What to Do in Lake Como When it Rains

Are you in Lake Como (or planning to visit) but the weather is not cooperating? We’ve got you! Here’s what to do in Lake Como when it rains – including Bellagio and Varenna!

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We’ve written a fair bit about Lake Como recently, and as a result, we’ve visited the lake several times in all different seasons – in summer, when the lake is packed with tourists, in autumn and spring (the best times to visit Lake Como) and even winter, when the lake is really quiet and just magical.

Now, we all agree that Lake Como is lovely on a nice, sunny day, when the sky over the peak of the Alps is sapphire coloured and the sun shines over the deep blue waters of the Lake.

However, you may not be so lucky when you visit. The weather may be cloudy and gray, or rainy. I personally think that the fine mist you sometimes get in Lake Como in winter is beautiful, but what about heavy rain? That’s not fun in Lake Como!

Trouble is, it may indeed be rainy when you visit. That’s why we’ve come to your rescue with this guide on what to do in Como when it rains – and trust me, we’ve had a fair amount of rain between Como, Varenna and Bellagio!

Is Lake Como Worth Visiting in the Rain?

Let’s say you’re already in Milan and planning to visit Lake Como on a day trip, but the forecast says it will rain. Should you still go?

We say OH YES! For two reasons. First, even though rain may be on the forecast for the entire day, it’s unlikely it will rain for hours and hours. So you may have an hour or two at most of heavy rain (and we have 10 ideas on what to do during that time), and then just clouds… or even sunshine and a rainbow if you’re lucky!

Second, Lake Como is far less busy when it rains. You won’t have to fight for a place on the ferry or navigate crowds in the historic centre of the most popular Lake Como towns like Bellagio and Varenna.

So, the answer is YES! Lake Como is worth visiting in the rain!

bellagio street
Picturesque street in Bellagio

When is the Rainy Season on Lake Como?

This question is a lot harder to answer. Italy doesn’t have a ‘rainy season’ as such. It may rain any time during the year, for a few hours or longer.

The driest time of the year is usually winter, especially the month of January (which also happens to be the coldest). Spring is quite rainy, especially the months of March and April – late October and November can also be quite wet.

In summer, rainy days are quite rare, but you may come across some evening downpours – days when the weather is nice and sunny until 5 or 6 PM, then it all gets dark and starts raining heavily for a short while. If this is the case, just find a nice bar and sit down for an Aperol spritz, it will be over before you know it!

Finally, don’t forget that thanks to climate change, the weather in Lake Como is extremely unpredictable. There’s no ‘dry’ or ‘rainy’ season on Lake Como, so just visit when you can and make the most of it!

10 Things to do in Lake Como When It Rains

1) Visit a Villa 

villa olmo como
Villa Olmo in Como seen from the gardens

One of the best things to do in Lake Como when it rains is to visit the majestic villas. The lake is famous for its opulent villas, and there are plenty to choose from. Most of the villas have beautiful gardens, but rainy days are perfect for investigating the interior of the villas.

Among the most spectacular, you find Villa Carlotta, a 17th-century villa, famous for its vast art collection including paintings and sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries. Villa Balbianello is another emblematic place to visit for its art. Most famously, it includes a unique collection of 17th and 18th century furniture from England and France.

Villa Monastero is also great to visit with its house museum where 8 centuries of history are revealed through the meticulously decorated rooms.

2) Take a Walk in the Historic Center of Como 

Como’s historic center is a wonderful place to go for a stroll even when it rains. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants to stop by to warm up whenever you feel like it, but there are also many impressive attractions to visit. Step inside the Duomo of Como, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Inside, you find beautiful religious sculptures, intricate altarpieces, and stained glass windows.

Next to the Duomo, you find the old Town Hall, or Broletto as it is known locally. The Gothic facade is stunning with its arches and polychrome marble. These days, the Broletto is used for art exhibitions and events making it the perfect place to escape the rain.

Another attraction that is worth visiting is the Basilica of Sant’Abbondio, a Romanesque church right outside the city walls. Especially the 14th-century frescoes are magnificent!

3) See the Tempio Voltiano

The Tempio Voltiano is a neoclassical memorial to Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electrical battery and a local of Como. It was built in 1927, exactly 100 years after his death. 

There is a museum inside, dedicated to Volta’s life and inventions, with a great collection of scientific instruments used by scientists of his time. You can also see an example of the first electric battery.

Inside, you can also learn more about thermoelectricity and Volta’s contribution to discovering it in a short video displayed in the museum. The interior is also beautiful with columns holding up the central dome and inscriptions in the wall and ceiling.

The Como historic center

4) Tour the Silk Museum in Como

Como is famous for its silk production which became an important industry for the city already in the 16th century. So why not visit the Museo della Seta (Silk Museum) while you are there? The Silk Museum in Como is the world’s only silk museum that covers the entire silk production from the silk worms to the colored textiles.

You can explore a vast collection of items used in Como’s silk production throughout history from large machinery to different working tools. There are also old documents related to the industry – so you basically get the whole picture of how the luxurious silk items came to life.

5) Head to the Moto Guzzi Museum in Mandello

Motorcycle enthusiasts will be thrilled to visit the Moto Guzzi Museum in Mandello. The Moto Guzzi Eagle was born in this town in 1921 by the locals Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi. The two founders designed the world’s first dedicated touring bike and were trailblazers in creating motorcycles in Italy, from 1921 onwards.

There are over 80 motorbikes in the museum from classical bikes to sports bikes and it is really interesting to learn more about the history of the famous motorcycle brand. Besides the bikes, there are prototypes and experimental engines, and you can also watch a film about the founders and the Moto Guzzi development.

A secret corner of Lake Como

6) Visit a Spa

A rainy day in Lake Como is perfect for a relaxing spa day. There are multiple spas around the lake set in historical villas, but why not go big and stay in the upscale Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio? Whether you want a manicure or a complete body treatment, you will be in good hands. The spa has received several celebrities like Madonna and Elton John.

Villa d’Este is another opulent Lake Como villa with a magnificent spa department. The 16th-century villa is a fabulous blend of modern and classic where you can enjoy anything from caviar mud masks to massages. Also Tremezzo has a great spa at the Grand Hotel in the 18th-century Villa Emilia, with a range of signature spa experiences with Santa Maria Novella products.

Besides body treatments, you can relax in heated pools, saunas, and steam rooms which will warm you up before exploring more of Lake Como in the rain.

sebadas sardinia making
A cooking class is a great way to spend a rainy day!

7) Take a Cooking Class

When in Italy, a cooking class can’t possibly go wrong and there is no better way to spend a rainy day in Lake Como than creating mouthwatering Italian food. There are many different cooking classes to choose from but rest assured that you will definitely learn to make pasta, pizza, or even local specialties like Pizzoccheri, perfect if you eat gluten free!

The simplicity of the ingredients in Italian cuisine is mindblowing so while you might not have a wood oven at home to replicate a true Italian pizza, you will surely be able to make pasta dishes when you get back home.

We can’t think of any better activity to forget about a rainy, gray day when travelling than taking a local cooking class. Check out a selection of cooking classes below – you might even learn how to make delightful Tiramisu for dessert!

8) Go Wine Tasting

palazzo vertemate franchi vineyard
A vineyard in Chiavenna, not far from Lake Como

Lake Como’s surrounding hills are dotted with vineyards and you are always welcome to visit the local wineries to try some of their best selections. Going on a wine tasting tour around Lake Como is lovely even on a rainy day.

The wineries will take you on a tour of the property and the wine cellars so you can learn more about the production of the wines, and the history of the wineries as well as the grapes they grow.

Depending on the wine tour you choose, you can expect to visit 1-3 wineries where you will sample a few of the wines at each winery. Some tours include food or cheese, olives, or other light snacks to enjoy with the wines. Depending on how much it rains, you might get muddy on your feet walking in the vineyards, so make sure you pick the right footwear.

The majority of wineries are located near the northern tip of the lake, or south of Lecco, with several wineries found in the vicinity of Montevecchia. Alternatively, you can head to Valtellina just east of northern Lake Como, where the winemaking tradition dates back 2000 years.

Here are some wine-tasting tours near Lake Como, perfect for a rainy day!

9) Go Shopping

Both Bellagio and Como are excellent shopping destinations. With a wealth of individual stores selling anything from handmade leather goods and antiques to traditional silk from the region, local cheeses, and wines, there are so many options for unique shopping that you are bound to find something you’ll love.

Stroll through the historic center of Bellagio and you will come across great shops on streets like Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, Salita Antonio Mella, and along the waterfront. But you also find some shops walking up the famous Salita Serbelloni.

In Como, you will find the main shopping area in the center. There are some good pedestrian shopping streets not to miss like Via Vittorio Emanuele II, Via Cinque Giornate, and Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. If the rain is too heavy to enjoy walking between shops, you can head right outside town to Centro Commerciale Grandate, a shopping center with plenty of shops and restaurants.

You might also enjoy Foxtown, a large outlet in the Swiss town of Mendrisio, only a 25-minute drive from Como, where you can shop for luxury items at a discounted price.

10) Have a Michelin-Starred Meal

If you are a foodie and enjoy fine dining you will be delighted to know that Lake Como is home to two Michelin-starred restaurants, with two more located just a quick drive away.

Materia in Cernobbio has received a Michelin star for its creative, original, and innovative cooking. The chef, Davide Caranchini, uses modern cooking techniques he learned when working in northern Europe with local foods found around Lake Como, and dishes are based on fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices.

Kitchen in Como also holds one Michelin star. The high-end restaurant is located amidst a lush, private park giving it an intimate atmosphere. Kitchen’s chef, Andrea, creates excellent Italian food with a modern twist which you can experience through the two tasting menus, Experience and Green.

Both restaurants offer multi-course menus and food is paired with the best wines. Fresh vegetables are grown in their private greenhouses guaranteeing fresh produce in every dish.

Looking for more posts about Lake Como? There you are!