The Best Lake Como Travel Guide

Getting to Lake Como

Your Journey Begins: Getting to Lake Como

Lake Como is a beautiful destination in Italy, known for its deep blue waters and stunning scenery. There are several ways to get to Lake Como, including by car, train, bus, and plane.

By Car

If you’re looking for an adventure and want to enjoy the countryside, consider driving to Lake Como. The lake is located in the Lombardy region of Italy, and can be reached by car from many major cities in Italy and Europe.

The drive will take you through picturesque towns and villages, offering breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Road Conditions and Driving Tips

  • Road conditions: the roads around Lake Como can be narrow and winding, particularly in the hilly areas. While they offer breathtaking views, they can also be challenging to navigate. exercise caution and be prepared for narrow passages in some places.
  • Parking: many towns around Lake Como have limited parking space, especially in the historic centers. Look for designated parking lots or garages. Some hotels may offer parking facilities as well.
  • Speed limits: speed limits in Italy vary, but as a general guideline, it's 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas, 90-110 km/h (56-68 mph) on highways, and 70-90 km/h (43-56 mph) on other roads. Always obey posted speed limits.
  • Fuel stations: gas stations (called "distributori di benzina" or simply "benzinaio") are widely available in the Lake Como area. Most accept credit cards, but it's a good idea to carry some cash just in case.

Must-Visit Destinations by Car

  • Bellagio: known as the "Pearl of the Lake," Bellagio is a must-visit destination. Its cobbled streets and stunning viewpoints are best explored on foot, but parking is available near the ferry terminal.
  • Varenna: this charming village is easily accessible by car, and you'll find parking lots near the ferry terminal. Don't miss the romantic promenade along the lake.
  • Menaggio: a great starting point for exploring the central part of Lake Como. There are parking options near the town center and the lakefront.
  • Como: while the city itself can be busy and parking can be a challenge, it's worth a visit for its historic attractions, including the Como Cathedral.

Lake Ferries and Car Ferries

Lake Como has an extensive ferry network that connects many towns around the lake. While you may not take your car on the passenger ferries, there are car ferries available for those who want to explore different parts of the lake without driving the entire way.

Traffic and Traffic Regulations

  • Traffic congestion: during the peak summer months, some areas around Lake Como can experience traffic congestion, especially on weekends. Plan your journeys accordingly.
  • ZTL zones: be aware of Limited Traffic Zones (Zona a Traffico Limitato or ZTL) in some towns. These zones are restricted to residents and authorized vehicles, and entering them without permission can result in fines.

By Train

The main train station in Como is called Como San Giovanni. There are several train lines that connect Milan to Como, including Milano Centrale - Como S. Giovanni, Milano P.ta Garibaldi - Como S. Giovanni, and Milano Cadorna - Como Nord Lago. From these stations, you can easily reach other popular towns around Lake Como such as Bellagio and Varenna.

Arriving by Train

If you are arriving from a distant location, you'll likely land at one of the major airports in the region, such as Milan Malpensa Airport or Milan Linate Airport. From there, you can take a train to reach Lake Como.

  • From Milan Malpensa Airport: the Malpensa Express train connects the airport to the city of Milan's central station, Milano Centrale. From Milano Centrale, you can catch a train to Lake Como. The journey to Como's San Giovanni station takes about 40-60 minutes.
  • From Milan Linate Airport: take a shuttle bus to Milan's central station, Milano Centrale, and then catch a train to Lake Como.

Navigating the Lake by Train

Lake Como's railway network connects several towns along its shores, making it easy to explore the area.

  • Como: Como is the largest city on Lake Como, and its central station, Como San Giovanni, is well-connected to Milan. Trains run frequently, and the journey takes approximately 40-60 minutes. From Como, you can access other towns by ferry or bus.
  • Varenna: the Varenna-Esino-Perledo station is your gateway to the charming town of Varenna. Trains from Milan to Varenna take around 1.5-2 hours. Varenna is a great starting point for exploring the central part of the lake.
  • Lecco: located at the southeastern end of the lake, Lecco is accessible by train from Milan. The journey takes about an hour, and Lecco is a hub for various outdoor activities and excursions.

Scenic Train Routes

Lake Como offers some of the most scenic train routes in Italy. Keep an eye out for picturesque views as you travel along the lake.

  • Trenord: this regional train service provides a comfortable and convenient way to explore Lake Como's towns and landscapes. Trains are modern and well-maintained.

Practical Tips

  • Language: while Italian is the primary language, you can often find English-speaking staff at major train stations and tourist information centers.
  • Train stations: many train stations around Lake Como have luggage storage facilities, making it easy to explore without heavy bags.
  • Tickets and passes: consider purchasing a regional rail pass for added convenience and savings if you plan to use the train system extensively.

By Bus

If you are arriving from a nearby city or town, buses can be a cost-effective and efficient way to reach Lake Como.

  • From Milan: Milan's Stazione Centrale is a common starting point. You can catch a bus that will take you directly to Como, the largest city on Lake Como's shores. The journey typically takes around an hour, depending on traffic conditions.
  • From other nearby cities: Lake Como is well-connected to nearby cities such as Lecco, Bergamo, and Lugano (Switzerland) by bus. Check the timetables and routes to find the best option for your travel plans.

Navigating the Lake by Bus

Lake Como's bus network covers many towns along the lake, making it easy to explore the area.

  • Como: Como's bus station, Piazzale San Gottardo, serves as a central hub for bus services around the lake. From Como, you can access other towns and villages by bus, ferry, or train.
  • Bellagio: buses run from Como to Bellagio, one of Lake Como's most famous destinations. The scenic route provides breathtaking views of the lake and mountains.
  • Menaggio and Varenna: these towns are easily accessible by bus from Como. The routes offer picturesque views as you travel along the lake.

Scenic Bus Routes

  • Greenway del Lago: the Greenway bus service provides an excellent opportunity to explore Lake Como's stunning landscapes. It connects various towns along the western shore, offering breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Practical Tips

  • Language: while Italian is the primary language, you can often find English-speaking staff at major bus stations and tourist information centers.
  • Bus stations: major bus stations have ticket counters, information desks, and waiting areas. Some also have luggage storage facilities for your convenience.
  • Tickets and passes: consider purchasing a regional bus pass if you plan to use the bus system extensively during your visit.

By Plane

Flying is a convenient and efficient way to start your journey. In this guide, we'll provide you with essential information on how to reach Lake Como by plane.

  • Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP): located approximately 50 kilometers from Lake Como, Malpensa is the region's largest international airport. It offers a wide range of flights from major cities worldwide. Upon arrival, you have several options for reaching Lake Como:
    • Shuttle service: many shuttle services operate between Malpensa and Lake Como's major towns, including Como and Bellagio. These services are comfortable and offer a direct route to your destination.
    • Train: you can take a train from Malpensa to Milan's central station, Milano Centrale, and then transfer to a train heading to Como. The journey takes about an hour and a half.
    • Rental cars: car rental services are available at the airport, providing flexibility for travelers who prefer to explore at their own pace.
  • Milan Linate Airport (LIN): Linate is another option, located approximately 85 kilometers from Lake Como. While it's not as large as Malpensa, it serves several European destinations. Options for traveling to Lake Como from Linate include shuttle services, taxis, and rental cars.
  • Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport (BGY): Bergamo Airport, often referred to as Orio al Serio, is about 90 kilometers from Lake Como. It's well-connected to several European cities and is a hub for budget airlines. Shuttle services, buses, and rental cars are available for the journey to Lake Como.

Arriving at Lake Como

Once you arrive in Milan or Bergamo, various transportation options are available to reach Lake Como's charming towns:

  • Train: from Milano Centrale or Bergamo's train station, you can catch a train to Como or other towns around Lake Como. The train journey offers scenic views and is a convenient way to reach your destination.
  • Shuttle services: several shuttle companies operate routes from Milan's airports to Lake Como. These services often provide a direct and comfortable journey to your chosen town.
  • Rental Cars: if you prefer flexibility and plan to explore the region extensively, consider renting a car at the airport. Lake Como is well-connected by road, and having a car can be convenient for day trips and exploring hidden gems.

Practical Tips

  • Airport transportation: pre-book transportation from the airport to Lake Como to ensure a hassle-free arrival, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Flight timing: consider flight schedules that align with your transportation options to Lake Como. Check train and shuttle schedules to plan your journey efficiently.
  • Travel insurance: before your trip, ensure you have suitable travel insurance to cover any unexpected events or delays.

The most budget-friendly way to reach Lake Como is by bus. Whether you arrive by car, train, bus, or even by plane, Lake Como is well-connected and easily accessible, making it a convenient destination for travelers of all preferences.


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