Get to Know Lake Como, Italy's Most Popular Lake

What to See and Do on Lake Como

Village On Shores Of Lake Como With Mountains In The Background
••• Blanca Sanchez / EyeEm / Getty Images

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 perimeter, and 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 romantic travel destination. It's and a great spot for photography and is also a popular getaway for Romans who want to escape the city, 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. The elegant 5-star Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio is a top luxury hotel on the lake and one of the oldest.  See these Top-rated Lake Como hotels around the lake or compare user reviews of the best hotels in Lake Como on TripAdvisor.

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. The Ferrovia Nord Milano, a small train line that leaves Como from via Manzoni, runs only between Como and Milan.

Milan's Malpensa Airport is 40 miles away. To get to Como from the airport, take the Malpensa Express Train to Saronna and transfer to train LeNord 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 (see Auto Europe rentals 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, some services may be closed, but you can ski in the mountains nearby. 

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 art works.

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 LakeComo Festival features summer music performances in venues around the lake.