Best Things to do in Lake Como, Italy

From gorgeous lakeside views to picture-perfect villages and delectable Italian cuisine, a vacation to Lake Como has it all…

06 March 2023

things to do lake como

The picturesque Lake Como is undoubtedly one of our favorite Italian destinations, renowned for its natural beauty, exquisite fine dining scene, and abundance of outdoor activities.

Situated in northern Italy at the foot of the Alps, Lake Como is the third largest lake in the country, second only to Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. Lake Como offers a huge wealth of things for visitors to do, ranging from leisurely boat rides along the spectacular lake, to hiking the nearby mountains and hills, and ending the day wining and dining on a terrace with a view. Flitting about Lake Como trends on the more expensive side of a trip to Italy, but its stunning and varied landscapes combined with buzzy lakeside towns and villages make it a great place for couples looking for a romantic escape. 

The best time of year to visit Lake Como is usually the spring, between March and May, when there are fewer crowds, and the weather is warmer and brighter. September and October are also good times to go for a similar reason but pack light layers and a waterproof jacket just in case of any showers.

A map showing the villages and resorts around Lake Como

The Best Places to Go and Things to Do in Lake Como 

In Lake Como, several beautiful lakeside resorts lend themselves to some of the area’s best activities. If you’re into low-key outdoor pursuits, you’re in luck as Lake Como is just the place for it, offering a fantastic array of tours including luxury lake cruises, cycling excursions, and even gourmet cooking classes

Perhaps one of the best things to do in Lake Como though is to simply soak up the beauty of the landscapes and take in the sunsets. It’s the setting here that makes it one of the most amazing places for a vacation.

Now, get ready to discover some of our favorite spots in Lake Como to embrace the luxury lifestyle. 

Hot Travel Tip: Interested in one of our perfect pairings? Check out our Lake Como & Portofino itinerary!

1. Como 

City of Como by the lake

If you’re looking for things to do in Lake Como, an obvious place to start is Como itself - the largest lakeside city in the area. There’s plenty to do here, from luxury culinary and wine-tasting experiences to sightseeing and hiking, so it’s worth spending a good day or two exploring. Other highlights around Como include well-known landmarks such as the Duomo, one of Italy’s most iconic 14th-century Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals, the Tempio Voltiano - a neoclassical museum devoted to artist Alessandro Volta - and the medieval ruins of Castello Baradello. From there, you’ll get fantastic panoramic views of the lake, so don’t forget your camera!

We’d also recommend getting the funicular from Como to Brunate, which has a restaurant at the top and gives you incredible views of the Alps and Lake Como along the way.

2. Bellagio 

The town of Bellagio sitting on the lake

Known as the ‘pearl of Lake Como’ due to its beauty and opulence, Bellagio is another charming and romantic town in the area that’s well worth discovering. When it comes to things to do in Lake Como, Bellagio is an ideal place for wandering the picturesque streets and alleys, shopping, dining and long lazy afternoons spent admiring the lake view, Aperol Spritz in hand. If you want to get out on the water during your trip, you can even hire your very own boat and sail the shores of Lake Como - the perfect sunset activity.

3. Varenna  

Varenna perched on Lake Como

Arguably one of the most beautiful spots in Lake Como, there are countless ways to relax and enjoy the various things to do in Varenna. It’s an especially great spot to escape to during the summer season as there are far fewer crowds than in Como or Bellagio. You can stroll the medieval streets and the beautiful gardens of the Villa Monstero or spend some time exploring the Castello di Vezio - a grand, walled castle featuring a drawbridge and battlements. For those looking to stretch their legs, the Sentiero Del Viandante - a 25-mile hike that used to be an ancient Roman highway - winds along the hillsides on the eastern side of the lake, affording you consistently breathtaking views, particularly at sunset.

4. Menaggio 

The marina in the town Menaggio

Another pretty town worth exploring in the Lake Como area is Menaggio, with things to do here centered around relaxed sightseeing and ambling the cobbled streets, or people-watching from a bistro or lakeside cafe. The charming Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi is a lively square for a coffee or a glass of wine, while the walled marina on the waterfront promenade is undoubtedly one of the town’s most picturesque spots. The church of Santo Stefano is another highlight, featuring an altar of the Madonna where you can find a copy of the painting by Bernardino Luino depicting Maria with Jesus and an angel, the original of which is now at the Louvre.

5. Tremezzo 

Tremezzo on Lake Como with mountains in the background

A quaint village sitting on the western side of Lake Como, Tremezzo is best known for its pretty villas and gardens, including the famous Villa Carlotta. This impressive lakeside villa and botanical garden offers scenic views and beautifully ornate interiors replete with artwork and sculptures, making it well worth a visit. The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is another lovely spot if you fancy a nice lunch or afternoon aperitif. 

The village itself is also a great place to stroll and explore if you have a couple of hours to spare, home to small public parks, a pretty fountain and churches to admire. Similar to some of the other spots on our list, from the shores of Tremezzo, you can take a private boat tour allowing you to soak up the scenery of Lake Como. 

6. Lecco 

Lecco on Lake Como with a valley in the background

Thanks to where it’s situated, on the southeastern shoreline, Lecco is the perfect first or last stop during your vacation in Lake Como. When it comes to things to do in Lecco, Lake Como, the fact that it’s surrounded by mountains makes it a great spot for hikers or cyclists. Although hilly in parts, it’ll afford you wonderful views over the diverse landscapes of the area. Other notable landmarks worth exploring include the Palace of Fears - a fascinating museum that houses contemporary art - and the Basilica of San Nicolò, a religious site that has stood for almost 1000 years.

Meet our Italy Specialists 

Now armed with a list of the best things to do in Lake Como, you can start planning the perfect itinerary for your Italy or Lake Como vacation, with the help of one of our friendly travel experts today.

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