10 Things You Need To Know Before You Visit Lake Como

lake como top tips

You’ve seen the pictures. Wordsworth had a lot of enthusiastic words to say about it. He thought it was ‘the treasure whom the earth kept to herself’. In short, there's a reason George Clooney has gone Como crazy. 

Lake Como is beautiful, a proper patch of Italian idyll. It's also a place which rewards the planners of this world, the list-makers, the forward thinkers, the sorts of people who don't miss trains and those who buy guidebooks. For the spontaneous, Como is not. 

Here are a few tips to get you started. 

Lake Como Top Tips

1. If you can drive and you are legally allowed to hire a car in Italy, rent a car. 

You will be tempted to take the train from Milan. 'It costs a mere €5', you will reason with yourself, ‘and there are BOATS’. Yes, the train is cheap, but once you get to Como the trains disappear. Boats are hardly the nifty navigational tool you'd imagine either, the 'slow' boat takes two hours to get from the bottom of the lake to the middle.

2. The boat is not as glamorous as you envisage either

... more like a sort of Ferry you might take to France and about as expensive. A day card will set you back around €30. 

Lake Como Tips

3. It is literally impossible to get from Lake Como to Lake Garda by train, without retreating back to Milan.

I spent a good few days researching transport routes, but aside from hopping into a blabla car or taking several trains to Bergamo, you have no alternative. I’m sorry, it just can't be done.

4. Spend the money.

You need cash in Como. Yes, the landscape is stunning, but excellent holidays are not borne from panoramic views alone.

There are a wealth of beautiful hotels, villas, restaurants and bars to be visited - nobody wants to be the one who has to say no to a lakeside Negroni because they spent too much money climbing up the Duomo in Milan. 

5. It's not easy to swim in the Lake

There are a few lidos in Como (Lido di Vila Olma and Lido di Cernobbi are two of the best) but it's quite tricky to find a patch which doesn't feel like a pond and which won't have you spending a disproportionate amount of time swimming away from geese and ducks. 

Lake Como Top Tips

6. People who love Como.

1. Old people.

2. Stylish amorous couples

3. Young families

7. Como is, somewhat deceivingly, not at the heart of the lake.

In fact, it is an epic boat ride away from the three stars of the show - Bellagio, Menaggio, and Varenna. Como is well worth a visit for the Duomo alone, but if you're planning to see as many places as possible, it's best to base yourself further in. 

Lake Como Tips

8. Take the Como-Brunate Funicular

For those of you who get a kick out of nabbing that prized double decker bus seat (top of bus, front seat) this is the dream. The ride up to Brunate takes around ten minutes and offers 'unparalleled views' of the entire lake. Hike up to the lighthouse for some 'unparalleled tranquility' too. 

9. Wet Weather Plan? 

Evacuate. You cannot frolic by a lake in drizzle. 

10. Plan, Plan, Plan. 

It's hard to be spontaneous in Lake Como, unless you want to stay in one place. There's an astounding amount to do in Lake Como, but (for fear of harping on like my mother), this really is a place where that age-old phrase 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail' comes into practice.