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The road from Milan to Lake Como is an extremely easy one. If you’re looking to visit Lake Como and coming from any city south of the lake, you’ll most likely be connecting in Milan and then continuing your journey to Lake Como. That’s what I had to do after spending two days in Florence, but I digress.
Lake Como is truly a hidden gem of Northern Italy and gets over 8 million fewer tourists than Milan every year. I guess that’s good if we want this gem to stay hidden. However, if you’re one of the smarter ones looking to check out this majestic town, keep reading.
Milan to Lake Como
Catching the Train
I highly recommend catching the train from Milan to Lake Como as it’s a straight shot. It only takes 33 minutes! By the time you get your luggage situated and find your seat, you’ll practically already be there.
Head to Milano Centrale railway station to either purchase your ticket or book it online. I bought my ticket through raileurope.com and because I was coming from Florence, it was $40 one way. It should be much cheaper for the half hour ride from Milan to Lake Como. Tickets should run you $16.
Driving to Lake Como
If you put “Lake Como” into your gps then the drive from Milan is 1 hour and 15 minutes. However, if you simply type in “Como” then the ride should be 40 minutes without traffic. That’s not the worst of road trips, but it doesn’t seem worth it to me when you can catch a 30 minute train ride. In fact, the only plus side to driving is if you 1. are staying somewhere with free parking and 2. want to drive all around the lake on your own. Now that I understand.
Things to Do in Lake Como
Take a Day Trip to Bellagio
Bellagio is one of the many towns nestled along Lake Como and is to the north of Como. It’s filled with cobblestoned streets, villas, and luxury hotels. There are plenty of restaurants to try, some of which have stunning lake views.
You can take this luxury bus trip straight from Milan to Bellagio to see everything that Lake Como has to offer. Explore Como, Bellagio, and Madonna Del Ghisallo all in a day trip before returning back to Milan. The best part is that you’ll reach Bellagio by boat, and not bus like I did. The winding roads of that journey felt a lot like riding on a bus along the Amalfi Coast and if you’re prone to motion sickness, bring any wrist bands or medication you may need.
If you’re like me and already in Como, you can take a boat or a bus to Bellagio on your own. Luckily I was staying within walking distance of the Como S. Giovanni train station and the bus straight to Bellagio leaves from there. The bus takes 1 hour and 9 minutes and is scenic but makes more stops than I’d want to ride through. Also be sure to get back on the bus where you got off as one stop afterwards tends to be very crowded. Getting on there will mean you risk standing up for the entire journey
Como is one of those places where you can get off of the train and have no clue what to do. And that’s why I recommend a walking tour of the town. This particular tour is only two hours so it won’t take up a chunk of your day. On it you get to follow a local guide around the Old Town of Como and learn the city’s medieval and Roman history. You also get to check out neighborhoods and streets that you probably wouldn’t come across otherwise.
Como was the perfect city to bike around. However, when you’re biking for a few hours, some assistance in the form of an electric bike is much appreciated. This three hour tour takes you around town with a guide and the best part is that you don’t have to keep up with the guide to hear what’s going on. The guide is electronic! Your bike is equipped with an iPad mini and bluetooth headphones so that you can follow along at your own pace.
I always recommend a cooking class or food tour to those traveling to new destinations. If you can do both, then go for that. This particular cooking class comes highly recommended and takes place in the home of a local. You get to learn to make local dishes before devouring them and washing it down with wine or your beverage of choice.
I honestly feel that the best way to experience Lake Como is by boat. Maybe it’s because I love the water but it’s probably due to the fact that there is no traffic or winding roads. You can choose a half or full day tour complete with Prosecco and snacks. I’d book this tour in the warmer months especially for the swimming aspect. Enjoy sailing around the eastern side of the lake while taking in those mountain views.
One reason I love food tours is because I get to mix stuffing my face with yummy food and history. Plus you’re walking off all the carbs you get to devour. This particular food tour takes you around the Old Town of Como and allows you to sample food sourced from both the mountains and sea. Food tours tend to give a history of the food and why the people of the area eat it. That’s why one should be on everyones list of things to do.
Where to Stay in Lake Como
I highly recommend staying in the town of Como, especially if you aren’t driving. This puts you in close proximity to the train station and main areas of the town filled with food and shopping. It’s also a great place to catch a bus to another town, the train to another country (hello Switzerland), or the ferry to other towns.
Lake Como Luxury Hotels
- Vista Palazzo
- Grand Hotel Tremezzo
- Villa Fiordaliso (Villa)
- Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como
- Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni
Hostels in Lake Como
- Lake Como Beach Hostel Bar & Restaurant
- Ostello Bello Lake Como – This is where I stayed and it came with a complimentary happy hour beverage, free breakfast, a kitchen with free items such as veggies, fruits, and pasta, and FREE portable wifi. I highly recommend and would stay here again.
- Lake Como Youth Hostel La Primula, Menaggio
- Hostel Park Monte Barro
- Lake Como Peace Lodge