Often considered the most beautiful lake in Italy, Lake Como sits just 50 miles (83 kilometers) north of Milan, and boasts fjord-like scenery, pastel-colored towns, Belle Epoque-era villas, lush gardens, and a host of outdoor adventures. If you’re here for just a day, here’s how to experience its highlights.
Morning: Exploring the Lake
Most visitors travel around Lake Como by ferry: boats flit regularly between the key towns, including Como, Bellagio, Lenno, Varenna, and Tremezzo. If you prefer touring with a guide without the hassle of arranging ferry tickets, choose a tour of the lake’s highpoints in one stress-free day: visiting places such as Varenna and Bellagio, riding a boat on the lake, and exploring the 18th-century Villa Balbianello—a shoot location on the James Bond movie, Casino Royale. Other options—ideal for discovering Como’s charms if you’re staying outside region—include convenient day trips to the lake from places such as Milan, Stresa, and Switzerland.
Afternoon: Add a Twist
If you didn’t join a full-day trip this morning, use this afternoon to add a twist or extra focus to your explorations—tours and activities depart from, and operate in, many towns. Join a walking or Segway tour around the sights of the lakeside Como; sample locally produced wines on a wine-tasting tour, or catch a different view of the lake by renting a kayak. If you’re a foodie, choose one of the many local culinary tours, perhaps sampling north-Italian specialities such as proscuitto and olive oils, or learning to make staples such as fresh pasta during a cooking class.
Evening: Sunset Sights and Supper
As afternoon turns to evening, the setting sun bathes Lake Como in gold, making for an atmospheric finish to the day. Watch the sunset on a cruise before savoring dinner at a lakeside restaurant as darkness cloaks the lapping waters. Or, end on a high note: on an early-evening helicopter tour. Rise into the sky and soar over the lake: gazing down on its celebrity villas, islands, and gardens, and admiring the snow-capped Italian Alps on the horizon—all in the light of sunset.