Lake Como, Italy: visit places along the waterfront of Lake Como in Lombardy

Photo of Lake Como
Lake Como Hotels
Where
Arrive
Leave

Visit Lake Como

Lake Como is one of the lakes in the north-west of the Lombardy region and north of Milan. It is one of the largest of the popular lakes of northern Italy, and also one of the most popular with visitors because of its beautiful towns and villages and the scenery, with the lake surrounded by hills and mountains.

The lake is long and thin and about 50 kilometres long from north to south. The southern half of the lake, to the south of Bellagio, is divided into two separate 'branches' (like an upside-down "Y") with Onno and Lecco on the eastern fork and Como and Cernobbio at the base of the western fork.

Explore Lake Como

Italy This Way comment: Lake Como is part of every tour and trip that comes to the region, because of the imposing villas and gardens, the pretty port towns and the lovely lake scenery, but of course this can make it quite a busy destination!

Pretty little harbour of Varenna

The central area of Lake Como is the most visited part of the lake, and although the north and south areas of the lake also have their places of interest these are generally less impressive: of course, having all the main attractions quite close together is also convenient for visitors with limited time.

Note that sometimes towns are close together - but separated by the lake! No problem, there are regular ferries across the lake so travelling around is easy (car ferries are less frequent and operate from less ferry terminals than passenger ferries).

If we had to choose our own favourite town on Lake Como, we would probably choose Varenna and the monastery garden in the town, and our favourite villa is perhaps Villa Balbianello...or maybe Villa Carlotta

Central Lake Como

The principal villages and towns to explore in the central region include Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio. All three of these are very lovely and an indispensable part of your visit to Lake Como.

It is also close to here that you can visit several exceptional villas, such as Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo and Villa Balbianello at Lenno.

Two more villas are open to the public at Bellagio (Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi), as well as two villas at Varenna (Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero). The villas around the lake, with their gardens and marvellous veiws across the lake, and an important highlight of your visit.

There are lots of other small villages here such as Ossuccio and Sala Comacina that you can visit when you are exploring, as well as a boat trip to the island of Isola Comacina.

South Lake Como

The large town of Como is at the south-western tip and has has a pleasant town centre based around the Piazza Cavour, and you can also admire the harbour and the important cathedral in the town centre.

Cernobbio and Moltrasio are among the small ports to visit nearby. The south-east branch of the lake is less visited and has the town of Lecco and the nearby village of Malgrate at its southern point.

North Lake Como

The north is the quietest region of Lake Como. The principal towns here are Domaso and Gravedona, and an interesting attraction is the Abbey of Piona.

The northern part of the lake will be appreciated by visitors wanting a more quiet 'Lake Como' experience and the chance to enjoy the activities and watersports available or to explore the mountains that surround this part of the lake.

Other activities

If you have the chance to pass more than a flying visit to Lake Como you will find there are many smaller villages, quiet valleys, walks and places of great scenic beauty all around the lake.

More active visitors will find that there are numerous walks that head into the verdant hills around the lake, with more chances to enjoy lovely views and to appreciate the environment.

I have not said much about restaurants above, but of course one of the main pleasures of a visit to the Italian lakes is the chance to enjoy a meal while sat on a terrace overlooking the lake. There is a wide choice of restaurants available in all the main destinations.

See also:

Map of Lake Como and places to visit

Places to visit near Lake Como

Bellagio

Bellagio

The harbour village of Bellagio is a pretty village on the shores of Lake Como in Lombardy

Bellagio

Cernobbio

Cernobbio

Cernobbio is an attractive small town to the south-west end of Lake Como in Lombardy

Cernobbio

Como

Como

Como is an important historic town at the southern end of Lake Como

Como

Gravedona

Gravedona

Gravedona, on northern Lake Como, is well placed to explore the surrounding mountains and practice water sports on the lake

Gravedona

Lecco

Lecco

Lecco, at the southern tip of Lake Como, has a harbour with lovely views across the lake and mountains

Lecco

Menaggio

Menaggio

Menaggio, on the western shore of Lake Como, is a pretty town and well placed to explore the lake

Menaggio

Tremezzo

Tremezzo

Tremezzo on Lake Como is visited for a walk along the lake and a visit to Villa Carlotta and its beautiful gardens

Tremezzo

Varenna

Varenna

Varenna is a pretty town on the shores of Lake Como, with attractive villas and gardens

Varenna

Malgrate

Malgrate

Malgrate is a small town on south-west Lake Como that has a modern promenade with attractive lake views

Malgrate

Como cathedral

Como cathedral

The cathedral in Como is the most important historic monument in Como, at the southern end of Lake Como

Como cathedral

Moltrasio

Moltrasio

Moltrasio is a small pretty village with a harbour on south-west Lake Como

Moltrasio

Piona Abbey

Piona Abbey

Piona abbey is a lovely 12th century abbey in a quiet location on north-east Lake Como

Piona Abbey

Domaso

Domaso

Domaso is a small harbour town on the north of Lake Como

Domaso

Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello

Villa Balbianello is a lovely villa on eastern Lake Como, used as a location in Star Wars II.

Villa Balbianello

Lenno

Lenno

Lenno is a picturesque small town and harbour on Lake Como, near the Villa Balbianello

Lenno

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta is an 18th century villa on Lake Como, with extensive gardens to explore and an impressive art collection

Villa Carlotta

Ossuccio

Ossuccio

Ossuccio is a small village with two historic churches on Lake Como

Ossuccio

Sala Comacina

Sala Comacina

Sala Comacina is a pretty little harbour town on Lake Como

Sala Comacina

See more places nearby in the Lombardy guide