Visiting Italy: A Dream Come True, Part 2: Lake Como, a Day trip from Milan

The highlight of our trip to Milan was our day trip to Lake Como.

QUICK FACTS

Como di Lago is located in Italy’s northern Lombardy region. It is situated in the foothills of the Alps, Europe’s largest mountain range. It is a large lake, surrounded by businesses, residences and villages and it is STUNNING!

HOW TO GET THERE FROM MILAN

While I was planning our trip to Milan, I debated whether to book a day trip to Lake Como through a tour guide or if it was possible to do this independently. I searched all over the internet and found two very helpful blogs Wander Wisdom and Travel Alphas. You can click on the names to go directly to the info on a day trip from Milan to Como.

We decided to try this independently to save money and to use our time as we chose. We didn’t book anything in advance. In the morning, we went directly to the nearest local metro station and caught the train to Milano Centrale. (cost 1.50 Euros) From there we purchased tickets to Como San Giovanni Station. (cost 15 E)

While there you should check out some other villages. We visited Varenna and Bellagio which are both located to the north. You can catch a ferry from Como to Bellagio for 13 E and then from Bellagio to Varenna for an additional 9 E. Then take the ferry from Varenna-Esino train station back to Como. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out for us. Due to flooding no trains were coming back up to Varenna so we were forced to take a local ferry back to Como for 11 E and then catch the train back to Milano Centrale and finally back to our flat. The ferry ride back to Como was long but at least it had a bar and great scenery and someone brought cards, so we were able to play some spades.

WHILE IN LAKE COMO

Once you arrive to Como San Giovanni Station, pick up a map in the store. Walk through the station and directly across the street to some stairs. The stairs are surrounded by trees and greenery and at the bottom is a statue of a hand that you can high five and another that you can sit in.

Cross the street and keep straight until you run into a plaza. Walk through the plaza and you will be greeted by beautiful Lake Como, boats, hotels and eateries. As soon as you get to the water, go to the line for the ferries to purchase your tickets to the next village you plan to visit. The line can get very long, so it is important to purchase your tickets as soon as you arrive and give yourself at least 2-3 hours to explore Como.

After purchasing your tickets, walk the shoreline, dip your feet in the water and admire. Then head to the funicular, pay 5.50 E and take the ride up to marvel some more at Lake Como from above. Grab something to eat and walk the small town but do give yourself enough time to take the funicular back down and to get back to the ferry line.

WHILE IN BELLAGIO and VARENNA

…purchase your ferry ticket to your next destination, get lost in the cobblestoned hills and streets, make purchases in the local shops. We spent some time in a pretty park and had lunch by the water. We didn’t see George Clooney’s home or the expensive villas people talk about. We didn’t do our homework on Bellagio or Varenna.

We didn’t get to spend a significant amount of time in Varenna. When we arrived in Varenna we headed straight for the train station to purchase our tickets for later to go back to Milan. On the way we spotted a vegan food place that I had to check out, so while Shelly and I enjoyed a vegan beer, the men went on to the train station. But as I mentioned above, the men found out that we couldn’t purchase a return train ticket because the trains were not coming up to Varenna due to flooding from rainstorms in the previous days. So we had to find another way home. We walked back to the water and purchased a ticket to catch a ferry all the way back to Como. Shelly and I managed to make a few purchases before hopping on the ferry.

MY TIPS

Lake Como is not one to be missed while in Northern Italy. I can’t say enough about how beautiful it is and pictures do not do it justice. It is very easy to get to from Milan on your own. I suggest buying your tickets when you get to places, versus in advance. If we had purchased our return train ticket in advance, we would have lost out on our money. You can only purchase your ferry tickets on location, but they are reasonable. If you are doing a day trip start your journey early to have time to admire all aspects. Do your homework on the surrounding villages to get the most out of your visits. Better yet, if you can, book a stay in Lake Como. I plan on returning but it will be for days instead of mere hours. I just can’t seem to get Lake Como off my mind!