the shores of Lake Como
The lake can be divided into three larger territorial units: western, eastern and southern. We can't talk about the north because the lake is narrow there.
|Lake Como||Cities and villages|
|West side||Domaso, Gravedona, Dongo, Musso, Menaggio, Cadenabbia, Griante, Tremezzo, Mezzegra, Lenno, Ossuccio, Sala Comacina, Colonno, Argegno, Brienno, Moltrasio, Cernobbio|
|East side||Colico, Dorio, Dervio, Bellano, Varenna, Lierna, Mandello del Lario, Lecco|
|South side||Como, Blevio, Brunate, Torno, Nesso, Bellagio, Malgrate|
Two central areas emerged. One is Como in the southwest corner, while the other is in the middle of the letter "Y": the towns of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio. If you're looking for the hustle and bustle, you should look for accommodation in these places.
- Como: the lake's most popular and namesake city at its southwestern tip. It is a perfect choice for accommodation due to its extensive selection. We recommend it, especially to those who prefer the hustle and bustle of the city to the mountains. You can comfortably explore the area to the south and west.
- Bellagio: considered the most beautiful town on the lake, Bellagio is an ideal choice due to its central location. An ideal place for a day trip.
- Lecco: the best choice if you want to explore the eastern side of the lake.
- Mandello del Lario
- Bellano: picturesque settlement where you can see an exciting gorge.
Villas around the lake
Lake Como has been a popular destination for aristocrats and the wealthy since Roman times. A popular destination with many artistic and cultural gems, of which the villas are the most famous. Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni and Villa Carlotta are world-famous buildings. It is no coincidence that many famous people had and still have homes on the shores of Lake Como.
- Villa del Balbianello
- Villa Carlotta and its botanical garden
- Villa Monastero
- Botanic garden of Villa Erba (the villa is an event venue)
- Villa Balbiano, overlooking the island of Comacina
- I Giardini di Villa Melzi and the botanical garden
Things to do & Attractions
In addition to the villas, there are several exciting places around the lake. We have highlighted our favourites for you:
#1 Orrido di Bellano gorge
In Bellano, you will find one of the lake's most beautiful natural attractions, the Orrido di Bellano gorge. You can visit the narrow gorge by walking on wooden footbridges attached to the high rocky walls. Unlike the Alpine gorges, you can even see palm trees here.
You will also be lucky enough to see a waterfall in the gorge created by the erosion of the Pioverna River and the Adda Glacier 15 million years ago. Over the centuries, giant potholes, dark chasms, and numerous caves have formed.
- The entrance fee is 5 - 6 euros per person
- Address: Piazza S. Giorgio, 23822 Bellano
#2 Castello Baradello
One of the most impressive sights is the Baradello tower (or fortress) on a 430-meter-high hill. The tower belongs to the city of Como but lies outside it. It is worth combining its viewing with a visit to the city. The 8x8 meter tower is 27 meters high. Next to it, you can find the remains of a chapel and a stone wall.
#3 Comacina Island
The only island in the lake is Comacina, located near Ossuccio. The tiny island is a true gem for the eyes. You can approach it by water taxi from the bay. Let's take a short walk on the island. While you are here, taste the local olives, which owe their exceptional taste to the unique microclimate found here. The town of Lenno is just a few kilometres from here.
The former castle, Castello di Vezio, can be found near Varenna, opposite the island - of which you will have a magnificent view. The 12th-century building is recognizable by its highest tower. It was once connected to the village below by walls, but this is no longer visible. In 1956, remains of Iron Age graves, weapons and armour were found in the area.
The Sentiero Spirito Del Bosco is a spirit of the forest. A small hiking area where you can meet wooden figures along the way. You can choose from a total of 7 routes of different lengths. The tourist trail lies on the south side of the lake between the mountains.
Based on its name, you wouldn't think that the Madonna del Ghisallo is a hill. Thanks to a legend, it became the protector of travellers. Nowadays, the Italians consider it the patron saint not only of travellers but also of cyclists. On the hill, you find a bicycle museum, which gained its fame because several races are held here every year (including the Giro di Lombardia). The route is 10.6 km long, while cyclists have to overcome a level of approximately 750 meters (of course, it can also be done on foot). Don't miss it when you're in the area. You can buy some souvenirs as a reward at the end of the day.
The Piona Abbey is a religious complex on the Lecco shore of the lake, in the territory of the Colico settlement. The abbey is located on top of Olgiasca, a small peninsula. In the building, you can buy herbs, cosmetic creams, honey and famous liqueurs distilled by the oldest traditions. Monks produce all products.
The Como Cathedral is, of course, found in the city of Como. One of the most impressive buildings in the area. It is the seat of the Bishop of Como, and it was dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
#9 Nearby lakes
Between the eastern and western branches of the lake, there are several smaller and larger lakes to which comfortable hiking trails lead. If you want to take a walk in the area and can't get enough of the lakes, then visit the following:
- Lago del Segrino
- Lago di Pusiano
- Lago di Annone
- Lago di Alserio
The Lake Como area is the perfect place for easy, moderate or challenging hikes. There are plenty of trails where the roads connecting the lakeside villages go up to the mountains. You can find delightful routes starting at the middle part of the lake. You can rest in huts and farmhouses while walking in the hilly area. And while you're here, let's taste the previously mentioned farm products. Hiking trails in the central part of the lake.
If you want to discover one of the surrounding peaks and would hike for a whole day, then you should flirt with the following mountains:
- Monte Legnone (2610 m)
- Via Dei Monti Lariani, iconic multi-day route (approx. three days)
- Alta Via Lariana (5-day tour touching ten peaks (above 2000 m)
- Triangolo Lariano (2-day itinerary in the southern part of the lake between Lecco, Como and Bellagio)
Lake Como Greenway
Greenway del Lago di Como is a pleasant walk that starts in Colonno, just outside Argegno, and reaches Cadenabbia di Griante. The route follows the path of the ancient Via Regina, the road built by the Romans to connect Como with the lands above the Alps.
- Distance: The route is about 10 km long and leads through easy terrain.
- Duration: Allow 3.5 hours to complete, plus time for short stops, as your route will take you through small villages.
- Towns along the way: Colonno, Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, Tremezzo and Griante
National parks nearby
Lake Como is not part of any national park, but you don't have to be discouraged because the surrounding mountains offer many opportunities for hiking, cycling, etc.
- Parco Regionale Spina Verde game reserve is only half an hour from Como. Although the park does not have an English website, the most beautiful routes can be found here. It is worth visiting it for hiking.
- Riserva Naturale Pian di Spagna e Lago di Mezzola is a park located at the northern tips of the lake. With the park, the management of the region wanted to preserve the bird life of the lake for posterity.
- Parco delle Orobie Bergamasche nature park is a little further from the lake. There is more than 1,000 km of marked trails in the area of the park studded with mountains. It is worth counting a whole day for hiking trails of different levels and lengths, and even then, you will only have time to cover one. From the eastern shores of the lake (e.g. Lecco), the western edge of the nature park is about 1.5 hours by car.
Lake Garda or Lake Como?
It isn't easy to differentiate between the two lakes, as both are dreamy and have similar features - an alpine landscape with a Mediterranean atmosphere. If you have to choose, we would say:
- Those more interested in bathing, swimming and water sports should choose Lake Garda.
- Those who love history, architecture, beautiful gardens, and charming villages should vote for Lake Como.
Lake Garda: Cities, things to do, ferries ...
We filled this itinerary with different types of attractions. Do you prefer sightseeing in medical towns or surfing and swimming in a buzzing city? Or would you climb Monte Baldo or take an easy hike to some local waterfalls? You will find everything you dreamed of, from wine tasting to amusement parks.
We hope you found this article helpful. If so, save it for later or share it with your friends. Have a nice trip! Trekhunt team ❤️