Lake Como is an upscale resort area located in Northern Italy's Lombardy region set against the foothills of the Alps. Getting there is a bit tricky due to the different means of transportation and the differences in how they operate. Still, trains from main European cities can take you there with rates starting at 4.80€. A private ride from 85€. You could also travel by bus with fares starting at 3.40€.
Lake Como key information
The main towns are Como and Lecco. Como is the most visited and first point of arrival for most visitors. Lecco, on the other hand, is not as popular but it also offers great accommodation options and attractions.
The lake is surrounded by other towns which have their own appeal. For example Bellagio, Varenna, Mennazzo, among others.
Most tourists arrive and stay for a day which allows you to visit some of the towns and attractions but if you really want to experience the lake, a 2-3 day stay is recommended.
The tricky part
If you're going to a specific town in the area and you are trying to explain where you're going or need assistance, make sure you name the town itself instead of just saying Como or Lake Como. There are 32 towns in the vicinity of the lake so it's always a good idea to be clear with your exact destination.
The best times to visit are after the high season, September to October, when the temperature is not so hot and the crowds have gone down. If you go after that, from November to March, you may encounter a lot of businesses and attractions closed as well as limited transportation.
Getting to Lake Como
You would normally get there from Milan, it takes about 1 to 2 hours depending on the type of transportation. Trains, buses, and car rentals are available.
There is also the possibility to travel from Bergamo if you are already in that region, in that case, the town of Lecco is closer so it would make a lot more sense to go there first instead of Como.
If you are going directly to Bellagio, for example, you can take a train to Varenna and travel by ferry across the lake.
There are different options to get to different towns by train and then ferry without the need of passing through Como if your objective is to reach a specific town. But if you go there to sightsee and experience the attractions, head straight to Como or Lecco.
The Frugal Option
The best option is to fly to Milan Malpensa airport, where many companies operate, including some low-cost ones such as Ryanair or EasyJet. If you are already in Bergamo, it's best if you take a train straight to Lecco.
From Milan to Como Take a train to Como San Giovanni station from Garibaldi, Centrale, or Nord Cadorna stations. From Milan Malpensa airport you can take a train from the stations in either terminal to Saronno station, then you have to change trains and take the one heading to Como Nord Lago station.
From Milan to Varenna and then Bellagio Take a train to Varenna-Esino station from Centrale station. You can take a ferry from Varenna and continue to Bellagio.
Train from Milan to Como (One way) 4.80€. Departs Milan starting at 6:30 AM every hour until 9:30 PM
Train from Bergamo to Lecco (One way) 3.60€. Departs Bergamo starting at 8 AM every two hours until 8 PM
Trains from Milan to Varenna (One way) 6.70€. Departs Milan starting at 6 AM every hour until 8 PM
Ferry from Varenna to Bellagio (One way) 4.60€. Departs Varenna at 6:30 AM every 30-45 min. until 9 PM
Private Transfer Options
We found the following options for private transport. Please note that prices are estimates and may vary:
- Private van for 4 passengers, 4 large bags, $91 (Mozio)
- Sedan for 4 passengers, 3 large bags $125 (Mozio)
- Uber Black for 4 passengers, 2 large bags, starts at €148 (Uber)
- Private taxi for 4 passengers, 3 large bags, starts at €85.
The Mozio Recommendation
The most practical way to travel to the region is by train, both in terms of comfort and price but if you are part of a large group and need to stay together, it's best to book a private transfer and have the driver pick you up from your accommodation or the airport and take you straight to your exact destination.
Getting AROUND Lake Como
If your main objective is to visit as many towns as possible, your best option is to use the ferry service. You can purchase a day pass and get off at the towns you're most interested in visiting and get back on the ferry once you're ready.
If you are only interested in relaxing in one town and maybe visiting a couple more, using public transportation is best. If you are confident driving, a car rental is a good option if you want to drive around and have a parking space where to leave your car overnight, otherwise parking is a bit hard to find, especially during high season.
The Frugal Option
Buses around the lake: ASF Autolinee has regular bus services around the lake, departing from Piazza Matteotti's bus station. Main routes include Como to Colico (€6.20, for two hours, three to five times a day), through all the villages on the western shore, and Como to Bellagio (€3.40, for 70 minutes, departs every hour). Services start at around 5 AM until around 10 PM daily. Tickets can be bought directly from with a credit card or on the bus with cash or a bus pass.
Ferry service around the lake: Ferries and hydrofoils traverse across the lake, year-round from the jetty at the north end of Piazza Cavour. These services are operated by Navigazione Lago del Como, from around 7 AM until around 8 PM. Tickets can be purchased near the dock of almost any town, look for the ticket offices or online. People with disabilities can buy theirs on board.
Slow ferries (passengers only) operate two main routes: Como-Colico: stops at each town from southwest to the north (including Bellagio and Varenna). Lecco-Bellagio (only during summer): only serves towns in the southeastern branch of the lake.Travel times are 1-2 hours depending on the destination.
Day pass prices: Normal fare Adult 28.00 €, Senior fare 22.40 €, Children (age 4 - 11) 14.00 €.
Regular ferry single fares start at 2.50 € (Como–Cernobbio) to 12.60 € (Como–Lecco or Como–Gravedona). Multiply by two to get the price of the return fare.
Hydrofoil fast services (fast ferry, passengers only): Travel times are 25 minutes to 1 hour depending on the destination.Add 1.40 € to 4.90 €, depending on the route.
Large ferry (can transport passengers and bicycles, motorcycles and cars): Connects the towns of Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio. Fares range from 5.60 € to 39.20 € depending on the type/size of the vehicle which includes one passenger plus a vehicle.
Train service: There's a train line that runs on the Eastern side of the lake from Lecco to Colico and stops at different stations along the route. One way costs 4 €. Trains run from around 6 AM to 10 PM Tickets can be bought at the station using cash or credit card, or directly from with credit card.
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Car Rental Options
Renting a car is easy in Italy, your best option is to get one at Malpensa airport and drive to Como. You can also rent one in Como or Lecco. There are lots of options ranging from the usual international franchises (Hertz, Europcar, Avis, Budget, etc.) as well as local companies.
Finding parking spots in the different villages around the lake can be quite difficult, especially during high season, weekends, and holidays. In towns like Bellagio or Como there is usually no free parking, although the blue areas cost between 1€ and 1.50€ an hour.
Best option for pickup/dropoff at Milan Malpensa airport: Sicily by Car, starting at 7.92€ per day (without add-ons) for a sedan Ford Fiesta, with a capacity of 5 passengers. Pickup/dropoff from Milan Malpensa airport.
Best option for pickup from Milan Malpensa airport and drop off in Como: Hertz, starting at 118.21 € per day (without add-ons) for a compact sedan Fiat 500, with a capacity of 4 passengers. Pickup in Milan from any of their locations, drop off at their Como Piazzale San Gottardo branch.
Day Trips Around Lake Como
Arrive by train, private transfer or car rental from Milan, then take a 20-minute walk to the 'funicolare' (cable railway) which will take you to the top of mount Brunate for spectacular views of the Alps and the lake.
Varenna and Bellagio
Arrive by train to Varenna from Milan, then walk for 10 minutes to the lake promenade. Once you get there, find the walkway to take a ferry across to Bellagio.
In Bellagio, the town center of Bellagio has one main road, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, from there you can walk to Punta Spartivento which is the top of the town, it shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes. There are also many shops and restaurants around this street but you can also walk around and check other attractions such as the Mausoleum for Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli and the Museum of Navigational Instruments and Church of San Giovanni, all located in the vicinity of via Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Arrive by train from Bergamo or by ferry from Como. Once there, you can walk to the Basilica of St. Nicholas and through Pescarenico along the water, then reach the Isola Viscontea. This walk is very scenic and will take you around 60 minutes if you stop to take pictures and visit shops.
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