Lake Como is often overlooked on most travels to Italy. Frankly for me, it took 6 trips before I found this gem. Nestled north of Milan among the alps, this lake is a popular oasis for many wealthy people and has been since the Roman Empire. With the sparkling blue water and snow frosted peaks, it is easy to see why. With Lake Como being only one stop on my journey, I had to make the most of the 24 hours I had to explore.
How to get to Lake Como …
The easiest way to get to Lake Como is from Milan, Italy. You can either choose to rent a car or take the train. Both take a little over an hour and a half. Taking the train, it’s about 20 euros and there are 1-2 connections along the way. By car, it’s a short, but scenic drive and you are able to see all of Lake Como. I choose to drive from Milan as I wanted to stop along the way at some of the little towns.
Where to stay …
There are many places to stay around Lake Como. The best places though are within the inner lake area – Bellagio, Varenna, Lenno, Menaggio. There are many local hotels that are great options to stay at (such as the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio). For this trip though, I choose to stay at an Airbnb in Varenna. I wanted to feel like a true local and staying in one of the villa’s surrounding the lake sounded like a great escape! I choose to stay in Varenna at the Villa Monti. The rooms were comfortable and it had great views of the lake! The villa was also in a great location only a short walk away from downtown Varenna.
Lake Como in the morning …
After a night well rested, I headed to the city center to enjoy a light breakfast and espresso. Right near St. George’s Church in Varenna was a small local cafe that served warm croissants with espresso. With a view of the church, it was a quiet breakfast, but it was the perfect start to the day.
Just a short walk from the city center is the Villa Monastero. After my breakfast, I wanted to explore some of the amazing architecture in the city and headed to the villa to start the day. This originally was a 12th century convent that was converted into a villa. Today, it also serves as a place for lectures and learnings with 34 Nobel Laureates having spoken on the grounds.
For a small fee, I was able to explore the villa and grounds. The villa itself has an eclectic style that is unique for the area. Throughout the grounds, there are beautiful gardens to explore with amazing views of the lake and surrounding towns.
After exploring Varenna for most of the morning, I decided to take the ferry to explore the inner lake area, including exploring Bellagio and Lenno. Read more about the second half of my day here!