Travelling to Italy this winter? From festivals and foodie experiences, to snowy activities, there are plenty of things to do in Lake Como in winter.
Lake Como is one of my favourite places to visit in Italy. However, the majority of my trips have been in warmer seasons. Most people will think of it as an ideal summer destination, but with stunning scenery and amazing cuisine, there’s definitely a lot to love about Lake Como in winter too.
Whether you’re looking to get in the festive spirit or want to save money by choosing to travel in the low season, you’ll love spending winter in Lake Como!
It’s a magical time to explore this popular region too. You could go skiing in the Italian Alps, ferry hop across the lake itself, visit historic villas without the crowds, and so much more. Of course, no trip to northern Italy in the winter season would be complete without a ton of great food and wine, and the Lake Como area has that in spades! Ready to find out more?
Planning your trip to Lake Como? Here are a few quick highlights:
- Visit some of the prettiest towns on Lake Como on this cruise
- Learn how to make some staples of Italian cuisine
- Explore the area on two wheels (and without so much effort!)
- Your own private sightseeing cruise – a great option for groups visiting the lake
- You’ll feel like George Clooney as you speed away on a classic speedboat
- One of the most stylish hotels on the banks of Lake Como
Weather in Lake Como in Winter
On average, the weather in Lake Como in winter is pretty mild by Alpine standards. Throughout the season, you can expect temperatures between 3-8°C (37°-46°F).
When it comes to snow, it doesn’t tend to snow on the lakeside towns and villages. However, it’s very common to see snow-capped mountains all around the area, and there are some ski resorts a short drive from Lake Como.
Visiting in spring, summer or autumn? Don’t miss my Lake Como travel guide.
20 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Como in Winter
1. Check out the Christmas Markets
Thinking of visiting Lake Como at Christmas? You’re in for a treat! The area comes alive with festive Christmas markets in the main squares of each town.
Normally, you’ll find Lake Como Christmas Markets sell a mix of local crafts and delicious food and drink. It’s a lovely place to hang out with friends and get in the festive mood. There’s often live music to enjoy as night falls too.
2. Hop on the ferry to Bellagio
Come rain or shine, the ferries between the various towns and villages tend to be running. So, if you’re checking out winter in Lake Como, don’t worry, you can still hop on the ferries to picture-perfect Bellagio, complete with its rabbit warren of alleyways and great restaurants.
It’s one of my favourite towns on the lake. You can wander in and out of cute gift shops, take endless photos, then warm up with a hot drink with views of the glittering lake
3. Strap on your skis at Piani di Bobbio
While there’s not usually a ton of snow around Lake Como itself, there are a few ski resorts in the local area. Piani di Bobbio on the outskirts of Lecco is a popular choice with a wide range of downhill pistes and cross-country routes.
Oh, and don’t worry, they have snow cannons in case that fresh powder isn’t falling fast enough! How lovely to be able to enjoy days by the lake as well as up on the slopes.
4. Check out the historic Villa Balbianello
Visiting Lake Como in the low season means that popular historic villas, like Villa Balbianello in Lenno, are super quiet. Many of the villas remain open all year round so this is a lovely way to explore without the intense summer crowds.
Film fans might recognise this gorgeous 18th-century villa from the Star Wars movies, but whether you’re a film buff or not, a visit to Villa Balbianello remains one of the best things to do in Lake Como in winter.
While there, you might feel like you’ve been transported to a Hollywood movie! Yes, a fabulous villa similar to this one was the filming location for Ocean’s Twelve!
5. Eat all the Alpine food
Okay, it’s cold, you’ve been exploring Lake Como and now you need some hearty food. Luckily northern Italy is famous for stodgy, delicious, and warming food.
For a real exploration of the cuisine, jump on a food tour with a local expert to experience classic risottos, delicious cheeses, and mountains of tasty pasta.
6. Go On a day trip to Switzerland
As you’re just on the border, why not take a day trip across to snow-filled Switzerland? Lake Lugano is only a couple of hours by scenic train or car, so it’s easy to travel across the border for the day.
While Italy in winter is lovely, how about switching things up and filling up on Swiss cheese, fruit brandies, and chocolate before heading back to your home by the lake?!
7. Check out the views from the Brunate Funicular
Want to rise up and get panoramic views across Lake Como and the snowy peaks beyond? Jump on the Brunate Funicular which has been running since the late 1800s.
It’ll take you up the hillside and offers some of the best views in the area. Your friends will definitely be jealous when they see your pretty photos of the scenery with that light sprinkling of fairy-dust.
8. Book a stay at a cosy spa hotel on the lake
If you’re looking for cosy things to do in Lake Como in winter, how about booking yourself into a spa hotel right on the lake. There are tons of great spas in the Lake Como area and they’re the perfect place to warm up after a wintry walk or relax those tired muscles after a day on the slopes.
For the ultimate indulgent break, book a stay at Grand Hotel Tremezzo. This famous luxury hotel is located on the banks of the lake and is home to one of the best spas in Italy.
Plus, if you’re struggling to pick a hotel for your winter trip, I’d recommend reading my detailed guide to the where to stay in Lake Como. There are options to suit every budget, from the splurge of a honeymoon to a backpacker’s lifestyle!
9. Enjoy a wintry wander around the lake
With footpaths running the circumference of Lake Como, it’s entirely possible to walk from village to town along the edge of the water.
Bundle up warm, bring a coffee with you and take in the spectacular scenery that comes with spending winter in Lake Como!
10. Stay In A Luxury Hotel On Lake Como
At Il Sereno, you won’t find the Art Nouveau opulence characteristic of some of the other Lake Como hotels… but that’s not to everyone’s tastes. Instead, renowned designer Patricia Urquiola has created a world of stripped-back, simple elegance, with modern exteriors and super-stylish contemporary interiors. This place is seriously unique!
This peaceful retreat is located in the village of Torno, offering spectacular lake views and easy access across the water to the villages of Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio.
Il Sereno also offers top facilities including an incredible infinity pool, which comes complete with an underwater sound system! There’s also a Michelin-starred restaurant with an inventive menu of oriental and Italian fusion cuisine. This is certainly one of the best luxury hotels in Lake Como and the ideal place for a truly unforgettable holiday.
11. Warm up with a wine tasting
Looking for Lake Como winter activities that don’t involve being out in the cold? Well, they don’t get better than warming up with a delicious wine tasting!
Try wines from throughout the Lombardy region and beyond, instructed by a local guide. You could even do a wine bar crawl through some of the larger lakeside towns!
12. See the stars at the Mount Galbiga Observatory
With the nights drawing in earlier in winter, it’s one of the best times to see the stars. Head over to Mount Galbiga Observatory to witness the beautiful sky at night. You might even spot some planets!
You’ll need a relatively crisp night for the best results, but with minimal light pollution, it’s a great spot to see the stars.
13. Enjoy the City of Toys in Cernobbio
If you’re looking to visit Lake Como at Christmas, check out the City of Toys or Citta dei Balocchi event in Cernobbio. It’s not just a Christmas festival for kids and families, it also has a Christmas Market, live music, and an ice skating rink to glide about on!
It’s something the Como locals love, but it’s wonderful for tourists too. Who knows, you might pick up a few Christmas gifts to take home.
14. Check out a Christmas Nativity Concert or two
Another Christmas favourite in Italy has to be the nativity concert. As a predominantly Catholic country, Italians take Christmas festivities very seriously, so you can find a nativity display in pretty much every town and village around Lake Como.
Take a look at the local churches too, as many hold concerts around Christmastime. It’s a lovely way to celebrate the festive season.
15. Get creative at Carnival in Schignano
February in Italy means just one thing: it’s carnival season! Hands down, the Carnival in Schignano is one of the best Lake Como winter activities.
With traditional wooden masks worn in the parades and events, a central theme surrounding the characters of Bella and Brutto (Beautiful and Ugly), it’s one of the best carnivals in the area.
16. Cycle around the entire lake
If you want to spend time in nature and see a lot of Lake Como in a short amount of time, I’d recommend hiring a bike to cycle around the lake.
You rarely need to ride on the road as there’s a dedicated cycle path in some places and a super wide pavement in others. The entire route clocks in at 60km and takes around six hours.
For a more relaxed experience, hire an e-bike or book an e-bike tour. That way you’ll have a guide to give you information on all the key sights.
17. Ferry hop between different lakeside towns and villages
If you’re organised, you can easily ferry hop between different towns and villages like Lecco, Bellagio, Varenna, Como, and more.
You can buy one pass that’ll give you a whole day of lake trips! It’s a more picturesque way to experience Lake Como in winter and feels like an excursion itself. Plus, it’s quicker and easier than figuring out local public transport.
18. Indulge in the winter sale season
For two months after Christmas in Italy, there’s a huge sale season that puts our Boxing Day sales to shame. You’ll be able to pick up huge bargains as far into the year as February on Italian staples! I’m talking about up to 50% off the usual prices.
New handbag? Glamorous dress? Things for the kids? If you’re looking for some holiday bargains, you’re in the right place!
19. Take a day trip to Milan
To visit Lake Como, you’ll either fly into Bergamo or Milan Malpensa airport. Before you head home, I’d recommend going on a day trip to Milan.
With its stunning cathedral, amazing canal district, and awesome shops, it’s a must-visit while you’re in the area. If you’re looking to plan your route, this guide to visiting Milan from Lake Como will definitely help!
20. Explore Villa Monastero in Lecco
Want to get your fill of culture? Check out Villa Monastero just outside Lecco. Home to a botanical garden, a museum, and a convention centre, there’s a little something for everyone.
This is a really lovely place to get a feel for the culture of the area, and can be a great wet-weather option if the rain is falling.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to visiting Lake Como in winter. It’s a special time of year to see this popular destination without the crowds.
No doubt you will love exploring the Italian lake’s beauty and tranquility in a whole new light!
If you’re looking for more guides to this region, check out these posts:
- 17 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Como
- Where To Stay In Lake Como, Italy – Hotels For Every Budget
- How To Travel From Milan To Lake Como
- The Ultimate Italy Road Trip Itineraries: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More
- 23 Best Hidden Gems In Italy: Venture Off The Beaten Path In Italy
- Riva del Garda: Restaurants, Food Experiences and Activities
- Where To Stay In Lake Garda, Italy – Hotels For Every Budget