Best Things To Do in Lake Como

Lake Como is one of the great natural treasures of northern Italy. It hides incredible landscapes, villages full of charm and unparalleled gastronomy.

Sonsoles Jimenez

Sonsoles Jimenez

11 min read

Best Things To Do in Lake Como

Church and lake di como | ©Ray in Manila

Lake Como is a magical place. It is a lake in the shape of an inverted Y at the foot of the Alps, overlooked by villages of small colorful houses, narrow streets, charming gardens and promenades almost at the water's edge. The contrast: immense and luxurious mansions of rich and famous people attracted by the beauty of this place.

From land or from its waters, touring it is a fascinating experience. There are countless activities to do on Lake Como and interesting places to visit. So that you don't miss anything, I'll give you a brief summary of everything that awaits you in a place that will make you fall in love at first sight.

1. Take a cruise on Lake Como

View of the promenade| ©Guilhem Vellut
View of the promenade| ©Guilhem Vellut

The best way to appreciate all the beauty of Lake Como is from its waters. You will discover the colorful villages that overlook it and the uniqueness of the surrounding landscapes. You will understand why this peculiar lake has been the inspiration for artists throughout history.

Depending on the time you have available, you can choose between different boat tours. The most popular are those that depart from Como and arrive in Varenna, stopping in Bellagio. They will allow you to have a very complete view of the lake, but there are more possibilities.

If you are only going to spend one day on Lake Como you can get on one of the boats that connect its towns and make a stop. Another possibility is to take one of the one-hour sightseeing tours from Como.

Are you traveling as a couple? Perfect, surprise them with a romantic dinner while sailing on the lake. Any date is perfect. In the warmer months, you will enjoy wonderful sunsets. Meanwhile, Lake Como in winter will offer you a beautiful postcard view of the snow-capped Alps.

Get to know Lake Como on a cruise

2. Enjoy the most charming villages of Lake Como

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

Each of the villages that have risen on the shores has something special. But it is very difficult to visit them all. If your stay is short, these are the ones you should not miss.


Bellagio is at the point where the three branches of the lake meet. You will love walking around it. You will discover a town of narrow cobblestone streets, colorful houses, stately mansions and reminders of its history in the form of the remains of old fortresses.

From Bellagio, you also have magnificent views of the lake. For this, I recommend a walk along the promenade Lungolago Europa and reach the Spartivento point. In this area, moreover, there are some artificial beaches, so if you have to make plans on Lake Como in summer, you can always leave some time for a dip.


It is one of the most charming villages of Lake Como. Colorful houses, flower-decorated alleys, steep staircases and the walkways over the water shape Varenna. It also has some interesting buildings, such as the Palazzo Venini, the Hotel Villa Cipressi or the churches of San Giorgio and San Giovanni Battista.

Do not miss the romantic promenade of Love, the gardens of Villa Monasterio or the castle of Vezio. From the latter, the views of the lake are spectacular.


Together with Bellagio and Varenna, it forms the most touristic triangle of Lake Como. Menaggio is a stately village where you can admire some of the most beautiful villas and mansions on the lake. It also has a nice and lively promenade from which you can enjoy beautiful views or have a drink on the terraces.

Menaggio also retains its medieval structure and an old town where you can visit places like the churches of Santo Stefano or Santa Marta and the remains of an ancient castle. And, if you are a natural sportsman, here there are beaches for diving and swimming in the lake, cycling and hiking trails and even a golf course.


Tremezzo is famous because it is home to Villa Carlota, one of the most spectacular mansions on Lake Como. The Grand Hotel Tremezzo, with its floating pools, is its other great treasure. The postcard of this pretty village is completed by streets and squares full of joy and small jewels such as the church of San Lorenzo.


If you have time, I recommend you to visit this small but beautiful village. Here you will discover one of the most unique hidden corners of Lake Como: the Ponte della Civera. It is a small medieval bridge that serves to save the mouth of two streams.

If we add to that bridge the emerald green color of the lake waters, the stone houses and facades covered by vegetation, Nesso becomes the most romantic place on Lake Como.

Take a tour of the villages of Lake Como

3. Visit the towns of Lake Como

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

On Lake Como there are two towns: Como and Lecce. They are on opposite arms of the lake and either of them is a good starting point for day trips around Lake Como. They also have their own charms, which I recommend you discover.


A visit to the city that gives its name to the lake has to be one of your plans on Lake Como. It is the perfect starting point for touring the lake. But it also has some treasures worth seeing.

Its greatest jewel is the Duomo, a beautiful and huge temple of the eighteenth century. Another essential stop is the Porta Torre, a 40-meter high tower that is part of the walls, of which a good part is preserved.

Do not miss the San Fedele square, surrounded by colorful Renaissance houses and presided over by a beautiful basilica. And one last tip: if you have time, take the Brunate funicular. The views are spectacular.


Surrounded by mountains, Lecco has a splendid past, it was a strategic place in the Middle Ages and one of the most important industrial centers of Italy centuries later. And it still preserves interesting vestiges of its history, such as the city walls, the Basilica of St. Nicholas or the Palazzo Belgiojoso.

Another of its treasures is Villa Manzoni. It belonged to the family of one of the great writers of Italian Romanticism: Alessandro Manzoni. Today it houses a museum that commemorates him and throughout the town you will find nods to his great work, The Betrothed.

Book a day trip from Lake Como

4. Tour Lake Como in a kayak

Kayaking Lake Como| ©Leslie Veen
Kayaking Lake Como| ©Leslie Veen

Lake Como is a spectacular setting for kayaking or canoeing. You can fully immerse yourself in the beauty of its surroundings and have a great time. In a small boat you can approach the cliffs that surround the lake or those fabulous villas that overlook it.

You do not need to be in an enviable physical shape. These walks usually last between an hour and a half and two hours and are very relaxed. After all, it is all about enjoying the beauty of the lake. Moreover, you can do them as a family without any problem, as long as the children are over 8 years old.

Most of the guided tours depart from the town of Bellagio, due to its location right in the center of the lake. But they also depart from Vasenna or Colico, two towns located on two different arms of the lake. Any of the tours will give you a spectacular view of the lake.

Have fun in a water activity on the lake of Como

5. Discover the beauty of Lake Como by bike

Touring by Bike| ©Rebel Yell 82nd
Touring by Bike| ©Rebel Yell 82nd

Not only from the water, from land you can also enjoy the beauty of the lake. If you like cycling, one of the most enjoyable tours of Lake Como will take you, precisely, to discover some of its most beautiful landscapes by bike. And there are several possibilities to choose from.

If you just want to take a relaxing ride, in any of the more touristy towns, from Bellagio to Como, Lecce or Varenna you can easily rent a bike and take a short tour along part of the lake.

But if you feel like a much more interesting adventure, guided bike tours are a good alternative. In most cases they last between three and four hours and will allow you to discover spectacular corners and some outstanding villages.

If you are not in perfect physical shape, don't worry, there are bike tours around Lake Como both on conventional road bikes and electric bikes.

Book a bike tour around Lake Como

6. Visit some of the luxury villas on the lake

Villa Carlotta| ©. Ray in Manila
Villa Carlotta| ©. Ray in Manila

Lake Como has been, and still is, a place of rest and recreation for nobles, aristocrats and celebrities. For this reason, its shores are dotted with lavish mansions. And yes, some of them can be visited inside. The list is very long, here are just a few of the most impressive ones.

Villa Carlotta

Located in Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta is an imposing neoclassical building. But it is most famous for its spectacular gardens. If you like art, here you can also admire an interesting collection of ceramics, painting and sculpture.

Villa d'Este

A few years ago, Forbes magazine recognized it as the best hotel in the world. Villa d'Este hides within its walls 400 years of history and many secrets of illustrious personalities who have stayed here. Maybe it is not in your plans to stay at the hotel, but if you come to Cernobbio, be sure to take a look.

Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni

Both villas are in Bellagio. That's not the only thing they have in common. Both are surrounded by spectacular gardens. From Villa Serbelloni, moreover, you will have fantastic views of the lake.

Villa Monastero

It is in Varenna and its name comes from the fact that it is an ancient Cistercian monastery. Villa Monastero also offers several exhibition rooms and a beautiful botanical garden outside where you can take some amazing pictures.

Villa del Balbianello

For many, it is one of the most impressive villas on the lake. It is in Lenno, overlooking the waters from a small promontory and surrounded by spectacular gardens. But Villa del Balbianello is not only photogenic, it is also very cinematographic. Scenes from Star Wars: Episode II and Casino Royale of the James Bond saga were filmed there.

7. Discover the flavors of Lake Como

Tasting wine| ©Ashley Zakem
Tasting wine| ©Ashley Zakem

Lake Como is not only villages and landscapes, but also the flavors of a spectacular traditional cuisine. The fish of the lake, the cheeses of the mountains and other products such as rice and, of course, pasta are the protagonists. All this always seasoned with local wines.

The list of typical dishes you can try is enormous, from onion soup to polenta, rice with fish fillet or lamb valsassinese style. So my advice is to take part in a gastronomic experience at a local's home to taste authentic traditional recipes. You can even learn how to make them in fun cooking classes on Lake Como.

Taste the wines of Lake Como

The best accompaniment to a typical meal is a good wine from the region. The wines of Lombardy are famous for their quality. Some of them are produced in Lake Como, so a good idea is to visit one of its wineries and complete the tour of the flavors and aromas of the lake.

Enjoy a gastronomic experience on Lake Como

8. Don't miss the best views of Lake Como

Como from the Brunate Funicular| ©Inge Knoff
Como from the Brunate Funicular| ©Inge Knoff

Lake Como has incredible viewpoints. If you want to admire the best panoramic view, my advice is to take the Brunate funicular. It departs from Como and reaches the town of Brunate in just 7 minutes.

On the ride you will enjoy a historic funicular that began operating in 1984 and climbs up a steep hillside. When you get to the top, the view of the lake and the Alps will take your breath away.

Another possibility to enjoy a privileged postcard view of Lake Como is to climb up to the castle di Vezio. It is a medieval castle located in Varenna that was built to control the surroundings of the lake, so you can imagine that the views from it are incredible.

However, keep in mind that it is open from March to November, so you will not be able to include it in your plans if you plan to visit Lake Como at Christmas or during the winter.

9. Take a trekking route around Lake Como

Hiking in Lake Como| ©Forest Service Northern
Hiking in Lake Como| ©Forest Service Northern

Lake Como is a perfect place for hiking. There are countless well-marked routes of different levels and lengths.

From the town of Como you can climb the Faro Voltiano lighthouse for beautiful views. If you are looking for something more demanding, a good option is to climb to the top of Mount Bregagno. More ideas: circular tours around Varenna or Bellagio, a route along the Breggia River gorge or the ascent of Mount Bolettone.

In any case, even if they are easy routes, my advice is to wear appropriate clothing and footwear. And, in winter, don't forget warm clothes because temperatures can drop quite a bit. If you are planning, for example, to visit Lake Como in December, you should know that the average temperature does not reach 3 ºC.

10. Visit the only island in the lake: the island of Comacina

Comacina Island| ©Enrica
Comacina Island| ©Enrica

Off the coast of Ossuccio is the only island of Lake Como. It is a small island with a fabulous view and a long and curious history. Inhabited since ancient times, legend has it that the Holy Grail was here.

The island of Comacina had a period of splendor that ended when Barbarossa himself ordered its destruction in 1170 for political reasons. Then the bishop Vidulfo launched a curse: no one would set foot on it or die a violent death.

The curse caused the island to fall into oblivion for centuries. Today you can visit it at your leisure. You will discover a beautiful corner where the ruins of a castle and the basilica of Santa Eufemia are still standing.

By the way, while you are in Ossuccio, I recommend you also visit the Sacro Monte della Beata Vergine del Soccorso. It is one of the nine Sacred Mounts of Piedmont and Lombardy included in the World Heritage List. In addition, the views of the lake from it are wonderful.

All this and much more awaits you in the beautiful city of Lake Como. Remember that the nearest airport is in Milan, so it is highly recommended to plan well the transfers from this city. Now all you have to do is pack your suitcase and enjoy!