Lake Como, Lago di Como in Italian, is Italy's most popular lake and also its deepest. It is shaped like an inverted Y, giving it a long shoreline, and it is surrounded by mountains and hills dotted with beautiful villas and resort villages. There are good hiking paths, boat trips, and water activities.
Since Roman times, Lake Como has been a top travel destination. It's and a great spot for photography and is also a popular getaway for Italians from cities like Rome, Milan, and Torino who want a break from their cities, particularly in the summer.
Lake Como is in the region of Lombardy and is part of the northern Italian Lakes District. It lies between Milan and the border of Switzerland with its southern tip about 40km north of Milan.
Where to Stay on Lake Como
Lake Como has a variety of lodging options, from campgrounds to historic villas to luxurious 5-star retreats. The elegant Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio is a top luxury hotel on the lake and one of the oldest. Grand Hotel Tremezzo is another luxury option, while the modern Hilton Lake Como offers a wide range of rates, depending on the season. See these Top-rated Lake Como hotels around the lake.
How to Get to Lake Como
Lake Como is on the Milan-to-Switzerland train line. The train stops in the town of Como, the main town on the lake, where there is a tourist office in Piazza Cavour. Several trains per day make the approximately 1-hour journey from Milan to Como San Giovanni station.
Milan's Malpensa Airport is 40 miles away. To get to Como from the airport, take the Malpensa Express Train to Saronno and transfer to a TreNord regional train to Como.
Transportation for Getting Around Lake Como
Ferries link the major villages and towns of Lake Como, providing both a good form of public transportation and a good way to do some sightseeing from the lake. There is also a bus system to villages around the lake, and several funiculars to take you into the hills. You can rent cars in Como if you want to explore other nearby areas on your own.
When to Go to Lake Como
Lake Como is a popular weekend destination for people from Milan so the weekdays may be less crowded. July and August are the most crowded months, as you might imagine.
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit since the weather is still quite pleasant and the lake is much less crowded than the summer months. During the winter, ferries will run less frequently and many lakeside hotels and restaurants will close for the season. Still, you can ski in the mountains nearby and enjoy the wintry solitude of the lake.
Lake Como Attractions
The major towns near Lake Como are Bellagio, the town of Como and Menaggio, but there are also smaller villages that are quite charming and appealing to tourists.
Bellagio, known as the pearl of the lake, is in a beautiful setting where the three branches of Lake Como come together. It's easy to get to by ferry or bus from other cities on the lake. Read more in our Bellagio Travel Guide.
The walled town of Como has a good historic center and lively squares with nice cafes. Silk is produced in the town of Como and you can see the entire silk-making process in the Silk Museum or buy silk in many shops. There also are several walking paths near town.
Como makes a good base if you're traveling across Italy by train. From Como, you can take the funicular to the village of Brunate, for hiking trails and views of the lake and the Alps.
Menaggio, in the foothills of the Alps, is a lively resort with a lakeside promenade. Menaggio is popular with outdoor enthusiasts for walking or hiking, swimming, windsurfing, and rock climbing. Villa Carlotta, just south of Menaggio, has beautiful gardens open to visitors. You can tour the inside with its original 18th-century furniture and artworks.
Villa del Balbianello, in the village of Lenno, is also worth a visit and has some unusual treasures. Fun fact: this villa was used as a set in "Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones."
Things to Do in Como
Biking, mountain biking, hiking, boating, paragliding, and windsurfing are all popular activities on and around Lake Como during warm weather. In the winter, you can ski in the nearby mountains.
There also are some interesting cruises around the lake on commercial boats, mainly on weekends in the summer season.
And Lake Como and its surrounding towns have many festivals. The Sagra di San Giovanni is celebrated the last weekend of June in the town of Como with folk arts and fireworks and in Ossuccio with a festival, boat procession, and boat race.
The Palio del Baradello, a reenactment of the region's medieval history, is held the first week of September. Also in September is a traditional rowing race, Palio Remiero del Lario. And the Lake Como International Music Festival features summer music performances in venues around the lake.