My fascination with lakes started when I visited Japan a few years ago. I discovered that when you like travelling solo, a visit to a lake gives you a feeling of serenity and calmness, a place to breathe and a place to appreciate life.
Lake Como earned fame as home to Hollywood star George Clooney but I learned about Lake Como more than 10 years ago from a famous Filipino movie ‘Milan’. I also became more interested after another famous Filipino movie ‘Imagine Me and You’ was filmed in Lake Como.
But celeb-spotting aside, the jaw-dropping natural beauty, elegant old villas—and the scenic towns surrounding the lake is something you wouldn’t want to miss. It is the perfect place for those who wish to relax, take romantic walks and be inspired by it’s charm.
Located in Lake Como are 3 scenic popular towns which you can check out – Varenna, Bellagio, and Menaggio, which offer great views, historic churches, and water-based activities such as ferries and passenger-only boats. In these 3 towns, I imagined myself being in a Hollywood movie, going back to Medieval times, eloping with James Bond, falling in love with a rich Korean chaebol, getting married in a town church, having my own mansion with a lake view. Crazy as it may sound, it was A wanderlust trip on my birthday!
I will talk about the basics first as if you want to be in Lake Como, you have to know how to get there lol
How to get to Lake Como
You can reach Como from different directions, depending from where you are coming from. If you are coming from another European City, you can book your ticket to Milan via Vueling Airlines, a budget airline based in Europe. You can sometimes book a flight for less than 30 Euros, depending upon the season. To book, click the photo 🙂
From Milan Malpensa Airport (21.7km) – you can take a train from Terminal 1 and go down to Saronno train station (20 minutes) then you have to change and take the train which heads to Como Lago (15-20 minutes). Ticket price for both routes is €9.90 (€7 for Malpensa Express and €2.90 for the Saronno – Como route). Note that if your plane lands at Malpensa Terminal 2, you can rely on a shuttle service that will lead you directly to the departure platform.
From Milan Linate Airport – you can take a bus which connects the airport to Milan central station in 15 minutes. From there, you can to go to Como by train. You can buy your ticket on board at the price of €5.
To book your flight, check at Airfarewatchdog.
To book your train ticket, click the link below to check fares and promos.
One way ticket is 9 Euros and Return is 14 Euros
Across Como Station, you can take a bus or a ferry going to your hotel. I booked my hostel in Menaggio so I took bus no. 10. Como Lago Station to Menaggio is 1 1/2 hour. Please ask the driver to let you know when you will be going down as the bus stop signs are not very visible.
I would however recommend taking a train from Milano Malpensa airport to Milano Centrale and then change trains at San Giovanni Station to Varenna Station. From Varenna, you can take a ferry ride to Belaggio or Menaggio. then you can take a ferry to Belagio or Menaggio.
Varenna Esido Perledo Station
I was literally fascinated when I saw the train tunnel in Varenna. It was like a scene from an old 30’s movie flick with the line…
Do you know that they still use an old bell to announce that the train is approaching.
Where to Stay
I travelled alone and it was a last minute trip aso I just booked a bed in a hostel (which I usually do) in Menaggio through Hostel World. My bed in a 6 bedroom dorm cost me only 22 Euros and as usual, I was alone in the room…lucky!
Check out these sites to book your stay:
Riding a ferry is the easiest way to go from one town to another. You can check the timetable in the station or online at this link Navigazione Laghi. I paid 8 Euros for 3 stops – Varenna-Bellagio and back to Menaggio. If you are renting a car and you would like to go to another town in Como, you can also use the ferry.
A quiet picturesque town in Lake Como, I stayed here during my trip. It is located at the foot of Val Menaggio, the valley that connects Menaggio to Porlezza.
If only I can wake up to this view everyday
The town literally gives you the meaning of a ‘much needed vacation’ where all you have to do is sit back, relax enjoy the views…and drink hot chocolate!
The best thing to explore the town is to walk or to rent a boat. I travelled alone to Lake Como so I took more photos of the view than myself in it. I also just kept walking the whole day and stop for coffee.
No, not a painting
like a house from a storybook
In Via Calvi, you will find the Church of Santa Marta, which you will find in the middle of the street. Take some time to visit the interior of the church, and admire the interesting paintings that date back to the 17th century. You will also find small shops of craftsmen and retailers who sell local products such as shoes, clothes, accessories and wooden home decor.
Lovers in Como
There are a couple of coffee shops overlooking the lake
Do you love the contrast?
Walk along Viale Benedetto Castelli after coffee
Continue walking the narrow Via Strecioum and get to one of the most picturesque bridges over the Senagra Stream. The sound of the waterfall below made me stay for more than 30 minutes. On the bridge you will find a bas-relief by Vannuccini, as well as a chapel that is dedicated to the Madonna di Caravaggio (the apparition of the Virgin Mary in Caravaggio, Lombardy, in 1432).
had my all time favorite vongole and white wine for dinner!!
Varenna is one of the best preserved medieval centers of the entire lake area, with its charming, steep cobblestone streets, porticos and historic churches.
I couldn’t deny that I was really stunned when I saw this view. I have more than 100 photos of this view on my phone.
For me, Lake Como is Varenna. I call it the jewel of Lake Como. If I am going back to Lake Como, I am going to book a hotel in this town.
Piazza San Giorgio is the town center of Varenna and home to the Church of San Giorgio, a church built in the 14th Century with a style somewhere between gothic and romanesque. The bell tower of the church is what makes Varenna more beautiful from all angles. I lived in a city all my life so the charm of town churches fascinates me. If you visit inside, you will have the chance to see many works from the late 15th and 16th century, in addition to the furnishings, which date back to the 17th-18th century.
Riva Grande, the lakeside promenade in the center of the old borgo of Varenna is lined with restaurants, bars and shops. You will come across a walkway that leads to the boat landing, where boats and ferries keep coming and going.
The southern part of Varenna leads you to Villa Monastero which has a beautiful botanical garden. I felt like James Bond was somewhere in the garden, relaxing and waiting for his private boat. I was also daydreaming that it was my garden and Ethan Hawke was there, like the scene in the movie Great Expectations as weddings are also held at this place and they told me it gets busy when there are conferences. The Villa is open from March to November only.
You will find a museum inside called Casa Museo, a museum that gathers four centuries of history. I am a fan of the medieval era so I enjoyed looking around. I started daydreaming again like I was drinking tea from a dainty cup, wearing medieval era fashion. I think travelling alone takes always takes you to a different world.
Adjacent to Villa Monastero, you will find a luxury hotel called Villa Cipressi. Walk another 10-15 minutes and you will get to Fiumilette where you will find a river that is refreshing to the eyes.
I ended my trip to Varenna with ice cream in La Pasarella. I forgot that it was my birthday so I told myself that I need to eat gelato even if it was cold.
If Varenna is the jewel of Lake Como, Bellagio is the pearl.
I walked to the right side after getting off the ferry, walked around and just enjoyed the beauty of the lake.
I walked back to check out the best thing you can do in Italy…Eat!
You need to go up to see more of Belaggio
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, is populated by a variety of shops where you can find, aside from local food, leather goods, clothing, perfumes, and much more. There are lovely cafes where you can relax and have a cup of latte.
Another Villa with a breathtaking lake view and picturesque garden is the Villa Melzi Gardens. The Villa is not open to the public but don’t worry because the garden is more than enough.
To go back to Varenna or Bellagio, you need to check the time table in the station. Boat usually comes every 20 minutes.
Now, imagining myself in my own boat 🙂