Lake Como: 10 Best Places and Things To Do (You Must Visit)

Lake Como is Italy’s world’s most beautiful place to visit, especially if you’re in the country’s north. It’s a region of Italy that you must visit because it is brimming with centuries-old towns, breathtaking views, and unrivaled shorelines. Not only that, but the lake’s edge is dotted with many of the best things to do in Lake Como.

Lake Como is the world’s most beautiful place, especially in northern Italy. We enjoyed exploring Lake Como during our northern Italy road trip. You could easily spend weeks there taking in the atmosphere and history (which is everywhere).

If you’re in Milan and looking for a trip outside of the city, it’s incredibly simple to visit. You can quickly taste it by scheduling a day trip around Lake Como (like this fantastic tour), which will take you through Lake Como, Bellagio, and Varenna.

I’m going to list some of our favorite spots in Lake Como so that you can make the most of your time there. This way, you’ll have a ton of gorgeous places to explore, regardless of the length of your trip!

The best Lake Como activities are listed below. Have a fantastic journey through Italy.

Como

como, lake como

Como, the largest city on the lake’s shores, is tucked away on its southernmost point. Como will probably be your first stop if you’re traveling from Milan.

Once here, be sure to visit the famous cathedral in Como. You see, it’s one of Italy’s most famous Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals from the 14th century, and it’s stunning.

The impressive towering marble facade, which occupies a portion of Piazza Duomo, is decorated with intricately carved stonework and statues. The medieval rose window and the intricately carved main altar are located inside. Even better, you can ascend the dome of the Como Cathedral to get a bird’s-eye view of the city.

Don’t overlook the neoclassical Tempio Voltiano, a museum devoted to Alessandro Volta’s creations. To mark Volta’s centennial death anniversary, the Tempio Voltiano was built in 1927. In the museum, you can see some of the original tools Volta used in his groundbreaking research. 

It’s a beautiful place to visit, but it’s even better if you’re unlucky enough to have some rain.

After that, check out the Villa Olmo in the area, which has stunning gardens and an interior you can visit.

Finally, climb Castello Baradello for some breathtaking views. You can see all of Lake Como from the medieval ruins. Keep in mind, though, that access to the grounds is not constant. This means you should be ready for a closed castle when you arrive.

Brunate

Brunate, lake como

Brunate’s Terrace is a must-visit in Como and is one of the most incredible ways to take in the scenery at Lake Como.

Although it doesn’t feel like it, it is technically just outside the city’s boundaries, and it is the kind of place that is ideal at dusk.

Now you need to take a funicular from the east end of the lakefront to get to Brunate’s terrace settlement. You’ll have a panoramic view of the southern end of Lake Como, the nearby towns, and distant mountains from the summit.

It was fantastic! There are also numerous small restaurants with lovely terraces. We stopped for some Italian treats and coffee at Capolinea Bistrot.

In addition, Volta Lighthouse, another monument dedicated to Alessandro Volta, is easily visible. It’s perched atop a hill in Brunate.

Bellagio

Bellagio, lake como

Bellagio, about a 50-minute drive from Como, is another must-see destination when driving around the lake.

After parking, spend a few hours exploring the waterside promenade, cobblestone streets, and small eateries that line the paths. It’s picturesque, and you could easily spend an entire day relaxing here (if not longer, if you want to take it slow).

If you’re hungry, reserve a table on Ristorante Bilacus’ vine-covered Terrace. Alternatively, wander down the side streets to La Grotta. Their pizza is the best on Lake Como.

You can now rent a boat in Bellagio and sail the shores of Lake Como. It’s a great hour-long treat, especially if there are a few of you to split the cost.

Speaking of treats, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, which is right on the beach, is a great place to stay. It is now pricey, but it is completely worth it for an exceptional occasion.

Menaggi

Menaggio, lake como

A town called Menaggio is located on Lake Como’s western shore that looks like a dream (and easily accessible by boat from Bellagio).

People often say that the promenade in Menaggio is the best place to see Lake Como, and they’d be right! The entire coastline around Menaggio is breathtaking.

All of this is to say that there aren’t many attractions to visit once you’re here, but that’s part of the appeal. You can simply stroll around and soak in the Italian charm of this timeless location.

If you want to spend the night, consider staying at the Grand Hotel Victoria concept and spa. Again, this can be pricey during the peak summer months, but it’s a lovely treat.

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta, lake como

If you’re looking for a relaxing day of sightseeing, one of the best things to do in Lake Como is to visit Villa Carlotta.

Villa Carlotta, located in the Tremezzina Riviera, a popular tourist destination on Lake Como, is known for its beautiful gardens and paintings, and sculptures that are known all over the world.

The best time to visit its gardens is in May when the entire landscape bursts with the stunning bloom of camellias and rhododendrons. I’m not the best at identifying flowers, but the fragrance of the colors was incredible.

Basilica di Sant’Abbondio

Basilica di Sant'Abbondio, lake como

Yes, I know it’s in Como, but I couldn’t help but mention it in its own right!

 The Basilica di Sant’Abbondio, a Romanesque church from the 11th century, is a beautiful mix of Como’s architectural styles. Over time, the events in the area were almost like a clock.

 In Italy, I’m a sucker for churches and religious structures. They’re all stunning.

While the basilica remains in good condition, some items have been removed. For example, the stone carvings that were previously found on the exterior of the Basilica di Sant’Abbondio are now housed in the Museo Civico (if you want to take a gander).

Varenna, Lake Como

Varenna, Lake Como

The historic basilica, with its frescoes from the 1300s, is a must-see. one of the most enjoyable activities in Lake Como is visiting Varenna, which is in one of the small towns around the lake. It is easily accessible by boat from Bellagio or Cadenabbia (or via this bookable tour from Milan).

Varenna, with its picture-perfect streets and stunning lakeside setting, is a great place to visit if you don’t want to fight the crowds in Bellagio during the busier summer season.

Once there, take a stroll through its medieval streets and don’t miss the gardens of Villa Monastero.

Oh, and the walled castle of Castello di Vezio (complete with battlements and a drawbridge).

To The Museum

lake como museum

Another Como favorite is to spend time exploring the museums dotted around the town. The Archaeological Museum of Como and the Giuseppe Garibaldi Historical Museum are examples.

It’s the kind of place that museum-goers will love, with exhibits ranging from ancient prehistory to the Middle Ages. Most of the exhibits came from local excavations, providing insight into the evolution of communities and settlements around Lake Como.

However, you may come across some ancient Greek and Egyptian artifacts.

The Historical Museum of Giuseppe Garibaldi, on the other hand, will take you through the history of Como, with a collection of handmade laces, exhibits highlighting local Italian traditions, and details from the battle of Risorgimento.

If museums aren’t your thing, skip them and explore Lake Como’s stunning shoreline instead.

Villa Melzi

Villa Melzi, lake como

Villa Melzi, located in Bellagio, was built in the early 1800s by Melzi (a major figure during the first Italian Republic).

The villa as a whole is iconic, but so are the gardens and park.

Villa Melzi isn’t usually open to the public, but you can wander through the landscaped terraces and beyond the water garden and white neo-Moorish pavilion.

Best of all, you can purchase a two-day ticket for a few more coins, which is ideal if you’re staying in Bellagio.

Lecco

Lecco, lake como

About a 30-minute drive from Bellagio, Lecco will most likely be your last or the first stop on Lake Como.

Our final stop was from Milan to Lecco via Como and up the coast via Bellagio.

Once here, don’t miss the Palace of Fears, a museum with thousands of exhibits and a cool contemporary art collection. You can lose track of time inside.

Also, don’t miss the iconic Basilica of San Nicola, which stands proudly in Lecco. It is said that the site has been home to some kind of religious structure for nearly 1,000 years.

Are you getting hungry? Stop by Trattoria Corte Fiorina, located right in the city’s heart. Their freshly made ravioli with Lake Como fish is delicious.

Book tickets to the magnificent Lecco Theatre for an evening out. It’s a fantastic place to visit, though you may need to brush up on your Italian.

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