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Lake Como Or Lake Garda: Which Is Better?

A promotional graphic comparing Lake Como and Lake Garda, with text 'LAKE COMO VS LAKE GARDA Which is better?' and images of scenic lakeside towns

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Northern Italy is renowned for its picturesque lakes surrounded by majestic mountains and charming towns. Lake Como and Lake Garda are two of the most famous Italian lakes, each offering unique yet different experiences for travelers.

Visiting Lake Como and Lake Garda was the highlight of our Northern Italy trip! I highly recommend spending a few days at one of the beautiful lakes in this region.

If you’re trying to decide between Lake Como and Lake Garda for your next vacation, this comparison guide along with things to consider will help you choose the best destination for your trip.

Choosing between Lake Como or Lake Garda is not as hard as deciding between Lake Como vs Amalfi Coast. Lake Como and Lake Garda are both lakes in the same region of Italy but cater to different types of travelers offering different kind of activities and entertainment options.

LAKE COMO VS LAKE GARDA: A COMPARISON

Lake Como, known for its opulent villas and celebrity spotting (hello, George Clooney!), exudes elegance, luxury and tranquility. In contrast, Lake Garda boasts a vibrant atmosphere, with outdoor sports and amusement parks.

But how do you choose between these two incredible lakes? Here’s a comparison of Lake Como vs Lake Garda to help you decide and plan your next Italian vacation.

Lake Como Or Lake Garda – Which is better for:

Honeymoon & romantic stay: LAKE COMO
Families & kids: LAKE GARDA
Outdoorsy adventure seekers: LAKE GARDA
Instagram worthy photos: LAKE COMO
Wine lovers: LAKE GARDA
History buffs: LAKE GARDA

Lake Como Travel Guide

Everything you need to know about Lake Como trip planning!

Here a few things to consider before deciding between Lake Como or Lake Garda to ensure that your choice aligns with your expectations.

GEOGRAPHY

Infographic showing Lake Como vs Lake Garda relative location in Northern Italy with respect to Milan and Venice
  • Lake Como, nestled in the foothills of the Alps has been a popular retreat since Roman times. It borders Switzerland and is an hour away from Milan. Lake Como is also easily accessible from Switzerland (Lucerne, Zurich) and the Swiss Alps.
  • As the largest Italian lake, Lake Garda offers diverse landscapes from its northern mountainous terrain to the gentle rolling hills in the south. It is an hour away from Verona and about 2 hours drive from Milan and Venice. It is a perfect day trip from any of the three cities.

Como and Garda are large lakes in Northern Italy but there are a few key differences between them.

  • Lake Como is a great place for those who love to relax in a luxurious environment. It is a popular destination for those who love exploring aristocratic history, colorful towns and chill vibes.
  • Lake Garda is the best option for those who love adventure, outdoors and a lively atmosphere. The surrounding mountains offer a wide range of outdoor activities and the southern shores are popular for water sports and theme parks like Gardaland.

CROWDS AND SEASONALITY

  • Lake Como is generally quieter, attracting visitors who prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, especially outside the peak summer months. But the high season can be equally busy due to its popularity.
  • Lake Garda can get quite crowded, especially in summer, due to its popularity among families and outdoor enthusiasts.

TRANSPORTATION AND GETTING AROUND

Lake side town Bellagio's beautiful homes from the water

Both destinations are easily accessible from major cities like Milan and Venice.

  • Getting to Lake Como is relatively straightforward, with nearby airports in Milan and direct trains from Milano Centrale Station. Easy ferry connections make exploring the lake’s towns super convenient.
  • Lake Garda is accessible from several airports, including Verona and Milan Bergamo, with good public transportation links. However, due to its larger size, getting around might require more planning, especially for those wishing to explore multiple areas of the lake. Car is a better mode of transport here due to relatively flatter roads especially on the southern shores of Lake Garda.

BUDGET

  • Both destinations can cater to a range of budgets, but Lake Como tends to be more associated with luxury travel, making it the more expensive option.
  • Lake Garda offers a wider range of accommodation and dining options, which can be more budget-friendly, especially for families.

DURATION OF STAY

Lake Como being smaller of the two is ideal for a shorter stay. You can explore the main sights and popular towns over a few days with this 2 day Lake Como itinerary.

For a longer vacation, Lake Garda provides more variety in activities and places to visit, keeping you entertained for a week or more.

WEATHER AND CLIMATE

Lake Como enjoys a mild climate, making it a pleasant destination from spring to autumn. Winters are cool yet charming.

Lake Garda has a mild climate too, but its larger size and varied geography mean the northern and southern parts can experience different weather patterns. The north side is cooler while

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS AND THINGS TO DO

Lake Como is perfect for those interested in architecture, history, and leisurely lake activities. The proximity to Milan offers opportunities for fashion and design enthusiasts.

Lake Garda is surrounded by numerous attractions, including historical sites like Sirmione Castle, adventure parks, and natural wonders. It is close to the historic and beautiful cities of Verona and Venice.

CUISINE

Both regions offer local cuisine with fresh ingredients like seafood and classic Italian dishes.

Lake Como is renowned for its seafood, risottos and lake fish.

Lake Garda offers a diverse culinary experience, from freshwater fish dishes to olive oil from nearby olive trees and the famous Amarone wines from Valpolicella.

PHYSICAL ACCESSIBILITY

Lake Como‘s sometimes uneven terrain might be challenging for travelers with mobility issues.

Lake Garda offers easier accessibility, with flat paths along the lake in the most popular towns.

Lake Como vs Lake Garda: Scenery

Lake Como

Woman in black maxi dress standing against backdrop of Lake Como and surrounding mountains

Whether you visit the beautiful villas or the most popular towns of Lake Como, you will find stunning lake views every where. It offers the most beautiful panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains! Lake Como is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots in Italy.

Lake Garda

A picturesque view of a tranquil Lake Garda, framed by foliage, with mountains in the distance and paragliders in the sky.

The landscape of Lake Garda is diverse. The lake’s southern shores are full of lovely lakeside towns while the north end of the lake is more rugged and wild.

Lake Como vs Lake Garda: Best things to do and places to see

Lake Como

Colorful homes and boats in the marina in Mennagio

Lake Como is known for its historic villas, small towns and beautiful botanical gardens. Lago di Como is one of the best places to visit luxurious villas, take a boat tour and exploring lakeside villages like Bellagio, Varenna, and the town of Como itself. Some of the popular tourist attractions in and around Lake Como are listed below.

  • Discover the historical charm of Como’s town center and the Como Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta).
  • Take the Brunate funicular to capture panoramic views of the city and lake below.
  • Visit the gem of Lake Como, the picturesque town of Bellagio, renowned as the lake’s most sought-after destination.
  • Experience the unparalleled beauty of Villa del Balbianello, the most celebrated villa on Lake Como where Star Wars and James Bond movies were filmed.
  • Wander through the vibrant streets of Varenna. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade at sunset offers breathtaking views of the lake.
  • Immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of the gardens at Villa Carlotta, Villa Melzi, and Villa Cipressi, each unique and stunning.
  • Take a private boat tour for the best views of the towns and villages.
  • Learn about Como town’s rich heritage in silk production.

Lake Garda

A towering white roller coaster track against a clear blue sky, with loops and steep drops, providing an adrenaline rush at an amusement park.
Positano beach, Amalfi Coast

As Italy’s largest lake, Lake Garda offers a plethora of activities and attractions suitable for every type of traveler. From adrenaline-pumping adventures to tranquil retreats into nature, here are the best things to do in and around Lake Garda.

  • Explore historic town of Sirmione and Scaliger Castle with stunning lake views and relax in the town’s renowned thermal baths.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities like sailing and windsurfing in Riva del Garda. Explore the charming historic center.
  • Visit Gardaland, Italy’s largest theme park near Peschiera del Garda. It features thrilling rides, shows, and themed adventures for all ages.
  • Take a boat trip to appreciate Lake Garda’s crystal clear waters and picturesque towns.
  • Ride the cable car from Malcesine to Monte Baldo for breathtaking panoramic views and enjoy hiking or paragliding at the summit.
  • Stroll through the lemon groves of Limone sul Garda. Explore its quaint streets, and relax on beautiful beaches.
  • The towns of Desenzano del Garda and Gardone Riviera are also worth visiting.
  • Savor the local cuisine, including fresh lake fish, homemade pasta, and exquisite local wines.

Lake Como vs Lake Garda: Best places to stay

Lake Como

Grand Hotel Tremezzo in lake Como

Lake Como offers some of the most luxurious and exclusive 5-star accommodations. If you really want to experience the grand hospitality of Lake Como, choose one of the luxury hotels from the list below.


Hotel du Lac, Bellagio

Grand hotel Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio

Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Villa d’Este, Cernobbio

Hotel Belvedere, Bellagio

Lake Garda

The façade of Hotel Europa, with its elegant blue and cream architecture, balconies with iron railings, and outdoor cafe seating along the lakeside.

Lake Garda offers a wide range of accommodation options from lakeside resorts to hostels. Here’s a selection of some of the best hotels in different towns of Lake Garda.

Villa Cortine Palace Hotel, Sirmione

Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Gargnano

Aqualux Hotel Spa Suite & Terme, Bardolino

Du Lac et Du Parc Grand Resort, Riva del Garda

Hotel La Paul, Sirmione

Lake Como vs Lake Garda: Dining and cuisine

Lake Como

The cuisine of Lake Como includes simple Italian fare like risotto, pizza and seafood made with fresh and local ingredients like lake fish.

Osteria Quattro Pass

T Pizza Grand Hotel Tremezzo

La Terrazza Lake Como

The Veranda, Villa d’Este

Ristorante La Terrazza Gualtiero Marchesi

La Grotta

Lake Garda

Explore the rich flavors of Lake Garda while enjoying the lake’s natural beauty at one of the restaurants listed below. Lake Garda and the surrounding area produce some of the best wines of Italy.

La Darsena, Torbole

Osteria al Porto, Malcesine

Ristorante La Terrazza del Boff, Tiganale

Vecchia Malcesine

Trattoria San Carlo

Lake Como vs Lake Garda: Beaches

Lake Como

The beaches here are smaller and secluded, often consisting of pebbles. They are not ideal for swimming.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda, on the other hand, has more accessible and family-friendly beaches. The lake’s broader expanse and gentler slopes allow for larger, more developed beaches, many of which feature sand or fine gravel. These beaches often come equipped with a wider range of amenities, including sun loungers, parasols, showers, and sometimes even small cafes or bars.

If you’re looking for traditional beach experiences with more amenities and the possibility for water sports, Lake Garda is the better choice.

Crystal clear waters of Lake Garda gently lapping at a pebbled shore, with old wooden pilings and ducks resting, set against a backdrop of dramatic cliffs.

Lake Como vs Lake Garda: Nightlife

Lake Como

Lago di Como is ideal for those who prefer a quieter, more refined nightlife experience, focusing on elegant bars and restaurants. The towns of Como are pretty quiet late at night.

Lake Garda

If you’re seeking a vibrant nightlife with a variety of bars, clubs, and late-night entertainment, Lake Garda is the better choice. Its lively towns offer more options for those looking to party and enjoy a bustling evening atmosphere.

LAKE COMO OR LAKE GARDA: Which is better?

Lake Como or Lake Garda: Best honeymoon destination?

LAKE COMO

Como is more refined and luxurious. Its stunning villas, storybook setting and beautiful towns make it a perfect honeymoon getaway.

Lake Como or Lake Garda: Best wedding destination?

Woman in pink maxi dress in front of Lake Como and palm trees

Lake Como

Storybook setting with the most gorgeous lake backdrop and views. Need I say more?

Lake Como or Lake Garda: Which is better for families?

LAKE GARDA

For families looking for a vacation filled with a variety of kid-friendly activities, amusement parks, and recreational opportunities, Lake Garda is the better choice. Lake Como, on the other hand, is more relaxing and quiet. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference.

Lake Como or Lake Garda: Which is better for budget travelers?

LAKE GARDA

For budget travelers, Lake Garda is a better choice. This lake offers a wide range of affordable options, including budget hotels, hostels, and campgrounds. There are several low-cost attractions like swimmable beaches and hiking trails for those on a budget. It is the perfect place for backpackers as well.

Lake Como or Lake Garda: Which is better for history buffs?

LAKE GARDA

The surrounding towns of Lake Garda are filled with Unesco world heritage sites, including Roman ruins at Sirmione’s Grotte di Catullo and the medieval Scaliger Castle. There are several castles, historical villas, and ancient ruins surrounding the lake.

Lake Como or Lake Garda: Which is better? My personal recommendation

Lake Como

I personally loved Lake Como over Lake Garda for its unmatched blend of stunning lake views and charming small towns like Bellagio and Varenna. I loved the touch of luxury and style unique to Como. The architecture is exquisite and the botanical gardens are stunning. Lake Como has a relaxed vibe with a laid-back atmosphere, which was perfect for me! If you prefer more adventure and lively atmosphere, Lake Garda would be a good choice.

FAQs: Lake Como and Lake Garda

How far is Lake Garda from Lake Como?

The distance between Lake Como and Lake Garda is about 180 Kms. It takes about 2.5 hrs by car and 3 hours by train via Milan.

Is there a Lake Garda to Lake Como train?

There is no direct train between Lake Como and Lake Garda. The best way is to take a train from Como to Milan and make a transfer to Sirmione.

What is nicer: Lake Garda or Lake Como?

Having been to both, I personally think Lake Como is nicer. It feels more relaxed, luxurious and nicer.

Which is the bigger lake: Lake Garda or Lake Como?

Lake Garda is bigger than Lake Como. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, covering an area of about 370 square kilometers (150 square miles). In contrast, Lake Como is the third-largest lake in Italy covering an area of approximately 146 square kilometers.

Lake Como vs Lake Garda vs Lake Maggiore: Which is better?

  • For luxury and scenery: Lake Como is unbeatable with its glamorous vibe and stunning landscapes.
  • For family-friendly activities and variety: Lake Garda offers the broadest range of options, from adventure sports to amusement parks.
  • For tranquility and natural beauty: Lake Maggiore provides a serene atmosphere with beautiful gardens and less crowded towns.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Choosing between Lake Como and Lake Garda ultimately depends on your personal preferences.

Lake Como, with its breathtaking scenery, stunning villas, and serene environment, is perfect for those seeking relaxation and a taste of Italian luxury. It is ideal for romantic getaways or serene escapes.

Lake Garda, on the other hand, offers a variety of activities and attractions for all ages, including theme parks like Gardaland for families, vibrant nightlife for young adults and water sports and hiking for adventure seekers. If you’re looking for an action-packed vacation with plenty of entertainment, Lake Garda is a better choice.

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Hi there!

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.

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