Lake Como| Italy
Make Lake Como the first stop on your trip.
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While today it might be best known as a summer retreat for Hollywood film stars like George Clooney, Lake Como has actually been famous since the age of the Roman empire. In fact the seminal historians Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger were natives of Como. The lake gained international acclaim between the 18th and the 19th centuries, first with the triumph of the so-called “villa civilization,” and then with the development of the tourist elite and international celebrities. As a result, Lake Como became an obligatory stop for travellers and writers visiting Italy. The long list of those who have written about the lake include Bourget, De Musset, Longfellow, Stendhal and Flaubert.
Lake Como in the 21st century offers the unique combination of a beautiful natural setting with historic and cultural attractions alongside shopping and spa opportunities. And all of this is concentrated into a relatively small area, making Lake Como easy to explore at your leisure.Most of the attractions and hotels are located on the coast between Como, Tremezzo and Bellagio. The location is easy to reach by public transport, private transfer, or boat.
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Where to stay in Lake Como
We’ve handpicked some of the most comfortable accommodations on Lake Como to offer you the ideal base for exploring the area. The hotels and villas are clustered in four areas. In Como you can find several 3 and 4-star options. An interesting historic area, Como is the most understated town on the lake, but it’s also the easiest to access from Milan. It’s a great choice if you only have a couple of days to spend here.
Cernobbio and Moltrasio offer a few nice 4-star villa hotels with very pleasant spas. The area is easy to reach from Como by private transfer or public transportation. The ferry stops near several of the hotels.
About two hours by car from Malpensa, Tremezzo offers the ideal Lake Como atmosphere. While it’s the farthest town from Como, it has excellent accommodation and makes it very easy to explore lakeside locations by boat.
Bellagio is one of the most famous towns on the lake. It’s quite complicated to reach, which only adds to its exclusivity. There are very pleasant accommodation options here. We recommend staying in Bellagio only if you are enjoying an extended stay on Lake Como.
Things to do in Lake Como
There’s more than enough to keep you entertained on Lake Como, whether you’re looking to rub elbows with the stars, explore history, or just enjoy some relaxation. The town of Como is a great place to start. It has a charming historic center whose main attractions are the Cathedral of Sant’Abbondio and the San Fedele Church. Other fine examples of historic architecture are the Broletto Palace and the Voltiano Temple. We also recommend taking the funicular up the hill to Brunate, a quaint village with extraordinary views over the lake. And, since silk making is one of the most traditional trades on Lake Como, the Educational Silk Museum is definitely worth a visit.
Lake Como is known for its splendid villas, which are owned by prominent local families and international stars. You’ll recognize some of the buildings and the scenery from films like Ocean’s Twelve. You can take ferries (or rent a private boat) to explore these beautiful examples of architecture all along the lake. And if you are exploring the lake, you’ll want to stop at Isola Comacina, the only island on Lake Como. Here you can visit the Basilica of St. Eufemia, or enjoy a true Italian espresso at the island restaurant. We especially recommend a visit on the day of the Saint John Festival on June 24th. There are fireworks over Lake Como and Mass is celebrated in the ruins of the Basilica of St. Eufemia.
It’s hard to narrow it down to a short list of must-see sights on Lake Como. All around the lake are villages that are worth visiting. Cernobbio is glamorous and aristocratic. Torno has some beautiful churches. Argegno is the place where the mountains meet the lake. There are great restaurants and gelaterias here. Tremezzo boasts the beautiful Villa Carlotta, which has a wonderful botanical garden and art collection.
We definitely recommend a stop in Lenno, where you can visit the spectacular Villa del Balbianello. It’s located on the tip of a small wooded peninsula on the western shore of the south-west branch of Lake Como. Built for the Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery, the villa is famous for its elaborate terraced gardens.
If you like UNESCO World Heritage Sites (and who doesn’t?) you’re in luck, because Ossuccio has the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio, a religious sanctuary perched high atop a cliff. There are fourteen chapels here, built in baroque style between 1635 and 1710. At the summit is a sanctuary from 1532. It’s impressive, to say the least, and will add another dimension to your holiday on Lake Como.
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