Lake Como

Lake Como, Lombardy

It is easy to fall under the spell of Lake Como. At first it is the magnificent views that are so mesmerising. There’s the deep blue of the lake, grand villas half submerged by exquisite greenery, walls of oleander and poplar trees, boats dotted about in small harbours along the lakeside, chestnut forests covering the hills in the foreground and all this framed by the mountains of the Alps in the distance.

But then there is a wealth of treasures that you stumble upon, enchanting medieval centres of lakeside towns, cafes and trattorias hidden in small harbours, markets laden with ripe fruit and vegetables, and small individual shops. Add to this beautiful walks, excursions on and around the lake, historical masterpieces, such as the cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore in Como, and every moment is a journey of new discoveries. 

Como the main town is full of historical highlights and is still the silk capital of the world. Follow its western shores, all the resorts are linked by ferry, and dip in and out of little lakeside villages from Moltrasio to Tremezzo the location of the beautiful Villa Carlotta gardens with rare conifers and tropical plants and the setting for classical concerts during July and August. Further on is the elegant town of Menaggio with a stunning mountainous backdrop. Where Lake Como forms two branches you will find Bellagio right in the middle on a promontory. This little village is a network of cobble-stoned streets, and brightly painted houses with some magnificent grand hotels. Just outside is another gorgeous garden at Villa Melzi.

Lake Como’s romantic landscape has seduced many a poet, writer, composer and artist over the centuries. A true Lakeland man, Wordsworth fell under its spell and loved the tranquility walking through the ancient villages and hillsides of olive trees. Daniel Craig in his first James Bond film recuperated at Villa del Balbianello at Lenno in Casino Royale. And George Clooney features regularly in lakeside commentary. He fell in love with Lake Como whilst filming Oceans Eleven, and his villas are pointed out on many a boat trip. 

Weather

The summer months on Lake Como enjoy a Mediterranean climate, which produces sub-tropical vegetation year round. Temperatures in July and August average between 25-28°C. Evenings can be cooler around 16°C. Water temperatures can reach 24°C in July. There is usually a nice cool breeze off the lake.

  • from£549pp
Bellagio

Bellagio is one of the most picturesque towns on the lake. Its narrow streets lead up the mountainside, past bustling shops and restaurants, where you’ll be greeted with amazing views over the ink-blue waters.

  • from£509pp
Cadenabbia

This little town is on the west shores of the lake, making it a great base to visit the nearby towns. It’s got a lovely laid back feel with a handful of shops, bars and restaurants.

  • from£449pp
Como, Duomo

This picturesque town is at the southern end of Lake Como and set within 12th Century walls. It centres round a beautiful lakeside promenade lined with quaint shops and trendy cafés. Take the high-rising funicular for stunning panoramas.

  • from£499pp
Lenno

With its picture-perfect location hugging the shore of Lake Como, Lenno is a great choice for those looking to get away from it all. The highlight of this village is the lovely promenade that’s lined with al fresco cafés.

  • from£539pp
Menaggio

Menaggio is an elegant town that’s been established since Roman times. It’s surrounded by grand villas and its terracotta-roofed houses contrast beautifully with the blue of the lake and greenery of the mountainside.

  • from£459pp
Tremezzo

Stretching across the west lake promenade, Tremezzo is in the area of Colonno/ Griante/ Cadenabbia and the island of Comacina, and has a particularly mild climate.

On the lake the list of activities is plentiful from kayaking, to water skiing, swimming to sailing with many of the resorts and hotels having their own sports clubs with numerous facilities. There’s a regular ferry service and all sorts of boats available to hire.

Menaggio has an 18-hole golf course and some great hiking above in the hills around Monte Grona. There are mountain biking trails around the lake and more strenuous tours into the hills and mountains.

There are tours to some of the most spectacular villas and gardens such as the 17th century Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo with sculptures by Canova, Villas Melzi and Serbeloni in Bellagio and Villa Balbianello (discounted entry for National Trust Members) in Lenno. 

Hill, mountain and lakeside walks are all around Lake Como with miles of old mule tracks and well-marked footpaths. We have guided Wanderwalks for all levels and duration. The Greenway del Lago a 4 hr. walk explores a number of lakeside villages. Up in the hills there’s a network of old Roman roads that go through olive groves and ancient villages. A walk from Colonno to Cadenabbia passes the village of Mezzegra where you will find a cross marking the spot where Benito Mussolini was killed as he tried to flee to Switzerland with his lover Claretta Petacci. There’s a funicular from the village of Torno that goes to the hill village of Brunate.

Popular walks

Tremezzo & Cadenabbia
The Green Way | Easy | Approx 4 hrs (return by bus) |
This walk takes you through some of the most charming villages on Lake Como; Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, Tremezzo and Cadenabbia before arriving at the village of Griante. A great opportunity to get to know the area around Tremezzo and Cadenabbia before exploring further.

Bellagio
The Hamlets and Eastern Side of Bellagio | Moderate | Approx 3 hrs |

This itinerary will enable you to see more of some of Bellagio’s little hamlets scattered on the eastern side of the promontory before climbing the hill about a mile away from ‘Borgo’, the town centre of Bellagio. The walk passes Santa Maria Annunciata in Breno Church and continues to San Vito, the church of San Martino and San Carlo Borromeo, passing some historical and interesting sites on the way.

Menaggio
A Historical Walk | Easy | Approx 1 hr |
Starting Piazza Garibaldi, this is an interesting and historical walk around and above Menaggio. A perfect way to see local churches, frescos, sculptures and old castle remains.

Como & Cernobbio
The Brunate Funicular | Easy | Approx 3 hrs |
Since 1894, the Como-Brunate funicular railway has been taking passengers up to Brunate to enjoy the breathtaking views this vantage point offers over Lake Como and the surrounding mountains. Once at the top, you can explore the areas such as Brunate, which has the Pissarottino spring, the splendid Villa d’Este and Monte Rosa. On the way back down we pass the 15th century former convent of Eremo di San Donato.


Spas and Relaxation


Many of the hotels from the grand era of the 19th century have large outdoor pools with scenic terraces. The Hotel Belvedere in Bellagio has an outdoor heated pool and Jacuzzi with a sunbathing terrace in the lovely tiered gardens. An extensive wellness centre has Turkish bath, sauna, gym, and full menu of beauty and massage treatments. Hotel Bazzoni in Tremezzo has an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi with sunbeds in a small garden. The Grand Hotel in Menaggio has a large outdoor pool at the lake’s edge with a spectacular view of the lake from its pool and terraces. There’s a Jacuzzi and sunbeds.

 

Food and Drink

 

Freshwater fish from the lake and rice from the nearby flatlands are essential ingredients in many of the local specialties. Risotto with perch fillets is Lake Como’s regional dish. Other specialities from the area include “missoltini” which is a fish called “agoni” that’s caught between May and June, sundried and pressed with salt in wooden barrels. Carpione and alborelle are also small lake fish that are fried and marinated fish in water and vinegar, cooked with fresh herbs. Whitefish Tremezzina fish soup with pike, small trout, and other fish is also a local dish usually served with rice. Resta of Como is a dessert made from dried and candied fruit. It has small olive twig in its mix, which represents peace and good fortune.
Staples in the more mountainous regions include polenta and there are always a number of local cheeses. Balotas are small balls of polenta with a cheese filling. You will also find “rustisciada”, from Brianza region made with pork loin and sausage and onions.
There are many vineyards in Brianza and on the northern west end of the lake above Domaso. The Valtellina is another area of vineyards producing the Valtellina Superiore DOCG wine.


Festivals

Como Festival - The City of Music (2020 dates TBC)

Since its beginnings in 2008 this incredible celebration of music on the waters of Lake Como has been a staple of Como city. The town itself becomes the stage with performances taking place at various locations from the stunning Arena Teatro Sociale di Como to courts, towers and the gloriously restored Medieval villas dotted along the shore. With concertos to suit every taste from Neoclassical to jazz lovers, to experience this celebration of art, dance and music is a once in a lifetime opportunity. 


The Bellagio Festival in July and August is a series of concerts, films and varied recitals that take place in many of the lakeside towns. The concerts are held in gorgeous settings such as churches, piazzas, parks and castles.

St. Moritz & the Bernina Express (full day)

Leave Lake Como and travel by coach into the majestic Val Valtellina, stopping for coffee in the small town of Tirano, before boarding the magnificent Bernina Express. This spectacular journey then travels past glaciers and over dramatic gorges before arriving in St. Moritz. You’ll have some free time to explore and enjoy a spot of lunch (payable locally) in this picturesque town. The return to Lake Como by coach is just as scenic and follows the road through the Maloja pass, stopping in the historic town of Chiavenna where you’ll find cobbled streets and local boutiques.

Departs: Mondays and Wednesdays from mid May to mid September

Price: £57pp.

Milan (full day)

Enjoy a full day excursion visiting the fashion capital of Italy. An expert guide with show you Milan’s highlights starting with Sforzesco Castle, which was once considered one of Europe’s greatest fortresses. Your excursions continues by coach where you’ll enjoy a full commentary by your guide as you drive around the city. Once you reach La Scala, Milan’s famous opera house, you’ll continue by foot through the historic centre to see the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – the world’s first shopping mall! The afternoon is at leisure for you to explore and maybe do a spot of shopping.

Departs: Tuesdays from mid May to mid September

Price: £52pp.

Lake Orta & Stresa

Lake Orta is one of Italy’s prettiest lakes and oozes romance. Its picturesque cobbled streets are too narrow for cars, which makes it a pleasure to wander around as you discover local shops, charming cafes and lovely lake views. When you’ve had enough time to explore, the tour continues to Lake Maggiore and the lakefront resort of Stresa. A private boat will take you across the lake to the Borromean Islands where you can visit the botanical gardens of Isola Bella.

Departs: Fridays from mid May to mid September

Price: £57pp. Entrance fee to Isola Bella is payable locally.

Villa Balbienello (half day)

No visit to Lake Como would be complete without seeing it’s most beautiful villas and spectacular gardens. Built at the end of the 18th century, the villa now belongs to the FIA, Italy’s version of the National Trust. Wander through the villa and admire exquisitely-furnished interiors and a vast art collection. The manicured gardens are a delight to walk through and you can enjoy stunning lake views from many spots in the garden.

Departs: Sundays from mid May to mid September

Price: £48. 

Piona Abbey & Wine Tasting (approx. 6 hours)

The impressive Piona Abbey sits at the peninsula of Olgiasca and enjoys fantastic views over the lake. Spend some time enjoying these and the lovely, peaceful atmosphere of the Abbey, which is still inhabited by Cistercian Monks. In the afternoon you’ll a tasting of two local wines in a historic wine cellar.

Departs: Thursday from mid May to mid September

Price: £50pp.

Como & Lake Lugano (full day)

Start your day in the charming town of Como where you can admire its lakefront piazza and stunning cathedral. Continue by coach to Lugano, one of Switzerland's most elegant towns. Visit the wonderful Via Nassa and the square of Riforma with their striking buildings and exclusive shops or choose to spend time in the town's pretty park.

Departs: Fridays from mid May to mid September

Price: £55pp.

Bergamo (full day)

Bergamo has been described as the open air museum in the world. Birthpace of opera writer Gaetano Donizetti, this small city is brimming with history. Medieval towers look out over cobbled streets and charming piazzas, and there are wonderful views at every turn. You’ll begin your day here with some free time to explore before meeting an expert city guide for an interesting walking tour of Bergamo.

Departs: Thursdays from May to October

Price: £52pp from Como. Please note that for all other Lake Como resorts this excursion is only bookable locally in resort (subject to minimum numbers) for €60pp.

Please note that guests staying in Bellagio will need to make their own way to Cadenabbia to begin these excursions and ferry tickets are payable locally.

Please note that we act at all times as a selling agent for our suppliers. All excursions require minimum numbers to run and are subject to change. Some excursions may not be available to pre-book in low season but may be available to book locally subject to numbers. Prices will be confirmed at the time of booking. See terms & conditions.

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