For some reason, Lake Como reminds me a lot of the Caribbean island of Saint Barth, which I also called the museums of rich life. The 2nd thing you notice in Lago di Como (First one is of course the view) are the stunning historic Italian palaces can be seen from all sides. And all this is private property belonging either to the descendants of the Lombard dukes, or popular actors well-known politicians and businessmen.
And the style of expensive vacation in Como is very similar to a vacation in Saint-Barth: you live in your villa, ride a yacht on the lake and dine in gourmet restaurants. However, unlike Saint-Barthes, rest on Como is also available to the ordinary tourist: the coastal towns are full of inexpensive hotels and restaurants, and some villas are open as museums.
But personally, I wouldn’t spend more than one day around Lago di Como. All coastal towns and landscapes are very similar to each other. And given all the interesting things that you can see in Italy, spending your entire vacation on the lake doesn’t sound right. Moreover, it is quite easy to get to Como from Milan.
How to get to Lago di Como from Milan?
There are trains to the direction of Lago di Como from all train stations in Milan. Follow this link to see the schedule. You can either go to the city of Como or city of Lecco (these are 2 different parts of the lake). A one-way trip will take about an hour. The ticket costs 7 euros.
How to get around Lago di Como?
There are two ways: boats and buses. Of course, water transport is more preferable. For example, motor ships run between the cities of the “golden triangle”. One way trip costs 2.5 euros. Day ticket – 15 euros. Follow the link to see the routes and timetables of water transport.
However, water communication is not convenient with all cities.
After getting to city of Como by train to move further you need to take a bus. For example bus C10 will bring you to the city of Menaggio. It will be a one hour drive along a very beautiful road. Menaggio is a city of the “golden triangle”. So there you can take a boat to visit other beautiful places.
Best places to visit around Lago di Como:
The “Golden Triangle” of the lake are the cities of Varenna, Menaggio and Bellagio. Indeed, these places are beautiful.
So, if you traveled from Milan to the city of Como by train and switched to the C10 bus. The first stop will be in Lenno, where Villa Balbianello is located.
The most beautiful villa on Lago di Como. The villa was built in the 18th century for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, and its last owner was Guido Monzini (the explorer who led the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest).
Villa Balbianello has served as the backdrop for several popular films. Including James Bond movie – Casino Royale.
Address: Via Guido Monzino, 1
Opening Hours: Every day from 10 am to 4:30 pm except Monday and Wednesday.
Ticket price: 11 euros for an adult, 9 for a student, 6 for a child under 18.
Menaggio is located 15 minutes away from Lenno (by C10 bus). The city itself is interesting for its small streets and beautiful promenade. Here you can have lunch or drink coffee with ice cream, walk around the city and take a boat. From Menaggio, it is convenient to take a ferry ride along the Menaggio-Bellagio-Varenna Golden Triangle.
A full day ferry ticket costs 15 euros.
The most famous resort around Lago di Como. The city is unique for its location. It is located at the top of a promontory that divides Lario into two parts – Como and Lecco. Therefore, the views here are amazing. Highly recommended to visit Villa Melzi, built in the 19th century.
The next stop of the ship is the city of Varenna. Another romantic city with old ivy-covered buildings and narrow streets. The most famous sights of Varenna are Villa Monastero and the Castello di Vezio, built on the site of a Roman fortress.
5. Villa Monastero
Villa Monastero was built on the site of a convent that had been in operation since 1567. It is notable for its eclectic style, as well as a beautiful botanical garden set on numerous terraces.
Price per ticket: 10 euros for an adult, 5 euros for a student under 25 and a child from 6 to 18.
Opening hours: daily 10: 00-18: 00.
Museum website link
Best places to eat cheap around Lago di Como:
Lago di Como is one of the most popular tourist destination. Therefore, it’s quite a challenge to find here an inexpensive restaurant with a beautiful view and good reviews. After 2 hours of digging in tripadvisor’s comments, I settled on this list:
1. Cafe Del Pess
Small bar-restaurant in the center of the picturesque town of Menaggio with tables overlooking the promenade.
Location: Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi 8, Menaggio, Italy
2. Risto Bar Company Vecchia Maiolica
A restaurant with tables by the water in the town of Grianti. Delicious pizza, pasta and a great view. We ate for 23 euros for two.
Location: Via Roma, 2, 22011 Griante
3. D lounge
The main advantage of this place is the lounge area with a view of the water and club music, so it’s a good place for an aperitif. Although there is a menu with food here too.
Location: Via Guglielmo Marconi 22, 23824 Dervio
4. Da Luciano Bottega e Caffè
A tiny family diner or rather a butcher’s with waterfront tables. The menu includes salads, drinks, cheese and prosciutto.
Location: Via Vecchia Regina, 61, 22010 Laglio
5. Bar Caffetteria Il Porto
Waterfront diner with beautiful lake views. The food includes a variety of panini, pizza and desserts.
Adress: Piazza Dante Rosati, 22010 Argegno