things to do and see around Lake Como

Lake Como, Italian pearl of incredible natural and architectural charm, villages with breathtaking views, Art Nouveau villas overlooking the lake and historic buildings of great level.

A holiday suitable for everyone, family or couple, there is a wide choice of guided excursions, beaches, and clubs where you can eat and have fun until late at night. A gem of the landscape consisting of mountains and lake where you can relax and enjoy a unique atmosphere.

Are you guys ready to go? Here is a little guide on the 10 things to see absolutely in Lake Como!

 

1.  Como Cathedral (Duomo)

 

One of the symbols of the scenery around the lake: built-in 1936, it is the last of the remaining gothic cathedrals in Lombardy, characterized by elements of the late gothic period in northern Italy, as can be seen from its façade executed between 1455 and 1486, with sculptural decorations partly provided by Giovanni Rodari’s workshop. In the following three and a half centuries, various styles were created, although the predominant one remained the late Gothic-Renaissance style. The dome was instead designed by Filippo Juvara, architect to the King of Sardinia, while the stained glass windows were designed by Giuseppe and Pompeo Bertini.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is located in the main square of the historic center of Como, a must for a perfect holiday between a walk and a good coffee. You can also admire the Broletto and the Tower of the city in the same block where the Cathedral stands.

How to get there: from Menaggio, by car in 58 minutes through the SS340 (37 km) and by bus line C10, C12 in 1h and 44 from Menaggio-Istituto Vanoni stop (Piazza Roma), ticket cost €6,00; from Lecco, by car in 40 minutes through the SS36 (31 km) or by train from Lecco station to Como S. Giovanni station, ticket cost from €4,80 – Get directions

Opening Hours: open for sightseeing on weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on public holidays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ticket cost: free

2. Villa del Balbianello

 

Villa del Balbianello faces majestically on Lake Como, on the Lenno promontory in the Tremezzina. It was strongly desired by Cardinal Durini, a man of letters and patron of the arts who, at the end of the eighteenth century, wanted a refuge where he could immerse himself in reading and cultural activities. In 1974 an entrepreneur and collector as well as a travel enthusiast, Guido Monzino, transformed the villa into a place where he could preserve the memories of his travels, first of all, the adventure of Everest (the first Italian to reach the summit), travel tools and art collections. Still today the villa is furnished as he wished.

In 1988 the villa was taken over by the FAI Foundation, which takes care of every detail. An example of this is the terraces, the statues, the gardens, and the eighteenth-century Loggia with its incredible panorama. Numerous sagas such as those of 007 and Star Wars have also been filmed in this wonderful landscape.

How to get there: in the town of Tremezzina; from Menaggio by car in 17 min (9,3 km) or by bus line C10, C12 in 1h and 44 from the bus stop Menaggio-Istituto Vanoni (Piazza Roma), ticket cost between €1,00 and €3,00; from Como, only by car in 40 minutes through the SS340 (27 km); from Lecco, by car in one hour via the SP72 (32 km) or by train to the station of Varenna Esino and from there take the ferry “Traghetto Feriale Da Varenna – Menaggio” getting off at Menaggio, from where you can continue by bus, the total time an hour and a half – Get directions

Opening hours: every day except Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 to 17:00, last entrance to the garden at 16:00, last entrance to the villa at 15:30.

Ticket price: garden only: FAI members free entrance, full-price €10,00, reduced price (4-14 years) €5,00, National Trust members and students up to 25 years €8,00, handicapped people with escort and children under 4 years free; Garden and Villa: FAI members €4,00, full-price €20,00, children (4-14 years) €10,00, children under 4 years free, National Trust members and students up to 25 years €14,00, handicapped people with escort free

3. Villa Carlotta

 

Wonderful and monumental villa in Tremezzo, characterized by an incredible botanical garden and museum. Built at the end of the seventeenth century by the Marquis Clerici of Milan, the villa has always hosted works of great collecting and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The museum houses important works such as the statues of Canova and the famous Kiss of Hayez and other works by Thorvaldsen. Also worth seeing are the elegant furnishings and private rooms of Princess Charlotte of Sachsen-Meiningen. The garden with terrace is home to over 500 species of plants with citrus pergolas, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, tropical plants, and other species such as Australian ferns, cedars, bamboo, and conifers. In winter a citrus fruit greenhouse was used and today it has been converted into a museum for the ancient agricultural tools used in the villa.

How to get there: in the town of Tremezzina; from Menaggio by car in 17 min (9,3 km) or by bus line C10, C12 in 1h and 44 from the bus stop Menaggio-Istituto Vanoni (Piazza Roma), ticket cost between €1,00 and €3,00; from Como, only by car in 40 minutes through the SS340 (27 km); from Lecco, by car in one hour via the SP72 (32 km) or by train to the station of Varenna Esino and from there take the ferry “Traghetto Feriale Da Varenna – Menaggio” getting off at Menaggio, from where you can continue by bus, the total time an hour and a half – Get directions

Opening hours: open only on certain days of the year. More info on the official website

Ticket price: full price €10,00, reduced price €8,00

4. Menaggio and Bellagio

 

Nestled between the lake and the mountains, Menaggio is perfect for a trip on the lake or continuing to the Val Sanagra Park or the Lerai free beach.
In the center of the village, you will find many clubs and restaurants where you can enjoy a great local dish. You can certainly admire the lakeside promenade with flower gardens and palm trees, the beautiful villas where the patrician families of the time stayed such as Villa Mylius Vigoni in the hamlet of Loveno. Continue the tour along the ancient Strada Regina road dating back to Roman times that connected Como with the Alpine passes, the leaning bell tower in the hamlet of Nobiallo of the Church of S.Bartolomeo and S.Nicolao. Also not to be missed is Mount Crocetta to admire the panorama of the lake and the remains of the trenches of the Cadorna Line, the line of defense of the First World War.

The town of Bellagio is certainly one of the most romantic places in the Como area; known in Europe as the “Pearl of the Lake” which inspired the famous Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Bellagio offers pleasant walks along the lakeside promenade. To see the old village, where you can appreciate old houses, narrow alleys and small shops with typical products. It is ideal for a romantic weekend or for a holiday of relaxation, sport, and culture. The Basilica of San Giacomo and the museum for navigation instruments are worth a visit.

How to get there: from Como by car in 40 minutes by SS340 (35 km) or by bus with the C10 from the stop Como – v.le Cavallotti – rist. politeama at the stop Menaggio – piazza Roma, average ticket cost €4,00, journey time 51 minutes; from Lecco, by car in one hour via the SP72 (28 km) or by train to the station of Varenna Esino, from there take the ferry “Traghetto Feriale Da Varenna – Menaggio” getting off in Menaggio, journey time one hour – Get directions

Opening Hours: Villa Mylius Vigoni only Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.

Ticket price: Villa Mylius Vigoni €10,00, pensioners and under €7,00

 

5. Mandello del Lario

 

It is a tourist place from the origins of the Gallo-Roman era. Since 1921 it has been the home of Moto Guzzi, one of the most important Italian motorcycle factories, so you cannot miss its interesting museum.

During your tour do not miss its panoramic alleys and courtyards of the old village, the ancient Roman tower also known as the Praetorian Tower and the Art Nouveau villas. On the hill along the path of the wayfarer visit the Church of San Giorgio with beautiful frescoes and the Tower of Maggiana or Torre di Barbarossa in the upper hamlet of Maggiana from where you can admire a breathtaking view of Lake Como. We recommend you also go down to the Lido Comunale and relax on the pebble free beach and enjoy the landscape with a good aperitif at sunset.

How to get there: from Menaggio by car via SP72 in 55 min (18,6 km) or Strada Statale 36 in 1h and 10 min (38,6km) or by bus from Menaggio-Istituto Vanoni (Piazza Roma) in 2h and a half with C10, C12, C13 E 5259 from Colico to Mandello del Lario, ticket cost between €4,00 and €7,00; from Como, by car through the SS36 in 50 minutes (41 km) or by bus C40 from Como – Popolo (Via Dante) to Lecco – Piazza Lega Lombarda and from Lecco take the direct train to Mandello, a total time of 2 hours and 13 minutes; from Lecco, by car in 20 minutes through the SS36 (10 km), direct train to Mandello or by bus D20 to Mandello Lario – Pra Magn – Get directions

Opening hours: Moto Guzzi Museum from Monday to Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Church of San Giorgio every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon; Tower open every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

Ticket price: Free Moto Guzzi Museum; Free Church; Free offer tower

 

6. Como-Brunate Funicular

 

Como has always had a remarkable development regarding public transport, especially those related to tourism since the 19th century. In 1894 the Funicular Como-Brunate was inaugurated, a symbol of the excellence of public transport in those years, a period of industrial development, also because every center of the province was connected to the main town by a network of specific public transport lines. After the strong industrial development, the era of mass tourism also began, and from 1911 steam traction was transformed into electric traction.

The Funicular goes up to 720 meters and allows you to admire Lake Como in all its beauty! In only 7 minutes from the train station, you can reach the top of Brunate, admire the landscape and visit the Voltiano Lighthouse with its Art Nouveau villas.

How to get there: the funicular leaves from Como Station, 850 meters from the center, 11 minutes walk – Get directions
opening hours: funicular in service from 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., on Saturdays and in summer until midnight.
Ticket price: ordinary ticket Single ticket €3,00, return ticket €5,50, reduced ticket (up to 12 years old) €2,00, return ticket €3,20; Carnet 11 journeys €30,00, children up to 1,10 mt height for free

7. Varenna

 

A splendid village a few minutes from Lecco, on the eastern branch of Lake Como. Its charm comes out above all in its historical center with its square in front of the Church of S.Giorgio, an ancient Roman forum with its narrow streets and stairways leading to the lakeside.

During the walk, you will meet many bars, restaurants, and shops and then you will enter the walkway suspended over the lake called the “love walk” to the north of Varenna. Don’t miss Villa Monastero with its botanical gardens and museum house and the park of Villa Cipressi. If you have some time left to visit the Scanagatta Science Museum and the Castle of Vezio from where you can admire a spectacular view of Lake Como and Bellagio.

How to get there: from Menaggio by car via the SP72 and then by ferry in 40 minutes with fares from €7,00 to €10,00 (9,2 km in all) or by bus from Menaggio-Istituto Vanoni with C10, C12, C13 then R11 and R13 from Colico, ticket cost between €4,00 and €6,00; from Como, by car in one hour and 15 minutes via SS36 and SP72 (52 km) or by bus C10 from the bus stop Como – v. le cavallotti – rist. politeama at the stop Menaggio – Hotel Menaggio (€6,00) and then by ferry “Traghetto Feriale Da Menaggio – Varenna” to Varenna, a total time of two hours; from Lecco, by car in 25 minutes via SP72 (22 km) or by direct train to the station of Varenna Esino (€4,30) – Get directions

Opening hours: Church of San Giorgio every day from 8:30 to 19:00; Villa Monastero (garden and museum house) only on specific days, more info on the official website

Ticket cost: S.Giorgio Church free, Villa Monastero (gardens and museum house) from €8,00, more info on the official website

8. Villa Olmo

 

Named after a colossal elm tree, according to legend planted by Pliny the Younger who was responsible for making the villa even more beautiful. The style is neoclassical and was designed by Simone Cantoni di Muggio in the late eighteenth century. Its first owner was Innocenzo Odescalchi and later many others with illustrious guests such as Napoleon and Garibaldi. Today the villa is owned by the Municipality of Como, which has decided to designate it as a place to host cultural events.

The main facade faces Lake Como and a part of it (the original villa) is characterized by columns and Iesene with a terrace of statues and two side wings. The chastisement is rich in stuccoes, gilding, statues, and frescoes of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In the beautiful park of the villa, there is a small temple and a stream; in the middle, there is a fountain, work of the sculptor Odofrechi, which depicts children playing with a sea monster.

How to get there: in the town of Como; from the center of Como, by bus N6 or N11 to the bus stop Como – Piscine Villa Olmoda (€3,00) – Get directions
Opening hours: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; the Park is partially accessible
Ticket cost: free

9. Pradello Beach

 

The beach par excellence of Lecco, not far from the city, can be reached on foot or by bike through the cycle path. The beach is caressed to have a beautiful green area with hedges that divide the different areas such as the one for children’s games. A part of the lido allows access to the water through ladders between the rocks, but be careful to dive immediately, the water in this section is already deep!

In any case, the view of the lake is really breathtaking and even in the winter season can be a wonderful place to relax and listen to the sound of the water breaking on the rocks.

How to get there: in the town of Lecco; from Meraggio by car through SP72 then by ferry (from €2,00 to €7,00) in about 2h (25 km); from Como, by car in 40 minutes through the SS36 (31 km) or by train from Como to Lecco station, ticket cost from €4,80 – Get directions
Opening hours: always open
Ticket cost: free

10. Broletto

 

An ancient palace built-in 1215 in Como by the wish of the Podestà Bonardo da Cadazzo, its name derives from the Latin “brolo” or field, an open-air space used for city assemblies. The Palace is located next to the Cathedral to symbolize the continuity between the power of the church and the municipal power with their control over the diocesan territory.

The Palazzo del Broletto consists of a two-story building with a ground floor and a first floor decorated with three-light windows with white, red, and grey marble bands and a tower designed with the rusticated technique. In the second half of the fifteenth century, a part of the building was demolished to give more space to the cathedral and in 1764 it was transformed into a theatre and then as a notarial archive until the end of the nineteenth century. After several restorations, it was restored to its original style and today it is the venue for art exhibitions and congresses, owned by the Municipality of Como.

How to get there: in the municipality of Como, in Piazza Duomo, easily reachable from every point of the city – Get directions
Hours: according to the events
Ticket cost: free