An exciting destination in Italy is Lake Como and the wonders along its shores. The lake offers its visitors fishing villages, magnificent villas full of history, breathtaking landscapes, suggestive corners to renew love promises, and unique weather conditions that allow the practice of a multitude of water sports.
For centuries, Lake Como has been one of the favorite destinations for exclusive and international tourism. Today, Lake Como attracts more and more visitors eager to immerse themselves in an atmosphere of great beauty.
Gardens and woods; inlets and valleys; the blue of the lake and the green of the vegetation; prestigious villas and medieval towns: Lake Como is one of the wonders of northern Italy, a destination for many years now for international tourism. Over time, numerous celebrities from the entertainment world have bought here a house or habitually come on holiday, especially actors (George Clooney) and sportspeople. Below, we see together the main attractions of the area starting with the main city of the same name.
Things to Do in Lake Como
The City of Como
If you wish to visit Lake Como, you can start your tour from Como, the city that gives its name to the lake, with its valuable monuments, the charming old town, and the picturesque views.
Among the most beautiful and ancient places of Como, there is undoubtedly Piazza del Duomo, with its beautiful Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, one of the most beautiful monuments of northern Italy. Begun in 1396, the Cathedral was completed in 1740 with the elevation of the great Baroque dome designed by the architect Filippo Juvarra. The church’s interior is in Gothic style and preserves numerous works of art.
Next to the Cathedral, we find the elegant arches of the Palazzo del Broletto, the fifteenth-century municipal building, creating one of Como’s most evocative views. Currently, the Palazzo del Broletto, owned by the city, is home to art exhibitions and congresses. The old Civic Tower is set against the building, whose bells were once used to gather the citizens in front of the town hall.
You reach the nearby Piazza Verdi from the Cathedral with its Teatro Sociale, a meeting place for music and entertainment lovers. The theater was built in the neoclassical style in the nineteenth century and every year offers to visitors a rich season of opera and prose.
Another important and beautiful church to visit is the Basilica of Sant’Abbondio: a magnificent example of Lombard Romanesque architecture built at the end of the 11th century.
In Como we also find the Tempio Voltiano, a building in the form of a neoclassical temple built on the lakefront to celebrate the figure and the work of the great physicist Alessandro Volta. The Museum was erected on the occasion of the first centenary of the death of the inventor of the battery (1927) to house inside heirlooms and instruments belonging to the scientist.
If you love breathtaking views and at the same time you are looking for a bit of refreshment, the perfect destination is Brunate, a village that dominates the city of Como and its lake from above.
The funicular that connects Como to the village of Brunate was inaugurated in 1894 and allows you to enjoy a broad view of the city of Como and the lake.
Brunate has been for many years a holiday destination for the Milanese upper-middle class for the beauty of the view it offers, for its quiet and the cool of its nights. The splendor of that period is admiring the structure of the former Hotel Milano on the top of the hill and its liberty villas.
To reach Brunate, it is advisable to park your car in Como and take the funicular to enjoy the beauty of the lake from all different altitudes. The ascent takes about 15 minutes.
Bellagio, also known as the “pearl of the lake,” is a charming town known for its enchanting position and the characteristic old town; Bellagio stands on the tip of the peninsula that divides the lake into the two branches of Como and Lecco. Colored houses, picturesque alleys, characteristic stairways, ancient churches make the old Borgo a place of great charm. Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, noble and wealthy Lombards built luxurious villas in which famous Italians and foreigners found hospitality.
Villa Carlotta is located in Tremezzo, in the province of Como, and overlooks the lake, just in front of Bellagio, from which it can be reached by motorboat. The Villa’s view and Italian gardens are truly remarkable; it is no coincidence that many marriages are celebrated here, on the lake’s terrace. Villa Carlotta welcomes visitors with its magnificent botanical park and its rooms full of art masterpieces.
Villa del Balbianello
Villa del Balbianello is located on top of a terraced garden and overlooks Lake Como on the promontory of Lenno in Tremezzina. It was built towards the end of the XVIII century on the remains of a Franciscan convent, of which the façade of the ancient Church remains. They are part of it: the Villa, the Loggia, the Library, the Hall of Primitives, the Museum of expeditions, and the park garden. In addition to the magnificent garden, the Villa and the annexed buildings are home to a rich artistic and historical heritage.
In Dongo, you can visit the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime, built in the 16th century, together with the Romanesque parish church of Santo Stefano with its interior with three naves and three apses and embellished with 16th-century frescoes. Also worth a visit is the church of Santa Maria, built in the XI century, and the Palazzo Manzi, located in the town square, the current seat of the Municipality.
But Dongo is also famous for being where Mussolini was arrested at the end of the Second World War. So a museum has been set up in Palazzo Manzi to remember and document these events.
The only island of Lake Como, the Comacina isle, is a small green jewel surrounded by the lake’s waters, where history, nature, and art intertwine.
Fortified citadel (first Roman then Byzantine), among the “treasures” of the islet we find the ruins of the magnificent Romanesque church of Sant’Eufemia and the three Houses for Artists realized between the years 1936-40 in Rationalist style on the example of Le Corbusier, designed to host internationally renowned artists in search of inspiration for short periods.
Fortress “Aldo Lusardi” al Montecchio Nord di Colico
Built between 1911 and 1914, the Forte Montecchio Nord is the only Italian military Fortress of the Great War. It has still preserved its original armament and is one of the best-preserved in Europe. The historical complex of the Fortress, well-integrated in the Northern Frontier Defensive System, the so-called “Cadorna Line,” is entirely excavated in the rock and is characterized by massive walls in white granite, with numerous environments and underground walkways, including a deep powder magazine over 60 meters.
Lake Como Greenway
Those who love walking or cycling cannot miss the Greenway, an 11.5 km route to discover the villages on the lakeside.
The Greenway starts from Colonno and arrives between Cadenabbia and Menaggio, passing through Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, Tremezzo, and Griante. On the way, you can admire medieval villas, churches, museums, and towers. One of the stops on the route is the famous Villa Carlotta, famous for its botanical park and the impressive art collection inside.
The Path of the Wanderer (Sentiero del Viandante)
The path of the Viandante is a hiking route of about 40 km, which runs along the eastern shore of Lake Como. The trail begins in Abbadia Lariana and touches several towns (Mandello del Lario, Varenna, Bellano, Dervio, Colico) to get to Piantedo. Being very long, it must be done in stages. Depending on the level of training, the route can be divided into 3 or 4 stages. Thanks to the frequent intersections between the route and the Lecco-Colico railway line, it is possible to return to the starting point by train. The path, passable in all seasons, does not require special equipment.
Read also: Best Restaurants in Lake Como.