Imagine strolling through cobblestone streets lined with pastel-colored houses, sipping espresso at lakeside cafes, and exploring grand historic villas surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens. That’s exactly what you’ll get on a visit to Lago di Como, Italy! 

Attracting the rich and famous, you’ve probably heard of Lake Como due to its celebrity entourage. Not just a spot for the glitterati, Lake Como over the years has gained a reputation for being the place to be for a luxury lakeside vacation which includes plenty of R&R. If you’re not the type to get up and go every day of your vacation, you’ll enjoy lounging on the beach and soaking up the beauty of Lake Como Towns and its surroundings. 

Some who have never visited Lake Como believe that it’s a single town you can visit in one day, but that’s not the reality. Lake Como is a large, Y-shaped lake with 100 miles of shoreline and dozens of charming villages. The best way to visit is to stay for a more extended period of time where you can slow down the pace – especially with some Italian and European towns enacting travel fees for day-trippers to combat overtourism. 

But, if you’re going to stay a while, it’s important to decide which town you’re going to base yourself out of. In this guide to the towns of Lake Como, you’ll uncover the most notable towns so that you can  decide which one is best for your trip to Lake Como, Italy. 

Make sure to read our Local’s Guide to Lake Como first for an overview of when to visit, transportation, where to stay & eat, and more! 

Map of the Top Towns to Visit on Lake Como

Como

Como is located at the southern tip of Lake Como, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. It serves as the primary entry point to the lake and has excellent transportation links to Milan and other major cities. 

Because the town is the namesake of the lake as a whole, some may misinterpret Como as encapsulating all of Lake Como, when that is far from the truth. Como is a beautiful town, but it is not often considered the best town by Italian locals for your traditional Italian lake experience. 

Many visit Lake Como for a change of pace from the bustling cities. The town of Como has a more urban feel, which might not appeal to everyone. There are more amenities and restaurants available on this part of the lake, but that also means higher prices and thicker crowds. And, the other parts of the lake are quite far away if you plan to visit other towns during your stay, so it’s important to take that into account when considering the logistics of navigating the towns of Lake Como.

Still, the town of Como does have a lot to offer if it fits what you’re looking for! 

The Duomo di Como, for example, is one of the most important religious buildings in Northern Italy and a stunning Gothic-Renaissance relic of the past. The Villa Olmo, an elegant neoclassic villa with beautifully manicured gardens, is also in the town of Como, located right on the shore of the lake. 

You can also hop on board the Brunate Funicular train to the hilltop village of Brunate, which offers a picturesque, panoramic view of the lake. 

Staying in Como offers a blend of vibrant urban life and history, but other towns may appeal to those who want a slower pace for their Italian vacation. 

towns of lake como map italy

Bellagio

Bellagio is strategically located at the intersection of the lake’s three branches, right in the middle of Lake Como. This central location provides stunning views of the lake and easy access to other towns via boat or ferry.

In fact, Bellagio has been named “The Pearl of Lake Como” for its stunning natural beauty, panoramic views of the lake, and charming village streets. The central location makes it accessible if you want to explore other towns during your stay. 

Bellagio is a small town with cobblestoned, Instagram-worth streets lined with shops and restaurants. You can explore most of the town in a couple of hours. But, like Como, it is more touristy, meaning higher prices and larger crowds. The location right in the middle of the lake would make this an ideal choice for those who don’t want to stay in the same place every day. 

Highlights of Bellagio include Punta Spartivento, an observation deck that showcases the convergence of the three islands, and the Villa Melzi Gardens, a beautiful garden with a Japanese pond. The Basilica di San Giacomo is also quite a sight to see on the inside. 

Staying in Bellagio offers a unique blend of scenic beauty, luxury, and historic charm, but some may prefer a more laid-back, quaint experience. 

towns of lake como map italy

Varenna

Varenna is located on the eastern shore of Lake Como, directly opposite Bellagio. This charming town is nestled at the foot of the mountains and offers picturesque views of the lake and surrounding landscape. 

Varenna is known for its peaceful, less touristy atmosphere compared to some other towns on Lake Como. It boasts a rich history, beautiful medieval buildings, and picturesque narrow streets. There’s also frequent ferry access to other towns, such as Bellagio and Menagio. 

However, it is much quieter in the evenings, which may not appeal to those seeking vibrant nightlife or late-night dining options. While there are several charming restaurants and shops, there are certainly fewer options than in towns like Bellagio and Como. But with that, you’ll have a quaint, peaceful experience with a much less touristy atmosphere. 

Castello de Vizio is an absolutely magnificent ancient castle perched on the top of the hill that offers some of the most beautiful views of Lake Como. Visitors can explore the castle ruins, enjoy falconry displays, and hike the scenic trails. It’s about a one-hour hike from Varenna, making it a perfect outing for those with a love for the outdoors. 

Got a thing for ancient Italian castles and medieval citadels? Guests on tour with us experience a private, bespoke walking tour of the stunning Castelfranco Veneto and Europe’s largest Citadel! If you’re planning to visit Lake Como, why not explore the rest of Northern Italy and see all the hidden gems only the locals know about? 

There’s also the Walk of Lovers (Passeggiata degli Innamorati), a scenic walk along the water lined with colorful houses and lush greenery. Or, just a short walk from Varenna is the shortest river in Italy, the River Fiumelatte, flowing for only about 250 meters! Its name means “milk river,” derived from its frothy white waters.

If you’re looking to experience the serene side of Lake Como, Varenna is the place for you!

towns of lake como map italy

Menaggio

Menaggio is situated on the western shore of Lake Como, near the midpoint, making it a central hub for exploring the surrounding areas. It lies directly across from Varenna and just north of Bellagio, easily accessible by ferry. 

Menaggio is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, with plenty of activities for all ages. The town offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and water sports.

Menaggio’s lakefront promenade is one of the most beautiful and relaxing spots on the lake, ideal for leisurely strolls. Its central location and excellent ferry connections make it another ideal base for exploring other towns on Lake Como.

With one caveat, Menaggio is a very popular destination, so expect cramped spaces and higher prices. Still, it is a smaller town, so while there are restaurants and bars, the nightlife is limited. So if you’re looking for a quieter scene targeted towards families, Menaggio may be the best bet for you on Lake Como. 

Even if you’re not coming with your family and are wanting to be the first at tee time on the green, Menaggio is a great option. Being home to one of the oldest golf courses in Italy, the Menaggio & Cadenabbia. This course offers stunning views of the lakes and mountains, making it a bucket-list item for many golf enthusiasts! Another notable location is the Villa Mylius Vigoni, which is inspired by both Italian and German architecture. 

towns of lake como map italy

Lecco

Lecco is situated at the southeastern tip of Lake Como, making it the gateway to the lake’s eastern shores. Surrounded by marvelous mountains and lush greenery, Lecco offers a picturesque setting for visitors to explore.

Lecco boasts breathtaking natural scenery, with dramatic mountains, crystal-clear waters, and dreamy lakeside promenades. The area around Lecco offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing, sailing, and windsurfing. The town is known for its delicious cuisine and fresh seafood. 

While some may see this as a pro, Lecco is a much less touristy town with fewer attractions and amenities than the more popular locations. Additionally, Lecco is quite inaccessible from the other towns. The ferry from Lecco to Bellagio, for example, is an hour-and-a-half ride, which is something to take into account when planning. 

But Lecco still has a lot to offer if you don’t mind the location. Pescaenico is a quaint fishing village on the outskirts of Lecco that was featured as the setting in Alessandro Manzoni’s novel The Betrothed, one of the most famous pieces of Italian literature. You can also visit his former home, which has been turned into a museum. 

Overall, staying in Lecco is a great way to experience the quieter, more authentic side of Lake Como, but some visitors may not be able to overlook the lack of amenities and inaccessibility to the rest of the towns. 

Ultimately, there are hundreds of towns and villages on Lake Como, but these five are the most notable and encapsulate the most desirable locations on the lake to stay. 

Lake Como is an excellent setting for your Italian vacation, but if you’re looking to explore more of beautiful Northern Italy after your trip, we’ve got you covered!

 

When you join us on the Northern Italian Delights tour you get a backstage pass to experiencing Italy like a local while taking the guesswork out of your Italian vacation.  You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in UNESCO Heritage sites,  including the wine-soaked valleys of the rolling Prosecco Hills and numerous Palladian Villas! You’ll even meet some of the families that still call these villas home today!

 

You don’t have to choose between the quintessential boat rides on Lake Como and escaping the crowds to connect with the locals and a deeper understanding of Italian culture – you can have the best of both worlds by clicking here to discover your Italian vacation today!

 

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