Who doesn’t love Italy? If you’re looking for a short haul getaway with just about everything you could wish for then, Lake Como is the place for you. Only an hours drive from the Milan airports, views to die for, amazing local food and designer shopping aplenty there’s a reason this is a resort favoured by the rich and famous! Set in Northern Italy, Lake Como is the prettiest of the Italian lakes and popular among the Milanese as a weekend getaway destination.
A holiday at the lake may be as relaxing, or as energetic as you like. Sit back and soak up the views from a hillside hotel or hire a speedboat and cruise the length of the lake.
So beautiful it has a hotel in Vegas named after it! Bellagio is the prettiest and most famous town on the lake with stunning views over the lake and hills. The city has plenty of cafes, restaurants and boutiques among its cobbled streets and a good selection of hotels. There are 3 ferry piers in the town which connect to other parts of the lake, so it’s a great base to explore the rest of the lake. Make sure you buy a day pass if you are planning to ferry hop to the various villages which work out cheaper than buying single tickets.
The famous Villa Serbelloni and Woody Allen’s favourite hotel is the place to stay if you’re budget is healthy. Right on the lakefront, this classic Italian hotel has a spa, a little restaurant and its own private water taxi jetty.
For the best in local cuisine try Ristorante Barchetta in the old town which serves local lake fish on a beautiful terrace with lake views.
For the wine lovers, Enoteca Cava Turacciolo near the lakefront offers the best in local wine. Try their daily wine tasting evening for a fantastic selection of local Lombardy wines.
Varenna is an ancient fishing village which is made up of brightly coloured stone buildings, picturesque alleyways, small boutiques and impressive gardens – great for just wandering around and taking in the views. The ice cream here is gorgeous – try La Giazzera along the riverside walk. It’s slightly less touristy than other towns as it is almost entirely free of souvenir shops.
For one of the best views of the lake visit Villa Cipressi on the edge of town. Set in century-old botanical gardens, the tiered terraces of the garden stretch down to the lake with panoramic views of the mountains and lakeside villages.
Tremezzo is situated on the west side of Lake Como and has not only a beautiful view of Lake Como but also a spectacular view of the mountains as well. One of the most visited tourist destinations in Tremezzo is the Villa Carlotta, the only historical villa with public access on the lake and is set in beautiful Botanical gardens.
Lecco is situated on the Southern tip of Lake and probably the best town on the Lake for boutique shopping. It has a lovely indoor shopping arcade and loads of espresso bars and restaurants. Don’t forget mid-afternoon espresso drinks at the bar, never at a table – quick shot and then back to the shops!
If you want to bring your binoculars and hire a speedboat, you can do some celeb spotting around the lake. George Clooney’s villa is in Laglio, Donatello Versace owns Gianni’s old villa in Moltrasio and «The Special One» has a villa in Como town.
Lake Como is also a great base to explore the rest of Northern Italy and Southern Switzerland. Lake Garda is 2. 5 hours drive away from Como so not too far away if you want to explore the lakes. Garda is the largest Italian lake and is a good base if you’re going to visit Verona (30km), Milan (100km) and Venice (130km). It is a lot more touristy than Como but has lots to do; sailing, windsurfing and excellent golf courses. It also has lots of shopping from picturesque street markets to boutique shops. The nightlife is lively here and has lots of great hotels and holiday apartments.
For the shoppers, it’s only about an hour by direct train from Varenna. It’s got a fabulous gothic cathedral, Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper (which you need to book months in advance to see), and of course loads of designer shops and boutiques. The people watching opportunities here are endless!
It’s only around a 45-minute drive to Switzerland from the lake so easily accessible if you fancy a day trip. The elegant resort of St Moritz is less than 2 hours drive away. With plenty of designer boutiques and restaurants, you could easily pass away an afternoon here. Alternatively, the larger town of Lugano just across the Swiss border is also beautiful and easily accessed from the west side of the lake.