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Travel Guide to Lake Como Italy

Guide to Lake Como


I recently spent a week on Lake Como, Italy with my family. We visited Lake Como from Milan back in 2019 and I enjoyed it but didn’t fall in love with the towns we visited. Day trips to any region are hard to get the whole vibe of the area. I always recommend staying in an area overnight to enjoy the town like a local. My family booked one week in an Airbnb and my fiancé and I had an additional 3 days to explore somewhere else in Italy just the two of us. This post will highlight just the Lake Como travel guide portion and I will share more details on where we ended up next in another post.

How to Get to Lake Como

We took a direct flight from Chicago to Milan. There is a train from Milano Centrale station to Lake Como. The town of Como is the largest town and there are many smaller towns around the lake. George Clooney has helped make this a popular destination, especially in the summer months. We flew with my dad which made 3 of us and we met my sister, kids, and mom which were a family of 5. We felt it was best and easiest to book a car transfer directly to our house rental. I found our car rental through a google search and he ended up being fantastic. My sister and brother-in-law ironically booked the same service without telling us and arrived just seconds before us in another car. It couldn’t have been better timing. We felt this was the easiest way to get directly to our house from the airport.

The driver is named Paolo via Lake Como Transfers, I connected with him via What’s app and gave him our flight information, and paid directly through a website. He was there on time to pick us up and also was kind enough to stop for a coffee on the drive and we picked up a few essentials for the house. We ended up using Paolo again to take us back to the airport at the end of our trip. It was around 200 euros for 4 people.

Tremezzo, Italy

The views from Milan to Lake Como were incredible on the drive and it got me excited that we were staying here for a week. We stayed in a town called Tremezzo. It was a perfect base for exploring the area. We rented a house via Airbnb that was high up on a hill with spectacular views and a pool. We loved watching the kids in the pool, seeing the mountains in the background, and the lake views all from the house. The house was the perfect place for our family of 8. There was no central air but tons of windows all around to let the breeze in.

The house was situated on olive groves and had enough room for the kids to run around at night playing tag and getting any additional energy out.

Each morning, my fiancé and I would wake up early and walk into the town center for a coffee at a local spot. We sat outside on the terrace people watching and listening to the Italians greet each other. My Italian is rusty from my study abroad in Florence in college and this was a good reminder that I should start to brush up on my language skills as we want to return again next year. There was a small grocery across from coffee that we would pop into to grab food for the house. The kids needed milk, snacks, and fresh fruit was a daily purchase. We also found the most amazing bread shop just a few doors down. We were able to buy fresh pasta, biscotti, and focaccia here daily. This spot was a highlight of our trip and I miss it. They didn’t speak English and it took some pointing and hand gestures. The fresh gnocchi was incredible as was everything we bought here. Pane de Maria is the little spot. They were sold out of croissants by 8 am so go early!

Our house was equipped with everything we needed to cook meals which were helpful. Reservations for 8 people proved to be a challenge as it has been in the past. We were able to find some spots but didn’t plan well enough in advance. Smaller parties are much easier to book reservations.

We were able to take day trips with my whole family via boat ferry from the base of Tremezzo to different towns on the lake. The ferry is a great way to visit the small towns on the lake and the most cost-efficient. This required us to walk about 15 minutes up and down the hill. With aging parents and small kids, this took a little patience and extra time. Plus, the heat was brutal in the summer so plan accordingly. We took a photo of the ferry schedule that was posted which made it easy to navigate timing. There were some private boat rentals but most of them were booked before we arrived and we hadn’t narrowed down any schedule or itinerary before we were all together. I followed Como Classic Boats on Instagram for a while before traveling to Como. I can’t endorse them since we didn’t use them, but they looked to be the best option and what we would have wanted to use if we had the chance. If you are looking for a private boat tour of Lake Como this is worth looking into.

We visited Villa Carlotta a villa which was close to the house we rented. The gardens were beautiful and there was a great bar/restaurant just off of the main house which was perfect for a cocktail or iced tea at the end of the day. We decided to use this spot for a rainy day. It ended up clearing up nicely and we were able to enjoy the view. The kids had a great time running around the grounds that were not busy and my parents enjoyed the beauty of the gardens and the house. It was a well-balanced family activity. The lush gardens were a perfect escape from the heat and plenty of places to sit along the way.

Mor Lake Como

If you are a couple or single and looking for a fun people-watching experience, Mor Lake Como is a great option. We walked here with the kids one day after finding it on Instagram. I didn’t realize it was more of a party scene than a kid-friendly activity. We had lunch by the pool and ended up getting sun beds for the afternoon. It was pricey and I think we regret getting beds when we had a house with a pool. It was very quiet the day we were there but the waitress warned us that it is usually packed. The best part was the view from the pool of Bellagio. There was a pool section with beds and a small section with sand. The kids really wanted to go for a dip in Lake Como and that is what we thought we were going to do with beach access. This was a brand new property that is still being built. The food was really good and fresh. We all enjoyed our meal but again, it was pricier than we had planned.


Green Belt

Another family-friendly activity we enjoyed was hiking the Green Belt. We all did this together from the house and followed the Green Belt signs. It is a large hike that covers different towns in Como. It was hot and we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. I forgot my hat at the house but we had plenty of sunscreen and water. My niece and nephew, age 5 and 8 loved finding the green markers along the way and they made a game out of it. We stopped for gelato and a walk along the lake in Lenno. The gelato spot was La Fabbrica Del Gelato and they had so many flavors to choose from. Everyone was happy!

My fiancé and I stopped at Bar Roma on the way back up the hill for olives and a negroni.

Where to Eat and Drink in Lake Como

Grand Hotel Tremezzo is one of the grand hotels on the Italian lakes. My family encouraged my fiancé and me to have a date night cocktail here after dinner one night. It was on my bucket list of places to visit while in Como after discovering them while researching the area. We had incredible views of the lake while enjoying live music and a great cocktail. They brought little chocolates over to our table to enjoy with our drink but I requested olives (salty over sweet) and we enjoyed chips and olives with our negronis. It is an ideal spot for a date night and worth visiting. It was a favorite place of the trip for sure.

They also have a beautiful pool and pizza spot for lunch. Check the hours as they close early if you are wanting to do an early dinner or late lunch. You can message them directly via email or Instagram for reservations. We went ahead and walked in and put our name for a later date with 8 people. We had a lovely table with a view of the pool. The property is really stunning and if it is in your budget, worth checking out for a stay. We loved our pizza and I was able to take my niece to watch them make the pizzas in the outdoor oven. She said it was one of the coolest experiences seeing our food get made and delivered to the table. (easy to please) She got a kid’s pizza, fries, and smoothie and loved it all. The whole family was a big fan of this meal and was one of the best places we ate. It was relatively reasonable in price in comparison to other restaurants we ate for meals. We would return here in a heartbeat. The afternoon felt like one big dream. We all walked out of the hotel and took in the view from the open balcony at the front of the hotel. The balcony had beautiful views of Lake Como.

Restaurant La Punta This is where we at in Bellagio and loved it. More on that below.

Ristorante La Darsena We ate there the first night and we were lucky to get a table of 8 at the last minute. They had a beautiful terrace overlooking the water and a side patio. We were not lucky enough to score an outside table but got a table next to the window. It ended up pouring down rain during our dinner and there was a lovely rainbow outside the window which we could see. My nephew was completely jet lagged from traveling and fell asleep at the table for the whole meal. My niece age 8 did a great job making conversation and being patient during our dinner. There was a tiny table and balcony which was a little sweetheart table overlooking the water just next to our table. If you are making a reservation for two in advance, I would ask for this table 😉

Pane de Maria our local bakery for focaccia and fresh pasta. They have great croissants but they go quickly in the morning.

Casa Aquadulza was a close walk to Grand Hotel Tremezzo and was a hidden gem. We arrived just as they opened and were able to get a seat outside for 8 people. They warned us of possible rain and encouraged us to eat inside but we took the risk. We had blue skies the whole meal. The pizza is traditional Roman-style pizza and in a rectangular instead of a circle and thicker crust. Some of the group got pizzas while others got pasta. My mom had the burger which she said was amazing. We really loved this spot and wanted to go back again on our last night. It was that good!

Ali di Alice is the one spot we missed out on which we really could have made a reservation. It is the most beautiful space. We walked here from our Vrbo rental which was up in the hill. It is farm-to-table with a stunning garden courtyard with string lights. We tried to make a reservation in person but 8 people were too much and they were closed for a private party on our last day. Try to call and make a reservation if you will be here. It looks incredible.

Bellagio

Bellagio is just a quick boat ride away from Tremezzo for a day trip and is one of the most popular destinations in this area. It is one of the main towns to visit in Lake Como. One thing to note, you will most likely be out in the hot sun when traveling by boat in the summer. Don’t forget the sunscreen and hat. There was a market across the street from the boat dock that sold water for a euro which saved us multiple times. Carrying a refillable water bottle is a great idea and eco-friendly. Masks are still required on the boat even if you are sitting outside. Hold onto your ticket as you board the boat. It can get busy with it being high season for tourism, make sure to keep an eye on little ones as they go on and off the boat.

We explored the town of Bellagio but continued to walk a bit away from the main square and up the hills. We had bookmarked a few restaurants in a family google map but ended up finding a gem at the top of the hill with a great view of the water at Restaurant La Punta. It isn’t highly rated on google but we really enjoyed the atmosphere and food. There was also a park just below our table which made it easy for kids to run around between courses and was a good option for our family. Italian service is slower and at a European pace so just come prepared with activities for little ones. We loved our meal and would highly recommend visiting this spot. They had a huge terrace and were able to accommodate a family of 8 outside. We all got plates of pasta. I had a ravioli with brown butter sage sauce that I still dream about and my brother-in-law got pesto which was incredible. For kids, on the menu, there is typically a tomato sauce and pasta or gnocchi. My nephew got gnocchi with butter and we kept stealing bites because he wasn’t into it but we all loved it.

I ordered the ravioli with brown butter sage sauce. So good!

Each region of Italy is known for different types of Italian cuisine. Northern Italy where we were based in Como was famous for focaccia and pesto.


I was trying to teach my nephew how to spell Gelateria so he would have a small project on our walks. We were recommended Gelateria del Borgo by our waiter and it did not disappoint. You will want to bookmark this one for your trip to Bellagio. It was a short walk from our lunch spot to gelato. The line was long but we found some shade which was a perfect spot to cool off before walking down to the center of town to catch the boat back.

Varenna

We took a day trip to Varenna, Italy with my family via boat which was one of the towns next to Bellagio. We took the ferry and explored. It is a small town and they are very limited on restaurants for lunch. We ended up taking a later boat and missed the first lunch seating and struggled to find a spot. It was hot and crowded. We did end up finding a spot but keep this in mind if you are planning to travel to Lake Como during peak season. You will have to be patient and plan ahead a bit when it comes to meals.

There was a beautiful walkway along the water and it was a bit of a hike to the center of town but a great view. It’s a great option if you have already been to Bellagio and want to see something different. If you have a ferry pass, you can easily get here by boat from Bellagio in 15 minutes.

If I didn’t mention a particular place by name of where we ate or stayed, it is because we didn’t love it enough to share. My family was very invested in what was important to share and what they loved. They had a lot of fun scoring particular places and giving their input.

I hope you enjoyed our lake Como itinerary and helps inspire your next trip to Italy. I am so happy our family took the opportunity to have this special vacation together. It was the ideal place to unwind and get the best of exploring small towns and have the escape and calmness of the house.

P.S. Don’t miss my post on what to pack for Italy in the summer

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  1. This was a wonderful description of your time at Lake Como. Thanks for going into so much detail I’ve wanted to go there for some years, and have yet to make it. Every picture made me want to hop on a plane to Milan. Glad you and family had such a grand time

  2. This takes me back to the couple of days I spent in the area on a two month backpacking trip I did. We did stay in Varenna, right by the ferry dock. I was able to see the lake from bed (a very uncomfortable bed so I was awake a lot of the night!) and it was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever had. I like the idea of going back for a full week with a group.