Last updated: March 21, 2023
Located in the north-western partLombardy Jezioro Comois one of the most picturesque places in the wholeItaly. It is the country's third largest lake afterLake Gardalocated in the vicinity of Verona andJeziorze Majormore to the west.
Although Lake Como is not the largest in size, it is with an average depth154 metersand the deepest point on the level400 metersis the deepest lake in the entire Alps. For many, it is also the most beautiful, as evidenced by numerous mentions in literature and countless paintings with surrounding motifs.
From our guide you will learn everything you need to plan a trip - we answered in it, among others: to the following questions:
- what are the greatest attractions of Lake Como,
- how to get to Lake Como,
- what are the most interesting cities and towns,
- how to get around Lake Como,
- are there beaches on Lake Como,
- where is the best place to stay and how much time to plan there,
- and for much, much more.
- Lake Como - a brief introduction
- How to get to Lake Como from Poland?
- How much time to spend on Lake Como and how to plan a visit?
- Cities on Lake Como
- Attractions of Lake Como. What to see and do?
- Miasto Como
- Villa del Balbianello and other villas and gardens on Lake Como
- The source of the Fiumelatte River
- Nesso - medieval bridge and waterfall
- Cable cars - from Como to Brunate or from Argegno to Pigra
- Vezio Castle above Varenna and the ruins of Baradello Castle in Como
- Comacina Island (Isola Comacina)
- Hiking and walking trails
- Spacer od Colonno do Griante
- Hiking trails starting from Varenna
- Viewpoints on Lake Como
- How to visit Lake Como?
- Tourist information points
- When is the best time to visit Lake Como?
- The best base for an overnight stay on Lake Como
- How to get around Lake Como? Public transport and other proposals
- Cuisine, restaurants and eating out
- Beaches on Lake Como - what should we know about them?
- A short history - from Roman times to today
Lake Como - a brief introduction
In Poland, the lake is called Lake Como, which corresponds to the Italian nameLake Comoa lake near the cityAs. The origins of this 80-thousand-inhabitant village date back to Roman times, and today it is the largest city lying directly on the shore. The more traditional name for the lake isJezioro Lario (Lake Lario)which had its origins in Roman times (lat.Lake Larius). One of the branches is calledLecco lake(a lake near Lecco), although the inhabitants of this particular city use this name to refer to the entire lake.
Lake Como is shaped like an inverted letterYand consists of three branches:Como branch(western part),Lecco branch(eastern part) andColico branch(northern part). Interestingly, they all have a similar length - approx25-26 kilometers. Virtually the entire coastline is mountainous, and the cities built along it cascade upwards.
Some of the local towns resemble famous townsCinque Terre- with the difference that there are definitely more than five of them here. The shape of the reservoir is very irregular and zigzag, which makes it difficult to find vantage points from which we can see the lake in its full glory. Almost the entire area around the water surface is overgrown with various plants and trees, which is favored by the mild climate and relatively mild winters.
Como is just located
40 kilometersNorth of
Milanand is one of the places that the inhabitants of the Italian capital of fashion go to, looking for a break from the hardships of a big metropolis. Many famous actors, artists and business people have their residences here. It's also a popular area for filmmakers. one of the famous parts
How to get to Lake Como from Poland?
The nearest airports in the area are ports inMilanand inBergamo. In the case of Polish tourists, the last one is perfect: we will fly there directly from several Polish cities (e.g. Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Warsaw (Modlin and Okęcie), Wrocław or Poznań), and both low-cost airlines (Ryanair and Wizzair ) often tempt with prices not much more100 zlotyfor a one-way flight, and in the warm months.
From Bergamo we can get to Lake Como by regional train departing from the main railway station. We can get to the station itself by an inexpensive airport bus (price 2.60 €).
More:Milan-Bergamo Airport (BGY) - access to Bergamo, Milan and other Italian cities
From the train station in Bergamo you can get:
- to the cityAs(Como S. Giovanni station) with a change in the cityMonza, cena7,10€, travel time from one hour and 20 minutes to one hour and 40 minutes; from Como we can take a bus to other towns, including: Bellagio, Tremezzo or Menaggio; trains run approximately every hour,
- directly to the cityLecco, price 3.80€, travel time is 40 minutes,
- with a change in Lecco to other cities on the west coast (e.g. Varenna, Bellano or Colico).
Train tickets can be purchased online or directly at the station. Remember to validate your ticket at the station before your journey! The ticket can be used up to 4 hours from the moment of validation or up to 4 hours from the time for which we purchased the ticket online. Thanks to this solution, we do not have to worry about delays at the airport.
Schedules are available atofficial websiteItalian carrier Trenitalia in English.
How much time to spend on Lake Como and how to plan a visit?
It all depends on how many cities we plan to visit and what our stay should look like. If we would like to come for a day without accommodation, the best solution would probably be to visit only the city of Como or possibly a trip by bus or boat to a maximum of one or two cities. In this case, however, we must start the visit as early as possible. The truth is, however, that visiting Como and Cernobbio (both cities are close to each other and we can walk between them along the row of villas) can easily take us a whole day.
With two or more days, the situation looks better and we have several possible variants. Example ideas for specific days:
- Traveling by bus fromAsdoBellagiofrom where we can easily and quickly (about 15 minutes) sail toVarennythe / iMennagio. In the case of Bellagio and Varenna, there are some attractions waiting for us in the cities, such as villas or walking routes; going to Bellagio we can make a quick stop inLinkand see the historic bridge and gorge with waterfalls.
- When we stop inLeccowe can take a train to Varenna and from there take a boat to Bellagio and/or Mennagio. With a sufficiently early start to the day, we can also drive toBellanoand see the waterfalls and the gorge that divides the city in half.
- A full-day trip to the cities of the districtTremezzinewhich includes, among others,Lenno,OssuccioiTremezzo; all of them are connected by a pleasant walking route (Green Route), apart from them we can also visit Mennagio, which we can also reach on foot.
Regardless of the prepared plan, we always have to take into account the transport schedules, unless of course we came by our own car. And although most cities can be visited in a maximum of 2 hours, the bottleneck may be transport - both buses and ships do not run so regularly. In addition, it's not always worth rushing, sometimes it's nice to just stroll through the narrow streets or spend time in one of the gardens / on the beach sipping a glass of wine or the popular Italian drink Aperol Spritz.
In our opinion, the optimal number of days for an active sightseeing plan is:4-5, but minimal3. In the case of a two-day trip, it is better to shorten the plan and enjoy the views without rushing too much.
Cities on Lake Como
Directly on Lake Como, there are several large and small towns. The largest of them is the cityAsinhabited by 80,000 people, which resembles a typical Italian, medium-sized city. We will find a cathedral, basilicas, wide squares filled with cafe tables, museums and a large gastronomic choice.
It is the second larger cityLeccoand the others are noticeably smaller. Some of them are really tiny and we can walk through them in a few minutes. Most of them grow in a cascade from the shore upwards, but a few are located on a higher level and we can get to them on foot or using public transport, or a cable car.
With the exception of Como, there are no other cities that need more than a day or two to visit. In the event of resignation from entering the villa, some of them will be visited in2 to 3 hours.
- zachodni brzeg Como branch i Colico branch:Como, Carnabbio, Argegno, Ossuccio, Lenno, Tremezzo, Menaggio
- wschodni brzeg Lecco branch i Colico branch:Lecco, Varenna, Bellano, Colico
- east bank of Ramo di Como:Nessus, Bellagio
Attractions of Lake Como. What to see and do?
The city of Como is the only place where we can spend more than one day. In addition to numerous monuments such as the cathedral, medieval walls and defensive gates and villas located by the water, there will also be museums and viewpoints waiting for us.
Located in the most protruding part of the southern shore of Lake Bellagio, it is sometimes called one of the most beautiful Italian towns in advertising materials. It's certainly charming, but it's probably better not to be so positive about it. First of all, the most interesting part occupies a relatively small area, which we will see quite soon.
From the tourist's perspective, two villas are particularly interesting - Willa Melzi (Italian: Villa Melzi) and Willa Serbelloni. In addition to them, it is worth paying attention to the powder tower from the 11th century, inside which there is a tourist information point.
Climbing up, Varenna is the pearl of the eastern shore. In our opinion, it will not be too much of an exaggeration to say that it isone of the most charming places on Lake Como. If we are not afraid of longer walks (and uphill climbs), we can spend even the whole day in Varenna and the surrounding area.
The city was founded in the early Middle Ages and initially served as a small fishing settlement. In the 12th century, after a decade of war between Milan and the city of Como, refugees from the destroyed island of Isola Comacina came to Varenna. Today, thanks to the railway line, it is one of the popular resorts.
If we arrive in Varenna by water, we will immediately notice the pleasant and colorful coastal part, along which a narrow walking route leads. The oldest part of the city is distinguished by narrow and partially covered streets, which are worth walking and discovering.
The historic old town climbs up toSt. Patrick's Square George (owned by Piazza S. Giorgio), whose pride is the church of the same name (Italian: Chiesa di San Giorgio). The temple, distinguished by its high bell tower, was consecrated at the beginningfourteenth century. Inside, it's worth paying attention to15th-century polyptych (panel painting).
It is considered the biggest attraction of the cityWilla Monastery (wł. Villa Monastery). The name is not accidental: the complex was built on the basis of a Cistercian monastery built in the 12th century
Additional attractionsIf we have more time and we like long walks, while in Varenna we can visit two more places: the source of the smallest Italian river Fiumelatte and the castle near the historic town of Vezio.
Villa del Balbianello and other villas and gardens on Lake Como
There are hardly more wonderful attractions of Lake Como than the majestic villas and adjoining gardens. Although the villas of the aristocracy and patricians that exist today began to be built insixteenth and seventeenth centuries, their greatest flourishing took place in the following two centuries.
Some of the most beautiful villas have been turned into museums, and in the case of some, only their gardens have been opened to visitors. Unfortunately, not all the most beautiful places are accessible to tourists. For example, considered one of the most magnificent residencesVilla D'Estein Cernobbio has been changed into a 5-star hotel and we can only see it from a distance, and we can only enter it as guests, having booked a very expensive accommodation in advance.
The most magnificent villas possible to visit are:
- Villa of Balbianello (Lenno)- a villa with beautiful gardens that played the planet Naboo in one of the parts of Star Wars,
- Villa Melzi (Bellaglio)- a relatively small villa located along the shore; the residence itself is not possible to visit, but we can visit the pleasant gardens and the chapel of the Melzi family,
- Villa Carlotta (Tremezzina)- a beautiful two-story villa filled with works of art and rich decorations, along with the surrounding botanical garden and olive grove,
- Villa Monastero (Varenna)- a villa with gardens stretching for tens of meters along the eastern shore,
- Villa Olmo (Como)- a neoclassical villa where m. Napoleon. Today, various temporary exhibitions are held inside, and a large garden stretches out in front of the villa; during the day we can try to look inside.
Unfortunately, the prices of tickets are relatively high - we will pay for the entrance to the gardens from5 do 10€, and for the entrance also to the villa from10€to even20€. Not all of the villas are open all week. Some of the less popular ones are only open on weekends and/or in high season.
A chance for a moment of peaceHowever, it must be admitted that villa gardens can be a great place to escape the crowds. They are not as crowded as the surrounding cities, and we should be able to find a bench or a place to sit with a view of the lake, and often with shade. No one will chase us out of the garden and we can spend up to 2-3 hours relaxing on the spot.
The source of the Fiumelatte River
The name Fiumelatte can be translated as White River, which refers to the fact that due to the strong current, this river is always foamy and has a white color. The route to the very source of the river is relatively simple and requires about 30 minutes of walking. We start our walk from Villa Monastero in Varenna, and after a while we turn up Via Roma. After about 10 minutes you will reach the cemetery, in front of which you will find stairs leading to a forest path. Then we go all the way south until the end of the route, where we turn left and we can go up to the very source.
A small viewing platform has been created at the source from which we can look at the rapidly flowing river. The downside of this route is the fact that for most of the way we will not have any views of the lake. We also suggest taking good footwear, the route from the cemetery is no longer paved.
Menaggio is considered the most important of the towns on the western shore of the lake. The central location and proximity to the valley leading towards Switzerland meant that members of the fascist party (Benito Mussolini himself stayed in the city) and their supporters moved here after the bombing of Milan. Currently, Menaggio is one of the most important resorts on the lake, which boasts a large selection of hotels and other accommodation options (there is, among others, a large campsite).
Menaggio as an accommodation base
For some tourists, Menaggio can be an ideal accommodation base. From here we can quickly take a ship to Belaggio and Varenna, we can get to the city of Como by bus, and we can reach Griante or the towns of Tremezzina on foot: a longer route leading through the hills or a shorter one directly at the waterfront. In the second case, however, we must take into account that the initial part of the route will require crossing the road along the road for cars.
Nesso - medieval bridge and waterfall
Lying about halfway to Bellagio, the town of Nesso is one of those places where it is worth stopping literally for a moment, and only if we have more time.
The biggest attraction of Nesso is the medieval bridge Ponte della Civera, which is located at the very surface of the lake. To get to it from the city level, we have to go to the Castle Square (incl. Piazza Castello) and from there go down about 300 stairs. The bridge, or rather the bridge, is relatively small, but in our opinion it is worth climbing the several hundred stairs in both directions. The last part of the route before the bridge leads through a climatic covered passage.
Other attractions of Nesso are the gorge (Italian: Orrido di Nesso) and a small waterfall. They are partly visible from the Castle Square and the aforementioned Civera Bridge, but in our opinion better vantage points can be found at the back of the buildings south of Piazza Castello: just turn left at the beginning of Via del Castello or at the church of St. Lawrence (Italian: Chiesa di San Lorenzo). There is no major problem with finding both points - just follow the sound of water.
Cable cars - from Como to Brunate or from Argegno to Pigra
Some of the cities or districts were built high above the water level. In a few cases, special cable cars have been created, thanks to which we can easily get to the top. There are two types of cable cars on Lake Como:
- cableway- a funicular railway that travels along the tracks like a train or tram,
- cable car- a cableway whose hanging cars resemble mountain lifts in their operation.
The best example of the first solution is the cable car leading from the city of Como to the townBrunate, from where we can go for a walk in the surrounding hills or go tolatarni Volte'a, from the top of which there is a great view of Como and the surrounding area.
Another example is the cable car between the waterside cityArgegnoand a town located at an altitude of up to 800 meters above sea levelLazy(Funivia Argegno-Pigra). In contrast to the Como-Brunate cableway, here the cars are hooked at the top and hang freely, as in the case of typical mountain lifts. The structure was built in the 70s of the previous century and for some people, the climb to the top can be quite an adventure!
For tourists who are not satisfied with the views of nature and medieval narrow streets, there are still a few different attractions. In this section, we have listed the most important of them.
What should not surprise anyone in the case of Italy is the opportunity to visit historic churches that are often works of art.
On Lake Como we will find several interesting objects worth attention. Unfortunately, apart from the temples in Bellagio, Como, Lecco and Varenna, the others are usually only open during masses or when people associated with the parish are present.
What temples are worth paying attention to:
- katedra (Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta)how,
- bazylika św. Abbondio (Basilica of Sant'Abbondio)in Como with a series of frescoes and reliquaries,
- basilica of st. Nicholas (San Nicolò)w Lecco.
It is the only object on the UNESCO World Heritage ListSacred Hill of Ossuccio (Sacro Monte di Ossuccio). At an altitude of about 200 meters above the water surface in years1635-171015 Baroque chapels and a monastery were built. The whole complex is clearly visible from below and with enough strength and time we can climb up.
Vezio Castle above Varenna and the ruins of Baradello Castle in Como
The towns on Lake Como have been heavily fortified since ancient times. And although no fortress has survived from that period, there are still several defensive structures from the Middle Ages.
An example are the ruins of Varenna located above the cityXI-wiecznego zamku Vezio (Castle of Vezio). At the castle, we can relax on the public terrace or, for a fee, climb the tower from where there is a beautiful view of the area. Falconers' shows take place in the courtyard of the castle.
How to get to Vezio Castle?
There are at least two routes leading to the castle. The more popular of them starts, like the route to the source of Fiumelatte, from Via Roma. The difference is that a little over 100 meters before the cemetery we have to turn left and follow the forest path up. Depending on our form, we will reach the top in a little over an hour.
Another option to get to the castle is to use the steep stairs at the Albergo Ristorante Montecodeno restaurant. We should reach the top in about 30 minutes.
Another surviving fortress is the ruinszamku Baradello (Baradello Castle), which was founded with the help of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in the 12th century. The castle is located on the outskirts of Como, outside the former boundary of the city walls. Only ruins have survived to this day, but after the recent renovation, we can enter the tower and visit it with a guide (on weekends, during the summer season).
Comacina Island (Isola Comacina)
There is only one small island on the entire lake -Comacina Island (Isola Comacina), which is located literally a bit from the shore near the cityOssuccio.
The island was already built up in Roman times. In the Middle Ages, there was a small settlement here with churches, which in12th centurydestroyed the combined army of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the city of Como.
Today, the island is almost entirely forested, but there are still ruins of old churches and buildings. We can get to the island by water taxi or the company's shipNavigation Lake Como. Entrance to the island is paid, as part of the ticket we can also visit the archaeological museum located on land.
At this point, we have to worry museum fans - there are not many of those on Lake Como. Museums can be found mainly in the city of Como, including: the Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Giovio), the Educational Museum of Silk (Museo Didattico della Seta) or the Art Gallery (Pinacoteca Civica).
Those looking for archaeological finds can go to the museum with finds from the island of Comacina and the surrounding area (Museo Antiquarium Dell'isola).
Hiking and walking trails
Some people plan to go to Lake Como for long walks and active recreation. It's a great idea, but we just have to remember that we won't be able to walk everywhere - the roads often lead through long tunnels and narrow streets, and the pleasure (and safety) of such a trip is questionable. On the other hand, many cyclists appreciate typical car routes and we can meet fans of two wheels on them.
If we want to move on our own feet, we should look for the so-calledGreen Trailswhich are intended for hikers. Sometimes they lead along the road, other times we have to climb up to go around the cities through which only the road for cars passes.
Spacer od Colonno do Griante
The best example of such a route is the 10-kilometer Green Route fromColonnodoGriante. If we have enough time and strength, we can extend (or start) it untilMennagio. The Griante - Mennagio route runs along the street, but a large part of it is along the pavement directly by the water.
When starting this route, we must remember that some sections require climbing to higher towns, which can be a bit troublesome on very hot days. We should get a map of the route at the tourist information points of the cities we pass by (if there are any!), but it is enough to look for signs. We will meet both standing signs indicating the direction, as well as signs on the ground, which will confirm us that we are on the right route.
Hiking trails starting from Varenna
Another pleasant Green Route can be found in Varenna, located on the eastern shore. It leads from the historic city center to the townVezioand its castle, but also south to Italy's smallest riverFiumelatte. This name in Polish simply means White River and refers to the fact that due to the strong current it is always foamed and has a white color.
Viewpoints on Lake Como
Given the mountainous topography of the shoreline, it should come as no surprise that Lake Como has at least a few open-air viewpoints. Unfortunately, the winding shape of the lake means that we often see only the other shore and a small fragment of the whole from the vantage point.
- terraces and tower at Baradello Castle (Castello Baradello)- the ruins of the former fortress located south of the historical old town of Como; from above we will see mainly the roofs of this town; the entrance to the towers is paid, but a good and free view can also be found at the castle,
- Volt Lantern- a monument located high above the city of Como, in a townSt. Maurice, 150 meters above the cityBrunateconnected by a cable car to the Como seafront; from above we will see a part of the Ramo di Como branch, including the charming towns cascading upwards; right next to the entrance to the lighthouse you will find cafes with terraces with a beautiful view and reasonable prices for the area,
- olive grove in the gardens of Villa Carlotta- if we are going to this famous villa, let's go to the top of the gardens, to the top of the olive grove, from where there is a beautiful view of Bellagio, located on the other side,
- observation decks or the tower of the castle of Vezio (Castello di Vezio)- the historic castle of Vezio dominates the city of Varenna, which can be reached on foot in about 40 minutes; it is one of the best viewpoints from which we can see the beautifully winding hills and the western side of the lake; we can enter the public and free terraces or climb the tower for a fee,
- terrace at the church of St. Abbondio (Parrocchia di Sant'Abbondio) in the city of Azzano- a pleasant and spacious terrace located directly in front of the church, from where we will have a pleasant view of the eastern shore of Ramo di Como; the church is located on the famous Green Route; being at the top, we can rest on one of the benches,
- village Pigra- which we can get to by cable car from the city of Argegno.
Obviously, these are not all of the available vantage points. Sometimes it is enough to go to one of the cities located above to find a great vantage point. Unfortunately, sometimes narrow buildings and high fences block the best views.
How to visit Lake Como?
First of all, it is worth remembering that cities are cascading upwards and their historical parts are often high above the water level, so it is worth taking comfortable shoes with you! In case of high sun, let's also have: water, sunscreen and possibly a hat. Being directly by the water, we will not always find the shade right away. While walking directly at the shore we get some relief from the lake itself, being higher it can be really stuffy and hot.
Depending on our preferences regarding the sun, we can start sightseeing from the western part (it should be sunny from the very morning) and end in the eastern part - or vice versa - start from the eastern part (for the first hours of the day the sun is still behind the hills and is not so troublesome) and end on the west (at the end of the day the hills will protect us from the sun).
Tourist information points
Tourist information points can be found in most towns along the shore. Unfortunately, except for the biggest ones, we should not expect miracles - the employee will not always be able to communicate in English, there will be a lack of materials in Shakespeare's language, and it may also happen that we interrupt our coffee drinking and receive no practical help.
On the other hand, information points in the largest cities work efficiently. They are staffed by people who speak English and have a lot of knowledge. We had very good experiences with points in: Como (by the cathedral), Lecco and Mennagio. Importantly, in these points we will receive information not only about the places where we are, but also about other cities by the lake. It is always worth asking for maps of the places we are going to.
Information points in the most popular cities are open all year round, and in the case of smaller towns, these points are opened only in the summer season. It is also worth checking the opening days, e.g. the information point in Tremezzo is not open on Tuesdays. Sometimes the points are also closed in the middle of the day, usually from 12:00/12:30 to 14:30/15:00.
When is the best time to visit Lake Como?
The choice of the date to visit Como should depend on the activities we plan. If we want to laze around and have a guarantee of sun, the best time seems to be from mid-June to the end of August. Remember that during this time average temperatures can stay at the same level30 degrees, and despite the slight chill from the water, it can be really hot. The holidays are not a period free from short rain showers, although they are not frequent.
When we care more about long walks, a better time may be May and the beginning of June or September, when the temperatures are not so high yet or are already starting to fall. Unfortunately, during this period there is the highest rainfall and we should have good footwear and a rain jacket with us just in case. Evenings and mornings can also be cool at times.
April or October should be good months in terms of weather for an active trip, but it is slightly cooler then and the lake itself is often obscured by low clouds and fog.
The other months and winter mean little rainfall, but also low temperatures and short days (from November to January there are only 3 hours of sunshine per day!). The advantage is lower prices and emptiness, which is important when we mainly want to visit towns and monuments. Unfortunately, public transport runs less frequently during this period, and some attractions may be closed. Average temperatures at this time range between 1 and 6 degrees Celsius, but there are also days with minus temperatures. For some, it may be a plus that there is almost never heavy snowfall here.
The best base for an overnight stay on Lake Como
The choice of accommodation base depends primarily on our plans. If you want to move actively around the lake and have access to all the most important amenities, the city itself will be the best choiceAs. We can get there directly by bus or a combination of bus + train / bus + ship to all major cities. We will also have access to shops (including a 24-hour supermarket) and restaurants, and easy access to/from Bergamo. However, it is not a good place for tourists who want peace and are looking for places to sunbathe.
Another choice for the assumptions described above may be the second of the larger cities -Lecco. In this case, however, there are two disadvantages: more difficult access to the towns on the west side and the city itself and its location. In Lecco, it is hard to feel that we are on one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe! The upside is that prices are lower here and there are fewer tourists here than in Como.
If you want to rest, it is worth considering accommodation in one of the cities that are part of the districtTremezzine. We will find there swimming pools, villas to visit, simplicity in moving between cities - and above all, some of the towns are not so crowded with Sunday tourists.
It is often said that it is one of the most beautiful cities in ItalyBellagio, and many tourists are looking for accommodation there. In this case, it is worth remembering that the beach in Bellaglio is below city level, and reasonably priced accommodation is rather outside the historic center and we will have long walks without special views. And the crowds of tourists during the day can overwhelm.
How to get around Lake Como? Public transport and other proposals
If we want to actively explore more cities, we should get acquainted with the public transport running around Lake Como. It is not easy to get from every place to another, so before choosing accommodation, it is worth checking the possible ways of moving around the lake.
Three means of transport are available:
- company busesASF Autolinee, which serves the city of Como, the Ramo di Como branch on both sides, the east bank of Ramo di Colico and the Como - Lecco connection,
- regional trains that link Lecco with the eastern shore towns of Ramo di Lecco and Ramo di Colico,
- ships operated by the companyNavigation Lake Como, which connect smaller and larger cities on all shores, although not always directly.
In the text above, we have also included basic information for those traveling by car. The company Navigazione Lago di Como offers the possibility of transporting cars on the route Menaggio - Cadenabbia - Bellaglio - Varenna.
If we would like to go on a cruise on Lake Como, we have several options:
- standard cruisescompany mentioned earlierNavigation Lake Como; just remember not to buy tickets for the hydrofoils (we won't see anything from them!) and show up early during peak hours (and stand in line), thanks to which we will have a chance to get a seat with a good view; unfortunately, this solution is not ideal in terms of time, as ships stop at many cities; on the other hand, it allows you to see them from the water,
- one-hour tourist cruisedeparting from Como and going to Cernobbio, Moltrasio and Torno; the ship runs in the summer season (until the end of September) and is operated by Navigazione Lago di Como;
- private cruisethe length and price of which depend on the company we choose; these operate in the most popular towns; the advantage is the ability to independently influence the route, the downside is the high price, which varies depending on the season and we will check it only on the spot or by contacting a representative of a specific company.
For some people, the solution may also be to rent a boat and independently cruise on the lake.
In some cities (e.g. in the city of Como) we can rent a water bike.
Being on the spot, it is always worth checking the offer of Navigazione Lago di Como, which prepares various tourist offers every year.
Cuisine, restaurants and eating out
In almost every city on Lake Como you will find typical Italian restaurants, trattorias or simply bistros. You won't find local cuisine in every place, rather typical Italian cuisine: pasta dishes (including pasta), pizza or risotto (rice with additives, e.g. fillets and seafood).
If we would like to try local fish, we can look in the menuperch (incl. pesce persico)thealosa (incl. alosa), fish of the herring species, which is kept in salt before being served and then dried in the sun. If you want to try this delicacy, look for the item on the menu with the namemissoltino.
When going to a restaurant (this also applies to less official trattorias or even pizzerias, with a few exceptions such as bistros) we should take into account that a cover fee will be added to the billfor each person, so-called envelope (envelope). The amount varies from place to place, we've seen charges from1,50€ do 2,50€per person. In the case of 4 people going for a pizza, an additional fee of 10 € can negatively surprise tourists. If there is no information about the coperto height in the card (and it should be somewhere at the bottom, sometimes on the last pages), just ask before entering.
If we are not wine connoisseurs, it is best to ask for house wine (in Italian: vino della casa, eng. house wine). It is definitely cheaper than bottled and for the unseasoned gourmet it may even be better than bottled.
Practical tipNot all restaurants are open all day. They are often opened at lunch time (12:00-14:00), but sometimes the list of dishes is limited to the so-called first courses (primo piatto in the menu). Only at 18:00 or 19:00 restaurants are reopened and they are open until around midnight. This is when Italians go for a real dinner, often consisting of three courses (primo piatto, secondo piatto and dessert). For most people, one dish and dessert should be more than enough, sometimes it's hard to believe how native Italians are able to accommodate such amounts of food ;)
Unfortunately, Lake Como is dominated by high prices - especially in typical tourist cities (Bellagio, Varenna, Como, Mennagio, etc.). We noticed that cheaper prices can be found in the city of Lecco. Unfortunately, it is also the case that many places are typical tourist traps, and it is best to look for opinions on various websites with ratings of pubs and restaurants beforehand.
Beaches on Lake Como - what should we know about them?
Tourists accustomed to Polish lakes may experience a slight shock. There are practically no natural beaches on almost the entire shoreline of Lake Comothe few exceptions are narrow and stony lanes often running along the road.
Practical tipSwimming is not allowed anywhere on the lake. It is best to enter the water only in marked places and not to swim beyond the designated limits. Occasionally, on boardwalks or parks, there are stairways leading down to the water, used by locals and tourists for a quick dip. In the summer months, the water sometimes heats up to 20°C, so bathing should be very pleasant.
However, this should not discourage us, almost in every city we will find artificial beaches, and often also open swimming pools.If we want to find beaches in a specific city, we should search using the word "Lido di" - e.g. Lido di Bellano or simply Lido Bellano.
Artificial beaches can be different. Sometimes it is an added piece of land protruding beyond the shoreline with sand, and other times it is an ordinary park (in the latter case, these are usually free places).
In popular towns, however, we will meet fenced complexes: with a swimming pool, sunbeds and cafes/restaurants. Places of this type, in turn, are paid or less often available only to hotel customers. Prices vary depending on location and services. In some cases, the prices are given together with the sunbed, in others we pay extra for the sunbed and umbrella. In most cases, it is possible to purchase a half-day entry. Unfortunately, the price for half a day is almost always only for the second half of the day, e.g. from 14:00 or 15:00 until closing time.
Below we have listed some natural and artificial beaches with basic information. This is only a small part of the whole.
Natural pebble beaches:
- in the northern part of the cityGriante(west bank, Via Regina) - it is a very narrow beach stretching along the main street a little further from typical tourist places; there is an Al Pùunt bar by the beach, where you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas,
- st. John(San Giovanni, address: Via Paolo Carcano 28) w miasteczkuBellagio(middle shore), located south of the famous gardens of Villa Melzi,
- narrow and oblong beach in the cityMenaggio, located north of the Europa campsite; we will reach the place via Via Armando Diaz (geographical location: 46.026082, 9.238452),
- small pebble beach in the cityLenno, at the mouth of one of the rivers (geographical location: 45.966976, 9.187179); there's not a lot of room here and it's not worth the trouble.
Free parks and artificial beaches:
- Lido di Ossuccio- beach in the park near the historical part of the city of Ossuccio, from which we can get by swimming or using the services of water taxis to the Comacina island,
- beach in the city of Sala Comacina- a small sandy beach in Sala Comacina, with space for literally a dozen or so people; we will find it by walking down the streets of the old town near the harbor for ships,
- Teresio Olivelli Civic Park (adres: Via Statale 47, Tremezzo)- a large park with direct access to the water, a cafe, benches and fountains; trees hide from the sun.
Pools and paid beaches:
- Lido of Bellagio- in addition to the previously described natural beach in the town of Bellagio, we also find a paid sandy beach on the south side of Villa Melzi.
- Lido of Menaggio- a large complex with a swimming pool in the town of Menaggio.
- Lido di Cadenabbia- a swimming pool and a place to rent a sun lounger in the city of Cadenabbia; the view of Bellaglio and the eastern shore certainly speaks for the choice of this place,
- Infinity Pool- a swimming pool just a few steps from Lido di Cadenabbia;
- Lido of Cernobbio- considered an exclusive beach with a swimming pool in the city adjacent to the city of Como.
- Lido di Bellano- a small beach in a town divided in half by the Orrido di Bellano gorge.
In most cases, there is one price for entrances and an additional fee for a sunbed. It is worth checking the prices before arriving, as these can exceed 20 Euro per day in some places.
A short history - from Roman times to today
The vicinity of the lake was probably inhabited already in prehistoric times. The real development of the area, however, occurred onI wiek p.n.e.when, after the victory over the Gauls, the Romans began to build their fortified settlements here. The pre-alpine location of the lake made it strategically one of the first points of defense in the event of an attack from the other side of the Alps. Along the western shore of the lake stretched one of the most important Roman trade routes -Via Regina (Old Regina Road). Unfortunately, not much from this period has survived to this day, but lovers of ancient times should find something for themselves here.
The city of Como, which is an important cultural and commercial center, has been the main center since Roman times. Other cities were also founded and developed, including the buildings on the island of Comacina (Isola Comacina) and the city of Varenna, but it was Como that was the best fortified and most densely inhabited.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was occupied by the West Germanic peopleLombardsestablished in northern ItalyKingdom of the Lombards. The Lombards modeled themselves on the Romans, they even took over their customs and titles. Their dominance lasted untileighth century, until the area of present-day Lombardy was conquered byCharlemagne. From that moment, Como was part of the Kingdom of Italy, and then in10th centuryhas become a partHoly Roman Empire.
The most tragic moment in the history of medieval Como fell on1127 year, when the city lost a nearly ten-year war with nearby Milan and was almost completely destroyed. The bad period in the city's history lasted only a few dozen years. At the beginning of the second half12th centuryEmperor Frederick I Barbarossa took up the fight against the papacy and invaded Italian cities, and Como sided with him. IN1162In 1872, the imperial army, together with the help of soldiers from Como, after a nearly two-year siege, destroyed today's capital of Lombardy.
Frederick I Barbarossa, in gratitude for help, helped rebuild the city, which was heavily fortified. For example, the gate towers that still exist today, or the Baradello castle, of which only fragments have been preserved in good condition, were built.
Over the next centuries, Como was under the rule of various powers. It was influenced by: the Duchy of Milan, the French, the Spaniards and the Austrians. From 1796 to 1815, Como was within the borders of the Napoleonic French Empire, and after its fall it fell back into Austrian hands. Austrian domination lasted until1859until the troopsGiuseppe Garibaldi egorecaptured Lombardy and incorporated it into the newly createdKingdom of Italy.
And although Lake Como has been a hotspot for the aristocracy since antiquity, the international notoriety of the area intensified in18th and 19th centuries, i.e. during the great romantic journeys (the so-called Grand Tour) of aristocrats and artists who presented the charms of the lake in their works, both on canvas, books and poems. During this period, many beautiful villas with gardens were built, which today are the landmarks of specific cities.
The last centuries and decades have been the time of industrialization of the region. Until the 1980s, the city of Como and other surrounding towns were known for their silk factories, which accounted for 80% of the production of this fiber in Italy. Today, in the era of globalization and competition from Asia, the demand for domestic silk has decreased, and tourism has become the main driving force in the area. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world come to Como every year.