2 Perfect Days in Lake Como : Itineraries & tips
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There are some places in the world that make you feel like you are in paradise. Lake Como in Italy is one of those places that no words can describe. It is a top bucket list destination in Italy. We were fortunate enough to spend a week in this piece of heaven during our trip to Switzerland and Italy and absolutely loved it. I have curated TWO perfect itineraries on how to spend 2 days in Lake Como with lots of tips on travel, transportation and stays.
Nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps in Northern Italy, Lake Como (Lago di Como) is one of the most breathtaking destinations in the world. The picturesque towns and villages of Lake Como are some of the most beautiful places you will see in the world. There are many lakes like Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano in Northern Italy but Lake Como’s crystal-clear waters, charming villages, and surrounding mountains makes it one of the most stunning places in Italy. The natural beauty of Lake Como had attracted tourists and aristocracy for centuries now but it was recently made famous by celebrities like George Clooney (who owns a villa there) and villas that appeared in movies like James Bond’s Casino Royale and Star Wars. Lake Como also offers one of the best photo spots in Italy.
I’ve curated two itineraries to help you choose based on different travel preferences.
Table of Contents
2 DAYS IN LAKE COMO | Itineraries at a glance
LAKE COMO 2 DAY ITINERARY: Option 1
DAY 1 (Bellagio, Varenna and nearby villas):
Explore the picturesque towns of Bellagio and Varenna. Visit the beautiful Villa Melzi, Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi.
DAY 2 (Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo & Menaggio):
Visit the stunning Villa del Babianello in the morning. Explore the town of Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta in the afternoon and Menaggio for dinner.
LAKE COMO 2 DAY ITINERARY: Option 2
DAY 1 (Town of Como, Brunate Funiculaire, Villa del Babianello):
Visit the historic Como town center, take the Como Brunate funicular. Explore the stunning Villa del Babianello in the afternoon.
DAY 2 (Bellagio, Varenna and the villas nearby):
Visit the beautiful small towns of Bellagio, Varenna and visit the villas. Explore Villa Melzi, Villa Monastero and Villa Carlotta.
Before we dive into detailed itineraries, here is everything you need to know about visiting Lake Como.
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PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO LAKE COMO
What is the best time to visit Lake Como?
The best time to visit Lake Como is March through October. Most of the villas are open during this time and the main towns are bustling with people. Summer months of June, July and August are the peak season. March and April tend to be rainy and chilly. Our personal recommendation is to visit Lake Como in the shoulder season of May or September to avoid the peak summer heat and crowds. We spent a week in September and enjoyed the pleasant weather with fewer crowds.
With snow covered mountains as the backdrop, Lake Como would look amazing in the winter but it is usually quiet and many places including the villas are closed.
Are 2 days enough in Lake Como?
2 days in Lake Como would be perfect to visit the major attractions and get a feel of the area like Como city, the magnificent villas and beautiful towns like Bellagio and Varenna. If you are spending more than 3 days, you can even do a few day trips around Lake Como.
What is the best way to get to Lake Como?
Zurich airport in Switzerland is about 3.5hrs from Lake Como. We flew into Zurich and drove to Lake Como through Lucerne and Lake Lugano.
From Milan, the easiest way and best way to get to Lake Como is to take the train from Milano Centrale Station to Como Town. The train tickets can be bought at the ticket office or in advance online. The train ride takes about an hour. Como town center and the Cathedral are a short walk from the train station.
There is also a train from Milano Centrale to Varenna and takes about 1.5 hours. The ferry terminal in Varenna is about a kilometer from the train station.
From Zurich, direct train to Como City takes about 3.5 hours.
If you don’t want to bother with public transport after a long flight, you could either rent a car or choose private transfer for an extra cost.
Drive from Milan airport to Lake Como takes about 1hr – 1.5hrs, depending on where you are staying in Lake Como.
How to get around Lake Como?
Como city is well connected to the other villages and towns of Lake Como through ferries and bus service.
Ferry service runs regularly between Como town and the main towns. One-way, round trip or day trip tickets can be bought online or at the ticket office. Don’t worry if tickets are sold out online, you can still buy them at the ticket office in the ferry terminal.
The bus station in Como town is adjacent to the train station and the bus C10 takes you to towns on western shore like Tremezzo, Cernobbio, Cadenabbia, Menaggio. Bus C30 takes you directly to Bellagio. The ticket office is located in the bus station and is pretty easy to navigate.
TIP: If you are in doubt about bus service or stops, ask fellow passengers or driver before boarding. I made the mistake of taking a wrong bus that was going in a totally opposite direction. Luckily, I realized it after a few stops and hiked back. 🙂
Do you need a car in Lake Como?
As mentioned above, the area of Lake Como is very well connected through ferries, buses and taking a ferry is the best way to get around the main towns. Moreover, parking and driving through the streets of Lake Como can be a hassle. Even though we had a car in Lake Como, we barely drove it and relied only on the ferry and bus service during our stay.
Best places to stay in Lake Como
Choosing the best place to stay in Lake Como depends on your itinerary and where you’d like to base.
Como town in general has more options in the form of hotels and airbnbs.
But if you’d like to really experience the charm of Lake Como, you must stay in one of the best hotels of Bellagio or Tremezzo. These are some of the best hotels to stay in Lake Como.
We stayed in Grand Hotel Tremezzo and it was one of the best hotels we stayed in! We also loved that it is only a 5 minute walk from the ferry terminals and Villa Carlotta.
Is Lake Como kid-friendly?
Lake Como is for everyone and is definitely kid-friendly. Most restaurants accommodate kids, and the ferry rides are fun for little kids.
The hotel we stayed in had a playground and most hotels have a pool.
What to pack for Lake Como?
If you are planning to visit Lake Como in the summer or shoulder season, choose comfortable clothing for warm weather. Note that people in Lake Como are typically well dressed but you do you and choose whatever feels comfortable.
I recommend comfortable maxi or mini dresses, shorts for women and linen/cotton wear for men.
Things to note about Lake Como
Best places to see and best things to do in Lake Como
The history of the city of Como dates back to the Celts and Romans. It served as a center for trade and commerce during the reign of Roman Empire.
It was (and is) known for its quality silk and textiles. The textile industry was one of the reasons for Como’s prosperity during the medieval renaissance. During this time, the area of Lake Como saw construction of sprawling villas and impressive buildings by prominent architects.
As you can imagine based on its history, the city of Como is filled with lots of attractions so I suggest starting your day early.
Things to do in Como
Most beautiful villages of Lake Como
The small villages and towns of Lake Como are undoubtedly the Crown Jewels of Lake Como. These are the places you see plastered all over Instagram and Pinterest.
Most villages in Lake Como share a common history dating back to the Roman times and Renaissance period during the Middle Ages. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the small villages of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio gained popularity as resort towns for European aristocrats. The allure of being situated in a region known for its natural beauty and pleasant climate drew artists, writers, and travelers throughout the centuries. Today, the towns are known for their charming cobblestone streets, elegant villas, colorful homes and gardens. Each village has its own distinct character that attracts travelers to this region.
Take time to explore and stroll the narrow cobbled streets of Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio and Tremezzo.
Must visit Villas in Lake Como
The villas are something unique to Lake Como and some of the most beautiful buildings you will see. Take a tour of the most famous villas on the shores of Lake Como. There are many beautiful villas to choose from.
VILLA DEL BALBIANELLO, LENNO
If you can only see one villa during your 2 day in Lake Como, make it this villa! This is the most popular villa in all of Lake Como.
Villa del Balbianello’s origins can be traced to the late 18th century to Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, an influential figure in the Catholic Church who acquired the property in 1785. Under Durini’s ownership, the villa underwent extensive renovations, transforming it into the villa we see today. Villa del Balbianello has gained international fame for its appearances in several notable films, including James Bond’s “Casino Royale” and “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.”
The villa’s architectural beauty is a blend of Neoclassical and Romantic styles. Its terraced gardens, adorned with vibrant flowers, centuries-old trees, and meticulously sculpted hedges, offer a serene escape in Lake Como.
VILLA MELZI, BELLAGIO
Villa Melzi dates back to the early 19th century and was once the residence of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, the Vice President of the Italian Republic under Napoleon. The villa and its gardens are now open to the public. The well-manicured gardens are home to exotic plants, sculptures.
VILLA CIPRESSI, VARENNA
Villa Cipressi was a 12th century monastery, known as the Monastero di San Giorgio. It was originally inhabited by the Cistercian nuns. In the 19th century, Villa Cipressi was acquired by the De Marchi family, who further developed the villa’s gardens and added the neo-classical elements that can be seen today.
VILLA MONASTERO, VARENNA
Villa Monastero is another Cistercian nunnery called Monastero di Santa Maria that was later turned into a villa residence by the Mornico family. It is one of the most beautiful villas in Varenna.
VILLA CARLOTTA, TREMEZZO
Villa Carlotta is a gorgeous 17th century villa with the most stunning gardens and views of Lake Como. Explore the villa’s art collections and take a leisurely stroll through the gardens that feature azaleas, camellias, and towering trees.
VILLA OLMO, COMO
Villa Olmo is another neoclassical villa built in the early 1800s. Take a leisurely stroll of the gardens and explore the beautiful villa.
Other popular things to do in Lake Como
Best 2 day itinerary for your Lake Como visit
Lake Como area is vast and has quite a few places to see. It may not be possible to cover everything in two days so I have provided 2 different itineraries for you to choose from.
If you only have 2 days in Lake Como, you can either choose to explore Como town plus a few of the smaller towns and historic villas or visit most of the main attractions in the small towns and villas without Como town.
We have seen much of Lake Como during our week and based on personal preference, my recommendation is the latter itinerary covering the towns and villas. The small towns and villas are the most charming part of Lake Como and worth choosing over Como town for your 2 day itinerary of Lake Como.
On the other hand, if it is your first time in Italy, I suggest visiting Como town to get a feel of the Italian towns and spend the second day exploring the villas and small towns.
2 DAYS IN LAKE COMO – ITINERARY 1 (The Villages & Villas of Lake Como)
The picturesque Lake Como of Instagram and Pinterest
This 2 day itinerary of Lake Como starts in the town of Como on day 1 with a tour of Villa del Babianello in the afternoon. On day 2, explore the picturesque towns of Bellagio, Varenna and the villas nearby.
DAY 1 (Bellagio, Varenna)
Morning in Bellagio
Start your day with a tour of the picturesque Bellagio. Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the charming village, explore the boutique shops. Take a stroll along the narrow cobbled streets. Enjoy a gelato or cappuccino overlooking the lake.
Visit the nearby Villa Melzi and its stunning botanical gardens.
Stop by the Cathedral of Basilica di San Giacomo.
Walk to Punta Spartivento and indulge in a delicious lunch at Ristorante La Punta including fresh local fish.
Afternoon in Varenna
This idyllic small town with colorful homes, beautiful gardens and gorgeous promenade is one of the most beautiful places in Lake Como.
Take a stroll along the beautiful promenade at sunset and visit the 11th-century Church of San Giorgio, which features an impressive Romanesque bell tower.
Tour the gardens of Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero with stunning views of Lake Como.
Enjoy the most beautiful view of Varenna with an aperitivo at Bar Il Molo. Enjoy dinner in a cave at restaurant Osteria Quatro Pass. Make advanced reservations or line up early. We lined up just before they opened and got seated promptly. This is one of the best restaurants in Lake Como. The risotto and the fresh fish dishes are to die for!
DAY 2 (Villas & Menaggio, Tremezzo)
Start your morning at Villa del Balbianello
Take a ferry to Lenno and explore the incredible Villa del Babianello. This historic villa, surrounded by lush gardens, has been featured in several movies, including James Bond’s “Casino Royale” and Star Wars. Explore the villa’s interiors and gardens, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the lake from its terraces. This villa is one of the most stunning villas in Lake Como and is a must visit. Be sure to buy tickets in advance as they get sold out.
Afternoon in Tremezzo
After exploring the villa, head to Tremezzo, a small town on the western shore of Lake Como. Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a great place to have lunch in Tremezzo. Choose between pizza at the T Bar, lakeside dining at Da Giacomo al Lago or fine dining at La Terrazza Gualtiero Marchesi. We dined at all three and they were the best!
A short walk from Grand Hotel Tremezzo is Villa Carlotta, a gorgeous 17th century villa with the most beautiful gardens and view of Lake Como. Take a tour of the beautiful villa after lunch.
Dinner in Menaggio
Head to Menaggio, another beautiful town north of Tremezzo. The bus C10 takes you directly from Tremezzo or Como to Menaggio. Walk the beautiful lakeshore promenade and marina. Enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants in Piazza Roma and a gelato on your way back to the ferry.
2 DAYS IN LAKE COMO – ITINERARY 2 (Como City, Bellagio, Varenna)
DAY 1 (Town of Como & Villas)
Morning in the town of Como
Start your first day in the charming town of Como.
Ride the cable car and explore the historic Como town center. Visit the majestic Como Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta).
Take funiculare ride up to the Brunate viewpoint. It is one of the top things to do in Lake Como and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the lake, Como town and the surrounding mountains.
Head to one of the lakeside restaurants or cafes for a leisurely lunch. Enjoy local specialties like risotto al pesce persico (perch risotto) or pasta dishes with lake fish.
Afternoon tour of Villa del Balbianello
Spend your afternoon at Villa del Balbianello. Take a tour of the villa, gardens and the extraordinary views of Lake Como. Take a minute to appreciate the remarkable art collection, antique furniture and historical artifacts. You have an option of taking guided tours or exploring the beautiful gardens and villa at your own pace.
Take a boat tour from nearby Lenno for the most stunning view of the Villa from the waters of Lake Como.
Evening in Como
End your day with dinner in Como. Stop for an ice cream or a gelato at one of the gelatarias and get lost in the cobbled streets of Como town.
DAY 2 (Bellagio & Varenna)
Morning in Bellagio
Start your day at probably the most famous towns of Lake Como – Bellagio. Get lost in the colorful cobbled streets of Bellagio. Explore the boutique shops of Bellagio. Check out the beautiful Basilica di San Giacomo.
Visit Villa Melzi and its beautiful botanical gardens with views of Lake Como.
To explore the less crowded side of Bellagio, walk to Punta Spartivento and enjoy lunch at Ristorante La Punta. Your Lake Como trip is not complete without a trip to Bellagio!
Afternoon in Varenna
Varenna is probably THE most beautiful town of Lake Como. The colorful houses, the promenade and the views are nothing short of spectacular.
Take a tour of the gardens of Villa Cipressi and explore Villa Monastero.
Enjoy the most beautiful view of the colorful homes of Varenna with an aperitivo at Bar Il Molo. Take a stroll along the beautiful promenade at sunset.
Enjoy dinner at the cave restaurant Osteria Quatro Pass. This restaurant is known for its fresh lake fish and risotto. We truly enjoyed all the dishes and their impressive wine list.
If you have more time, add Castello di Vezio, a castle located near Varenna.
Another popular destination that is off the beaten path is Orrido di Bellano (a gorge formed 15 million years ago) in the nearby town of Bellano.
Day 2 of this 2 day itinerary of Lake Como would also be a perfect day trip from Milan.
Lake Como is one of the most stunning places in Italy. The towns of Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio, Como and the spectacular villas are the most picturesque and a must visit in Northern Italy. If you are visiting Northern Italy or Switzerland, I highly recommend adding this 2 day Lake Como itinerary to your trip. If you are visiting Italy, be sure to check out my other blogposts on Rome’s top attractions, best tours of Rome, Amalfi Coast, Tuscan wine country, Florence & Siena.
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I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.