Our in-depth Lake Como travel guide covers the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay, what to pack, things to do, and more!
Nestled in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region at the foot of the Swiss Alps, Lake Como is known for its dramatic scenery, Renaissance architecture, and relaxing villas. While formerly synonymous as being an escape for the rich and famous, Lake Como has become a favorite for all types of travelers seeking sunshine, beautiful lakeside villages, and incredible views.
Lake Como, Italy Travel Guide + Packing Tips
Where is Lake Como?
Lake Como is located in the Lombardy region in northern Italy — situated about an hour north of Milan. It is one of the deepest lakes in Europe and it stretches about 29 miles long and 2.5 miles wide.
The Best Time to Visit Lake Como
Tourist high season in Lake Como falls over July and August, when the weather reaches 30 degrees celsius (86°F) regularly. This is also when the water warms up to about 20°C (68°F). To still take advantage of sunshine-filled days but with fewer crowds, consider traveling there in the spring (April to May) or the fall (September to October).
How to Get to Lake Como
Lake Como is excellent as both a day trip from Milan and as a destination of its own. While the region is easily accessible by car, depending on the time of year (the summer months being the high season), the roads can get rather congested and parking can be limited.
Alternatively, consider taking the train to Lake Como. A train ride from Milan to Lake Como is roughly two and a half hours and prices are extremely affordable.
Weather in Lake Como
The climate in Lake Como is fairly pleasant year-round with temperatures rarely dropping below 0˚Celsius (32˚F). In the summer months, average daily temperatures range from 20-25 (68-77˚F) degrees, while in the winter months the average temperature usually hovers around 5 degrees (41˚F).
In springtime, temperatures average 9°C (48°F) in March and 16°C (60°F) in May. Temperatures can get balmy during this time. In the fall, the temperatures average 13°C (55°F) in October and cool down to 8°C (46°F) in November.
Read more: 10 Places You Can’t Miss in Italy
Where to Stay in Lake Como
For those of you looking for a good mid-range option in Varenna, consider the Hotel Montecodeno. This property is an easy three-minute walk from Lake Como, is just steps to the ferry dock, and offers a bike rental.
For a more upscale Varenna stay, consider the Hotel Royal Victoria. This hotel offers panoramic views of Varenna and features lush gardens, two restaurants, and a swimming pool.
For a mid-range option in Como, check out Hotel Borgovico. Just 400m from the train station and a 15-minute walk from the historic center, this hotel provides modern interiors and a breakfast buffet.
For something a little classier in Como, consider Hotel Como. This property features a rooftop garden, swimming pool, bar, and is just 1 km from the city center.
For those of you looking to stay in elegant Tremezzo, consider the Hotel Bazzoni. This property is in the town center and features gorgeous views of Lake Como as well as an outdoor pool.
The Best Way to Explore Lake Como
The easiest way to explore the different towns in Lake Como is to take advantage of the frequent ferries that service the area. Daily ferry schedules and tickets can be found at each of the terminals.
The towns in Lake Como are easily walkable, or consider renting a bike from one of the many hotels in the area offering the service.
Best Things to Do in Lake Como
Explore From the Water
Ferry trips excluded, one of the best ways to truly experience Lake Como is to get out on the water. There are many options for activities and equipment hire, including kayaking, canoeing, motor boating, parasailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.
Visit the Enoteca Principessa Winery
Located in Bellagio right where the lake divides into its two Y-like branches, this winery will educate and guide you through the history of wine in the area. Enoteca Principessa is a must-see for any wine connoisseur making their way through Lombardy.
Hike Monte Crocione
If you’re a nature lover, consider making the 7-8 hour hike to the top of Monte Crocione out of Tremezzo. The hike offers amazing views of the alps, and it features a large historical cross at the peak.
Visit Forte Di Fuentes
For the history buffs out there, the Forte Di Fuentes ruins date back to the time the area was under Spanish control. Located in the Northern part of Lake Como by Colico, the 17th century fortress was once a military base used by the Spanish governor of Milan.
Take a Cooking Class
Is there a better way to experience the best of Italian cuisine than to learn how to make it? Dive right into Italian and regional traditions and culture, and indulge your taste buds all at the same time. Top-rated cooking classes are offered in Bellagio, Como, and Mandello del Lario.
Read more: 5 Towns to Visit on Lake Como
Lake Como Packing Essentials
Stylish Clothing: It’s no secret that Italians are very stylish people. Be sure to pack classy, yet breezy blouses, and plenty of sundresses. Jury’s out on whether or not shorts are an Italian fashion faux pas, but if you’re unsure then simply opt for maxi skirts.
Swim Gear: Whether you get out on the lake or spend time in your hotel’s swimming pool, always remember to pack a swimsuit!
Still not sure what to wear in Lake Como? Visit our Italy Packing List!