This upscale resort area is the third-largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. For the longest time, Lake Como has been the home to many aristocrats and celebrities. But it’s not all about the glitz and glamour; there are plenty of historical and cultural attractions alongside many palaces and villas. Being a popular holiday destination, it has plenty of tourists all year-round as well.
This is largely due to its picturesque sceneries with both the Swiss and Italian Alps in the backdrop amidst lush greenery as well as various towns surrounding it. Lake Como has also been a key location in various blockbuster movies like ‘Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones’, ‘Ocean’s Twelve’, and ‘Casino Royale‘.
What to do
Pay a visit to the neoclassical villas
Lake Como is home to many villas, some of which date back to the 17th and 18th century. Its neoclassical designs has a timeless charm and expansive gardens filled with flowers and the works. It remains one of the most popular attractions of the lake, and with great reason. Some of the more popular locations include Villa Monastero, Villa Melzi, Villa del Balbianello, and Villa Carlotta.
Soak up some sun on the beach
There is one downside to Lake Como’s beaches — it’s of the grey-pebble variety. If that is not a problem, then sunbathe the day away. Rezzonico, a small village overlooking Lake Como, has plenty of sun lounges as well as restaurants and bars. Abbadia Lariana of Lecco has plenty of summertime bars where one can soak up the sun while sipping on some Italian wine. Beach clubs are also slowly becoming a thing with the likes of the Lido di Bellagio and the Lido di Menaggio.
Take a boat tour to the neighbouring cities
As mentioned earlier, many towns are surrounding Lake Como, all of which can be easily accessed via boat tours and ferries. Private water taxis are also available but at a much costlier price. Arguably though, it does offer an incredible experience. Day trips to the neighbouring cities have become a tradition of sorts for tourists. Some popular names include Bellagio (not the hotel!), Como, and Varenna.
What to eat
Locanda dell’Oca Bianca
On the streets of Cantù resides the hotel and restaurant, Locanda dell’Oca Bianca. While it may only be a three-star hotel, its in-house restaurant is definitely something else. It sets itself apart from the many modern and contemporary eateries by staying true to its roots since 1992. Its dishes feature local produce, ensuring that it’s always fresh and carefully prepared. The classic Italian menu changes every month with just a touch of the avant-garde from the kitchen’s personnel.
Ristorante Alle Darsene di Loppia
For something modern, Ristorante Alle Darsene di Loppia at the town of Bellagio is a must-try. Fun fact: it’s a stone’s throw away from Villa Mezli. The restaurant offers a varied Italian and Meditteranean menu, which is available in ala carte as well as a tasting menu. It offers both indoor and outdoor seating so you can decide on which is best, depending on the weather. Once you’re done with a sumptuous meal, take a seat outside with a bottle of wine and enjoy the scenery of it all.
I Tigli in Theoria
If you’re looking for an unforgettable dining experience in Lake Como, there’s no place better than I Tigli in Theoria. This one-Michelin-star restaurant is located at the Theoria art gallery, showcasing how well fine-dining and art go together. The restaurant features high-quality cooking alongside ingredients and produce, which makes out into a truly remarkable dish. However, this is a place best experienced with a family and friends as it only has private dining areas. There is also the ‘Chef’s Table’, which gives you an inside look at the inner working of a state-of-the-art culinary kitchen.
Where to stay
Relais Villa Vittoria
Enchanting, elegant, and charming, that is what describes the Relais Villa Vittoria boutique hotel in Lake Como. It overlooks the gentle banks of the romantic lake, offering a great view with plenty of lush greenery nearby. The hotel itself has a storied history; during the second half of the 19th century, its mulberry gardens were used for raising silkworms to produce precious silk. Rooms are designed much like the rest of the hotel, carrying an air of opulence.
Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como
The Mandarin Oriental in Lake Como only recently launched but already boasts raving reviews. As it is part of the Mandarin Oriental brand, you can expect multiple levels of grandeur. The hotel seamlessly blends a mix of Italian style and elegance with oriental charm, finished with a centuries-old botanical park. To top it off, it has an infinity pool that opens up to the lake, allowing its guests to soak in the scenery from different angles. Its rooms and suites are elegantly designed as well, many of which come with a jawdropping view of the beautiful landscape around you.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Resting on the western shores of Lake Como resides the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, an iconic art nouveau masterpiece in its own right. Its views come second to none, giving you unparalleled access to the waters surrounding you. The Palace section of the hotel transports you back the olden times of splendour and extravagance. In total, the hotel boasts three pools, a lakeside private beach, a lavish private park, and exceptional accommodation. This is split into four ways — luxury rooms and suites, luxury rooftop suites, and the ultra-luxe villas.
(Header image: Lonely Planet; Hero image: Bellagio)