Ever since I saw Star Wars Episode II at the movie theatre, I have dreamt of visiting Lake Como, Italy. That such an incredibly beautiful place could exist on this earth, let alone this galaxy, was amazing to me. I needed to see it with my own eyes. Luckily for me, I was able to convince Andrew that we should go, so we booked a trip to Lake Como and Bellagio, Italy for the bank holiday weekend.
My dream came true! Lake Como exceeded our expectations all around. It is such a beautiful, relaxing, fabulous place and I would recommend it to anyone. We had a wonderful stay.
To have a fabulous trip, here are my recommendations!
Lake Como and Bellagio, Italy
Getting to Bellagio, Lake Como
Seeing as we were only going to be in Bellagio a couple days, we decided to rent a car instead of doing some sort of train/bus combination. It was relatively cheap and took us less than two hours to get from the airport in Milan to our Airbnb in Bellagio, even with stops.
Once you get to the lake, the ride becomes very interesting and picturesque, winding along roads that are cut into the hillside.
Where to Stay in Lake Como
We chose Bellagio for its location and for the fact that it is one of the larger towns along Lake Como. I am so glad we chose Bellagio – it is truly the pearl of Lake Como. It is beautiful, conveniently located and had plenty of restaurants to choose from at night. It had more of a village feel than Como and was right on the lake.
We expected Bellagio to be crowded during a holiday weekend in the summer, but it really wasn’t bad. It was full enough to feel hip, but not too full to do what we wanted.
We booked an Airbnb for our stay, just outside Bellagio city center. We were able to walk into town within 15 minutes, mostly on sidewalks, and it was well lit at night. The little flat was brightly coloured and a bit dated, but the location and balcony couldn’t be beat.
In my Lake Como dreams, I pictured a stay at one of the beautiful, old hotels with a fabulous pool on the lake. In real life and on a real budget, an Airbnb made a lot more sense for us. Once I found that there was a lido in Bellagio not far from where we were staying, I was fine to replace my dream with a new, more realistic dream.
What to Do in Lake Como
We didn’t plan all that much before getting to Lake Como, as we weren’t sure how easy it would be for us to get to town and around the lake or how long that would take. We ended up doing everything we wanted to and all at a fairly leisurely pace. There is plenty to do in Lake Como and I only wish we had had more time to explore this magical place.
Lido di Bellagio
Our first full day in Bellagio started in the sun at the Lido di Bellagio. We rented chairs for €8 a piece and spent a couple hours relaxing on the lake.
The views were beautiful.
The Lido turns into a nightclub, so I was a little afraid it would be trashy. It was not and it was a lot of guests like us, who were visiting and wanted a lakeside retreat. Bellagio is small enough that the people who sat next to us at the Lido were also seated next to us at dinner in town the night before!
There are lounge chairs and daybeds for rent, and there are a restaurant and bar there that serve coffee, food and beautiful drinks. Ladders lead down from the lido into the lake for swimming. It smells very lake-y, but the water is warm and divine on a hot summer’s day!
I Giardina di Villa Melzi
When we tired of lounging on the lake, we explored the gardens of Villa Melzi, located just next door.
The plant life is very varied so it makes for an interesting wander along the lake.
Can’t beat the classic view!
The villa is still used, so you can’t go inside. Imagine staying here!
If you’re planning to visit Bellagio, it’s worth a stop. I wouldn’t come to Bellagio just to see the gardens, unless you love plants.
Boating on Lake Como
We received a recommendation from a friend to rent a boat and cruise around Lake Como. We are so glad we did! This was absolutely the highlight of the trip. It was so relaxing to be out on the water, and the views were stunning.
Our friends recommended renting a boat from Turati Centro Nautico Lario in Argegno, so we took an early morning ferry over to ensure we’d be some of the first people out on the lake. It does get much more crowded and choppy on the lake in the afternoons. As you can see, Argegno is adorable.
After some quick instructions, we were ready to go with Captain Andrew at the helm. Our little boat didn’t go all that fast, but it was perfect for exploring the villas along the lake. The boat rental comes with a handy guide for spotting some of the more famous villas along the lake. We first went to say hello to George and Amal!
Then we popped by the Versace villa. Or at least I think it was Versace…
Before heading back to Argegno, we hopped out and went for a swim. It was a perfect morning. Seeing Como by boat allowed us views we’d have never gotten otherwise!
The staff at Turati Centro Nautico Lario were super professional and the boat was new, clean and easy to use. They thought of everything with the villa maps and even spare deodorants in the bathroom in case you needed some after a swim!
Villa del Balbianello
Seeing as Star Wars inspired our entire trip, we had to go see Villa del Balbianello! We weren’t going to at first, but once we realized how easy (and fast) it is to get around Lake Como by ferry, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
There are two routes to get to Villa del Balbianello on foot. The easy way and the way where you take a longer route up the highest part of the hill. Being us, we took the hill route.
It was not nearly as strenuous as the signs made it out to be and we got to the villa in half the time it said it should take. Not sure what these dogs are, but we made it through unscathed!
The villa is just as magical as I could have imagined.
We opted for the ticket to just the gardens. You could get a ticket that would allow you into the villa for a guided tour. At twice the price, we decided to skip it. It wasn’t a very large villa and we were more interested in the gardens. After visiting, we made the right choice.
The gardens overlook the beautiful turquoise lake. It really is like a fairytale!
Somehow, we were able to snag a picture without a whole parade of boats in it – a Villa del Balbianello miracle!
I’m sure we only scratched the surface of things to do in Lake Como and Bellagio, Italy, but what we had time for was truly fabulous.
Eat & Drink
When in Italy, eat and drink all the things! As expected, we ate so well in Bellagio and the drinks weren’t half bad either.
We booked this restaurant thanks to a gluten-free Instagram recommendation, and we were not disappointed! The service was fabulous, the courtyard we sat in was beautiful and the food was delicious. For a nice, but not stuffy meal, we would highly recommend La Fontana. Ask to sit outside!
What a meal! Andrew found this restaurant on TripAdvisor and booked it for Saturday night. This was our “splurge” meal of the trip.
Terrazza Barchetta was fabulous. We arrived on the earlier side, for a 7:30pm reservation. The restaurant was basically empty when we got there, but within an hour they started to turn people away as it was completely full.
We had a delicious meal, complete with gluten-free bread!
For a wonderful dinner in Bellagio, Terrazza Barchetta is a great choice.
Because we were in Italy, we had gelato every day, but this trip was my first time trying granita. A speciality from Sicily, while we were walking through Lenno to Villa del Balbianello in the summer heat, I was tempted to try it.
It was delicious! We got a blood orange granita to share from La Fabbrica del Gelato. It was perfect.
As for drinks, we had some lovely red wines with our dinners. The best drinks of Lake Como and Bellagio were those we enjoyed before dinner at one of the various outdoor bars right on the lake.
There are many bars and hotels with tables out along the water, enough that we were able to stop at a different one each night! Of course, I had to get an Aperol spritz as my aperitif. In the August heat, it was so refreshing. Sanremo has lovely trees to sit under and they serve apertivo with your drink. Divine.
Our last night we stopped by Hotel Florence. With our new portrait lens, my spritz came out very nice!
Enoteca Cava Turacciolo
We also checked out the beautiful Enoteca Cava Turacciolo which felt like a cave and was awesome (unfortuantely this made for bad pictures in the lovely lowl light!). I had a delicious sparkling rose.
This spot is a must for wine lovers! Based on the cheese and meats plate shared by the table next to us, this is a great spot for a snack or meal, too.
Good to Know
- I love Italy. Lake Como is my favourite place I’ve visited there.
- On the way there, we drove from Milan Linate to Bellagio via Lecco and on the way back to the airport, we took the route via Como. The ride from Milan via Como is more picturesque and definitely scarier, as the road is not very wide and has some tight turns and dramatic cliff drops. As the passenger, it was beautiful. If you have extra time, I recommend driving from Milan to Bellagio via Como that way.
- The ferry is absolutely the best way to get around the lake. It is much faster than driving in most cases and much more scenic! We found the ferries to be timely and they ran frequently enough that we never had to wait around long for one. There are a couple different ones, so make sure you are getting on the right one for where you want to go!
- The walk from our Airbnb to the town of Bellagio had mostly sidewalk access and was very well-lit at night. We felt very safe and made the trek into town almost every night.
- Lake Como is very hazy. Some days it was difficult to see the mountains! It was a bit of a bummer to have our views obstructed by pollution. I would love to see Lake Como on a clear day, but that didn’t happen for us on this trip, unfortunately.
- You do not need to travel to another town to rent a boat. There are spots in Bellagio and most villages. The boat rental place we chose came very highly recommended and the TripAdvisor reviews are also glowing, so we knew we wanted to go there.