Lake Como is by far the most famous lake in Italy. Not only because of the reputation as the most beautiful European lake, but also because of its popularity among world famous stars who are eagerly acquiring properties in this area.
A brief history of Lake Como
Lake Como is a place where for centuries the aristocrats have been spending heir leisure time, and where the artists during their romantic travels have celebrated the beauty of nature with their paintings, poetry and prose.
It was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that many of the incredibly beautiful villas were built over Lago di Como, which can be admired to this day. In turn, until the 1980s silk factories operated in this area, since then turned obsolete due to cheaper and more profitable production in Asian countries.
Currently, the largest branch of the economy on Lake Como is tourism, which is the specialty of most of the people living there. After all, hundreds of visitors come here every year to spend at least some time in this beautiful place.
Map of Lake Como
Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy. It is located in the north of this country, in the Lombardy region, in the middle of the Alps. Its shape is an inverted letter Y, which influences the length of the shoreline, longer than the two largest lakes in Italy (Maggiore and Lake Garda) combined.
See on the map how Lago di Como actually looks:
Lake Como is also the deepest reservoir, not only of sunny Italy, but also of all of Europe (its depth is 425m). On it is the only island – Isola Comacina, inhabited in ancient times (today there are only ruins of ancient settlements on it).
Weather on Lake Como
The weather on Lake Como is favorable, as can be seen from the lush vegetation. The whole region is under the influence of moderately warm climate, it is hot in the summer, and in winter the temperatures do not fall below zero.
The hottest months are July and August, when the thermometer bars can exceed 30 degrees.
However, favorable weather on Lake Como lasts from April until October.
The coldest month is January (check where to spend your holidays in January) and then there is also least rainfall. Rain can be expected in May and November though.
Beaches and water temperature
There is no shortage of beaches around Lake Como, but they tend to be stony rather than sandy.
Such is the charm of this glacial reservoir, surrounded by high, green mountains.
The water temperature in the lake is referred to as crisp. Ideal for bathing during the summer heat, but in the off season it may be too cold.
It is also obvious that the water near shores will be warmer than in the central part.
Accommodation on Lake Como
Accommodation on Lake Como is well developed. We can choose from a full range of hotels of various standards, including very luxurious ones.
Generally, it is expensive at Lago di Como and you have to take it into account. After all, it is one of the most expensive regions in Italy.
There are, however, some cheaper guesthouses and hostels. Of course, you can also rent holiday homes and apartments. Even agritourism farms are doing great here.
The largest accommodation base is in the city of Como.
Other popular towns include Bellagio, Lecco and Bellano. However, if you are looking for a slightly cheaper option, it is better to go to small, less known towns, scattered along the entire coast of Lake Como. There are also camping sites in the region.
Tourist attractions or what to see at Lake Como
On Lake Como, of course, there are plenty of tourist attractions and interesting places. Well-known holiday resorts (Como, Bellagio, Varenna, Bellano, Tremezzo), beautifully maintained gardens and historic villas open to visitors, as well as bicycle and walking routes where you can spend your vacation actively.
Beautiful nature, unforgettable views and the unique atmosphere of ‘la dolce vita’ inspired such celebrities as Madonna, George Clooney and Donatella Versace to buy homes here.
And what exactly attractions await tourists at Lake Como?
The attraction here are the beaches and the possibility of swimming in the lake or pool. As we have already mentioned, the beaches on this lake are not the most spectacular, but there are places for sunbathing.
Some of them will be absolutely free (such as city parks), others will have to be paid for (artificially created beaches). You cannot bathe everywhere, but places where it is possible will usually be marked. In some places there are also swimming pools (often at hotels) or entire swimming pool complexes (paid).
At Lake Como you can also see a swimming pool built literally on the lake.
A look at Lake Como from a slightly different angle:
Walking paths over Lago di Como
As for other activities, there are plenty of hiking routes that stretch for kilometers along the lake. On tourist maps they are marked in green, which means routes for walkers.
You can follow them along the shoreline or climb one of the viewpoints.
Unfortunately, none of them is able to cover the panorama of the entire lake, due to its extended shape. A place to admire the landscape from a height is definitely the Volta lighthouse, located in the town of San Maurizio.
Another vantage point on Lake Como is also the Vezio castle located above the city of Varenna (40 minutes climbing), from which there is a view of the west side of the reservoir.
Cruise or ferry crossings are also an attraction on Lake Como, allowing you to admire this region from a different angle. On the lake there are ferries, water taxis, tourist boats and hydrofoils, thanks to which you can explore the area from the perspective of the water level.
In this way, you can easily reach other places located above Lago di Como. However, it should be noted that this will not be the fastest or cheapest way of transport.
Another way to travel from one town to another is by biking routes, which are a plenty. For this reason, Lake Como is called a cyclist’s paradise.
Virtually the entire reservoir can be traveled through these routes, and the roads are specially prepared for tourists on bicycles (e.g. separate tunnels) to increase their safety.
A nice option for entire families, because there is no shortage of equipment rental here.
At this point, it is also worth mentioning the cable cars that allow connection between high places. Interestingly, there are two types here – ground-based ones running on tracks and ordinary rope ones.
What if the wind blows harder on Lake Como?
Lake Como, and especially the northern part is a favorite place for wind and kite surfers. And this is due to the wind blowing here – breva, which blows here practically all year round (except the winter months). It not only cools down in the summer heat, but also creates perfect conditions for these water sports.
Athletes usually come here in the summer from June to September.
As you can see there is no shortage of attractions. However, this is not all. There are also monuments and interesting places that are worth seeing and visiting while being on site.
Sights and sightseeing over Como
On Lake Como, it is worth seeing the historic villas, surrounded by magnificent gardens. In some of them museums have been created, in others only gardens can be visited, while others have been converted into luxury hotels (e.g. Villa D’Este).
Some of the prettiest are certainly: Villa del Balbianello in Lenno with characteristic umbrella trees in the garden, whose terrace served as the scenery for Star Wars, or Villa Carlotta in Tremezzin, where you can admire the accumulated works of art and a fantastic garden with an olive grove.
Fantastic vegetation can be admired also in Villa Olmo in the city of Como, Villa Melzi in Bellagio and Villa Monastero in Varenna, where the gardens stretch indefinitely.
However, remember that you have to pay to enter each of them. Prices are not low either.
You can find some of the Como travel guides mentioned in our video in this video:
Fortifications and castles
As for the fortifications at Lake Como, the region was once well fortified, but not many castles survived to this day.
One of them is the remains of Baradello Castle, which lies on the outskirts of the city of Como. Only ruins remained of it, but one of the watch towers was rebuilt, where you can now enter and enjoy the panorama of the nearby area.
Another such monument is the Vezio castle from the 11th century, which is located above the city of Varenna. There are also mainly ruins left, although there is an observation deck and a tower where you can climb. Wooden sculptures and ghosts made of chalk mortar are spread around this former fortress, which disappear with the onset of winter.
Museum lovers will be a bit disappointed, as there are not many of them on Lake Como. These types of facilities are mainly concentrated in the city of Como. There you can also visit the Archaeological Museum or the Silk Educational Museum. Still another museum is located on the island of Comacina – Museo Antiquarium Dell’isola with collections of finds from this area.
Churches at Lake Como
In turn, there are many churches on Lake Como. One of the most interesting places related to religion is the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Holy Mount Ossuccio, with baroque chapels and a monastery. The cathedral and the church of St. Abbondio in Como and the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Lecco with a nearly 100-meter neo-Gothic belfry.
Holidays with children over Como
When it comes to traveling with children Lake Como is a good idea. Maybe there are no amazing attractions for children, but nobody should be bored.
For families with toddlers there are areas for strollers and older children can be taken on a bicycle trip. A boat ride on the lake or riding one of the cable cars / track will surely be an unforgetable experience!
Of course, there are playgrounds for children and places where you can swim in the lake or swimming pools. And every kid will definitely adore Italian gelato.
An interesting place for children can be Orrido di Bellano in Bellano, which is a narrow gorge or rather a gulf that connects the Val Muggiasca valley with Lake Como. It is crossed by the gusty Pioverna mountain stream, and the whole is connected with numerous bridges. Another amazing place is the Acquafraggia waterfall in Borgonuovo, where in the summer you can escape a bit in the shade from the tiring heat. When taking toddlers to Lake Como, it is also worth choosing accommodation where children are prepared special activities such as baking pizza or extracurricular activities for which Italians are famous.
Prices on Lake Como
Lake Como is expensive. It is a region where wealthy Italians, Swiss and French, as well as world class celebrities come to relax. Therefore, prices are not the lowest and you have to keep that in mind.
When it comes to accommodation prices, rather in an optimistic version you have to count around 25-30 euro per day per person. The principle is like everywhere – the farther from the lake shore, the cheaper it is.
Hostels and camping sites offer the cheapest accommodation.
Tickets for ferries on the lake are on average around 5-10 euro per course, depending on the route youchoose. You will buy a daily ferry ticket for 15 euro. The cable car ride is another 5-6 euro.
The prices of tickets for historic villas on Lake Como cost from 10 to even 20 euro. Visiting the gardens alone costs around 5-10 euro. For entering the paid beach you will pay from 6 euro upwards for the whole day. It is similar with pool complexes – prices for entry are around 6-7 euro per day, except that you have to pay separately for the sunbed (4-5 euro).
The prices of dinners at restaurants on Lago di Como
When it comes to food in restaurants, you will pay about 2 euro for coffee, a portion of ice cream will cost around 2-3 euro, while a drink or beer in a pub with a lake view will cost 7 euro.
A pizza can cost from 6 to even 10 euro, depending on the location. Lunch in a pub with a nice view costs 17-23 euro per serving.
An example price for a pizza place plus portions of pasta and a half liter of table wine is around 25 euro. Pasta, lasagne with beer and coffee cost 23 euro.
Grocery purchases will not be the cheapest either:
- bread 1 euro
- milk 1.40 euro per liter
- a large natural yogurt 1.5 euros
- sandwich cheese 2.5 euro for a 250 gram package
- cheese from 9 euro per kilo
- ham around 23 euro per kilo
- a packet of cereal 2 euro
- potatoes 1.20 euro per kilo
- rice1.80 euro per kilogram
- pasta from 0.50 euro per packet
- liter of oil 4 euro
- large bar of chocolate 2.5 euro
- water from 0.50 euro for 1.5 liter
- cola 1.55 euro for 2 liters
- coffee 3.50 euro per packet of 250 grams
- tea 1.40 euro for a box of 20 bags
- beer from 1 euro for half a liter
- wine from 2 euro per bottle
Let us know prices of other food or drink products in stores and dinners in restaurants on Como.
One last look at Como:
It is also worth taking a look at the official website of Lake Como and the city of Como itself where you will supplement the knowledge about the weather, beaches and attractions and monuments of this wonderful lake.
Reviews of Lake Como
Have you had the opportunity to spend your vacation on Lake Como? Let us know what your opinions are in the comments. Such opinions can help make the right decisions for other tourists spending their holidays on Lake Como.