Sail by beautiful mansions, stroll lakeside gardens, wander through historic towns, and paddleboard beneath mountains – these are just some of the best things to do in Lake Como.
Lake Como is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy – and for good reason! It’s stunning, elegant, world renowned, and is just a quick day trip from Milan. Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy, and one of the most well known in Europe. You can spend weeks here visiting new towns and dining on some of the best Italian food in the country.
It took us a whopping nine trips to Italy before we finally checked Lake Como off the bucket list, and we can’t wait to return again. From Bellagio to Laglio, here are the best things to do in Lake Como (besides try and spot George Clooney, something we failed miserably at).
Lake Como Tours and Hotel Recommendations
- From Milan: Lake Como, Bellagio, and Varenna Day Tour
- From Milan: Lake Como, Bellagio, and Lugano Bus Day Trip
- Boat Rental Around Lake Como
- Lake Como: Winery Tour with Wine Tasting
- Lake Como: Electric Bike Tour
Best Things To Do In Lake Como
1. Visit Como
Como is the main and most significant city on Lake Como, and there’s much to be explored! One of the top things to see is the towering 14th-century cathedral situated in the Piazza Duomo and you can climb to the top where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the city.
Other must-see attractions in Como include Villa Olmo and its beautiful gardens, the ruins of Castello Baradello and the Tempio Voltiano Museum which exhibits the work of Alessandro Volta.
2. Visit the Pearl of the Lake
The village of Bellagio is incredibly beautiful like a pearl and this is where its nickname comes from. With its narrow alleys, cobbled streets, steep staircases, historic homes and quaint shops and eateries, it’s hard not to fall in love with this little gem! We consider Bellagio one of the most beautiful places in Europe.
Situated about an hour away from Como, Bellagio is home to a scenic lakeside promenade, pretty gardens and plenty of places to stop and enjoy the incredible views.
3. Basilica di Sant’Abbondio
The Basilica di Sant’Abbondio is an 11th-century Romanesque church with a stately exterior and interior featuring 13th-century frescoes of religious figures, beautiful ceilings, giant stone columns and an opulent altar.
4. Catch Some Thrills on the Water
When it comes to the water sports of Lake Como, there’s a range of exciting options to get you out on the water.
Whether you want to try kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, kite-surfing, wake-boarding, water skiing, or stand-up paddleboarding, there are lessons, tours and rentals available from several companies, such as Boat2Go.
One of our best days on Lake Como was the day we rented with the Boat2Go Team. We were able to explore Como from the water and take in all the beautiful towns from a different point of view.
When you check in for your boat rental the team will advise you of the best areas to go and how to make the best tour. You can choose from from two hour rentals and up and a boating license is not required!
Boat2Go has fantastic reviews and is family run. Because of this their boats are usually booked well in advance so we highly recommend making a reservation if visiting Lake Como in the summer season.
- Address: Address: Piazza Conciliazione, 23865 Vassena LC, Italy (GPS)
- Hours: Everyday 9AM – 7PM
- Book a Tour on Manawa!
As far as the alpine villages that surround Lake Como go, Lecco just might be the most interesting and the prettiest. Steeped in history, culture and scenery, Lecco is a place where you can spend a whole day! Make sure to check out the Palace of Fears Museum and its many exhibits including some featuring beautiful artworks.
6. Visit Castello di Vezio
- Address: Via Del Castellano, 23828 Perledo LC, Italy (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am -5:00 pm,
Saturday- Sunday – 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Situated in an olive grove on a hill above the village of Varenna, Castella di Vezio is a medieval castle that has towered over the area for over 1,000 years. Once used to defend against invaders, today it’s a top attraction for visitors wishing to get a better look at its stunning architecture and take in one of the falconry demonstrations that take place every afternoon.
As you explore the property, you’ll see gardens, statues and perhaps even one of the art exhibitions that are hosted at the castle throughout the year. The climb to the top of the hill is a difficult one but the views make it all worthwhile!
7. Go Shopping
The historic downtown area of Como is the best place to go shopping in the region for both the experience and the range of shops available. The area with its narrow streets and bustling squares is bordered by medieval walls so you can enjoy a unique environment surrounded by some interesting architecture.
Inside the quaint shops, you’ll find everything from the renowned silk products that the city is known for to local crafts and clothing. This is where you’ll find luxury items at outlet prices. A traditional covered market and an Armani outlet store are just some of the shopping experiences you’ll enjoy in Como.
8. Take a Hike Across the Tremezzina
Although it’s quite long at just over six miles, the hike across the Tremezzina and through the nearby villages is an easy one filled with incredible beauty. Walk through ancient villages and see beautiful gardens, villas and stunning areas that were used as scenes in many movies including Casino Royale and Star Wars.
9. Head to Brunate
Brunate is a small town situated above the city of Como. It’s mostly known for its terrace which is famous for offering visitors spectacular views of the area. The real fun part about visiting Brunate is in getting there; you’ll need to take a funicular from the east side of Lake Como.
At the top, you’ll find a few great restaurants and attractions such as Volta
Lighthouse and The Church of Brunate.
10. Admire Gardens and Villas
Italy is known for its beautiful gardens and villas and you’ll find an abundance of both around the shores of Lake Como, especially in the area known as Centro Lago. Villa Melzi and Villa Balbianello, which have been used as film sets for several movies, are two of the most notable villas to check out.
As you explore the area, you’ll also see sculptures and statues, lake terraces and beautiful woodland areas that make Centro Lago a popular place to do some hiking.
11. Villa Carlotta Museum
- Address: Via Regina, 2, 22016 Tremezzina (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Cost of Admission: For ticket information, click here.
Stunning views, celebrated artworks by well-known artists, incredible sculptures and the opportunity to relax in lush botanical gardens are just some of the things you’ll enjoy during a visit to Villa Carlotta.
This lovely property has been combining nature and art for more than 300 years. The villa once belonged to Princess Charlotte and you can visit the second-floor apartments which still house some of her personal possessions. Admission is €12.
12. View Priceless Artifacts at The Archaeological Museum of Como
- Address: Piazza Medaglie d’Oro Comasche, 1, 22100 Como (GPS)
- Hours: Temporarily closed for maintenance
Located in the Palazzo Giovio, The Archaeological Museum of Como exhibits a collection of artifacts that were found around the area, some dating back to the ancient Greek and Roman periods. Pottery, farming equipment, jewelry and stone items are some of the things you’ll see on display. Admission is €5.
13. Check Out Piona Abbey
- Address: Via Abbazia di Piona, 55, 23823 Colico (GPS)
- Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:30 am -12:00 pm, 2:30- 6:00 pm
On the eastern side of Lake Como, you’ll find Piona Abbey, a peaceful property where it feels like you’ve stepped into the past. This sacred place with its church and cloister is surrounded by beautiful scenery at the foot of a mountain.
Inside the church, you’ll see frescoes from various periods and a cross vault with depictions of Christ’s ascent into heaven. On-site, there’s also a shop where you’ll find a selection of herbs, cosmetic products and liquors produced by the monks who live there.
14. Immerse in History at the Historical Museum of Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Address: Piazza Medaglie d’Oro Comasche, 1, 22100 Como (GPS)
- Cost of Admission: For ticket information, click here.
Even the historic 15th-century palace that houses the Historical Museum of Giuseppe Garibaldi is fascinating in itself but it’s what’s inside that’s most intriguing! The museum is divided into beautifully-decorated rooms that have been renovated to showcase traditional living quarters from various Italian eras.
As you explore the museum, you’ll find exhibits showcasing a variety of artifacts. These include antique furnishings, personal items that were owned by Mr Garibaldi and items related to the Battle of San Fermo, The Italian Wars of Independence and the World Wars. Admission is €5.
15. Take an E-Bike Tour of Lake Como
If you’ve done enough walking around Lake Como and feel that a traditional bike ride is too strenuous but would like to see more of the region in a shorter amount of time, an E-Bike tour may just be the perfect outing for you!
You can hire one and embark on a self-guided tour or you can join a guided E-bike tour like the three-hour excursion that not only explores the Lake Como area but also explores Lake Piano and Lake Lugano. On this journey, you’ll enjoy scenery consisting of mountains and pretty little villages. You’ll also get to ride along a historic railway and visit a nature preserve.
16. Take a Boat Tour
What better way is there to enjoy a vacation on a lake than to actually get out on it? Taking a boat excursion on Lake Como is the best way to really experience it and see the true beauty of the area. How else would you be able to see the stunning landscapes and scenic villages all at the same time?
Whether you want to hop on a boat and travel to a specific location on its shores or you want to embark on a full tour with a professional guide who’ll point out all the major sights, there’s no shortage of companies offering these services. Il Medeghino is one of the companies that offer Lake Como Boat tours.
From the heart of Como, depart on an adventure to explore hidden gems that you’d otherwise not see from land. Prices are between 190€ and €1600 and Dinner tours and Karaoke Night tours are also available.
17. Explore Menaggio
Scenic Menaggio can be found on the west side of Lake Como and is where you’ll find almost fairytale-like vistas with mountains, colorful homes and lakeside promenades.
While there aren’t many attractions to visit in this little village, it’s a great place to relax and take in a serene environment. There are a few great restaurants where you can enjoy dinner alongside the lake.
18. Hit the Beaches
When the temperatures heat up, the best place to be is at one of the amazing beaches around Lake Como. Most of these beaches are free to use and some even have equipment available such as chairs and umbrellas.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-80s in summer, you’ll likely want to take a refreshing dip in the clear waters but if swimming isn’t your thing, you can always sunbathe. Some of the top beaches are Menaggio Beach, Sorico Beach, Moltrasio Beach, Bellagio Beach and Lenno Beach.
19. Get an Aerial View of Lake Como
During your travels around Lake Como, you’ll see the area on foot and perhaps even by car, bike and boat, but there is one other way to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the region and this is by helicopter.
The Scenic Views Luxury Helicopter Tour offered by The Vertical Tour takes you over the lake and villages so you can get an aerial view of the villas, terraces, gardens and top attractions.
20. Catch a Spectacular Sunset
It is said that the best places to watch the sunset are on the eastern side of Lake Como but there are many places to enjoy one of the area’s magical sunsets everywhere around the lake.
Brunate, Torno, Piona, Dervio, Lezzeno and Blevio are just a few of the best places but some people prefer to watch the sun go down from one of the many restaurant terraces that grace the region with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand.
21. Visit the Forte Di Fuentes
- Address: Via Forte Fuentes, 23823 Colico (GPS)
- Hours: For the monthly operation hours, check here.
- Cost of Admission: For ticket informations, click here.
Situated about 40 minutes away from Lake Como, The Forte Di Fuentes makes for the perfect day trip in Northern Italy. The 17th-century former military fort sits atop the Hill of Montecchio and offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about the country’s fascinating past. Admission is €5 per person.
22. Visit The Sacred Mount of Ossuccio
- Address: Via Santuario, 22010 Ossuccio CO (GPS)
- Hours: Monday -Sunday: 7:00 am -6:30 pm
You know a place is special when it has a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation and such is the case with the stunning sanctuary at The Sacred Mount of Ossuccio.
Walk along a cobbled road from a nearby village to this peaceful place. Here you’ll find more than a dozen 17th and 18th-century baroque chapels with hundreds of statues depicting the life of Christ. Enjoy stunning scenery consisting of meadows and olive trees.
23. Hike Along The Sentiero Del Viandante
One of the best hiking trails at Lake Como is The Sentiero Del Viandante. Although this trail is quite long, it can be done in sections and the section that you’ll likely want to do is the one that travels along the east side of the lake.
The trail is an ancient Roman route and old mule track and as you hike along it, you’ll see stunning views of the lake, chestnut trees, olive groves and marble quarries. If you’re there at the right time, you may even catch a sunset.
24. Dine at La Vita e Bella Ristorante
Said to be one of the best restaurants in the Lake Como area, La Vita e Bella Ristorante is mostly known for its wide range of delicious salads and selection of healthy meals including vegan options.
Relax in a cozy environment or enjoy the views from the terrace while you dine on traditional Italian dishes and mouth-watering desserts made with only the finest ingredients available.
25. Sample Local Wine
- Price: $$
- Cuisine: Wine bar
- Address: Enoteca Cava Turacciolo- Salita Genazzini, 3, 22021 Bellagio CO (GPS)
- Website: See menu
As Lake Como is situated in the famed Lombardy Wine Country region of Italy, it seems fitting that at least one wine tasting should be a part of your visit.
Some of the most popular places to sample local wine in the area include Capitan Drake, Enoteca Cava Turacciolo, La Cantina del Laghee and the renowned Enoteca Principessa. Cellar Tours offers guided luxury wine tastings.
One of the best things to do in Lake Como is spend the day wandering Laglio. Laglio is a charming town to walk around and is divided into the two centers of Laglio and Torriggia.
From here you can stroll the town, have a delicious fish meal lakeside, or take a cruise around the shores.
When is the Best Time to Visit Lake Como?
The best time to visit Lake Como, and the lake district in general is in the summer months. June-September is when you’ll have the best weather. Sunny days await you during the Italian summer, though it can reach up to 30° on some days, so you’ll want to be in the shade or by water on these scorchers.
That being said the summer is also the busiest time and July and August will yield extremely high prices on accommodation, with the largest number of crowds. You’ll need to book your trip to Lake Como well in advance you will risk getting squeezed out of good accommodation.
Plenty of Italians take their vacations around this time. If you want to experience Lake Como with fewer people and slightly lower prices head there in June, September, or October.
EXPLORE MORE OF ITALY
I hope you enjoyed this guide on what to do in Lake Como. Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Italy.
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