Lake Como is a stunning destination nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps, just a short distance away from the bustling city of Milan. This breathtaking lake offers visitors a chance to experience Italy’s natural beauty, rich history, and world-class accommodations. With its stunning landscapes, charming villages, and luxurious villas, it’s no wonder that this breathtaking destination has become a popular getaway for both locals and tourists alike.
In this article, we will thoroughly explain how to get to Lake Como from Milan, and then provide short assessments about the activities to be done at Lake Como. Let’s get started!
How to Get to Lake Como from Milan?
There are many ways to reach and explore Lake Como from Milan. These are organized tours, car and train transportation. In our article, we will review these options. First, we want to mention organized tours from Milan to Lake Como as an ideal method to explore Lake Como due to their comprehensive and seamless experience.
Joining a tour from Milano to Lake Como offers an effortless and enriching experience. It removes the stress of navigating unfamiliar roads or train schedules, allows for expert-guided exploration of local highlights, imparts in-depth cultural and historical knowledge, and provides seamless logistics including entrance fees and meals, enabling you to fully immerse in the stunning landscapes and unique charm of Lake Como.
For those who would rather sit back and let someone else handle the logistics, numerous tour operators offer organized day trips from Milan to Lake Como. These tours often include transportation, guided visits to key attractions, and even boat rides, providing a hassle-free experience for visitors.
We have some tour suggestions for you:
1-) The Lake Como, Bellagio, and Varenna or Menaggio Tour is a full-day trip from Milan, with a duration of approximately 10-11 hours. Priced at 95 EUR per person, it is offered by Autostradale Viaggi Srl and has been highly rated by past participants.
The tour starts in Milan, where you will be transported by luxury bus to Lake Como, renowned for its picturesque villas and gardens. In Como, a guided walking tour will take you to the city center and Villa Olmo, a neoclassical marvel with a beautiful Italian garden. Next, a private boat will take you on a relaxing cruise on the lake, providing breathtaking views of the three different landscapes each branch of the lake offers. The tour also includes visits to the vibrant villages of Bellagio and Varenna, although the visit to Varenna may be substituted for another location such as Menaggio, Tremezzo, Argegno, or Cernobbio.
After a walk along the charming cobblestoned streets, you will be transferred back to Milan. The tour includes a professional bilingual guide, headphones for the tour, and a pick-up from either Duomo/La Scala or Milan Central Station.
from €99.00 EUR
Duration: 10.5 Hours
Organized by: Autostradale Viaggi
2-) The Lake Como, Bellagio, and Lugano Coach Day Trip is a full-day tour that departs from Milan, Italy, and offers an immersive, 10.5-hour experience. This journey presents the best of Italy and Switzerland, featuring stunning views of the Italian Alps, magnificent gardens, and the breathtaking beauty of Lake Como and Lake Lugano. The tour begins in Milan and moves on to Lugano, Switzerland, where participants have the opportunity to enjoy the city’s scenic beauty and shopping opportunities. The journey then continues to Bellagio, known as the “Pearl of Lake Como” providing free time for exploration, shopping, and local cuisine tasting. Following Bellagio, the tour proceeds to Lake Como by coach, where a boat cruise offers a unique perspective of the landscape and a chance to spot the villas of celebrities and movie sets. The tour concludes with a return to Milan’s city center.
The tour includes the services of an English-speaking guide, headsets (if required), a boat cruise ticket for Lake Como, and free time in Lugano and Bellagio. All transfers are conducted in an air-conditioned coach.
from €114.00 EUR
Duration: 10.5 hours
Organized by: City Wonders Ltd.
Trains from Milan to Lake Como
Train services from Milan to Lake Como typically start from Milano Centrale or Milano Cadorna and end at Como San Giovanni or Como Lago respectively. The journey from Milan to Como is usually a direct route, without any changes. There are two types of trains that operate these services: the Regionale and the slightly faster EuroCity trains from Milano Centrale to Como San Giovanni, and the Trenord train service from Milano Cadorna to Como Lago.
The train services from Milano Centrale to Como San Giovanni operate approximately 5 times per day. The exact timetable can vary, especially on weekends and holidays when there is less frequent service. The journey can take as little as 36 minutes on the EuroCity trains, and up to 49 minutes on the Regionale trains.
On the other hand, the Trenord train service from Milano Cadorna to Como Lago starts from 5:45 in the morning until 21:45, with about 34 daily rides. The first train from Como Lake departs at 5:15, and the last one at 22:15. The journey takes about 60 minutes.
In terms of cost, tickets for the trip from Milan to Como on the Regionale and EuroCity trains are priced at around $16 (for 2023). The Trenord train service offers a 2nd class ticket at 5,00€. Prices may vary depending on the type of train, time of travel, and availability.
Remember that train schedules can change, so it’s always a good idea to check the latest timetables on the Trenitalia or Omio website before you travel. It’s also important to note that during peak travel season, trains can get busy, so consider booking your tickets in advance to guarantee a seat.
Milan to Lake Como by Car
If you’re in Milan and planning a trip to Lake Como, driving can be a great way to see the Italian countryside and have flexibility in your travel plans. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get to Lake Como from Milan by car:
Enter “Lake Como” into your GPS or smartphone mapping application. This should guide you along the quickest or most efficient route, depending on your preferences. The journey usually takes about 1.5 hours, but this can vary depending on traffic and the exact location you’re heading to on Lake Como.
Begin your drive from Milan. You will initially drive on the A4 highway (Autostrada A4) towards Venice. After about 20 minutes, take the exit towards Como/Chiasso to get on the A9 highway (Autostrada A9). There are toll booths on Italian highways, so be prepared to pay the required fee. (Keep some change handy for tolls along the way.) The cost will depend on the distance you’re traveling.
Continue on the A9 until you see signs for “Lago di Como”. Take this exit, and you will be in the vicinity of the lake. Lake Como is a big area with many towns and villages. Depending on your destination, you might need to navigate smaller roads to reach your specific location.
Please note that Italian highways can be busy, especially during peak travel times, so plan your journey accordingly. Also, parking can be limited in some areas around Lake Como, so it might be a good idea to research parking options at your destination ahead of time.
from €340.00 EUR
Duration: 10 hours
Organized by: Memento Italy
from €680.00 EUR
Duration: 8 hours
Organized by: Tour Travel & More
Car Rental in Milan
In Milan, a major hub of Italy, you have the option to rent a car for traveling to various destinations, including the scenic Lake Como. Car rental services are conveniently available at several locations throughout the city, including the airports (Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate), train stations, and downtown areas. A wide range of vehicle types are offered by car rental companies such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Auto Europe and local Italian companies (such as Sicily by Car). You can choose from economy cars, compact cars, luxury vehicles, and even vans or SUVs to suit your traveling needs. The rental fees may vary based on the vehicle type, rental duration, and the season.
Top Attractions in Lake Como
Lake Como, known for its dramatic landscapes, resembles an inverted letter “Y”. At the peak of this upside-down letter sits Bellagio, separating Lake Como into two beautiful halves. Menaggio and Varenna, charming towns themselves, are nearby and connected via ferry, forming the ‘golden triangle’. A visit to Lake Como is never complete without a day spent in Bellagio and Varenna, a mere 20-minute ferry ride apart.
The allure of Lake Como extends beyond its natural beauty, with celebrities like George Clooney and Sir Richard Branson owning villas along its shores.
Things to do in Bellagio
Exploring the Enchanting Streets of Bellagio: Bellagio, with its compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets, is a delight to navigate. Starting at the waterfront, ascend through the maze of cobblestoned streets and winding paths, leading to stunning vistas overlooking Lake Como. You’ll lose track of time as you wander through the picturesque town.
Discovering the Perfect Bellagio Panorama: Picturesque photos of Bellagio are synonymous with a trip to Lake Como. For the iconic snapshot, follow Salita Serbelloni until it reaches Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. Here, you will find a viewpoint offering a splendid view of the charming street, its vibrant buildings, and cozy shops.
The Oasis of Melzi Gardens: The Melzi Gardens, part of the Villa Melzi summer residence of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, offer visitors a tranquil retreat. The public can enjoy the beautifully landscaped gardens filled with walking paths, a diverse range of plants, and benches strategically placed for uninterrupted views of the lake. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and escape the summer heat.
The Tranquil Beauty of Punta Spartivento: The northernmost point of Bellagio, Punta Spartivento, provides a serene park space offering panoramic views of Lake Como and its surrounding towns including Menaggio, Varenna, and several others.
Visit Pescallo – The Idyllic Fishing Village: Pescallo, a hidden jewel of Lake Como, is quietly nestled a mere mile away from the vivacious resort town of Bellagio. Renowned as a tranquil fishing village unspoiled by tourism, the allure of Pescallo emanates from its simplicity and serene ambiance.
Bask in the Sun at Lido de Bellagio: To cool off or simply to relax by the water, head to Lido de Bellagio. This beach club offers a refreshing break from sight due to size.
Things to do in Varenna
Varenna, a picturesque settlement on the eastern coast of Lake Como, Italy, exudes a charm that is as timeless as it is irresistible. This enchanting village, cradled by lush mountains and the calm lake, offers a peaceful escape from the bustling cities.
Villa Monastero and Its Botanical Gardens: A stone’s throw from Piazza San Giorgio, Villa Monastero, once an old monastery turned patrician residence, is a must-visit. The villa is an international conference center with a beautiful botanical garden housing rare plant species. This one-mile garden along the lake shore is an absolute delight for nature lovers. You can also visit the Casa Museo, which showcases four centuries of history with elegant decorations and furnishings. Open to the public from March to November, regular tickets cost €8.
Adjacent to Villa Monastero is Villa Cipressi, a 4-star hotel surrounded by terraced gardens reaching Lake Como’s shores. Named after the ancient cypress trees found in its gardens, the villa offers a luxurious stay. Non-guests can enjoy the Mediterranean and exotic plants in its gardens for a regular ticket price of €8 (€15 for a combined ticket that includes admission to Villa Monastero).
Church of San Giorgio: In the heart of Varenna, Piazza San Giorgio is home to the historic Church of San Giorgio. A relic from 1313, this church is adorned with captivating paintings, making it a must-visit site in town.
Sauntering through Varenna’s Town Centre: Varenna’s town center is a delight to explore. The picturesque streets and narrow alleyways are worth getting lost in. Don’t forget to capture photos of the turquoise lake that beautifully contrasts the town’s rustic charm.
Passeggiata Degli Innamorati (Lover’s Walk): This romantic lakeside promenade takes you from the ferry docks through to the town center and Riva Grande. The path offers spellbinding views of Varenna, Lake Como, and the surrounding mountains. As the name suggests, it’s a favorite among couples seeking a romantic backdrop.
Castello di Vezio: Overlooking Varenna from a hilltop is the medieval fortress of Castello di Vezio. Here, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Como and visit the “ghosts”, unique white plaster sculptures made each summer with the participation of volunteers.
Not to be missed are the falconry shows and the exhibit dedicated to the Lariosaurus, a prehistoric marine reptile which has inspired local legends.
Lakeside Dining at Riva Grande: Treat your taste buds at one of Varenna’s lakeside restaurants. Enjoy a gourmet meal complemented by a glass of wine as you soak in the sublime views of Lake Como.
Located in Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta is a magnificent villa and botanical garden that spans over 8 hectares. Explore its lush gardens, marvel at its impressive art collection, and learn about its rich history as you stroll through its elegant rooms.
Situated on a secluded peninsula near Lenno, Villa Balbianello is a striking 18th-century villa famous for its terraced gardens and stunning lake views. This iconic location has served as a backdrop for several films, including James Bond’s Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Tips for a Successful Day Trip
Lake Como is beautiful year-round, but the best time for a day trip is between April and October when the weather is typically mild and sunny. July and August can be quite busy, so consider visiting during the shoulder months of May, June, or September for a more relaxed experience.
What to pack
Be prepared for variable weather by packing layers, as temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as you’ll likely be exploring on foot. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, as well as a camera to capture the unforgettable scenery.
A day trip to Lake Como from Milan offers the perfect combination of natural beauty, historic charm, and enticing activities. Whether you’re exploring its picturesque towns, admiring its stunning villas, or indulging in its mouthwatering cuisine, this enchanting destination is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.