November 12, 2023 0 Comments What to see

Discover what to do on Lake Como with my local pocket guide

Looking for a list with suggestions on what to do on Lake Como? Or tips on how to plan your trip? Well, you’re in the right place!

What I can tell you is that in this article you are about to read all the information and details that only a real local that know its territory inside out will be able to give you.

local blogger

Hi, I am Marta, Local Blogger of Lake Como! Need some help planning your trip to discover my beautiful lake? Check out my Travel Designer service now!

What you will find in this mini-guide are my useful travel tips for planning your vacation or trip of a day or more to Lake Como.

All stuffed with what, usually, are the most appreciated information: local restaurants where to eat, top places for breakfast, nice places for an aperitif, little stores where to buy local products, etc.

In addition, in the final part of the article I explain, in brief, how to make the most of your days on Lake Como and what to do and see if you have 1, 2 or 3 days to spare.

Summary

How to get to Lake Como

By plane: the airports around Lake Como are Malpensa, Linate, Orio al Serio and Lugano. Very convenient from Malpensa is the Malpensa Express train, which takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes (with a change in Saronno) to reach Como Nord Lago station.

By train: it is possible to reach the city of Como, the city of Lecco and most of the localities on the eastern shore of the lake. For more details on the various connections I always find this site very useful (only in italian).

By car: to reach locations on the western shore of the lake follow the A9 highway from Milan to Como (52 km), or from Switzerland to Italy, and take the Lake Como exit. If you are staying in the city of Como or Bellagio, take the Como Centro exit. If you need to reach the eastern branch take the SS36 from Milan to Lecco (56 km). The SS36 continues on the eastern shore of the lake (follow for Sondrio).

What to see and do on Lake Como


Find out with me what to do on Lake Como.

There are so many things to see and do on Lake Como, and ideally you should have at least 5 or 6 days to spare, especially to be able to carve out time for activities and experiences in contact with the area.

However, by organizing yourself as best you can, even just 2 or 3 days will be enough to visit at least the most striking places on the lake.

But let’s get started!

Here is what I recommend you to do and see during your fantastic itinerary on Lake Como.

1. Its picturesque villages

Rezzonico village on Lake Como

Rezzonico

Any guidebook on “Things to see on Lake Como” recommends at least five villages: Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio, Cernobbio and the Tremezzina.

I can only confirm, saying that certainly these are “the must-sees”, the towns for which Lake Como is worldwide famous. In short, if you have only 2 or 3 days of time, I agree that these are the “must-visit” villages, because of their charm and wealth of attractions.

However, if you love to allow yourself to be enchanted also by a bit less known, and therefore less crowded, places , there are other goodies that I definitely recommend you to mark down!

Villages like Brienno, Rezzonico, Corenno Plinio or Sala Comacina, to name just a few, are small gems of incredible beauty.

As are the slightly more outlying hamlets of the most famous villages.

First of all, if you are interested in visiting all these treasures, my advice is to browse here on the blog, but also to follow me on Instagram and Facebook. My exploration of the area where I live is continuous and I like to update my channels with new suggestions all the time.

1.1 Bellagio

Bellagio

Bellagio

The village of Bellagio, also known as the “Pearl of the Lake” because of its elegant beauty, is a dense tangle of narrow streets and steep stairways, overlooked by old mansions, bars, small restaurants and fine boutiques.

It is certainly one of the absolute most famous and therefore most visited villages, and if you don’t like overcrowded places, in high season I recommend visiting it in the early hours of the day or towards evening. You will appreciate its charm twice as much and you will also have less trouble finding a table for dinner or coffee!

But what makes this village really unique is, of course, also its location: Lake Como is shaped like an inverted Y and Bellagio lies exactly in the middle of the 3 branches.

Reaching Punta Spartivento, the end of the promontory on which it lies, is therefore the best way to see the lake from a unique point.

What to visit in Bellagio

  • Its historic center, with its famous and much-photographed Salita Serbelloni and the beautiful Romanesque Church of St. James
  • The gardens of Villa Melzi, elegant and directly overlooking the lake
  • The park of Villa Serbelloni (2 guided tours per day)
  • the Punta Spartivento
  • the characteristic hamlets of Loppia, San Giovanni and Pescallo

Where to eat local dishes in Bellagio? I suggest Ittiturismo Mella, in the hamlet of San Giovanni. Lake fish binge assured!

1.2 Varenna

Those who know me also know that Varenna is absolutely one of my favorite villages, one of the most beautiful on Lake Como, the one I can never help but recommend to see.

It is picturesque, colorful and very, very romantic!

Maybe it’s because of its famous lovers’ promenade, short but with wonderful views, or because of its privileged position from which to enjoy postcard-perfect sunsets, or maybe because of the bewitching play of light of its houses reflected on the water, I don’t know.

The fact is that every time I visit it I leave my eyes, heart and mind there! And I am very sure it will be the same for you too.

What to visit in Varenna

  • the lovers’ promenade
  • the lakeside part, with its stores and inviting cafes, and the upper part, with its beautiful square, the Church of St. George and the Church of St. John the Baptist
  • Villa Monastero and the gardens of Villa Cipressi
  • Vezio Castle, an ancient military outpost where fascinating falconry demonstrations are staged during the week…overlooking the lake!

My favorite place for sweet and savory breakfasts and sunset aperitifs? The Varenna Caffè Bistrot, directly facing the lake.

If you plan to visit Varenna read also Varenna, what to see in 1 day

1.3 Tremezzina

Tremezzina a village to be visited if you are asking what to do on lake Como

Tremezzo lakeside

The village Tremezzina was born in 2014, when the villages of Lenno, Mezzegra, Ossuccio and Tremezzo decided to unite into one large municipality.

This union of forces has meant that today Tremezzina is one of the largest villages on Lake Como, but above all, it is a real concentration of beauty and attractions!

In short, it can easily be called the beating heart of the lake, and the roundup of wonders I list below can begin to give you an idea of why!

What to see in Tremezzina

  • Villa Carlotta (Tremezzo) and Villa Balbianello (Lenno)
  • the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio
  • the historic cores of the individual villages (I’m crazy about them!), often located in the upper part of the villages, or by the lake. Particularly fascinating are the hamlets of Bonzanigo (Mezzegra), Balogno, Volesio and Rogaro (Tremezzo) and the historic core of Spurano (Ossuccio)
  • the Greenway
  • the Comacina Island, considered one of the most important archaeological areas in northern Italy for the early Middle Ages
  • the many Romanesque-style churches, concentrated mainly in the village of Ossuccio, but not only. My favorite? The little church of St. James, with its very special sail-shaped bell tower and magnificent frescoes.
  • the beautiful lakefront of Tremezzo, a veritable carrel of stately villas and elegant hotels
  • Teresio Olivelli Park, better known as Mayer Park, the location of Dolce & Gabbana’s 2018 women’s fashion show
What to do and see on Lake Como: the historic village of Spurano and the Church of St. James

The historic village of Spurano and the Church of St. James as seen from my little rowboat
Mayer Park in Tremezzo

Famous steps of the Teresio Olivelli Park

Where to eat in Tremezzina? When I create my custom itineraries, I comb through my list from time to time to recommend the one that best suits the needs of the client. One of my latest stroke of lightning is the Antica Trattoria Risorgimento in Mezzegra.

1.4 Menaggio

Menaggio is another of the 5 villages that everyone loves to visit on Lake Como. And the reasons, again, are all there.

Lakeside of Menaggio, a beautiful village to see on Lake Como

Menaggio lakeside
menaggio square

Menaggio square

The centerpiece of Menaggio is its square, bustling with small restaurants, ice cream shops, cafes, and small stores. The churches of St. Stephen and St. Martha both on Via Calvi, are beautiful. Elegant is its lakeside promenade.

Keep in mind that Menaggio is a village served by the Navigation Service and, precisely for this reason, is one of the stops on the classic daily boat tour of the center of the lake. In an hour or so you visit it, ready then to re-embark and leave for another shore.

My advice, however, if you have more time on your hands, is to push a bit out of its center and also poke around the narrow streets of its two hillside hamlets, Castello and Loveno. You’ll discover some pretty nice nooks here, too!

To reach them, simply take the pedestrian street behind the parish church of St. Stephen (via Castellino da Castello) and start climbing, following the signs for the hamlets.

Aperitif in the downtown streets at Divino. It’s my “local tip” for those visiting Menaggio and looking for a nice little place for a casual dinner.

1.5 Cernobbio

If your stay is only for 1 or 2 days, the most fascinating area to see is, of course, the central part of the lake.

However, it is not possible not to include Cernobbio in the list of must-see villages especially because of its notoriety linked to the famous Villa d’Este, a well-known location of the famous Ambrosetti international forum. Precisely because of the presence of this very luxurious hotel, the streets of Cernobbio are a succession of refined boutiques and renowned stores, and everywhere you can breathe and feel a tone of elegance and special attention to detail.

For short stays I recommend carving out at least an hour to explore this village as well, especially if you are moving with your own vehicle, because it is easier to fit this stop into the itinerary as well.

On the other hand, if you have more days everything is easier and there is no shortage of things to see here too!

What to see in Cernobbio

  • Villa Bernasconi, wonderful masterpiece of Art Nouveau style and Villa Erba, which can be visited only at certain times or during fairs and exhibitions
  • the lakefront with its Art Nouveau pier and Piazza Risorgimento
  • Piazza Castello and the church of St. Vincent, with its beautiful Baroque terracotta facade
  • the historic and oldest core of Cernobbio
  • the Giardino della Valle (Garden of the Valley), a small botanical garden in the heart of Cernobbio created with passion by Mrs. Ida Frati, better known as Granny Pupa
  • peek at Villa d’Este from the gates or, why not, lunch at its exclusive La Veranda restaurant, also open to outsiders (dresscode required)
Villa Bernasconi in Cernobbio

Villa Bernasconi
what to do and see in Cernobbio, on Lake Como, Villa Erba

Villa Erba during the Orticolario fair

2. Villas and gardens

In the gardens of Villa Melzi on Lake Como.

Villa Melzi

The central lake area, in the 1800s a must-see stop on the Grand Tour and over the centuries the destination of illustrious poets, musicians and writers, is known for its romantic gardens and elegant mansions.

They must be seen!

They are a splendor, magical places where time seems to stand still. Beautiful in every season and to be experienced often, as soon as you get the chance.

If this is your first time on Lake Como and perhaps you have decided to spend only a weekend, start by visiting Villa Carlotta (Tremezzo) and its wonderful botanical garden and Villa Balbianello (Lenno), the film set of several movies.

If, on the other hand, you have more time available, don’t give up discovering the charms of all the others as well!

For example, I like to go to see the foliage show in the gardens of Villa Melzi, while in spring the bloom I don’t miss is the one at Villa Carlotta, and for exhibitions, concerts and workshops now every historic home has calendars that are always full of events, at any time of the year.

2.1 Villa Carlotta

I will begin by briefly telling you its history because it is from the lives and passions of its inhabitants that one must start to understand its true soul.

Read also: Villa Carlotta, what you can’t miss when you visit it!

Villa Carlotta was built in 1690 by Marquis Giorgio Clerici of Milan, a member of a wealthy family of bankers and merchants (engaged particularly in the silk trade). In 1801 the villa became the property of Gian Battista Sommariva, a distinguished figure in the political arena, an acquaintance of Napoleon and a great art collector. Finally in the mid-19th century Princess Carlotta, daughter of Prince Albert of Prussia and Princess Marianne of Nassau, received this extraordinary villa as a gift from her parents on the occasion of her marriage to the German Duke Georg II von Sachsen-Meiningen, a great lover of botany and theater.

Today Villa Carlotta is owned by the Italian state, after being confiscated from the Meiningen family as payment for war damages, and is managed by the Ente Morale Villa Carlotta, created on purpose in 1927.

Why see Villa Carlotta?


Hydrangea blooming at Villa Carlotta
what to see lake como, villa carlotta Marble room

The Marble Room of Villa Carlotta

Mainly for at least two reasons: for its botanical garden, desired and created by Carlotta’s husband and unique of its kind on all of Lake Como, and for the extraordinary artistic masterpieces housed in its rooms, acquired and collected in the first half of the 19th century by Sommariva. Among the many, not to be missed are the two original statues by Antonio Canova (the Palamedes and the Tersicore), several paintings by Hayez and the extraordinary frieze by Thorvaldsen.

Two sides of the same coin that are worth the admission ticket in their entirety.

And speaking of admission tickets, you can buy them also online, directly on the villa’s website. Especially in high season this can be a good move, allowing you to go directly to the entrance turnstile without going through the cashiers.

2.2 Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello is also undoubtedly one of the must-see places if you visit Lake Como.

One of those places that are worth the trip.

Statue in the garden of Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello

It was built in 1787, on a pre-existing monastery, by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini and over the years passed into the hands of as many as five other owners: Giusepppe Sepolina, Luigi Porro Lambertenghi, Giuseppe Arconati Visconti, Butler Ames and the explorer Guido Monzino (1974). The building was thus transformed over the centuries according to the taste and desires of the people who gradually inhabited it, even falling, for a time, into a state of abandonment.

Today, Villa Balbianello is owned by the FAI (a nonprofit foundation established in 1975, modeled after the National Trust) through a testamentary bequest from the Lombard explorer and preserves in its rooms hundreds of extraordinary relics from his fantastic travels around the world.

Why see Villa Balbianello?

villa balbianello lenno lake como

Again, needless to say, for at least two reasons!

The first is that walking through its rooms is like traveling through infinite worlds! And this is because the villa, as I mentioned above, is a veritable treasure chest of all the wonders collected by Guido Monzino.

My favorite room is the Expedition Room, overflowing with objects from his travels and explorations in the Alps, the Andes, and the mountains of Africa!


Tupilak in the Expedition Room

The little beings in the photo, for example, are called “tupilaks,” come from Greenland and were used by the Inuit people in shaman rituals…they created them to “entrust” them with the task of murdering designated victims…

Villa Balbianello is a place where you can stand and listen to dozens and dozens of stories, exactly those that each heirloom brings.

The second reason? Well, because it is in a simply extraordinary location!

So extraordinary that it has made it, since the 1990s, a famous movie set, for even very famous movies such as Star Wars or 007 Casino Royale.

Easy to understand why!

In the case of Villa Balbianello, purchasing a ticket online is strongly recommended, because the daily number of entries is limited.

3. Take a boat trip on Lake Como

What to do on Lake Como? A boat tour with public navigation or private boats

One of the best ways to fully appreciate the landscapes, sights and picturesque villages of the lake is by boarding a boat. And to do so, one can choose either a private boat tour, preferably with a driver, or a tour with the boats of the navigation service.

Discover my Travel Designer service! I can help you plan your vacation to make the most of your days!

In the first case, one of the advantages is certainly to be able to sail very close to the shore, thus discovering corners, gardens and noble residences that one would otherwise miss.

In the second case, the plus point is being able to ply the waters of the lake at a much cheaper price. If you make at least 4 stops in a day, it is very convenient to purchase free-circulation tickets.

In a previous article I explained The 4 most popular tours by public transport boats, very useful if you plan to move by this means of transportation.

Keep in mind when visiting in the off-season that the Navigation Service significantly reduces rides from mid-November to mid-March.

4. Shopping in Como’s historic center at the foot of its cathedral

City of Como what to see the Cortesella

Via Vitani

Como is the city that gives its name to this lake and is certainly worth a visit.

Its historic center, surrounded on three sides by medieval walls, is a checkerboard tangle of narrow streets, squares, boutiques and historic stores in which it is nice to “get lost” and shop!

But before we think about shopping, let’s start by seeing what’s beautiful in Como.

What to see in Como

  • the Dome, an extraordinary example of the Gothic-Renaissance style of spires, stained glass windows and statues.
  • Cavour Square, Volta Square and San Fedele Square, the three salons of the city, surrounded by cafes and boutiques.
  • The Volta Temple
  • Life Electric (monument dedicated to Volta)
  • The Social Theater
  • Villa Olmo, a splendid neoclassical villa, often the site of interesting exhibitions of international appeal. Its lakefront park is always open and free access.
  • The Volta Lighthouse in Brunate
Façade of Como Cathedral

The Cathedral and the Broletto palace

The Cathedral of Como is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Assumption. It is the cathedral church, seat of the bishop of the diocese of Como. In size it is the third largest religious building in Lombardy, after the Dome of Milan and the the Carthusian monastery of Pavia, of which it is contemporary (late 14th century). The architecture of the Dome represents a happy case of harmonization of the different historical periods in which it was built. The various styles (Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque) are tuned together by the wisdom of the architects and the great skill of the workers who worked on its construction.

On the three Gothic naves, built in the 15th century, were grafted the three Renaissance apses, built between the 16th and 17th centuries. The dome, on the other hand, is in the late Baroque style and was designed by Filippo Juvara. There were countless architects, engineers, decorators, carvers and painters who, over the centuries, worked on the construction of this magnificent cathedral. Prominent among them were Tommaso Rodari, Francesco Silva, Agostino Silva, Pompeo Marchesi, Bernardino Luini, Carlo Fontana, and the Bertinis.

como what to see piazza san fedele

The pretty San Fedele square in winter

Via Francesco Muralto
view from the Brunate Lighthouse

Breathtaking view from the lighthouse in Brunate
Villa Olmo, Como

Villa Olmo
Life Electric, Como

Life Electric

What to buy in Como and around the lake

The product that distinguishes this city in the world and that tells a lot about its history is silk. That is why there are numerous boutiques in the city where you can find a variety of items made from this fine material. And not to take advantage of it would be a shame: ties, scarves, hair ribbons, clutches, you name it!

The silk souvenir is definitely at the top of the list of typical handicraft products of Lake Como.

But of course it is not the only one!

Those who have been following me for a while know that I have a soft spot for neighborhood stores, historic shops, and more generally for the local products theme. Since I started the blog, I have had the privilege of getting to know many local businesses in person. And to talk about them on my channels.

If you too are curious to get to know these extraordinary realities more closely, you might be interested in the shopping section of my site. You will find there many inspirations for your shopping.

In general, I summarize below the products that I would include in a hypothetical “shopping list” of Lake Como souvenirs!

Typical souvenirs from Lake Como

Undoubtedly at least a few food and wine specialties, such as local cheeses, Olio Laghi Lombardi D.O.P., a nice jar of honey, a bottle of IGT Terre Lariane branded wine such as Sorsasso or Domasino, or a fish product from Le Specialità Lariane, a family-run business that is very famous in the area and synonymous with quality and craftsmanship

For this kind of souvenir, if you are in Como on a Saturday morning, it can be a nice idea to take a trip to the Mercato Coperto (covered market) to meet directly with local farms and buy their specialties.

Another classic souvenir, you know, usually is a t-shirt. If it’s an item you also like, the local brands that are all the rage here are Feelcasual, Like A Fish, and Breva&Tivan Republik.

For a more artisanal souvenir, on the other hand, mark down also these 2 other stores: the local e-commerce deComm and I Vetri di Bellagio, in Bellagio. I love their them!

An idea for a thoughtful gift for children and grandchildren? One of the Lake Como-themed boxed games from the historic publishing houses Lariologo (Memolario, The Goose Game of Lake Como and puzzles) and Dominioni (e.g., the Naval Battle on Lake Como).


Posters of Lake Como

Finally, another classic idea for your travel keepsake are posters with images of Lake Como in Art Nouveau or 1920s and 1930s style. You can find them just about everywhere, they are convenient to carry and beautiful to frame.

5. Mountain trekking and the thrill of looking at the lake from above

You know, don’t you, that Lake Como is completely surrounded by mountains?

trekking is one of the best experience that you can do on Lake Como

I could not imagine a better setting for my lake! Many say (and I agree) that without them the charm of the Lario would be halved.

Trekking on Lake Como

Trail to La Canua Refuge

So, what else could I suggest to do on Lake Como but hike in the mountains?!

The highest peak is the Legnone (2609m), the second is the Grigna (2410) and then down to lower, in a succession of peaks and slopes, a true paradise for hikers.

In short, trekking is one of the things you absolutely must do if you visit Lake Como and you are passionate about this activity! The scenery is literally breathtaking and the walks are virtually endless, you just need to be willing to walk.

The rewards are breathtaking views and panoramas to make your skin crawl.

Those of you who have been following me for a while know how much I also love going into the mountains, and my blog of course could not miss a whole part dedicated to a series of rather simple, but really rewarding hikes.

6. The Greenway, discovering the beauty of Tremezzina and its surroundings


A stretch of the greenway in Tremezzo

The Greenway is a very famous gentle walk, about 10 km long, that runs through Tremezzina and neighboring towns, taking you to discover villas, gardens, ancient villages and wonderful natural views.

stretch of greenway in colonno

A stretch of the Greenway between Sala Comacina and Colonno

To walk along this itinerary allows you to savor at a slow pace one of the most renowned and fascinating areas of the Lario!

It must be said, to be fair, that there are also other equally beautiful scenic routes, but less well known being in less touristy areas of the lake.

Of course, in my blog I talk to you about these alternatives as well. Certainly the choice on which one to take is always related to the number of days you have available. If they are few, I agree in opting for the Greenway.

In the winter months, it may be a good idea to arrange for a packed lunch, since many of the restaurants along this stretch of the lake are closed. And of course I have written an article to help you make the best arrangements for your picnic walk along the Greenway.

Other advice I always give is to allow yourself time to explore!

The Greenway touches charming historic cores, small churches and magnificent historic homes. Taking your time to go and unearth these beauties, sometimes only a few dozen meters from the Greenway route, is the best way to enjoy this route to the fullest.

7. Experience the evocative atmosphere of Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, a Unesco World Heritage Site

Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, on Lake Como, among the things to see

The Sacred Mount of Ossuccio

The Sacred Mount of Ossuccio is another of the wonders definitely worth seeing on Lake Como, if you have more than 2 or 3 days available!

This important place of worship, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003, is really a fascinating corner of the lake and is rightfully among my favorite places.

Let’s say that for those who live around here there is always a good reason to come up here. Faith, beautiful landscapes, art, culture or history…. certainly anyone who comes up here finds what they were looking for!


Avenue going up to the shrine

Along the ancient cobblestone avenue leading from the village of Ossuccio to the shrine stand 14 Baroque chapels with 230 human-sized statues inside, depicting the life of Christ.

All around are meadows and olive trees.

The higher you go the more intimate the atmosphere becomes…

In short, you get the picture, it’s a place I love and always strongly suggest seeing if you visit Lake Como.

8. Taste the Risotto with perch and the missoltino fish (missultén)

Could the culinary advice have been missing? Of course not!

In the menus around here, the star of the show is, of course, lake fish.

lake fish

Lake fish

Among the many dishes you can enjoy, the specialties certainly not to be missed are risotto with perch (here I tell you where you can enjoy it) and missoltino, or dried whitefish, to be served strictly with polenta.

Risotto with perch

Risotto with perch

Missoltino fish with polenta

But to get an idea of what, in general, the typical food and wine products of the lake are and where to buy them, I suggest you read The 6 Typical Products of Lake Como.

While to jot down some suggestions of places to enjoy local and typical dishes check out the Restaurant and Food section of my blog.

9. Having fun by practicing water sports

Kitesurfing, one of the activities to do on Lake Como

Kitesurf

What you can also do on Lake Como is practising water sports.

Lake of course, and especially in summer, is also synonymous with bathing, sun and relax!You can’t count the equipped lidos or free beaches scattered all along the shoreline.

But if it’s adrenaline you’re looking for, the advice is to try one of the many fun water activities spread here on the lake: kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, boards or sailboats can be rented just about anywhere. And for the more “complicated” sports there are now ad hoc courses for all levels.

Lake Como what to do? Kayak is a wonderful experience

Kayak
Sailing is a wonderful experience that you can have if you are asking what to do on lake Como

Sailing on Lake Como
kitesurf

Kitesurf

The absolutely perfect area for surfing, kitesurfing, wing foil, sailing, and you name it, is the North Lake Como being particularly windy.

For a quieter kayak or canoe ride, on the other hand, ideal is the area around Comacina Island (the only island on the lake), a quieter stretch of water full of charm.

In those parts, by the way, you might even run the risk of coming across a pretty little wooden, rowing English boat, much photographed by foreign tourists. It’s my family boat, and if you happen to see it, give it a nod! That might be me on board, looking for a quiet corner to dive into the water and bask in the sun 😉 .

10. Experience the electrifying atmosphere of the St. John Feast

The St. John’s Feast, by far the oldest event on the lake in terms of tradition, faith and folklore, is held every year on the weekend closest to June 24, the day on which the saint in question is celebrated.

And in my opinion it is rightfully among the things to see on Lake Como.

what to do on Lake Como? See the St. John's Fireworks

St. John’s Fireworks

Comacina Island fire

The location is on Comacina Island, the only island on Lake Como, and the absolute highlight of the festival is the fireworks: not a simple fireworks display, but a true historical re-enactment of the events that shook this small island in 1169.

Stalls, music, the Sunday procession, flag-throwing performances and a rowing race are all part of the festivities.

11. Enjoying the peace of Piona Abbey

Among the places to see on Lake Como, there is one, on its eastern shore, where time seems to stand still.

What to do on Lake Como? Visit the Piona Abbey

Piona Abbey
Cloister Abbey of Piona

Cloister

It is Piona Abbey, an architectural complex with church and cloister, built on a hill at the foot of Mount Legnone. The lake is just a stone’s throw away, and what dominates here is the silence, the beauty of the landscape, and the sacredness of the place.

A corner off the usual routes that is certainly worth visiting, especially after a full immersion in the most touristy (and crowded!) places on the lake.

You will appreciate its quietness, I am sure!

12. Discovering local history and traditions by visiting local museums

In Como the two most famous museums are La Pinacoteca (picture gallery) and the Tempio Voltiano.

Actually, there are many other goodies on Lake Como less famous, but no less interesting to see:

  • the Museum of Cycling
  • the Museum of the End of the War
  • the Lake Como International Museum of Vintage Boat
  • the Museum of Silk
  • the Museum of the Landscape

To name the best known.

The End of War Museum

Among the various local museums, if you have to choose, I suggest you don’t miss The End of War Museum.

Details of the Museum of the End of the War in Dongo

Museum of the End of the War in Dongo
What I suggest you to do on Lake Como is to visit the Museum of the End of the War in Dongo

Visiting the Museum of the End of the War

The right adjective to define this small museum I think could be “immersive.”

Room after room you are immersed in THAT precise historical moment studied a thousand times in books and that right here, on Lake Como, saw its epilogue.
The tour is made up of softly lit rooms, narrating voices, film footage of the time, and real accounts of those who experienced those events firsthand.

It really deserves it!

Lake Como International Museum of Vintage Boat

At the Lake Como International Museum of Vintage Boat, on the other hand, I found excitement!

More than 400 boats on display, a real dive into the history of boating, but above all into the history of an area and the people who, with their work, have contributed to making it famous in the world.

Lake Como what to do: visit the Lake Como International Museum of Vintage Boat
Larian Boat Museum on Lake Como, a must-see museum

Each boat is not only an expression of manual labor of the highest level, but tells of episodes of lived life.

And in this old spinning mill turned museum, these boats, now “retired,” actually continue to give strong sensations!

Not to be missed is the room dedicated to the prestigious Riva motorboats, made on Lake Iseo and become a worldwide symbol of elegance.

I think that visiting these local museums is a very engaging way to learn more about the traditions and the history of the territory!

What to do in 1 day, 2 days and 3 days on Lake Como

Up to here I have given you a roundup of the most beautiful things to see on Lake Como. But I guess you must be wondering how to organize yourself, basically, if you only have 1, 2 or 3 days to spare.

Here are my tips for making the most of your vacation!

What to do in 1 day

If you only have one day to spare, well the answer is simple: visit the center of the lake!

It is certainly the absolute must-see part if you take a vacation on Lake Como.

And the best way to do that is to get to one of the villages in the central part of the lake, buy a daily boat ticket and use the various boats to move from one shore to the other! In one day you can normally make 3, maximum 4 stops, depending on whether you decide to also visit a villa or not.

Alternatively, budget permitting, it is also a great idea to experience one of the many private boat tours, thus optimizing time.

What to do in 2 days

In this case, the best way to organize the two days is to devote one to visiting the city of Como and the other to a boat tour in the center of the lake, which I just told you about earlier, with stops in the main villages and a visit to at least one of the most famous villas.

What to do in 3 days

If you have a chance to spend 3 days on Lake Como, what I recommend is to see Como and then devote both of the remaining two days to visiting the lake center, but this time with longer stops and more relaxed times.

What I mean.

In Varenna, for example, I would visit not only the village but also the Vezio Castle, or I would include more than one villa in my itinerary, or, if you love to walk, I would devote a day to the Greenway or otherwise to one of the many scenic walks in the surrounding mountains.

Just to give a few examples!

What to do and see on Lake Como if you have more than 3 days

At this point, each extra day becomes an opportunity to visit somewhat lesser-known jewels of the lake, but just as extraordinary, such as the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, charming lesser-known villages or small museums.

Moreover, with more time on your hands, there are also many possible experiences to choose from, depending on your tastes and interests: cooking classes, seaplane rides, sailing excursions, breathtaking treks or, why not, total relaxation on one of the countless beaches!

The trick is to get organized as best you can, and to do this I can give you a hand 😊.

Where to sleep on Lake Como

If you have read this far, it may be because you are really thinking about a nice vacation on Lake Como. Of course, the first thing to think about at this point is accommodation.

I recommend, first of all, that you consult my mini-guide: 20 Dream Romantic Hotels on Lake Como or, again, rely on my advice and experience and purchase my Travel Designer service!

I will help you, among other things, to identify the best area and facility to stay in, according to your needs.


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