Mention the two words “Lake Como” and watch the faces of those that know of, or have traveled to, light up brighter than the stars in the sky. The pristine, renowned Northern Italy lake town of Como is best known for its picturesque, pinch-yourself views and tranquil and restorative energy, but in addition to marveling at the combination of glamour and exclusivity that makes up this 30-mile long lake, there are several fun activities to partake in that will enhance (if that’s even possible) your trip!
Whether you're a foodie, history-enthusiast, adventurerer, sunbather, or, heck, just need some ideas, I've got something for everyone on this to-do list!
Bellagio Bound:Hop aboard a bus or a boat bound (totally preferred) for Bellagio - also known as the “Pearl of Lake Como.” This town is the perfect place to soak up the lake’s famous panorama. The village is characterized by century-old buildings, stone lanes and picturesque cobbled stairways filled with cute, pastel painted shops which showcase the finest Italian wares.
Villa Carlotta: The Villa Carlotta is one of the most magnificent villa’s that is open to the public. The former marquis’s mansion dates back to the late 17th century and, today, functions as a museum which houses grand villa houses artworks, including sculptures by Antonio Canova. While the artwork is beautiful, the most captivating part of the museum is the romantic Italian gardens surrounding the villa. Roughly 20 cultivated acres bloom with camellias, azaleas, roses and citrus trees. I’m pretty confident that the grounds are bound to make your heart blossom too! The villa is located across the lake in Tremezzo, a 20-minute ferry ride west from Bellagio and admission is around 9 euros.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo: Lake Como may not have sandy shores, but the luxury Grand Hotel Tremezzo has installed T Beach, a full-service beach club complete with trucked-in sand, sunbeds, umbrellas and a full-size pool floating in the lake. Go around sunset for a Campari aperitivo served with golden views of Bellagio across the lake or, head south to Villa d’Este, the extremely sophisticated, exclusive hotel in the charming town of Cernobbio. Generations of guests have sipped aperitivi at the hotel’s Bar Terrazza, nibbling on olives in the shade of ancient chestnut trees while watching boats cruise past.
Grab Drinks: Your best bet for handcrafted, creative cocktails would be Fresco Cocktail Shop - a cozy bar with a timeworn interior (rough wood-beam ceilings, exposed-brick walls) but an inventive drinks menu that’s heavy on unusual spirits and seasonal fruit. Or, you can opt for the lakeside Harry’s Bar (a personal favorite) or the glamorous Il Gato Nero. Fun fact: George Clooney is a regular at Il Gato Nero!
Villa Balbianello: The location of James Bond, Oceans Twelve, and Star Wars films, this beautiful villa is perfectly situated in the centre of the lake, near Lenno. The villa provides a stunning view of Isola Comacina (the only island on Lake Como) and the western shore of the lake. The unique location of Villa Balbianello allows visitors to get there only by foot (walking on a 1 km footpath, which starts from Via Degli Artigiani) or by a taxi boat that leaves from the Lenno beach (€7.5 for the roundtrip).
Argegno Cable Car: In only 5 minutes, this cable car (the steepest one in Europe) will bring you from 200 m to 850 m, offering you a spectacular view of the town of Argegno and the stunning lake. Bus line C10 stops right in front of the cable car station at Argegno. From Pigra you can do the wonderful hike down to Colonno (2 hrs.) situated on the lake.
Day Trip to Lugano, Switzerland: Perfectly positioned on a lake with the Alps at its back, lucky Lugano has a little bit of everything. Ride a cable car up to Monte San Salvatore or Monte Bre for sunny panoramas of lake, rivers, mountains and red-roofed buildings. Explore the town's churches, cathedrals, and the expressive and colorful Piazza della Riforma. Sample some slow-cooked Ticinese cuisine, explore the lake on a boat or spend the day at the lido with its Olympic-sized pool.
Make Bake Como: Shop, cook and eat in Lake Como, Italy! Learn how to prepare slowly leavened Organic Bread, Fresh Egg Pasta, Risotto, Neapolitan Pizza, Gnocchi, Gelato & much more in the private, bespoke cooking class in Como, Italy. There are also food tours of the Local Produce Market, where you will learn about the local food producers and products, and then purchase ingredients for the cooking classes.
Museum Moto Guzzi: If you have a need for speed, this museum is for you! The Museum Moto Guzzi takes guests through various periods of history and illustrates the development of Italian engines and motorcycles by displaying vehicles from different epochs. Admission is free-of-charge and its location makes it an easy stop-off while touring through the various villages on the lake.
Jungle Raider Park:For those that like to live life on the edge or just seek adventure, Jungle Raider Park is the place to be. The park offers seven different paths based on levels of difficulty and a variety of activities that those adrenaline junkies love to do: from zip lines to bungee jumping in nature. *There are paths designed for children, beginners and those feeling less daring. Jungle Raider Park has two different locations, one in Civenna and one in Margno, which means it’s easy to reach wherever you may be based.
Enoteca Principessa Bellagio: Want to check out a winery while in Lake Como? I say, “wine not?” Enoteca Principessa Bellagio is a winery located in the beautiful town of Bellagio. You can taste and learn about the wide selection of local Lombardy wines. It is also possible to purchase wines and have them shipped home!
Slow Time On the Slow Ferry: Hop aboard the slow ferry that floats past villas and small villages along the water’s edge. After a couple of hours of cruising, alight in Varenna, a postage-stamp-size town hugging the lake’s eastern shore. From the dock, stroll south along winding cobblestone lanes to Villa Monastero, a former monastery and noble’s residence that today draws visitors to its lakeside gardens. Then, promenade beneath cypress and citrus trees and through the beautiful waterfront loggia while savoring the views that have lured admirers to Lake Como’s stunning shores for centuries.