By Christy Woodrow | Posted on Ordinary Traveler
This Northern Italy gem, sitting just at the foot of scenic Swiss Alps, encompasses all of the country’s beauty and charm in one small region! Once a vacation retreat for only the famous and affluent, Lake Como has now become a well-known favorite for travelers worldwide craving fairytale villages, sunshine and spectacular views at what’s been deemed the “most beautiful lake in the world.”
I recently visited this gorgeous Italian destination with Monograms Travel. I’ll be writing more about this company soon, but I found the combination of group excursions and individual time to be a perfect fit for my style of travel — especially when traveling solo. The local guide was not only invaluable during my trip in Lake Como, but she went above and beyond to help me book my onward travel after the Monograms portion of my trip concluded.
I found the group portion of the trip to be a nice addition as I was able to meet other travelers and I learned much more about Lake Como than I would have on my own. I spent four days exploring this area of Italy — staying in the town of Como — and found these five towns to be my favorite!
One of the more humble towns of Lake Como, Varenna is rather quiet compared to its more touristy neighbors. The serenity of this town makes it a haven from hotel-packed resorts, and may be the most authentically charming spot on the lake!
Grab some gelato near the colorful waterfront and pebble shores, take a stroll on the passerella — or “lover’s walk” — and climb to the beautiful Castello di Vezio for a chance to explore the grounds of a beautiful privately-owned castle.
Just a short ferry ride from Varenna is Bellagio, the posh and classy “Pearl of the Lake.” Stylish boutiques and wine cafés adorn the cobblestone paths, and a tour of the town will ensure you see the best sights of this historic town.Another absolute must-see are the grandiose Villa Melzi gardens — they’ll make you feel as though you’ve stepped right into a fairytale.
A one-hour tour of Bellagio is included with all Monograms bookings to Lake Como, so you can get the best of both worlds by learning about the history and exploring on your own. I also booked an optional excursion of watercolor painting with a pro and it was the highlight of my entire trip to Como!
The heart of the lakeside cities, Como’s lively atmosphere and more urban setting make it a hub of historic significance and plentiful city amenities.
Take a cruise of the lake, indulge your tastebuds with a cooking class, and visit the galleries that Como is known for! Gothic architecture throughout the city (dating back as early as the 12th century!) attracts attention from travelers worldwide, though its the city’s cathedral — Duomo — that might be its biggest draw.
Famous for its elegant villas and various plants and flowers from around the world, the town of Tremezzo is a treat for all the senses.
Visit the art museum and botanical garden of Villa Carlotta, taste Tremezzina’s fine dining at restaurants like La Darsena and Al Veluu Ristorante, and witness the large historical cross at the peak of Monte Crocione. While the Monte Crocione hike takes about 7-8 hours in total, it offers amazing views of the lake and alps so it’s well worth the trek!
Brunate is actually our only location on this list that’s nestled in the hills rather than on the shoreline, but is most definitely worth a visit for the birds-eye view of Lake Como. Just a short funicular ride from the city of Como, Brunate is a wonderful day trip from Como with a small-town feel and the allure of a classic Italian village.
Hike to the lighthouse Faro Voltiano or book a sunset dinner experience you won’t forget. These two ventures alone are worth the trip from Como.