Top 10 Things to Do in Lake Como

Panoramic View of Lake Como, Italy

Are you looking for a day trip from Milan? You can visit Lake Como in an easy day trip from Milan by train. It only took me an hour and a half to reach Varenna from the Milan Central Station. With over 17 trains going to Varenna a day, you can find the train that works the best for your schedule. Here are the top 10 things to do in Lake Como to give you some travel inspiration for your future Italy trip planning.

VarennaHouses in Varenna in Lake Como

Varenna was only a short stop in my day at Lake Como. I arrived and departed the train and followed the crowd of people to the pier. My goal was to reach Como, so; I beelined it to buy a ticket for the ferry. The ferry runs from Varenna to Bellagio, and as a pedestrian, it is only a few dollars for the trip. While you are waiting for the boat, take some time to get some fantastic photographs looking out over Lake Como. The ferry ride to Bellagio is short so, you can grab a seat to enjoy the view from the top or stand down below and watch the gorgeous scenery pass you by.

If you want to spend some time exploring Varenna, there are quite a few things to see and do. You can check out the beautiful Church of San Giorgio, visit the Botanical Garden and Museum at Villa Monastero, and explore the gardens at Villa Cispressi. If you like to be in nature, then you will love exploring the Fiumelatte, which only flows six months out of the year (March-September), or you can hike in the Grigne mountains nearby.View of Menaggio from Varenna at Lake ComoFerry on Lake Como

BellagioBellagio on Lake Como

Bellagio is a bustling town on Lake Como to visit. With the ferry docking, almost every hour, the traffic around the pier is heavy. Watch out for the cars so; you don’t accidentally walk in front of them. I enjoyed walking around Bellagio from the gorgeous Italian Villas to the people walking my head was continually swiveling to catch everything. This is also a great town that you could eat lunch. I didn’t eat in a restaurant as I brought the makings for a picnic lunch. Which I enjoyed sitting by the water. But, there are plenty of restaurants for you to choose from. The rest of your time in Bellagio, you should spend browsing the shops up and down the steep steps around the town. And also checking out the views from all angles of the city.View of Lake Como in BellagioSteps in BellagioLittle Girl walking on the steps in Bellagio

Chiesa di San GiorgioChiesa di San Giorgio in Bellagio

Another Church of San Giorgio, although this one is in Bellagio. This church is very nondescript from the outside and simple on the inside. But, I think that makes this church, so special for this tiny church built somewhere around the end of the 11th century. The exterior of the building is in the Romanesque style while the interior has walnut choir-seats, sculpted in a baroque style.Interior of Chiesa di San Giorgio in Bellagio

Bellagio to Como FerryBoat speeding past Argegno on Lake Como

When you are ready to book your next leg of your journey around Lake Como, go to the ferry office, which is not the same as where the ferry dropped you off from Varenna. You will need to walk a little more in town to find where you need to purchase tickets for the ferry that will take you to Como. There are two options to choose from the slow boat and the fast hydrofoil boat. The differences between the two are all based on what your schedule is like for the rest of the day. The slow boat takes 2 -25 hours and has 10-16 stops. Whereas the fast boat takes about an hour with only a couple of stops. The slow boat will allow you to enjoy the scenery around Lake Como better than the hydrofoil boat. Since I was on a timetable, I chose the fast boat to Como. I was still able to get quite a lot of lovely photos of surrounding towns along Lake Como. Check boat times and prices here. Towns on Lake Como - one of the stops on the fast boat ferry - things to do in Lake ComoArgegno in Lake ComoHouses on the edge of Lake Como

 ComoLake Como shoreline

I’m not sure what I was expecting when arriving in Como. But, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed my time exploring the town. Unfortunately, but not really, the street by the port was flooded. Some people would be upset with this to have the inconvenience of rerouting their path, but what I noticed was only laughter and smiles. Parents brought their kids and their bikes for them to ride in the water. It made for a happy environment to be traveling through, although a little damp.Como-Brunate Funicular and Lake ComoBiker riding through the flooded street of ComoFlooded Street of ComoWalking through the Flooded Street of Como

Exploring ComoTown Square in Como, Italy

Como was a joy to walk around. The weather was perfect and sunny the day I visited, and everyone I saw was smiling. One thing that I like about Italian culture is that restaurants all provide outdoor seating, and you see more of those than inside tables. Which I chose to do for lunch. One other thing I like is the architecture of Italian buildings. They all look so romantic with the pastel colors, and it makes for some great photos as well. I also found a fantastic sand artist while exploring the town. Thee dog and puppy he created entirely out of sand looked so lifelike I had to go up and get a closer look. Outside Cafe in ComoFountain and Pond in Como, ItalySand Art in Como, Italy - things to do in Lake Como

Why Not RestaurantWhy Not Restaurant in Como, Italy

When looking for a good restaurant in Italy, it isn’t that hard to find one. They are everywhere. I found this one right by the flooded street and had an excellent view of the kids and families playing in the water. I chose a gnocchi dish for lunch. It was so delicious and creamy that I almost wanted to order seconds. Gnocchi Lunch at Why Not Restaurant in Como, Italy

Cathedral of ComoCathedral of Como

I love visiting and photographing churches around the world, and at home, the older, the better. The Cathedral of Como was a treat since it has some exquisite 16th & 17th-century tapestries on display inside. And the organs and the alter and the etc. etc. etc. everything was amazing in this cathedral. The Cathedral of Como is the Roman Catholic cathedral of the city of Como, Lombardy, Italy, and the seat of the Bishop of Como. It is known as the last Gothic cathedral built in Italy. And this church should definitely be on your list to visit when in Como. Tapestry inside the Cathedral of Como - things to do in Lake Como

Exterior of the Cathedral of Como

Brunate

Funicular Como-BrunateComo-Brunate Funicular - things to do in Lake Como

An activity that is very enjoyable in Europe is riding in a funicular. The railway is 3,556 ft long, and the bottom section (427 ft) is completely enclosed in a tunnel and has been operating until 1894. Tickets are only 5.50€, and it is a quick 7-minute ride to the top to Brunate. Brunate is known as the “balcony of the Alps.” If you look toward the north, you can see the Alps of Northern Italy and Switzerland. Once there, you can spend a couple of hours exploring all there is to do in Brunate. Some of the things to do in Brunate including eating at Trattoria dei Bracconieri, hiking up to the Volta Lighthouse, seeing beautiful villas, or trekking to the Hermitage of San Donato beside seeing the breathtaking views of Como from above.View of Como from Funicular at Brunate - things to do in Lake ComoView of Como from Brunate - things to do in Lake ComoAerial view of the Cathedral of Como

Chiesa di Sant’ Andrea ApostoloChiesa di Sant' Andrea Apostolo in Brunate, Italy

The Church of Sant’Andrea Apostolo is around the 14th century located in Piazza della Chiesa which is a short walk from the Brunate station. Once inside the church, you will be overwhelmed with the most beautiful frescoes painted on the ceiling and walls. Take some time to walk around the entire church to see the altars and even the baptismal chamber.

Traveling by train from Milan to Lake Como and BackRailroad Station in Como, Italy

The Como train station is easy to find. Como S. Giovanni is at the west end of the town. You can buy your train ticket there or buy it ahead from Trenitalia. If you do have a scheduled ticket, make sure to note the time. You don’t want to get caught up enjoying Lake Como and forget to make it to your train on time. The ride back to Milan will be less than an hour.

Summary

I never thought I would ever make it to Lake Como. It always seemed like this was way out of my price range with the likes of George Clooney, Madonna, Donatella Versace, and Sir Richard Branson owning or have owned villas in Lake Como. But, on the spur of the moment, I decided to go to Lake Como on a day trip from Miland, and I was thrilled that it turned out quite affordable. Sometimes going to places that seem out of reach can be a great experience and don’t have to be expensive. Just remember to do a little planning and save this

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Italy for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

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