Lake Como is the perfect weekend escape, with towering mountains, beautiful villas and a legendary lake as the backdrop for your holiday.
Everyone talked about Lake Como when we told them we were moving to Italy, and we have been eager to get there to see what all the excitement is about.
Spoiler alert: It exceeded our expectations. Lake Como is stunning, and there is simply no better way to enjoy it than how we spent our time. Delicious food, great friends, and incredible views made for the perfect weekend at Lake Como. It was a wonderful introduction that portends several future visits.
When is the best time to visit Lake Como?
It’s hard to decide when the best time to visit Lake Como would be. Probably early September when it’s still warm but the crowds from Ferragosto (the Italian holiday that lasts all of August) have subsided. We went in early October and while the weather was nice, it was too cold to go swimming.
If you want Italian beaches, Sperlonga is the place to go.
The benefit was that there were no crowds. We stayed on the east of Lake Como, in Lierna; it was peaceful and tranquil there and most everywhere we saw along the eastern shore. In Varenna, a beautiful village north of Lierna, we didn’t need to wait in line for dinner or renting a boat, Airbnb prices were reasonable and there was only a bit of traffic. When we took the boat around the lake, Bellagio was definitely the busiest city.
Hiking around Lake Como
Our primary objective in visiting Lake Como was to meet up with some friends from Japan that we haven’t seen in a couple of years. I also wanted to guarantee that we got at least one hike in.
We found one close to our Airbnb and, as is always the case when hiking with kids, we didn’t know how things would go. But to set the stage for the 4 hours of hiking we were about to set out on, here is a picture:
Potty breaks. Lots of them. As our kids say in Italian, “mi scappa la pipi,” or, ”I have to go to the bathroom.“ That is basically what we did all the way up the mountain.
To top it off, Royce wasn’t feeling like hiking that day. It was so odd since he is normally the one leading us all up the mountain. We carried him most of the way up and down the trail. Luckily, Jeannie enjoyed holding hands with and making our friend-Matt get a work out so dad-Matt and I could take turns carrying Royce.
All’s well that ends well though. We saw beautiful views, had some great conversations, and got in a killer workout!
The next day we did a very small hike up to Castello di Vezio, or Ghost Castle. It felt like we were living a fairytale, with the magical castle surrounded by Lake Como, the Alps, and clear skies. Royce was more willing to walk this time, especially when he got to see an eagle owl.
Renting a boat at Lake Como
Another bucket list item for us was renting a boat and going out on the lake. You can rent a boat in any of the small towns along the lake. It was our last day and had to catch our flight out of Milan, so we only had it for 2 hours. We paid 70 euros an hour and drove it ourselves.
Just up the road from where we rented the boat was a pizzeria that did take-away pizza. What’s more Italian than eating pizza on a boat on Lake Como? We enjoyed watching planes land on the water, spying George Clooney’s villa and seeing the mansions and villages that climb the mountainsides around the lake.
It was pretty cold, especially the further south of Bellagio we went. Royce, who really doesn’t like being cold, settled on the floor near the front of the boat and didn’t complain once! Jeannie tried to pull a Titanic move at the front of the boat yelling, “I’m ok, Mom, this is fun!”
Best place to stay on Lake Como
For our situation, renting an Airbnb was perfect. We stayed in a really nice home that fit 6 of us. Just a short walk took us to the beach in Lierna where the kids threw rocks for hours. During the summer, Lierna would be ideal – it’s off the beaten path, with stunning views of Bellagio, easy access to the lake, and boat rentals.
Regardless of where you stay, make sure you get out and see more of the lake. It is so beautiful, and every peak and village has a new vantage point to offer.
Plan your trip:
Lake Como really is worth adding to any bucket list. Whether you visit by yourself or with friends and family, the peace and beauty of this alpine lake will give you memories you’ll treasure forever.