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Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como as a vacation destination belies the idea that Italy is all Roman ruins and antiquities. This picturesque area in the Lombardy region near Milan in the north of Italy is both unique and stunningly beautiful, highlighting quaint villages and towns, and gorgeous, historic villas. With a backdrop of the snow-capped Alps and  rolling green hills mirrored in the crystal waters of the lake, Lake Como is a favorite of the famous and an inspiration for the artist and writer. It continues to be a popular destination for the world traveler.

Lake Como - Varenna

Varenna on Lake Como

The Golden Triangle

The most popular activity for the visitor is to cruise Lake Como touring the “Golden Triangle” which takes you to the three most charming towns on the Lake: Bellagio, Menaggio, and Varenna. In between soaking up the stunning views of villas and gardens while cruising the lake, your visits to these towns affords opportunities to stroll ancient, narrow streets, shop for souvenirs, or savor the cuisine of the region.

Bellagio is known as the “Pearl of Lake Como”. for good reason with its cobbled streets and colorful buildings. Varenna is quieter, a fishing village while Menaggio is quite the opposite – a busy town, bustling harbor, with many shops and cafes.

Lake Como - Menaggio

Menaggio Street Scene

Lake Como - Bellagio


The Villas

Lake Como - Villa Balbianello

Villa del Balbianello

Current day visitors are not the only ones to appreciate the beauty of Lake Como. Historic and grand villas line the shore and luckily for us, many are open to the public for exploration. Stroll the heavenly gardens and marvel at the lush interiors. The most famous villa is perhaps the 17th century Villa Carlotta in Tremezzina known for the magnificence and variety of its gardens: botanical, Italian, and water. The villa itself contains many artistic treasures. An 18th century one, Villa del Bellagio also has lovely grounds but is best known currently as the setting for several films in series such as Star Wars and James Bond. Be sure to visit Villa Olmo and Villa Monastero as well, the latter having a museum on site.

Lake Como - Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta Garden Fountain

Lake Como - Villa Monastero

View from Villa Monastero

More Activities Available

Lake Como is surrounded by hiking trails for the more active visitor. A popular trail is that of the Sentiero del Viandante which runs along the eastern shore for 45 km (28 mi.). You can also fish, swim, or rent a kayak or paddleboard. Not into sports? There’s always shopping! Como town is known for its silk products manufactured locally. Or just take in a meal or two sitting in a café by the lakeside, and relax with a wonderful regional wine.

Lake Como - town street

Explore the towns

Lake Como - Silk ties

Buy a silk tie or scarf

The Food

Lake Como Relaxation with a glass of wine

Enjoy a glass of local red wine

The dishes you will find in this region are a combination of Italian and Swiss influences. The region’s most famous dish is risotto alta milanese, which is a creamy risotto with saffron and Parmesan cheese. Perch and trout are two of the local catches that you will find on the menu in fired, baked or grilled offerings. Also try the local polento and the ossobuco alla milanese. If your choice does not include a local cheese such as Taleggio or Gorgonzola as an ingredient, make sure you sample a cheese platter. For the sweet tooth, the area has many delicious cakes  and pastries such as tiramisu, and miascia,  a bread pudding with dried fruits and nuts. Valtellina produces famous red wines to accompany your meals. And don’t forget the delicious local coffees anytime of the day.

Lake Como - table of food


Plan Your Visit to Lake Como

There are all levels of accommodation to suit your budget should you wish to visit this area of Italy from hotels and villa stays to guest houses and B&B’s. Not comfortable with independent travel? Join a respected guided tour so your visit includes accommodations, most meals, tours with knowledgeable local guides, and more. Lake Como can get relatively cold in the winter months so the best time to plan your visit is either in the Spring or Fall. June is historically the month with the most rain, and summers can be hot and muggy. Summer is high season as well so you avoid the crowds by traveling in the shoulder seasons. The nearest airport is Milan Malpensa. Europe has marvelous train, bus and air links so transportation should never be an issue. 

Contact your travel expert at this agency to either design a custom tour of the area or book you on a guided tour, and travel worry-free!

All images courtesy of AdobeStock. Visiting Italy? Read about Amalfi Coast , Pompeii, Trieste and the Puglia area to name a few highlights of this country.
Article first appeared on Real Travel Experts.