Home Europe 15 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Como (2020 Guide)

15 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Como (2020 Guide)

by Chloe Gunning
Pretty towns on Lake Como, Italy
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Visit elegant mansions and lakeside gardens, sample delicious Italian cuisine, and try some water sports – these are the best things to do in Lake Como. 

Lake Como offers the ultimate in Italian luxury – a gorgeous lake surrounded by green hills, picture-perfect villages, and sumptuous lakeside mansions. It’s known as the playground of the jet set, and has been attracting visitors for thousands of years.

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy

I fell in love with the area on my last visit. It’s such a stunning spot, I found myself reaching for my camera over and over again. In addition to its beautiful setting, Lake Como offers a whole host of activities for visitors, whether it’s a boat ride on the lake, hiking the nearby hills and mountains, exploring the mansions, gardens, and lakeside promenades, or simply kicking back at a terrace with a cocktail and admiring the view.

To help you plan the ultimate adventure, here’s my guide to the best things to do in Lake Como. 

Top Things To Do In Lake Como

Watch A Lake Como Sunset In Style

One of the most popular things to do in Lake Como is also the simplest: Watch the sunset! I think the sunsets around Lake Como are absolutely magical, and best viewed with a delicious cocktail in your hand! For the best views, head to the east shore of the lake, where you can enjoy the peachiest shades reflecting on the surface of the water.

For the best sunset cocktails in Lake Como, try the lakeside terrace at T Bar at Grand Hotel Tremezzo or Bar Il Molo in Varenna. Or for a panorama you’ll never forget, hop on the funicular railway at Brunate and enjoy sunset views across the lake!

READ MORE: Find out the best places to stay in Lake Como – from budget to luxury.

Lake Como sunset

Lake Como sunset

Try Your Hand At Water Sports

If you’re trying to decide what to do in Lake Como, the answer is simple – get out on the water! All visitors to Lake Como will feel the lure of the water at some point during their stay, and there are plenty of opportunities for water sports out on the lake. Try your hand at sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, kite-surfing or even wake boarding. 

There are activities suitable for all tastes and activity levels – if you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, book onto a sailing tour and kick back with a glass of prosecco as your captain shows you some of the best spots on the lake. 

Check availability and latest prices for sailing tours in Lake Como

Stand up paddle boarding in Sicily

Stand up paddle boarding in Italy – one of my favourite water activities

Eat At One Of Lake Como’s Coolest Restaurants

Lake Como showcases the best in north Italian cuisine and there’s no shortage of amazing places to eat around the lake. For fresh lake fish don’t miss Trattoria al Porto, in the sleepy village of Careno, where the menu changes each day depending on the catch.

Seafood pasta

Seafood pasta

For fine local produce, visit Agriturismo Sorsasso, a family run restaurant at the northern end of the lake, where every single ingredient is sourced from the local area and the family’s farm. Meals here are simple and made with love – often the way with the tastiest Italian food! Don’t panic about the prices either. I could always find a simple pizza or pasta dish when I visited Lake Como on a budget

However, if you want to arrange a special dinner in Lake Como, book a table at the Michelin-starred I Tigli in Theoria, where you’ll be taken on a sensory journey through exceptional gourmet Italian cuisine. 

Lake Como Pizza

Cheap pizza dinner in Menaggio

Take An E-Bike Tour of Lake Como

Lake Como is an excellent destination for active travellers, with water sports, hiking and cycling opportunities galore. If you’re looking for a fun activity that isn’t too challenging, I’d recommend going hiring e-bikes and going for a cycle around the lake. E-bikes give you that extra boost up the hills, but are still a great way to get out and enjoy the scenery.

To see all the best spots, this 3-hour e-bike tour includes an audio guide, and will take you to some of the best sights on the lake. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Como! 

Check availability and latest prices for e-bike tours in Lake Como

Pretty towns on Lake Como, Italy

Pretty towns on Lake Como, Italy

Marvel At The Villa Del Balbianello

Lake Como is famous for its luxurious villas, and if there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Lake Como, it’s the breath taking Villa Balbianello. With its beautifully landscaped gardens and wonderful views over the western shore of the lake, this villa oozes period charm and elegance.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to stay here, but you can explore the gardens, check out architecture and learn more about its curious former owner, Guido Monzini, leader of the first Italian expedition to Mount Everest. The upper floor of the villa has been transformed into a museum devoted to his memory, and even contains a sleigh that he used to travel to the North Pole!

Hotel Villa Flori, Lake Como

Hotel Villa Flori, Lake Como

Top Up Your Tan By The Lake

Northern Italy might be known as a place where the rich come to splash their cash, but there are also plenty of cheap things to do in Lake Como. If you’re looking for free things to do in Lake Como, simply head down to one of the beaches that line the shore and soak up the sun.

Temperatures in the summer months reach 30 degrees Celsius (although they drop to around 5 degrees Celsius in winter), so late spring, summer and early autumn are the best times to visit if you fancy a spot of sunbathing.

Lido Di Menaggio

View from Lido Di Menaggio

Take To The Skies And See Lake Como By Helicopter

Looking for unique things to do in Lake Como? How about an incredible helicopter ride over the lake! There’s nothing more exciting that taking to the sky and viewing the lake from a bird’s eye perspective, and this tour offers you exactly that opportunity.

You’ll see the lake as you’ve never seen it before and get a thrill as the chopper sweeps down and skims the surface of the water! This 15-minute tour doesn’t come cheap, but you’re guaranteed to make some memories that will stay with you forever.

Check availability and latest prices for helicopter tours of Lake Como

Lake Como helicopter tour

Lake Como helicopter tour

Visit The Forte Di Fuentes

Towering over the hill of Montecchio, the Forte di Fuentes is a lasting reminder of the Spanish presence in northern Italy in the 17th century. This fascinating site is the ideal way to learn a little more about Italy’s complex past, demonstrating the ways in which Spanish, Polish, Austrian and French interventions have shaped the history and character of this beautiful region. The Forte di Fuentes is a great day trip from Lake Como, and the views from the hill are guaranteed to have you reaching for your camera. 

Sample A Fabulous Food Tour In Como

Food, food, food – in my opinion a trip to Italy would be nothing without feasting on the incredible local cuisine! This food and walking tour is one of the best things to do in Lake Como, showcasing gorgeous local produce whilst taking in the sights of Como town.

Truffle pasta at Leon d'Oro

Truffle pasta 

You’ll visit a local winery, sample fine local meats, taste the perfect focaccia, and learn how to cook fresh fish directly from the lake. All this, as you wander through the beautiful streets of Como, past churches, monuments and ancient Roman remains. It really is a perfect way to spend the day, plus you’ll be working off a little of what you eat as you explore on foot – zero guilt on the calories right?! 

Check availability and latest prices for food tours in Lake Como

Views over Lake Como, Italy

Views over Lake Como, Italy

Stretch Your Legs On The Sentiero Del Viandante

The Sentiero del Viandante is an ancient Roman highway that runs along the eastern side of Lake Como, and has now been transformed into a popular hiking trail. If you’re looking for peace, stillness and the most incredible views of the lake, head up here to stretch your legs or maybe catch a pretty sunset.

You’ll pass by ancient mule tracks, chestnut woods, olive groves and black marble quarries. Towards the end of the day, the vivid colours of the sunset illuminate the lake and the nearby hills, providing a dazzling natural light show.

Lake Como Italy

Lake Como Italy

Go Wine Tasting In Lake Como

What to do in Lake Como when it’s raining? How about heading indoors and sampling some local wine? Northern Italy is a paradise for wine lovers, and if you’re staying in Bellagio, I’d recommend a visit to Enoteca Principessa, one of the lake’s best wine stores.

The shop is crammed with exceptional wines, and the friendly staff are always on hand to provide explanations, recommendations and tastings. It’s an atmospheric treasure trove of a store and is one of Lake Como’s most unique attractions.

Drinks and (free) snacks with a view in Bellagio

Chill Out In Villa Carlotta’s Botanical Gardens

Como is well known for its glamorous lakeside mansions, and Villa Carlotta is one of the most famous. The stunning villa is a monument to the perfect marriage of architecture and nature and features an elegant villa set amongst 17 acres of lush gardens.

The famous botanical garden is packed with rare trees and plants, including colourful rhododendrons and ancient cedars. You’ll also find an excellent museum with an impressive art collection too, so there’s enough here to keep you entertained for hours, whatever the weather. 

Villa Carlotta, Lake Como

Villa Carlotta, Lake Como

Take A Day Trip To Milan

Once you’ve had your fill of exploring the lake, why not go a little further afield and take a day trip to Milan? I’ve always really enjoyed my time in Milan, with its mix of Renaissance and contemporary art, stunning architecture and chic shopping districts. Plus… the food is great too! Yes – I often plan my trips around my stomach!

Milan is known as the fashion capital of Italy, so a day trip here is the perfect opportunity to do some shopping. Simply hop on a train in Varenna, and within an hour you can be sipping a coffee at one of Milan’s iconic bars. Find out more about the journey from Milan to Lake Como (and tours) in my post here, plus read my guide to spending the ultimate 24 hours in Milan.

Duomo - Milan Cathedral

Duomo – Milan Cathedral – a must see if you only have one day in Milan!

Marvel at the Gardens in Villa Melzi

Villa Melzi, otherwise known as the ‘pearl of Bellagio’, is yet another gorgeous mansion in Lake Como. This beautiful house is built in a neo-classical style, and set in a huge park that gives wonderful views down to the lake.

Here you’ll find ancient Japanese maples, ponds filled with water-lilies, Egyptian sculptures and Roman statues. It’s one of the finest houses on the lake. Unfortunately it’s not open all year round (usually opens late March), so check the website before you plan your visit.

Villa Melzi, Lake Como

Villa Melzi, Lake Como

Attend the Sagra di San Giovanni

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Lake Como, don’t miss the region’s biggest festival which takes place every year on the weekend closest to the 24 June. Dedicated to St John the Baptist, this celebration sees Como come alive with music, dancing, storytelling, and an epic fireworks show to top off the evening.

This fabulous party is one of the best things to do in Lake Como at night, as each town is illuminated by glittering lights and fireworks.

Sagra di San Giovanni, Lake Como

Sagra di San Giovanni, Lake Como

I hope this travel guide has given you plenty of ideas on what to do in Lake Como. Don’t forget to check out my guide to the best places to stay in Lake Como – from budget to luxury.

Looking for other inspiration for your trip to northern Italy? Check out my posts about Milan, Lake Como on a budget and Lake Garda

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Things To Do In Lake Como, Italy


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