Visit Lake Como: 11 Towns You Must See While Visiting

Steve Cummings

Varenna, Italy

Lake Como is one of the best places to visit in Italy, and the choice of towns dotted along its shores is endless. This article covers only 11 but could have added many more.

If we can give you one piece of advice when visiting any of these, it would be to visit just at the start or end of the main tourist season. This way, you can still experience the lovely weather but have to deal with fewer crowds. Italy is suffering from overtourism, which is a good problem because it brings in money. But it also means prices are high and places can be very crowded.

It's also a playground for the rich and famous, with the most famous celebrities who own houses here, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Donatella Versace, and Richard Branson.

We will share with you some of the towns that we think you should visit if you can. Some of these are only 30 minutes away from each other via boat, so you could potentially visit two in a day if you have a tight schedule.

1. Como

Como Italy
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We are starting the article with Como. As the name suggests, it's the biggest and most popular town around the lake, making it the perfect base to explore the rest of the towns on the map. It doesn’t quite have the same appeal as some of the other towns (just based on looks), but it does have its unique appeal.

One thing that will appeal to frugal travelers is that it is usually more reasonably priced than other towns in the middle of the lake.

It is the most well-connected lake town and very convenient if you are flying in from Milan, making it a popular choice. Ferries regularly leave here to go to the nearby towns of Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio. These give you amazing views around the lake and are a much nicer way than getting a bus or taxi.

2. Varenna

Varenna_Lake Como
credits: Givaga/depositphotos

Varenna is often labeled as one of the most beautiful towns around Lake Como, but they are all beautiful, so you may hear us say that a few times throughout this article.

When you arrive here, you feel like you're in a place where millionaires live and hang out.

The houses along the front cover a circular bay full of gelato shops, restaurants, and lovely little boutique stores. Plenty of boats are moored up, some of which are available for hire. But honestly, it's where many people grab a drink along the front or have something to eat and enjoy being in this lovely little town.

It's right on the border, only a few kilometers from Switzerland, and easily accessible from Milan station. It's popular with day visitors as it's only an hour by train from Milan, and sometimes people stay there for just one night.

There is plenty to do here. One of the main highlights is the beautiful Villa Monastero, with its botanical gardens. With its impressive statues, fountains, and lovely gardens, it looks like something out of a movie set.

3. Bellagio

Bellagio, Italy
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When you first hear Bellagio, you might think of the casino in Las Vegas (I know we did), but the Bellagio by Lake Como is (in our opinion) somewhere we would rather be.

Bellagio is visited by more tourists than any of the other towns on the list, partly due to its location at the section where the lake splits into two branches. This also makes it ideal for getting a ferry to other towns nearby.

The town is split into two parts: along the lake shore and the upper town. Steep streets connect these. During the peak season, be careful as they can become very crowded, and there are no handrails.

If you get the time, spend a whole day here; it's worth more than just a few hours. Or at least take the early morning ferry here and the last one to wherever you are staying.

4. Nesso

Nesso, Italy
Credit: Depositphotos

Is Nesso the prettiest village on Lake Como? Some people seem to think so, but we will leave you to decide when you visit. The whole town is on a steep hill covered in red roofs. With the lake in the background, it looks picture-perfect.

Nesso is split into two by a gorge and joined by the small and lovely Ponte della Civera bridge. Getting across this can be tricky as it's usually full of people attempting to jump off it into the water below.

It isn’t a town for those with mobility issues, as half has steep steps. We would hate to wonder what it would be like if it snowed and how you get your shopping back to your house as you can’t park anywhere near it. The streets make you feel like you are in a maze (a lovely maze at that), but one where you need to head off and explore. 

5. Menaggio

Lake Como
credit: depositphotos

Menaggio is close to the top of Lake Como and probably has the most impressive lakefront out of all the towns on the list.

Menaggio is quieter in the evenings after everyone has left from their day trips, making it a nice place to explore in the evening.

It's possible to reach Bellagio and Varenna in about 30 minutes using the public boat service between them.

Check out Ponte di Caravaggio, which gives you one of the best views of the town and is a great place for photographers. As with many of these towns, it's nice just to walk the town and see where you end up. You will likely find some of the nicest streets or come across locals just going about their daily lives.

Another place to visit during your stay is Piazza Garibaldi, the town square with many bars, restaurants, and shops. After that, walk along the front of the lake, which is full of flowers and beautiful-colored houses.

6. Tremezzina

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Tremezzina is one of the largest and most interesting towns on Lake Como. It comprises four villages: Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, and Tremezzo. With so much to see here, we think it's best to spend three days here if you can, as a day trip won’t cut it or let you experience all that there is to see here.

It is home to the only island on the lake, Isola Comacina, which you can reach via a taxi boat. Some church ruins are on the island, and you can take a peaceful walk and enjoy the superb views.

Villa Carlotta is the main attraction here, and it is one of the most stunning hotels you could wish to visit. It was made famous by the 1932 film Grand Hotel, which starred Greta Garbo. Inside, there's a museum and beautiful gardens.

After relaxing in the hotel, head off to hike or bike through the many nature trails surrounding the area.

We could write a whole article on Tremezzina, but it should be near the top of your list of places to visit while visiting Lake Como.

7. Cernobbio

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Cernobbio is a small town between Mount Bisbino and Como. It is sometimes overlooked, making it less busy during the tourist season.

One of the best places to spend the day is Lido di Cernobbio, where you can relax on a sun lounger and stare out across the lake.

Two of the most famous villas on the lake can also be found here—Villa d’Este, which hosts the Ambrosetti forum annually, and Villa Erba, which hosts special events yearly.

Two great walking trails from here allow you to get up high for some lovely views of Lake Como. Sente di Sort is suitable for children and is not long, but be careful as there are exposed areas. If you have the stamina, you could hike part of Via dei Monti Lariani, a massive 125km/78m long, which some people walk over five days.

8. Lecco

Lecco_Lake Como
credits: phil_bird /depositphotos

Lecco is one of the lesser-known towns along Lake Como, but it's full of fantastic architecture, with mountains and the harbor acting as the perfect backdrop.

Lecco also has some beaches, which are rare for towns along the lake. It's the perfect place to spend the day in the perfect blue water while working on your tan. If sunbathing isn’t your thing, you could try kayaking or kite surfing. 

If you love walking or biking, good routes go up into the mountains. If you still want to get up high but don’t have the energy, you could take a cable car up to the top of Monte Resegone, which costs about 15 euros to take you up and down.

Lecco has a more low-key vibe than some other towns, but there is still plenty to do.

9. Colico

Colico, Italy
Credit: Depositphotos

Colico lies on the eastern shore of Lake Como, with Mount Legnone in the background. It is the highest mountain in the Lake Como region and is the perfect place for those who enjoy spending time in the outdoors.

There are three main beaches here, all small but well-kept and great places to spend the day. From here, you can try your hand at flyboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, kitesurfing, and sailing. This is the best for watersports out of all the towns on the list.

10. Gravedona

Credit: Depositphotos

Gravedona is on the western shore of Lake Como and is the perfect place for those who want a quiet holiday. We would go as far as saying it's the most peaceful place on the list.

The most famous building here is the Church of Santa Maria Del Tiglio, which was built in the 12th century and is an excellent example of late Romanesque art.

We recommend you head to Piazza Prà Castello, the town center, which offers magnificent views of Lake Como.

When you have explored enough, head to Serenella Beach, the nicest one in the area.

11. Dervio

Credits: rebaisilvano/depositphotos

Dervio is a picturesque town that offers a variety of activities for visitors looking to explore the beauty and culture of the region. It's known for its massive beach, which runs for 3km/1.8m, which makes it great for those who love water sports. There are several places where you can hire equipment and have lessons. You can also hire motorboats, which you can drive yourself, which is great if you have kids as it gets everyone out on the lake together.

One of the best things to do in the town is to walk around the paths surrounding the village. Here, you will find many good bars and restaurants and some of the best lake views on this list.

If you prefer a more laid-back time, check out Orezia Castle and the Church of San Leonardo. These historical landmarks provide a glimpse into the town’s past and are worth visiting.

Final Thoughts

That's a wrap on the 11 best towns along the shoreline of Lake Como.

After writing this, we wondered: Which is the best Italian lake—Como, Orta, Maggiore, or Garda? This is up for debate and something we will cover in an upcoming article.

If you have visited a town along the edge of Lake Como that we should have included in the article, please let us know by commenting below.

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