Lake Como in 1 Day: all you need to know

Although it is a small place, Lake Como has a lot to see and enjoy. Here is a one-day itinerary to take advantage of all the best this place has to offer.

Andressa García

Andressa García

10 min read

Lake Como in 1 Day: all you need to know

Lake Como | ©Gil Garza

From taking a tour of the historic center of Como, to traveling across the lake to other towns in the region and learning about their history and culture, Lake Como has a lot to offer you on your day trip, which is why I will tell you some of the best things to do in Lake Como even if you are only visiting for a short time.

If your day starts around 8:00, you will have just over twelve hours to tour the entire town of Como and if you move quickly, you will have time left to visit other towns on the Lake, although in this itinerary I will focus on showing you Como and Bellagio, mainly.

1. Have breakfast and start the day off right

Having breakfast| ©Laura Grace Bordeaux
Having breakfast| ©Laura Grace Bordeaux

Assuming you arrived in Como the night before, your day should start around 7:30 with a good breakfast to give you the energy you need to start the tour right. In case you are not staying in Lake Como, but in Milan, it will be enough to leave from that city around 8:00, to have a good tour of Como.

If the hotel or place where you are staying offers breakfast, take the opportunity to have something to eat before leaving. In case you want to eat outside your place of accommodation, the city of Como offers a wide variety of restaurants where you can taste typical breakfasts of the region.

Among the most recommended establishments are: Caffetteria 800 and Passion Como, both in the city of Como. After tasting the menu of these places, you will surely want to recreate the dishes, so to learn how to make them I recommend you to sign up for a cooking class in Lake Como.

Participate in a cooking class in Lake Como

2. Tour of the city of Como

Getting to know Como| ©. Ray in Manila
Getting to know Como| ©. Ray in Manila

After breakfast, your watch should strike around 8:00, you can stay a little longer, but remember that you have only one day to see as many places on the lake as possible, so every minute counts.

At 8:00 you will start touring the city of Como itself, you will walk through its streets and see some of the most interesting places of this city. If you have a little more time to walk around Como very slowly and also want to know some culture and history of Lombardy, I recommend you to take one of the tours of Lake Como.

Well, I tell you that most of the places to see in this city are located in the historic center, that's why I 'll show you some of the sites that you can put on your route to see most of the city of Como in a couple of hours, before continuing your walk around the Lake.

Take a tour of Lake Como

Boarding the Funicolare of Brunate

Your tour of Como is going to start precisely at the Brunate Funicular Valley station, where you will board for a short ride of about 7 minutes that will take you to Brunate while showing you some of the most beautiful views in Italy along the way.

Once you get to the top, to the village of Brunate, you will enjoy a beautiful panorama that combines the city of Como, the Lake and the Italian and Swiss Alps in the same landscape. This funicular has a long history, since it was built in 1894 to connect Como with Brunate. Since then, the funicular works as the first day.

The funicular operates every day from 6:00 am to midnight, although in summer the schedule is extended to 24 hours. They leave every 15 minutes during the busiest days. In low season, the frequency is every 30 minutes. You should be in Brunate around 8:10, taking into account that the ride is only a few minutes.

Going up to the Faro Voltiano in Brunate

Considering that you arrive in Brunate after 8:00, you will have time to walk around the town for a few minutes, see the panoramic views from the top.

After you have walked around part of the town, eaten some snacks and enjoyed the view, it is time to start the adventure up to the Faro Voltiano at the top of Brunate. It is a 20-minute walk uphill, which I recommend you do only if you are in good physical condition.

When you reach the structure, you will find a white lighthouse of no less than 30 meters that you can climb from 10:30 am, so in this case, you can only get to the entrance, from where you can also enjoy the scenery.

If you visit Lake Como in summer and climb the lighthouse, you can even see the Duomo of Milan, a real spectacle. The entrance fee is between 1 and 2 euros. It will take you at least an hour and a half to take the funicular and the lighthouse, so you will be back to the starting station around 9:30 to continue your tour of Como.

Visiting the Basilica of San Fedele

Considered one of the most beautiful churches in Como, the Basilica of San Fedele is located in the heart of the city, very close to the square of the same name. In the past, this was the city's corn market. It will take you less than ten minutes to get from the Funicular station to the Basilica, if you go by private car.

History has it that it was built around 1120 to replace the previous building. Over time, the Basilica had been modified many times until the side chapels were completed in 1808.

I recommend you to walk around it to appreciate the whole structure and take many pictures of the temple from different angles. You will not stay in this church for more than 20 minutes, so around 10:00 you will continue to the next point of your tour.

Walking around Piazza Duomo and the Broletto

Cathedral and square| ©sandromars
Cathedral and square| ©sandromars

After a short three-minute walk, you will reach Piazza Duomo, the place from where you will learn about the next two places to visit on your itinerary. By this time your watch should be just after 10:00.

You will start by walking through Piazza Duomo, which is nothing less than the historical heart of the city of Como. You will love its commercial atmosphere and the typical hustle and bustle of the city. I recommend you to walk around the square and enjoy the scenery and the weather, especially if you travel to Lago di Como in winter.

Very close to Piazza Duomo is the Broletto, the next structure to visit in this complex. It is a building dating back to 1215, and currently serves as the seat of the Historical Archives of the city. This place is also used as a center for art exhibitions. If you visit Lake Como at Christmas, you will love to see the Christmas lights from Broletto.

Entering the Como Cathedral

After spending time in Piazza Duomo and admiring the Broletto, around 10:30 you will be in time to visit the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, also known as Como Cathedral.

At the entrance you will be impressed by the imposing building with Latin cross silver, about 87 meters long by up to 56 at its widest part. Visits to the Duomo begin at 10:30, so you will arrive just in time to enter the first group of visitors, and you will not stay more than 30 minutes inside the enclosure.

Besides being located in the historic center of the city, its square is the epicenter of the development of the city. And from the Duomo, you can continue along the promenade of the lake, which you can reach after about 600 meters, and that will be, in fact, the next point of visit on your itinerary.

Admiring the Tempio Voltiano

About five minutes drive from the Cathedral, is located the promenade or the port of Como, where you will park your car to walk to the temple Voltiano, and take the opportunity to stroll around the place. By this time it will be around 11:00, so you can enter to know it, taking into account that it opens from 10:00. It is a great attraction because it is located on the shore of the Lake.

Inside the museum you will see busts, bas-reliefs and other relics that belonged to the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta.

Not only will you like to see Volta's discoveries, but you will also appreciate its neoclassical architecture, which is detailed both on the outside and inside of the building, with its mosaics and decorations. It will take you between thirty minutes and an hour to visit the museum, so you will be back around 12:00.

3. Traveling to Bellagio by car

Streets of Bellagio| ©. Ray in Manila
Streets of Bellagio| ©. Ray in Manila

From the Tempio Voltiano you will go straight to join the road around the lake, which will take you to Bellagio. This drive will take you no more than an hour. There are many ways to get from Como to Bellagio, you can go by private car, by train, by boat and by bus.

In case you want to go by boat, you have to keep in mind that the trip can take about two hours, but the scenery is incomparable. By train it will take you about an hour and a half, as well as by bus. The option that best fits your itinerary at this time is by car.

Light lunch arriving in Bellagio

At approximately 13:00 you will be in Bellagio, and since you should be hungry by this time, you can start your tour of this region by tasting a traditional Italian dish in a restaurant in Bellagio. I recommend that you have a light lunch so as not to waste too much time.

An Italian pizza and a juice will be enough to start your tour of this beautiful town where there are plenty of places to photograph. La Bellagina Ristorante Pizzeria is one of those places where you can enjoy a good Italian pizza. You can also have lunch at Ittiturismo Ristorante Mella.

You should not take more than an hour for lunch, so you will continue your tour around 14:00, keep in mind that you have little time to visit the villages of the Lake, in the middle of this is one of the best excursions from Lake Como, but in case you want to take more time, you can do it.

Sign up for an excursion from Lake Como

Walk around the historic center of Bellagio

Take a walk after lunch and go for a stroll through the streets of the historic center of Bellagio, a place that you will love for the beauty of its streets. You will surely be enchanted by the pastel-colored buildings and wooden windows, worthy to take many pictures. It is a must if you visit Bellagio, walking through the steep cobblestone streets.

If you want to bring some souvenirs from Italy, a good place to shop are the stores located in the historic center of the city. There are two specific places I recommend you to visit: Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, whose attraction is its cobblestone floor and its colorful buildings.

You cannot miss the Salita Serbelloni, an iconic street of Bellagio from which you can see the mountains surrounding the town and Lake Como, especially a good place to visit in Lake Como in December, because it is decorated with lights.

Villa Melzi

Villa Melzi in Bellagio| ©. Ray in Manila
Villa Melzi in Bellagio| ©. Ray in Manila

About 10 minutes drive from Salita Serbelloni, you can find Villa Melzi, one of the most interesting icons of Bellagio and its surroundings thanks to its fascinating gardens.

You can visit the gardens without any problems and you will be delighted to find a wide diversity of flowers, plants, trees and shrubs. Not to be left behind are the sculptures and buildings of relevance, including the neoclassical chapel and the museum that houses archaeological finds.

To enter you will have to pay around 8 euros per ticket, while children under 12 years old do not have to pay. By the time you visit this place it is sure to be around 15:00, so it is an excellent time to give it a quick tour of about 30 minutes, taking into account that it closes at 17:30.

Lungo Lario Manzoni

Very close to Villa Melzi and about a five minute drive away, you will find the Lungo Lario Manzoni which is the waterfront promenade of the city of Bellagio. I recommend walking the entire promenade on both sides of the town, so you can appreciate the panoramic views from the lake.

One of the things you will like most about Bellagio's promenade are its clean and well-kept streets, its flowers, and the cleanliness of the water of the lake, all very worthy to take multiple pictures. I recommend taking no more than half an hour in this place, so you will be leaving for Punta Spartivento around 16:00.

Punta Spartivento

Further away from the historical center of the city, Punta Spartivento is an incredible place that you can not miss in Lago di Como, because it is precisely the point that divides the slopes of the lake.

From Lungo Lario Manzoni to this place, you will arrive in no more than five minutes, so you will be enjoying these beautiful views around 16:00. At this time you might want to try some snacks, so you can take advantage of having a bite to eat at La Punta restaurant, which is one of the most highly rated restaurants in Bellagio. Besides, you can enjoy the view while you eat.

As this itinerary will take you by car, I recommend this time to arrive and park, because they tend to fill up quickly, and even more so in the summer season. I recommend staying at this place until sunset. There is no better place in all of Lake Como to watch the sunset than here.

4. Return to Como by ferry at sunset

Como Ferry| ©Dennis Yang
Como Ferry| ©Dennis Yang

After watching the sunset and even having had some dinner at Punta Spartivento, there is no better and more romantic plan than ending your tour aboard a ferry that takes you back to Como in about 40 minutes. The ride is not only pleasant, but also allows you to get to know and take pictures not only of the lake, but also of its surrounding villages.

The evening departures of these boats usually occur until after 19:00, so it is the perfect time to return to Como, either to have a few drinks, or to sleep before returning home the next day. The boat ticket can be purchased online or at the Bellagio ferry station.

You board the boat right near Punta Spartivento, so you won't have to walk too far to enjoy this amazing boat ride on Lake Como at night.

Book your boat trip on Lake Como

Around 20:00 or 20:30 you should already be at your hotel in Como, resting up for an early departure to Milan and from there, back home.