Surrounded by the Rhaetian Alps and shaped like an upside-down Y, Lake Como is one of the most desirable destinations in the Old Continent. In 2014, The Huffington Post crowned it ‘best lake in the world’ but its fame as one of Europe’s most exclusive retreats goes back to the Roman era.
View of the Lake from Rovenna
For centuries, the lake and its surroundings have attracted a mundane and elitist crowd from all over the world.
And then, came the artists. From romantic poets and painters to the creator of Star Wars, the allure of the area has inspired different forms of art.
Visiting the lake in the summer of 1867, American author Mark Twain captured the magic of the lake in The Innocents Abroad and wrote that its beauty “seems reflected out of Heaven itself.”
While it still maintains the charm of an elite and out-of-time elevated destination, the beauties of the lake have gradually become more and more accessible to tourists from every walk of life.
Parasailing on the Lake
The charming combination of neo-classical palatial villas, ancient villages and breath-taking vistas makes a visit to its shores a unique experience.
The best way to explore its gems is by riding a Vespa – like most locals do – on the lakeside narrow streets: you will be transported to a Fellinian and elegant Italian atmosphere.
The lake’s three branches converge in Bellagio, a small resort town where lakeside lidos and beaches are surrounded by narrow alleys full of restaurants and staircases covered in bougainvillea.
The streets of the Borgo, a showcase of medieval and baroque architecture, are picture-perfect frames to a magnificent view: the intersection of the three “legs” shadowed by a clearer glimpse of the Alps.
Bellagio is also a hub of the lake’s boat service, which connects it to Como, Menaggio and other popular destinations.
Como lays where the two South Western shores meet. While the pre-Roman city is the capital of the province of Como, it still retains the quietness of a village.
Inside the walled town, the Gothic Dumo – Cathedral –, the medieval buildings and the baroque facades, are symbols of the city’s rich history.
During the spring and summer months, Como turns into a dynamic touristic hotspot. Piazza Cavour and Piazza Volta – two of the main squares – are full of bars and eateries where locals and visitors enjoy traditional meals and stroll around in the vibrant atmosphere.
Throughout the past ten years, the restaurant scene in the city has also evolved, becoming more international and edgier.
Dockside aperitivos and meals are a must everywhere from Como to the most remote villages on the lake.
Cernobbio, a small town only five minutes from Como, is renewed for two of the most beautiful villas flanking the lake: Villa Erba and Villa D’Este (a 5-star hotel, private club and location for exclusive events). Adding to the charm, the tiny historic centre is another lakefront gem.
It’s almost impossible to get tired of the jewels that the lake and its surroundings offer to the eyes. Almost every village is worth a visit – or even a quick stop to enjoy yet another baroque balcony covered with flowers or enchanted view.
See & Do
- Villa Balbianello – for its unique gardens.
- Villa Carlotta – for the museum and botanical garden facing the lake.
- Villa Olmo – for its art exhibition and neoclassical architecture.
- Villa Melzi d’Eril – for its historical statues and selections of flowers.
- Water Sports on the Lake – many of the lakeside resort destinations offer water sport facilities. Most notably, the Wakeboard Club of Blevio attracts a young crowd and turns into a bar at night.
- Trip to Brunate – situated on the top of the Como valley, Brunate offers one of the best panoramic views as well as a tour of Liberty-style villas.
- Trip to Isola Comacina – a tiny island in the middle of the lake. If you’re lucky enough to visit the lake at the end of June, you’ll witness the spectacular fireworks of the island.
- Just wonder around the alleys of Como and the villages – the perfect places to get lost!
- Grand Hotel Tremezzo – A luxurious 5-star hotel with a panoramic view of the Lake and the Grigne mountains. Guests have exclusive access to Villa Sola Cabiati, a symbol of Italian art.
- Filario Hotel & Residences – With a fresh and different take on the lake’s elegance, the luxurious hotel distinguishes itself with a contemporary design.
- Posta Design Hotel – A more affordable option situated in the heart of Como, this recently redecorated hotel is perfect for visitors who want to stay in the city.
- B&B Villa Le Ortensie – Cosy, romantic and more traditional, a valid and affordable option in Faggeto Lario.
- Il Sereno Lago di Como – Part of “The Leading Hotels of The World”, this newly inaugurated hotel is the latest – and trendiest – addition to the lake’s luxurious accommodations.
- I Tigli in Theoria – a Michelin starred restaurant and lounge bar situated in the historical “Palazzetto del Vescovo” in the heart of Como.
- Locanda dell’Isola Comacina – a traditional locanda offering fresh-water specialties in the beautiful setting of the Comacina Island.
- Il Gatto Nero – A classic Italian restaurant with break-taking vista of the lake.
“Risotto al Pesce Persico” at Gatto Nero, Cernobbio