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.
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.
In a sheltered lakeside position on the western shores of Lake Como, Cadenabbia is a super spot for a lakes and mountain holiday - with Mount Crocione behind you, you can look across the lake for wonderful views of the headland village of Bellagio and the Dolomite mountain range beyond.More information
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 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.
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.
Summer on Lake Como celebrates many events from classical concerts and opera to jazz and folk evenings and nearly always with fireworks. At night with the lights along the edge of the water and fireworks erupting over the water, it is a magical sight. Both Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbaniello have several classical concerts throughout July and August.
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.
Other things to do in and around Lake Como
The Villas and Gardens of Lake Como
The idyllic lakeside villas of Como have always attracted the rich and famous. Today they are reminders of more elegant times. Villa Balbianello, with its magnificent gardens and views should not be missed. 17th century Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo contains sculptures by Canova and 4 acres of gardens with azaleas, rhododendrons and ancient cedars and sequoias. In Bellagio, Villas Melzi and Serbelloni can also be visited; entrance is around €8.50 (reductions for over 65's). Even today, these villas retain their glamour.
We offer a range of guided excursions to help you make the most of your holiday. All guests staying in Bellagio will need to make own way by ferry to pick up point. Cost is approx €10 return (pay locally).
Special Excursion Packages
Pre-book any of the excursion packages below, and SAVE up to £18!
Milan + Bergamo + St. Moritz £112 : Booking Code: A
Milan + Bergamo + Stresa and Orta £114 : Booking Code: B
Milan + St Moritz + Stresa and Orta £118 : Booking Code: C
St. Moritz £46, full day, Monday
Into Switzerland and the Engadine Valley. The spectacular Bernina Express train is included.
Bergamo £43, ¾ day, Thursday
A guided visit of one of Italy’s most impressive Medieval cities. Cost of ferry ticket to pick up point not included. (approx €8 return).
Milan £43, full day, Tuesday
Visit the Sforza Castle, Scala Opera House and gothic Duomo. City guide included.
Stresa and Lake Orta £48, full day, Friday
Sophisticated Lake Maggiore and tranquil Orta are such a contrast.
BOOK LOCALLY | Prices are for guidance only.
Please note: We act at all times as selling agent for the suppliers of activities & excursions. See terms & conditions. Guests staying in Moltrasio need to book all excursions locally.
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.
The Hamlets and Eastern Side of Bellagio | Moderate | Approx 3 hrs |
This itinerary will enable you 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.
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.