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5 reasons to visit Lake Como

The most beautiful lake in Northern Italy

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by Fiora del Passo.

Lago di Como or Lake Como is definitely the most beautiful lake in Northern Italy. It’s known by some for its steep hills, natural beauty and unspoilt quintessentially Italian villages and known by others (possibly the majority) because George Clooney has a wonderful villa on the lake and invites famous Hollywood actors to come and stay with him and sail around the lake… Let’s forget about Mr. Clooney and talk about the real reasons why Lake Como is such a beautiful place to visit

1. Not a mass tourist destination

Lago di Como is surrounded by steep hills where the villages are built up against the hills. There is no room for massive campings, waterparks, karting tracks and other tourist attractions. Those who have visited Lago di Garda or Lago Maggiore often think that Lago di Como is very similar to these two neighbouring lakes, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

You won’t find any of the nightclubs you’ll find around the Lago di Garda or luna parks your’ll find on the shores of Lago Maggiore on Lake Como; what comes closest to a tourist attraction on Lake Como is the “Orrido di Bellano”, a deserted gorge/waterfall that will provide entertainment for about 10 minutes. So you won’t run into swarms of loud tourists that make you wonder whether you are actually in Italy or not.

Lake Como view

Lake Como view

2. You don’t have to travel far to get to the best towns

Travelling around the lake is slow. Yes, some tunnels have been built but the old road still follows the shoreline around the lake and it takes some time and patience to get around. But you don’t have to drive for hours to get to that pretty old little town where time’s stood still to see the Dolce vita that Italy is so famous for.

Just go to Cernobbio, the second village after Como. It’s will take you only a few minutes to get there from the motorway and it offers all you ever wanted on Lake Como: coffee shops for your cappuccino, bars for a good aperitivo and beautiful lake views. And it’s a great location for parking your car for free, and continuing your journey by lake Como ferry or even hire a private boat.

Lake Como coastline

Lake Como coastline

3. Get an old fashioned hotel

The lake is littered with old-school Italian hotels from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. These hotels with their old wooden looks and vintage furniture really complement the great atmosphere on Lake Como and I would really recommend staying at one of these old-school hotels.

You could go for one of the large old “resort”-style hotels that have a great lake view, their own water taxi services, good restaurants / bars and aren’t that expensive to stay in anymore, whilst you still feel a bit like a 60’s VIP. You could also opt for an old-school, traditional family run hotel; many family hotel businesses are still operating in the little villages as the big tourist industry hasn’t ruined lake Como yet, so enjoy one of these whilst you can en enjoy some very warm and welcoming Italian hospitality.

Vintage  Hotel Poster

Vintage Hotel Poster

4. Hire a boat

In Italy any adult can hire a decent motorboat for only 60 Euro per hour including petrol. And we’re talking about a decent boat that can go up to 35km/h with cushioning to lie on and a sun screen to get some protection from the sun. This is ideal to explore the lakes, or just float around, enjoy the sun, have a drink and swim in the lake. You can moor at various villages for a coffee.

Hiring a boat would also be very convenient for a visit to Bellagio. Why? Getting there by car takes a long time due to its remote location and the little town of Bellagio is actually quite disappointing; yes it is pretty but tourism has taken over here and chances are you’ll find more Americans than Italians in this little village.

On the lake, by boat

On the lake, by boat

5. Drive around the lake

Once you drive around the lake you’ll realise how large the lake is and also how diverse the scenery is. When you start off at Como you’ll see a very busy, modern town, but once you get towards Menaggio, you’ll see all the splendour, incredibly beautiful villas and wealth you have seen on television. The very northern part of the lake (Gravedonia, Colico) is a lot less touristy and has a very different, more modern feeling. Driving southbound towards Lecco brings you past the more quiet part of the lake with great villages like Bellano, Dervio & Varenna which are prime examples of quiet and beautiful quintessentially Italian villages. Once you reach Lecco you’ll find more industry and the countryside gets a little less pretty… But you’ll have enjoyed a very diverse trip around the lake.

So: Give lake Como a try before thinking it is a lake similar to Lago di Garda or Lago Maggiore!

  • Paard

    Very good tips Fiora!

  • We stayed at Varenna a month ago, very nice and with a boat connection to Bellagio e Menaggio. You can even bring your car on some boats!