Located in the Lombardo region of Northern Italy, Lake Como is the third-largest lake in Italy. Shaped like an upside down “y”, the lake splits into two southern branches and extends through several cities. The upscale resort town of Bellagio is located at the tip of a hilly area between Lake Como’s two southern branches, and is decorated with stunning villas, lakeside restaurants, Italian renaissance gardens, and gorgeous vistas. Also nearby is the two-thousand-year-old city of Como, which is home to Renaissance architecture. Many of the rich and famous jet-set come to Lake Como to vacation and relax, and there are many great things to do when visiting during the on-season. Keep in mind that Lake Como is a seasonal area, so if you come between the months of November through February, you will have a harder time finding places that are open.
No visit to Lake Como is complete without stopping in Bellagio, which is a great place to spend an afternoon or even a weekend. Walk by the historic Hotel Grand Bretagne, which is currently not open and located next to a pretty lakeside promenade. The town’s main street to walk along is Via Garibaldi, which is home to many shops, cafes, and the main town square, which has a church, a medieval tower, and lots of statues. Another popular site to visit is Villa Serbelloni, which has beautiful gardens that people can visit on organized tours, but the rest of the property is closed to the public. The villa was at one time owned by Ella Walker, a whiskey heiress and princess, who ultimately left the property to the Rockefeller Foundation.
There are several main towns around Lake Como, which make for great day trips. Como is located on the south shore and is known for its beautiful cobblestone streets that wind past cafes and parks. Tremezzo is a dreamy lakeside town that is home to vast gardens, two amazing villas, and one of the lake’s most luxurious hotels. Cernobbio is where the legendary resort of Villa d’Este is located, and it has a busy neighborhood feel to it with lots of couples and families walking round. Milan is an hour and a half south of Lake Como by car, which makes for another great day trip as well.
Lake Como is a charming area to stay, with lots of cute resort towns and villages that offer everything from luxurious villas to smaller home rentals. Moltrasio is a nice and non-touristy village on the lake with lots of gorgeous views and easy access to ferries that stop there. Argegno offers great access to mid-lake regions and is less busy than Bellagio. The lakeside town of Varenna is across the lake from Mennagio and a 15-minute boat ride to Bellagio, with views of the lake and the Swiss Alps. Torno is another place that is well-frequented by the ferry, less touristy than other areas, and has lots of modern apartments.
Many people take car ferries and vaporetti, which are also known as waterbuses, to get to other nearby towns. The ferries run from Bellagio to all three corners of the lake, and if you don’t want to spend all day on a boat, there is also a bus service that runs along the Amalfi Coast. Other options include private taxi and water-boat tours if you want more guidance around the area, and of course walking is another convenient way to get around, especially through the smaller towns.
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