Lake Como is the ultimate vacation getaway! You’ll fall in love as soon as you arrive to Italy’s third largest lake. It’s only 2.5 hours on a scenic train ride from Milan or 1.5 hours by car, but if you’re not familiar with the streets of Italy/Lake Como I don’t recommend renting a car. There’s so much to see in this beautiful lakefront and you really get a sense of the Italian culture here. As you wander through its beautiful scenery you can see the huge lake filled with emerald green water flowing endlessly, cobblestone roads, colorful villas, and the best part is it’s surrounded by the Alps. It’s very peaceful and quiet so you can enjoy the nature it has to offer any time of day.
My favorite towns in Lake Como are Brienno and Varenna. They’re the perfect vacation spot that’s charming and feels like paradise on earth. That’s why George Clooney is amazing - he owns a villa in Laglio where we paid a short visit since it was about a 10 min drive from Brienno. Locals said when George Clooney moved to Como everyone was stalking him going wild and trying to trespass. Don’t even try trespassing or lingering in waters near the mansion or else you can get a fine of up to $500 - But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a peek and admire the Villa as I did.
A 10 min drive from Laglio, you’ll arrive to Brienno the amazing small town (population of 400) you’ll most likely pass by and often miss when cruising through Lake Como. This town has a strong identity because it remains underpopulated. If you love small towns and hidden streets you gotta check out this magical town. It’s a relaxing neighborhood that carries history dating back before Roman settlement.
Brienno lays beautifully at the lake’s edge and offers an intimate experience as you explore its charming Old World atmosphere with flower filled balconies, dark tunnels, narrow streets and tidy homes. I was very lucky to find a cozy home with Nido Sul Lago Apartments which had a stunning view of the lake and a 2 min walk to Via Regina Public Garden, which is an awesome park that has a great bar and also provides a giant deck where you can take a dip in the lake or spread a towel to tan as you please. I enjoyed gazing at the skyline that’s formed by the tall bell tower of San Vittore church.
The best way to travel between towns is the ferry. It’s a convenient way to stop by each town that surrounds Lake Como. Another amazing part of Brienno are the local shops and restaurants as there are very few available. Nestled between Sycamore trees, you will find a hidden treasure that has been around since 1855 - Crotto dei Platani one of the nicest restaurants in Brienno and has the best food along with dessert (*must try the Creme Brulee). The restaurant only uses locally sourced ingredients as all fish are caught by the lake directly from the Crotto (rock cellar), the pasta all handmade and the desserts made with love by passionate chefs. The restaurant offers 4 incredible views overlooking the lake, dining options, delicious wine and a backdrop that paints a heaven-esque scenery. Brienno is a fun town to explore where you will meet the friendliest people and experience the best of what a small town has to offer.
Another piece of heaven in Lake Como is a town called Varenna. It’s a charming tourist village looking over the central part of the lake towards Bellagio. Even though it’s a popular tourist destination, it’s a true authentic Italian town unlike any ordinary hotel/resorts area. Varenna paints a well-preserved medieval centre and is no doubt one of the best Lake Como attractions.
As you make your way from the water ferry entering Varenna you’ll walk through a scenic trail while admiring the lake and mountain views which is called Passeggiata degli Innamorati (Lovers’ walk), that runs through the lake leading a path to the promenade and the pier. The lakeside promenade is lined up with restaurants, bars, and boutiques, which is a great place to do some shopping. You’ll find a couple of gelato shops that are worth stopping by and having a scoop in each shop.
The main activities in this town are relaxing by the lake and visiting the gardens of two villas - Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi (now a hotel and public garden). You can also visit a medieval castle that was built more than a thousand years ago - Castello di Vezio. I was able to visit Villa Monastero which had beautiful grounds and was once a Cistercian female convent, but now houses as an important international center for cultural studies.
Bar Molo is a great place to eat and a relaxing spot to enjoy a nice glass of wine while taking in the wonderful lakeview. The food is delicious (especially the pizza) and reasonably priced.
Varenna is a useful gateway to Lake Como, as it lies on a railway line with direct trains to Milan, and connected to the other lake resorts by car and water ferries. Varenna also has stone beaches to enjoy a nice swim and is the ideal place to gaze at pastel homes and colorful ancient buildings.
The views around Lake Como are incredibly beautiful and are best enjoyed on a boat ride. Whether you’re renting your own boat or taking the boat ferries around the lake, you’ll be amazed riding across the water. You’ll never get tired of seeing the majestic mountains reflected onto the lake. If you plan to visit Lake Como you can get more info for travelling options here. It’s easy to enjoy Lake Como’s scenery anywhere you are and you’ll feel completely relaxed at the same time - #vacationgoals. Lake Como gives a taste of paradise in Italy!