Situated in the north of Italy, Lake Como fully deserves its reputation as the most spectacular of the region’s three lakes.
Part of the Italian Lake District, Lake Como has been a popular holiday destination since the time of the ancient Romans. Attracted by shimmering waters, majestic Alpine vistas and the magnificent luxury villas in Lake Como are an elite crowd, including everyone from famous celebrities to successful businessmen and women from around the globe.
Shaped like an inverted ‘Y’, Lake Como is set in the shadow of the Rhaetian Alps and hemmed in on both sides by steep wooded hills. At the southern end, the lake forks into two long ‘legs’ with the picturesque town of Bellagio situated on the promontory between them. Europe’s deepest lake at almost 1,350 feet, Lake Como is 47 km long north to south and can be easily reached by train from Milan in about 40 minutes. The southern end of the lake is relatively flat but the terrain becomes more mountainous as you head north towards the Alps. The winding shoreline is dotted with ancient villages as well as palatial villas backed by impressive gardens, a number of which are open to the public.
Car ferries and vaporetti (water buses) traverse the lake in season, making it easy to explore the main towns. At the southern end of the east branch of Lake Como is Como itself, a lively and pleasant town with an appealing historic centre, impressive Romanesque cathedral and several fascinating churches. Spectacular views stretching as far as Turin and Monviso can be admired from the top of the funicular and football fans can enjoy watching the Como football team play in the stadium near the lake. A major draw is beautiful Bellagio, a picturesque town where the lake’s two ‘legs’ converge, fringed by cypresses and with many charming cafes and restaurants along its shores. On the western shore, Menaggio is a good base for swimming, walking and cycling whilst Varenna on the eastern shore offers a peaceful and relaxed spot to unwind. The fjord-like eastern branch of Lecco is a modern industrial town based on the steelworks and silk industry and offers good opportunities for serious mountain walking.
The best way to explore Lake Como is by boat, sailing from east-to-west or drifting along one of the lake’s three forks.
“Well known for its Michelin-starred restaurants, rustic Italian eateries and trendy bars and bistros, Lake Como’s culinary scene does not disappoint.”
The Market Place
Situated just outside Como’s historic centre, The Market Place serves imaginative, modern Italian cuisine using simple and fresh ingredients. There are two tasting menus to choose from (classic or gourmet) as well as an a la carte menu featuring delicious dishes such as rabbit ravioli, barbecued octopus and cuttlefish tagliolini to name a few.
www.themarketplace.it / +39 031 27 07 12
Specialising in fresh fish from the lake, Silvio, in Bellagio, is the perfect place for a romantic dinner or a delicious meal with family and friends. Offering 180 degree views of the lake and surrounding mountains, you can enjoy simple and refined Italian cuisine on the elegant veranda or pergola adorned with American grape vine. We recommend trying the traditional Larian rice and fish dish – simply divine.
www.bellagiosilvio.it/ristorante-silvio.html / +39 031 95 03 22
Locanda Dell’Isola Comancina
For an unforgettable dining experience, make your way to Sala Comacina where you can take a 5-minute speedboat to Lake Como’s only island, Isola Comacina. Situated right on the lake, the restaurant offers spectacular views and a set menu which has been served here since 1947: vegetable antipasti, grilled salmon trout, fried chicken with salad, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sliced oranges or peaches served with ice cream and to finish, brandied coffee set on fire whilst the charismatic owner regales you with tales of the island’s history.
www.comacina.it/en/restaurant.php / +39 034 45 67 55
Located at the northern end of Lake Como, Agriturismo Sorsasso is a family-run restaurant with breathtaking views and award-winning wines. The setting is casual and relaxed and a four-course set menu is prepared by local, home cooks using traditional methods and sourced from the adjoining farm or nearby area.
www.sorsasso.com/ospitalita/agriturismo / +39 0344 91 00 22
“Whilst Lake Como oozes elegance and sophistication, do not underestimate its capacity for liveliness after dark.”
T Bar at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo
This stunning second floor piano bar is the perfect spot to drink in exceptional views across Lake Como, Bellagio and enjoy spectacular sunsets over the Grigne Mountains, cocktail in hand.
www.grandhoteltremezzo.com/t-bar / +39 034 44 24 91
Enoteca Cava Turacciolo
A charming wine bar in Bellagio, Enoteca Cava Turacciolo is a candlelit stonewalled space near the waterfront with an encyclopedic wine list covering every region in Italy. Excellent charcuterie and cheese boards are on offer too as well as several pasta and fish dishes.
www.cavaturacciolo.it / +39 031 95 09 75
Enjoy a glass of wine and some delicious ice cream on the lake front in Menaggio accompanied by expansive views of Como’s glittering waters.
www.barilgabbiano.com / +39 34 43 26 08
Lido di Lenno
Overlooking Villa Balbianello and the Bay of Lenno, Lido di Lenno is a restaurant and beach bar which transforms into a nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights. Contemporary art-chic interiors blend with rustic decor whilst outside the terrace and beach is lit by lanterns.
www.lidodilenno.com / +39 0344 91 00 22
“Lake Como is not a seaside resort but there are a number of beautiful shingle beaches and lidos dotted around the lake.”
Lido di Menaggio
Situated right on the lake, the facilities include a sandy beach, two swimming pools, three restaurants and a garden with sun beds for topping up that all important tan.
www.lidomenaggio.eu / +39 329 741 76 09
Lido di Bellagio
Located between Bellagio and the gardens of Villa Melzi, Lido Bellagio offers a sandy beach equipped with gazebos and sunbeds for relaxing in the sun. There’s also a beach bar serving a wide array of cocktails.
www.lidodibellagio.com / +39 031 95 11 95
One of the most beautiful beaches of Lake Como, Riva Bianca in Lierna is a white pebble beach with stunning views and crystal clear water.
A fantastic spot with breathtaking views of the Alps, Colico Beach in Lecco is popular for kitesurfing, sailing and windsurfing..
“With a variety of adventures on offer, there’s far more to Lake Como than relaxing by the water”
With challenging rides up to the surrounding mountains and picturesque routes around the lake, the area has plenty to offer both experienced and less experienced cyclists. Enjoy beautiful scenery, lakeside villages and picturesque valleys as you make your way along the winding roads.
There are plenty of magnificent trails in the area but the Greenway Walk, from Colonno to Griante via the charming Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno and Mezzegra villages is one of the most popular. Enjoy stunning views of hillsides dotted with olive groves, azure waters and grand villas along the way.
To take in the full splendour of the lake, a helicopter tour is a must. Fly above the lake and take in views of quaint villages, famous towns, historic houses, churches, luxury villas and wonderful lake shores on your private tour on board your very own chartered helicopter.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Lake Como is the ideal location for all manner of water sports including canoeing and kayaking. Several companies offer canoes and kayaks for hire around the lake and there are plenty of other water sports available in the area including water skiing, jetskiing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and wakeboarding.