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With dramatic mountains and ink-blue waters, Lake Como may be the most spectacular of the Italian Lakes. The third largest, it offers visitors more than its fair share of charming lakeside towns, and is closest to fashion capital Milan.
Como is the lake’s vibrant capital. There are plenty of boutiques and medieval sights here, and the town is also the gateway to Milan and the other Italian Lakes. Head further north and the towns get smaller and more untouched. Bellagio has a good mix of historic streets filled with enotecas (wine shops) and cafés, plus great transport links to other towns. Situated just across from Bellagio is Tremezzo – a pretty place filled with lush villa gardens and fantastic gelato parlours.
There are plenty of places to visit along the lake’s edge, and because of its size, hiring a car and hopping between towns is a hugely popular way to see it all. A complete lap could take the best part of a day with refreshment stops, so plan your trip carefully. With Milan and Lake Maggiore close by, it’s easy to combine some of the region’s top destinations in one great trip.
Lake Como attractions generally revolve around classy lakefront promenades and grand Mediterranean villas set high above the lake. There’s nothing better than strolling along a prom, gelato in hand – something we highly recommend trying in Menaggio or Bellagio. When it comes to touring the villas, one of the best ways to do so is by taking a private boat tour and seeing them from the water. Alternatively, pay entry and witness spectacular gardens alongside enchanting views (best found at Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbianello). A trip to the lake’s capital, Como, is another must-do. With an impressive cathedral, a fun funicular and much more besides, it’s a great place to spend a day.
The closest airport to Lake Como is Milan Malpensa (MXP). Direct flights to Milan are available from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and Manchester and take approximately 2 hours.
Direct flights to Milan Bergamo (BGY) depart from London Stansted, Bristol, Manchester, East Midlands and Belfast and take approximately 2 hours.
Lake Como is a summer destination, with the season generally running from April to October. Temperatures are at their hottest in July and August and this is when Como is at its busiest. The ideal time for swimming in the lake is from July to September when the water temperature exceeds 20 degrees. The climate in the spring and autumn is still warm which makes it perfect for visiting at the beginning or end of season too. For those who want to avoid the busiest crowds but still enjoy warm temperatures, May, June and September are ideal months to visit.
Pasta and risotto dishes served with freshly caught trout, lavarello, and perch are a popular choice on Lake Como, and are best enjoyed from one of the many lake front restaurants. Visitors should also ensure they don’t leave before venturing to the town of Lenno to purchase some of its renowned cold-pressed olive oil; the traditional methods used here since 1850 ensure top chefs from all over the world pick it as the perfect accompaniment to drizzle over a salad.
For those looking to sample offerings from the local vineyards, Valtellina, the rich and fertile alpine area to the north of Lake Como, produces some delicious red wines. Recommended to try are the Rosso di Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore.
If you would like to pre-book one of our excursions, please call our Italy Experts on 01293 762410*.