Lake Como, a jewel in the picturesque Lombardy region of Italy, is considered one of the most idyllic lakes in the world. Lake Como has long been a retreat for artists, celebrities, and travelers seeking a perfect blend of nature and culture. This glacial lake is surrounded by lush hills and the majestic Alps, creating a backdrop that feels like a scene from a fairytale.
Lake Como, or Lago di Como in Italian, is the third-largest lake in Italy with an area of approximately 56 square miles (145 square kilometers). It is also one of the deepest in Europe, reaching depths of over 1300 feet (400 meters). The lake takes on a distinctive inverted Y-shape with the charming towns of Bellagio, Como, and Lecco located at its shores. The banks are adorned with colorful gardens and elegant villas, including the iconic Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlotta. Many of these villas date back centuries and showcase stunning architecture.
Notable figures such as George Clooney, Madonna, and Sir Richard Branson have owned or visited properties along Lake Como’s shores. The scenic landscapes of Lake Como have inspired various artists and writers, including renowned Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, American poet Henry Longfellow, and Hungarian piano virtuoso Franz Liszt. The enchanting surroundings have been featured in many films, including Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Casino Royale.
Things to Do
Lake Como offers a plethora of activities for visitors. A leisurely boat ride is a must, allowing tourists a chance to capture exceptional lake-level photographs. Water sports enthusiasts can indulge in sailing, windsurfing, or kayaking, and hiking enthusiasts can explore the lake’s surrounding hills and trails. The Greenway del Lago and Sentiero del Viandante are two trails worth exploring. Greenway del Lago connects several charming villages, while Sentiero del Viandante offers panoramic views of the lake.
The surrounding towns and villages also offer many activities. The village of Bellagio, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Lake,” beckons with its boutique shops and local restaurants. Visitors hoping to immerse themselves in the local culinary culture can participate in one of Bellagio’s renowned cooking classes. The city of Lecco is known for its captivating establishments such as the Palazzo delle Paure, Moto Guzzi Museum, Basilica of San Nicolò, and the Viscontea Tower.
Cable cars transport tourists to mountain villages like Pigra and Argegno, perched amidst the peaks. These quaint villages, off the beaten path, give tourists a chance to make a deeper connection to the area. Festivals and cultural experiences further enhance this connection, with events like the Como Film Festival and Como Città della Musica taking center stage. For those with ample time, day trips to Lugano in Switzerland, the vibrant city of Milan, or the surrounding Alps offer top-notch hikes and winter sports.
Visiting Lake Como without breaking the bank is very doable, and wise planning will ensure that the trip remains within budget. Flying into Milan and taking a train to the Lake Como region is a cost-effective travel strategy.
Accommodation options around the lake cater to a wide range of budgets, from affordable youth hostels and B&Bs to luxurious hotels. The Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Villa d’Este are high-end stays that offer unparalleled views and world-class amenities. For a more intimate experience, charming boutique hotels and guesthouses nestled in the narrow streets of lakeside villages provide a taste of local hospitality.
Spring (April to June) and early autumn (September to October) are particularly delightful times of year to visit the region, with fewer tourists and pleasant temperatures. The climate around Lake Como is Mediterranean, characterized by mild winters and warm summers. The lake enjoys a temperate microclimate, making it an inviting destination throughout the year. For those seeking a refreshing dip in the lake’s cool waters, the warmest summer months (July and August) offer the ideal conditions for swimming.