13 Best Towns to Visit in Lake Como

Are you planning to head to the Lakes? Then I’m sure you’ll be wondering what are the best towns to visit in Lake Como. Check our guide to the best Lake Como towns to visit, live, eat, and go shopping!

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Ahhh, Lake Como is truly a special place. Visit on a nice sunny day, and the sun will be sparkling over the lake, while the blue sky and the peaks of the Alps provide the perfect backdrop. In winter, the lake is no less beautiful – mist rising from the lake lends everything a magical atmosphere, and there are few tourists to be seen.

Many people heading to Lake Como just visit as a day trip from Milan. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course – even just spending 1 day in Lake Como is enough to appreciate the beauty of the area, but it’s usually too short to get away from the tourist path.

We recommend a 3-day itinerary around Lake Como as a minimum, but as it’s often the case, the longer the better! However long you’ll decide to spend around Italy’s most spectacular lake, it’s useful to know about the best towns around Lake Como – which ones are the best for families, for nightlife, shopping, and food!

Check out our guide to the best towns and villages in Lake Como – which one is your favourite?

Best Towns in Lake Como – South (Como Branch)

1) Como

Isn’t Como wonderful from above?

No list of the best towns in Lake Como can pass without a mention of Como itself, the town that gave its name to the lake. The medieval historic center offers a maze of streets and alleys leading into vibrant squares with restaurants, bars, and boutique shops selling local goods like food, handmade leather items, and clothes. Piazza Volta is one of them, a great location for aperitivo!

Don’t miss out on the Duomo, also known as Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, where you will see the perfect fusion of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Inside, there are magnificent works of Milanese artists like Bernardino Luini and Gaudenzio Ferrari, as well as 17th-18th-century tapestries.

The Duomo is located about 10 minutes walk from the lakeside. Other sights worth checking out are the Romanesque Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, about 20 minutes walk from the Duomo across the historic center. Lovers of modern architecture should also check out the Casa del Fascio, one of the best examples of Italian rationalism.

Go for a stroll along the Lungolago, Como’s idyllic lakefront where you pass lush gardens and can visit Tempio Voltiano, a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta, the local 18th-century scientist behind the electric battery.

For the best views of Como, take the funicular to Brunate, a small town at 700 meters above Como. If you prefer walking, you will be rewarded with stunning views along the strenuous hike.

Getting there – we have a full article detailing how to get to Lake Como from Milan, including instructions on how to get to Como!

Where to StayVista Palazzo – Small Luxury Hotels of the World for a real treat! This hotel is one of the fanciest options in town. Otherwise, 73 Boutique Hotel is a solid option with chic decor and a good bar.

Best For: urban atmospheres and nightlife! There’s not much party scene around Lake Como, so head to Como if you’re looking for cocktail bars and live music!

2) Brunate

Brunate is worth visiting for more than the funicular from Como, a tourist attraction in itself, which has been running since 1894. Of course, the main reason for most people go to the small hillside town is the sweeping views stretching past Lake Como and all the way to the Alps. For this reason, you will often hear Brunate referred to as “The Balcony Over The Alps.”

Brunate gained its popularity in the 1800s when the Milanese upper middle class turned to the town as a popular holiday spot building the opulent Art Nouveau-style villas you can still admire today. But Brunate has roots dating back to the Celtic and Etruscan eras and was an important Roman settlement.

Make sure you walk to Faro Voltiano, a 29-meter-tall lighthouse and memorial to the local scientist Alessandro Volta in the outskirts of Brunate where you can climb up for even more spectacular views than from the town itself.

Getting there – take the funicular from the Como lakeside. Trips run every 15 minutes and a return ticket is €6.10 (€3.30 one-way).

Where to Stay – Varesello 20, a guesthouse immersed in nature.

Best For: views over the lake and the Alps.

3) Cernobbio


Cernobbio is one of the quieter towns around the lake, where you can escape the crowds of the more popular destinations.

The quaint old town takes you through narrow alleys and cobbled streets where you find exclusive boutique shops, local trattorias, and bars where you can enjoy a nice aperitivo. The main square, Piazza Risorgimento, is located on the lakefront, and a great place to people watch and enjoy the views.

From there, stroll along the lakefront promenade where you can take in the serenity of the water and surrounding nature, and snap photos of the iconic 20th-century Art Nouveau pier. If you want to go for a swim, make your way to Cernobbio’s Lido. Another attraction not to miss is the Church of San Vincenzo.

But Cernobbio is also home to some of the most stunning villas in Lake Como, like Villa d’Este, Villa Bernasconi, and Villa Erba. Another reason to visit is Materia, one of Lake Como’s Michelin-starred restaurants.

Getting there – walk from Como along the lakeside to reach Cernobbio in about 1 hour. Alternatively, take bus N6, C10 or C10, travel time is 20/30 minutes.

Where to Stay – Villa d’Este if you can afford €1000 per night for the most luxurious hotel in Lake Como! Otherwise, Hotel Miralago is a great midrange option with wonderful lake views!

Best For: Lake Como villas, luxury hotels, and Michelin-starred food!

4) Brienno

Brienno is one of the most charming towns in Lake Como, and a great place for families. Its pastel-colored houses meet the shore and narrow, streets wind through them taking you straight back to medieval times. The town dates back to the Celtic era with testaments of settlements already in the 4th century. Later the Romans were present in the village.

The most prominent landmark in Brienno is the Church of Sant’Anna which sits right on the lakefront. But it is also worth stepping inside the Church of Saints Nazario and Celso where you can see some impressive paintings by Gian Paolo Recchi, and not to mention the beautiful 16th-century stained glass windows.

Brienno has also preserved a fortification from World War I where you can see tunnels, bunkers, and service areas.

Getting there: take bus C10 or C10 from Como, travel time is approx 40 minutes.

Where to StayLG LAKE – Boutique Apartments and Rooms, with stylish accommodation perfect for couples and families.

Best For: families for its quiet atmosphere.

5) Nesso

Nesso and its waterfall

As opposed to the most popular towns around Lake Como, the tiny hamlet of Nesso offers a tranquil atmosphere surrounded by nature. This tiny village is located on the eastern shore of the Como branch of the lake, right opposite Brienno.

It has an enchanting old town with narrow alleyways, but the best thing about Nesso is the picturesque Orrido di Nesso waterfall, set in a narrow gorge (orrido in Italian). One of the most iconic nature images you will see in Lake Como is the one of the medieval stone bridge with the 200-meter tall waterfall as a backdrop.

Besides, many nature walks make Nesso the perfect place for a serene retreat on the otherwise busy Lake Como. A great option is the Strada Regia, a 40 km itinerary from Brunate to Bellagio – you can hike the final stretch, from Nesso to Bellagio. The itinerary starts from the Orrido, and total length is 12 km.

Getting there – take bus C30 from Como, travel time is approx 40 minutes.

Where to StayBriisa de Ness, a lakeside hotel with a great pizzeria!

Best For: hikers and lovers of the outdoors.

Best Towns in Lake Como – South (Lecco Branch)

6) Lecco

The Matitone, Lecco’s belltower

After Como, Lecco is the second-largest town on Lake Como, and lends its name to the entirety of the eastern branch.

Lecco is located at the southern tip of this branch of the lake, and boasts an impressively beautiful waterfront where you can enjoy walks along the promenade. The bustling squares of Piazza XX Settembre and Piazza Zermenati are a great place to sit down for coffee, food, and people-watching.

Make sure you climb the bell tower of the St.Nicolò Church for sweeping views of the terracotta rooftops and the lake. Also known as Il Matitone (the Big Pencil), it is one of Europe’s highest belltowers and Italy’s second highest at 96 meters. The church is also beautiful inside with several frescoes from medieval times.

Cross the 14th-century Old Bridge, also known as Visconti Bridge, and take a walk through the historic center where you will find several churches like the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Victory and Church of Santa Maria, which is one of the region’s oldest churches. There are also remains of old defensive walls dating back to the 13th century.

Finally, you find some of Lake Como’s impressive villas in Lecco, like Villa Manzoni where you can visit the museum dedicated to the 19th-century local author, Alessandro Manzoni.

Getting there – to reach Lecco from Milan there are hourly trains from Centrale and Garibaldi stations, travel time is about 45 minutes.

Where to StayVilla del Cigno, a charming boutique hotel about 1 km from the centre, surrounded by nature. SoloSonno is another good midrange option, closer to the centre but with nice mountain views!

Best For: those looking to escape the crowds on the Como branch of the lake. The Lecco side is far less busy.

7) Mandello del Lario

The town of Mandello, also known as Mandello del Lario, is just 10 km north of Lecco.

Mandello is home to the Moto Guzzi motorbikes and the official Moto Guzzi Museum, making it a haven for motorbike enthusiasts. The town itself invites you to walk along ancient cobbled streets through a maze of pastel-colored houses with foresty hills as a backdrop.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the walking trails around the village. The town is an important stop on the Sentiero del Viandante (the Wayfarer’s Path), taking you in the footsteps of the Romans, you can reach Varenna on one side and Lecco on the other.

The path is 60 km long in total and stretches along the entire Lecco branch of the lake. There’s a railway line running along the lake, allowing hikers to easily break the itinerary into day trips and return to their hotel by train. The Abbadia Lariana-Mandello section is just 3.5 km, or you can hike 5 km from Mandello to Lierna, located further north.

You might also find it interesting to explore the impressive calcareous, Dolomite pinnacles around Grigna, one of the highest mountains in this part of the Alps.

Getting there – there are hourly trains from Milan Centrale and Garibaldi station, also stopping at Lecco en route. Travel time from Milan is 55 minutes, 10 minutes from Lecco.

Where to StayIl Mallo Verde, a B&B offering great value for money and legendary breakfasts!

Best For: those who want to hike Sentiero del Viandante.

Best Towns in Lake Como – North and Center

8) Lenno

villa balbianello lenno
Scenic Villa Balbianello in Lenno

Lenno is a small town on Lake Como, mainly known for Villa Balbianello where famous movies like James Bond and Star Wars were filmed. This stunning 18th-century villa is located a 20-minute walk up the hill from Lenno, promising breathtaking lake views.

But there is more to Lenno than Villa Balbianello. Though small, it is a charming town to walk around the town center behind the harbour, where you can also enjoy a small lakefront promenade. Make sure you explore the 11th-century octagonal Baptistry, where you can admire the Baroque frescoes that were added during a renovation of the structure.

Another point of interest is the 11th-century crypt in the Church of Santo Stefano, built on top of 2000-year-old Roman baths.

In the historic center, you can navigate a maze of narrow streets surrounded by colourful houses. Explore small squares, alleys, and fountains, and don’t miss out on the medieval Tower of Segnalazione.

Getting there – bus C10 from Como reaches Lenno in about 1 hour, or you can opt for a lake ferry (30 min fast ferry/1 hour 15 slow ferry).

Where to StayHotel Plinio, honest midrange hotel steps away from the lakeside.

Best For: checking out Villa del Balbianello and other historic marvels.

9) Tremezzo

villa carlotta tremezzina
Villa Carlotta

Tremezzo is a small village on Lake Como, mainly known for the magnificent 17th-century Villa Carlotta – its splendid gardens are among the prettiest in the Lombardy region with its colourful rhododendrons.

Inside the villa, there is an impressive collection of art by big names like Antonio Canova, Francesco Hayez, and Bertel Thorvaldsen as well as a great collection of 19th-century furniture.

Besides Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo has a charming shore worth a stroll with some restaurants and cafés and a tiny historic center. The Grand Hotel is noteworthy as is the 12th-century Church of San Bartolomeo. If you like scenic walks, you should hike along the Selve di Rogaro trail to reach the medieval tower overlooking the lake for extraordinary views – especially at sunset!

Another option for a longer hike that will take up the majority of your day is the Greenway Lago di Como, a 10 km itinerary crossing 7 borghi (villages) – Colonno, Sala Comacina, Ossuccio, Lenno, Mezzegra, Tremezzo and Griante. The itinerary follows the Strada Regina, a road dating back to Roman times that is now closed to traffic and only open for hikers.

It takes approximately 4 hours to complete the whole Greenway – to head back to the starting point, you can take bus C10 or a lake ferry.

Getting there – bus C10 from Como reaches Tremezzo in about 1 hour, or you can take a lake ferry (30 min fast ferry/1 hour 15 slow ferry).

Where to Stay – Casa Lumaca, spacious rooms and great breakfasts in a villa surrounded by nature.

Best For: hiking and Villa Carlotta <3

10) Menaggio

Menaggio is a great lakeside town to base yourself in when exploring the surrounding towns, with both bus and ferry connections to major destinations.

I think it’s probably the best place in Lake Como to live for a while, the perfect compromise between lively town and charming village, all in all with a great, and not overtly touristy atmosphere.

The heart of Menaggio is the vibrant Piazza Garibaldi where you find lots of restaurants and bars. From there, you can disappear into the maze of narrow alleys and streets or take a leisurely stroll along the lakefront promenade. Menaggio also has a nice Lido where you can swim in summer.

Nature lovers will not only enjoy the hike up to the remains of Menaggio Castle, but also the many nature trails found around the town.

Most tourists tend to skip Menaggio as it doesn’t have big-ticket attractions like Bellagio and Varenna, but its chilled out atmosphere and the beauty of its historic centre make it worth visiting.

Getting there – take a lake ferry to reach Menaggio in 30/45 mins from Como. To get to Varenna or Bellagio, travel time is 15 minutes by ferry.

Where to StayLake Como Hostel for probably the best value for money anywhere on the lake, or Hotel Adler, a midrange hotel with large rooms and a pool overlooking the lake.

Best For: one of the least touristy towns around Lake Como, also perfect for families or those planning to stay longer.

11) Bellagio

bellagio streets

Bellagio is one of the most popular towns in Lake Como, located right at the centre of the lake, where the three branches meet.

It is hard to compete with the views in Bellagio. Make sure you take the steep walk up Salita Serbelloni for the most iconic view in the town. Bellagio is also a great shopping destination – you’ll find lots of boutique stores where you can shop for local leather goods, local food specialties including cheeses, and exclusive clothes.

It’s a tad touristy, and most restaurants cater more to tourists than locals, but Bellagio is definitely worth a stop for its buzzing, sophisticated atmosphere. Make sure you also book a visit of the Villa Serbelloni gardens, probably the best gardens around Lake Como.

Besides the picturesque old town, Punta Spartivento is a highlight of Bellagio. The park is on the far tip of the Y-shape of the lake and offers beautiful walks, swimming opportunities, and a restaurant only a 10-minute walk from the historic center.

Bellagio is also well-known by cyclists worldwide for being the starting point of the iconic climb to Madonna del Ghisallo, a tiny church filled with cycling mementos. The climb is featured in the Giro di Lombardia, and those who wish an even harder challenge can tackle the legendary Muro di Sormano, a short distance away. For more info, check our guide on things to do in Bellagio!

Getting there – take a lake ferry from Como to reach Bellagio in about an hour. To get to Varenna or Menaggio, travel time is 15 minutes by ferry.

Where to StayGrand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, one of the most luxurious in the whole of Lake Como! If you’re not a celebrity, Hotel Bellagio is a much more budget-friendly option right in the centre.

Best For: shopping and views!

12) Varenna

villa monastero varenna
The gardens of Villa Monastero

Varenna is worth visiting not just because of its beauty, but also because there’s a convenient station just a short distance away. It’s also located in a really scenic spot, right opposite Bellagio and Menaggio, with a convenient ferry link to both these Lake Como towns.

Varenna shares with Bellagio the top spot as Lake Como’s most beloved town. Walking around, it’s easy yo see why – the village is compact and easily walkable, with picturesque twisting alleyways and a really cute boat harbour where it’s fun to sit down for a spritz.

You can get there from the centre along the Passeggiata degli Innamorati, meaning Lovers Walk – yes, it’s a great place to take your significant other!

Walk a little further and you’ll find Villa Monastero, one of the best Lake Como villas with a really beautiful botanical garden.

Getting there – From Milan, take a Tirano-bound train and get off at Varenna-Esino station (1 hour). To get to Bellagio or Menaggio, travel time is 15 minutes by ferry.

Where to StayHotel Villa Cipressi, a luxury historic hotel with a spa, scenic lakeside location and even a botanical garden!

Best for: romantic atmosphere <3

13) Colico

Colico is located on the far northern tip of Lake Como, and it is known as a kite surf destination. Kite and wind surfers of all levels from all across Europe flock to this small town to ride the waves formed by the Breva winds. Even if you don’t kite surf, the beach and green space flanking it is a great place to relax and swim in the summer.

Colico is located on the road linking Lake Como with Milan, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Central Europe. When Spain ruled this part of Italy, Colico became a key strategic outpost. The remnants of the Fuentes Fort atop Monteggiolo hill stand as a testament to this era, blending seamlessly with the surrounding natural beauty. Another notable military installation is Fort Montecchio Nord, constructed during World War I.

Colico also marks the beginning of Valtellina, the valley formed by the Adda River’s journey from the Alps to Lake Como, known for its rich cuisine and beautiful landscapes. The Sentiero Valtellina, a dedicated cycling path traversing the valley from Colico to Bormio, is a great option for those who love travelling by bike safely, for one day or for longer.

Colico is also located next to the Nature Reserve of Pian di Spagna, where you can visit smaller lakes like Lake Mezzola and Lake Dascio and go for nature walks.

Getting there – trains on the Milan-Tirano line also stop at Colico. Travel time is 1 hour 30.

Where to Stay – Hotel Risi, a midrange option with good breakfast right on the lake, 200 m from the surf beaches.

Best For: surfing, cycling and food!