One of Italy’s most beautiful lakes, and a popular retreat for nobles and celebrities, Como is known for its sense of calm and elegance.
Days on Como are all about laid-back exploring, whether that’s wandering the colourful towns scattered along the shores, strolling around peaceful parks and gardens, or heading out on an excursion to see more of the region. Here are some of our favourite things to do on a holiday to Lake Como…
Spend a day getting lost in the narrow cobbled streets of this rainbow-coloured town. It’s perched on the peninsula of the wishbone-shaped lake, with unbeatable views down both the Como and Lecco branches of the water. You can browse shops selling silk, wine and olive wood, and savour a long lunch in a waterside restaurant, pairing fresh pasta and fish with local wines. And remember to look up – the buildings are adorned with intricate shutters, balconies and flowers.
This beautiful villa was last owned by eccentric billionaire Guido Monzino, an explorer who filled his home with treasures from his travels. Guided tours offer a fascinating insight – from the secret escape tunnel to the sled Monzino used to reach the North Pole. The elegant gardens have also starred in many films, including Star Wars and James Bond. Balbianello is now owned by the Italian National Trust, and UK members get discounted entry too.
Once a fishing town, ancient Varenna has retained its authentic charm. It sits on the eastern shore of the lake, backed against lush green mountains – which are criss-crossed with trails for enthusiastic walkers and hikers. Visit the ruins of the medieval Castello di Vezio, once home to the 7th-century Queen of Lombardy, and end your day with a stroll in the manicured botanical gardens of Villa Monastero.
St Moritz & the Bernina Express
Ride the famous Bernina Express train to St Moritz in Switzerland. Built in the early 1900s and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this railway journey is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The modern cars have enlarged windows to help you make the most of the incredible views as you wind past valleys, lakes, waterfalls and glaciers. Waiting at the end, St Moritz is a cosmopolitan town with equally impressive scenery.