Dare Dream Discover

A Guide to Lake Como

A Guide to Lake Como

beautiful belagio

Lake Como also known as Lario is the 3rd largest of the Italian lakes. It is stunningly pretty with a backdrop of the Italian and Swiss Alps. So colourful with the azure blue water, set against the green forest and pastel coloured villages dotted here and there. It is one of the deepest lakes in Europe and is shaped like an upside down letter Y formed by glaciers. It is only a hour by train or car from Milan.

Its beautiful setting has made it a popular location for film shoots. Parts of the James Bond film Casino Royals were filmed here, as well as scenes from Oceans 12. George Clooney liked it so much he bought a villa in Laglio. Each village has its own unique charm and the forest and Alps make for perfect hiking.

lake como

view of lake como

Stay at Lake Como


I decided to base myself in Varenna. It has a train station and is only 15 mins by boat to Bellagio, the busiest and one of the most beautiful of the villages. Varenna is also very picturesque and romantic with a very relaxed atmosphere. It also has some extremely good restaurants. There are also many things to see and do here as well as frequent ferry services to take you to the other villages.


varenna seen from a boat

varenna with the castle on the hill

A lovely path by the lake takes you from the train station and ferryport area to the main part of the village with its waterfront cafes and main town square. There are also colourful shops, restaurants and homemade ice cream. Continuing uphill out of town will bring you to 2 of Varenna’s main attractions.

coastal footpath varenna

Villa Monastero

Once a Cistercian convent from 1208. It is famous for its botanical gardens with species from all over the world flourishing in the mild climate of the lake. Laid out in terraces it is a mass of splashes of colour and beautiful scents. It is a very tranquil spot to wander or sit and admire the views. From the gardens are excellent views back to Varena and down to the little hamlet of Fiumelatte. For a small extra fee you can also visit the 18th century villa. All 14 rooms are still furnished in the traditional style. I spent over 2 hours exploring and it was one of my favourite places for its peace and tranquility.

gardens - green

gardens - building view

gardens - purple flowers

gardens - feature

gardens - water view

gardens - close-up of flower

gardens - statue

gardens - facing across water

gardens - landscape view

gardens - branch

gardens - looking out

gardens - branch across

gardens - pink flower

gardens - tall

inside villa monastero

villa monastero - inside roof

Villa Cipressi is a hotel. It’s impressive gardens can also be visited for a small fee. It is also the setting every year for the celebration and get together of the ‘Patriarchi’. For a long time the inhabitants of Varenna have been nicknamed ‘Patriarchitt’.

Today the Patriarchi represent the elderly inhabitants of Varenna, the wise ones.

The Green way dei Patriarchi – Patriarch’s Greenway Path is a walking path dedicates to them. A way of seeing some of the landscape and most beautiful parts of Varenna. It is a 2 hour easy walk and the path is 6km long one way.

view of varenna

view - varenna

Castello Di Vezio

It is well worth the uphill hike to see the magnificent views from the castle walls. Situated next to the village of Vezio, it has stood guard over Varenna and the surrounding villages for 1,000 years. Originally built by the Lombard Queen Teodolinda, who spent many hours walking the battlements and looking out to sea.

It is said that her heart and soul are still are within the walls and that at night her spirit wanders the corridors of the castle. The first sight that greets you are ‘ghosts’ paper-mache statues as testament to this.

When I arrived, I was a little early and was the only person there, it was certainly very atmospheric. The views over Lake Como are breathtaking with the sunshine shimmering on the water and the Alps in the background.

beautiful blooms at lake como

view of lake como from the castle walls

view from the castle walls

the castle at varenna

lake como from castle

lake como from the castle

a fossil at the castle

a ghost guards the castle entrance

the castle tower

a ghost keeps watch

alone at the castle

set of armour

view from the castle

view of lake como from castle walls

Where to Stay in Varenna

There are many top end hotels in Varenna. I chose to stay at a small bed and breakfast run by a lovely local couple. It was in the perfect spot close to both the train station and the ferry terminal but in a lovely, quiet spot and with extremely hospitable hostsand only 200 metres from the lake. There were lovely views of the lake from my breakfast spot.


my friendly b and b hosts
My friendly hosts
my b and b room
My B&B room
my massage shower
Massage shower at the B&B

Food in Varenna

La Veranda dei Pescatori is perched on a hill with wonderful views of the lake and wonderful food. Varenna was a fishing village and you have to try the fish fresh from the lake. They also make their own wine which is very good.This place was so friendly and the service excellent. I also met some friendly locals and dinner lasted 3 hours.


view from la veranda dei pescatori

fresh fish from lake como

la veranda dei pescatori - view

Al Prato was recommended to me by my hosts and it didn’t disappoint. This time I opted for steak with pate and truffle oil, cooked perfectly.


food at al prato

Albergo Olivedo, their pumpkin gnocchi was one of the most delicious things I have tasted.


pumpkin gnocci

lake como fish dish

There are many scenic spots to stop for an aperitif.

aperatif with a view

Varenna is a beautiful little village and the ideal spot for exploring Lake Como.

varenna - landscape view

view down on varenna

street in varenna

sunset over lake como

lake como sunset

Bellagio – The Pearl of Lake Como


Bellagio is often known as The Pearl of Lake Como. It is at the junction of the upside down Y shaped lake. Coming by boat it is a stunning sight as it comes into view and draws nearer, with its colourful houses, magnificent villas, churches and surrounding forest. Everyone rushes to the rails to take photos, it is truly beautiful.

lynn on the boat to bellagio

view of bellagio

view- of bellagio landscape

view of bellagio - boat

view of bellagio - trees

There is a colourful main street full of bars, restaurants and shops. Off the main street are steep steps and alleyways, lovely to wander around and escape the hustle and bustle. The waterfront cafes are also a lovely spot to have an aperitif. The beautiful churches are also worth a visit.

bellagio street

bellagio streets

bellagio buildings


bellagio alley

colourful shop

church of bellagio

bellagio church

bellagio church tower

A beautiful lakefront promenade lined by flowers and cherry blossom trees is a popular spot for a walk. It will also lead you to the villa Melzi. This is a beautiful villa built between 1802 and 1813. The gardens are even more beautiful, at times looking like the setting for an impressionist painting. The gardens are enchanting with a lakeside promenade, classical statues, a small chapel, orangerie and a tranquil Japanese pond. Franz Liszt and Stenhal were 2 of the famous guests who stayed at the villa and I’m sure it provided them with a source of inspiration. Paths wind up and down and it is easy to find a place of solitude.

blossom lined promenade

blossom - promenade

gardens villa melzi

villa melzi

gardens the villa melzi

gardens of villa melzi

gardens of v m

villa melzi landscape




Bellagio is a beautiful place to spend a day.

trees bellagio

blossoms bellagio

nice spot for a beer

bellagio seen from the sea

looking down on como


scenery from the slow boat to como

I caught a slow boat from Varenna to Como city on the Southern tip of Lake Como. It was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. The boat criss crosses the lake stopping at all the small villages on the way. The scenery was spectacular.

scenery the slow boat to como

slow boat to como

the slow boat to como

scenery boat to como

como cathedral

Como is a lovely place to spend a day with lots to see and do. The most impressive building is the Duomo Di Como. It is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and was built between the 14th and 18th centuries.and is one of the most important religious buildings of Northern Italy. It is 87 metres long and 75 metres high.

como cathedral tower

como cathedral front

como cathedral walk

como cathedral angle

como cathedral clock

como cathedral inside ceiling

como cathedral chairs

como cathedral glass

como cathedral circular glass

como cathedral beuatiful glass

views from the funicular railway

A very pleasant walk along a waterfront lined with bars and restaurants brings you to the Como-Brunate funicular. It has been running since 1894 and is still going strong. The journey only takes 7 minutes and the views from the top are spectacular panoramic views over the city and the walk. A 35 minute walk brings you to the Volta lighthouse. It flashes green, white and red, the colours of the Italian flag. For the very a 2 hour hike takes you to the summit of Mount Boletto.

views - funicular railway

lynn at funicular railway

the funicular railway

funicular railway

the funicular railway - view

sights of como

como street

Como is also a lovely place just to wander through the streets or sit and have a cold beer.

having a cold beer



Just across the water from Varenna lies Menaggio. It is an important centre between the lakes and the mountains, at the fork for Lake Lugano. It only takes a few minutes by ferry. It is very picturesque with lovely squares and a lakeside promenade.

Book your stay at Lake Como.

lakeside promenade menaggio

main square menaggio

menaggio - landscape

ferry at menaggio

church at menaggio

menaggio from the sea


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