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Lake Como 1 Day Itinerary: A Guide to Exploring the Best of the Lake in 24 Hours

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If you only have one day to spend in Lake Como here is the best Lake Como 1 day Itinerary: you can still experience the beauty and charm of this Italian gem.

With careful planning and a bit of flexibility, you can explore some of the most iconic sights and attractions in the area. I spent 3 days in Lake Como and here is my guide on how to best see all of Lake Como highlights, keep reading to see Lake Como 1 Day Itinerary!

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Lake Como 1 Day Itinerary: A Guide to Exploring the Best of the Lake in 24 Hours

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Start your day with a visit to Villa Carlotta, one of the most popular and picturesque villas on the lake. The villa’s interior is impressive, but the real highlight is the gardens, which are bursting with colorful flowers, fountains, and sculptures. Afterward, take a ferry ride to the neighboring towns of Varenna and Menaggio, both of which offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Finally, end your day with a visit to Bellagio, the “pearl of the lake,” where you can stroll along the waterfront promenade, explore the narrow streets and alleys of the historic center, and enjoy a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants.

How To Get To Lake Como

If you’re planning a one-day trip to Lake Como from Milan, there are several options to get there.

Lake Como By Train

One of the most convenient ways to get to Lake Como is by train. You can take a train from Milano Centrale to Varenna-Esino or Como, which takes around an hour. From there, you can take a ferry to Bellagio or any other town around the lake. Use Omio to book your trains. If you want a detailed guide on taking the train from Milan To Lake Como see my full guide.

If you’re coming from Milan, you can catch a direct train north to Como, but it’s recommended to spend an extra 15 minutes on the train and head to the town of Varenna instead. Varenna is a charming town on the eastern shore of Lake Como, and it’s a great starting point to explore the lake.

Driving To Lake Como

Driving in Italy to Lake Como is also an option, but it’s not recommended if you’re only visiting for a day. The roads around the lake can be narrow and winding, and parking can be difficult to find, especially during the high season.

However, if you’re planning to stay longer and explore the area, driving can be a good option.

I drove to Lake Como from Milan as I as heading to the Dolomites after. Rent your car in advance with Discover Cars.

Lake Como By Bus

If you’re on a budget, taking a bus to Lake Como can be a good option. There are several bus companies that operate between Milan and Como, such as Linea C10 and ASF Autolinee. The journey takes around an hour and a half, and the buses are comfortable and air-conditioned.

Once you arrive at Lake Como,

  • you can take a ferry or a bus to explore the different towns around the lake.
  • The Lake Como ferries are a great way to see the lake from a different perspective, and they run regularly throughout the day.

If you’re planning to visit Bellagio, you can take a ferry from Varenna or Como. There is also a ferry that runs from Bellagio to the town of Menaggio.

Overall, taking a train to Varenna or Como and then a ferry to explore the lake is the most convenient and enjoyable way to get to Lake Como for a day trip from Milan.

How To Get Around in Lake Como

The easiest way to get around is to use their ferries.  Click here for the ferry timetables, pricing, and to purchase your tickets in advance. if you’re going to Lake Como during busy summer time, the line to purchase tickets can get long and the ferry can sell out, if this happens, no worries!

You’ll get to board the next one. Ferries are usually every 15 minutes. Just a heads up, if you’re taking the last ferry and you don’t get on because it’s full. You will need to find another way to return! I saw a few people miss their last ferry and had to take an expensive taxi. 

Morning in Lake Como

If you have only one day to explore Lake Como, it’s best to start early to make the most of your time. Here are my recommendations on how to spend your morning in Lake Como.

Explore Varenna Town

You’ll most likely arrive in Varenna first since it has the direct train from Milan. Varenna is a picturesque town located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It’s a great place to start your day, with its narrow streets, colorful houses, and beautiful gardens.

You can take a stroll along the lakefront promenade, enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes, or explore the town’s historic landmarks.

One must-visit landmark is one of the most beautiful gardens in Lake Como,  Villa Monastero, a beautiful villa that dates back to the 12th century.  The villa is surrounded by lush gardens and offers stunning views of the lake. You can take a guided tour of the villa to learn about its history and architecture.

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lake como 1 day itinerary :Visit Villa Carlotta

After exploring Varenna, take the ferry and  head to Tremezzo to visit the stunning Villa Carlotta. This 18th-century villa is located on the western shore of Lake Como and is known for its beautiful gardens, art collection, and stunning views of the lake.

Milan To Lake Como
Villa Carlotta Garden in Lake Como

The villa’s gardens are a must-see, with their colorful flowers, fountains, and sculptures. You can also visit the villa’s art collection, which includes works by Canova, Thorvaldsen, and Hayez. The tickets to Visit Villa Carlotta is $15 and can be paid at the door.

Where To Have Lunch in Lake Como Options : lake como 1 day itinerary

 Here are some options for you to choose from.

Local Cuisine in Lake Como

When in Lake Como, you must try the local cuisine. The region is known for its fresh fish from the lake, pasta dishes, and risotto. Some popular local restaurants include:

  • La Punta: This restaurant offers a stunning view of the lake and serves delicious Italian dishes. Try their spaghetti alle vongole or their risotto alla pescatora.
  • Il Gatto Nero: This restaurant is located in Cernobbio and is known for its exquisite cuisine. Try their spaghetti with clams or their fillet of beef with foie gras.
  • Trattoria del Glicine: This restaurant is located in Bellagio and is known for its homemade pasta dishes. Try their spaghetti alla chitarra or their tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms.

Picnic Spots in Lake Como

If you’re looking for a more casual lunch option, you can always pack a picnic and enjoy it at one of the many beautiful spots around Lake Como. Here are some great picnic spots:

  • Villa Melzi Gardens: These gardens are located in Bellagio and offer stunning views of the lake. You can bring a blanket and enjoy your lunch under the shade of the trees.
  • Parco Mayer: This park is located in Como and offers a peaceful setting for a picnic. There are plenty of benches and tables to sit at, or you can spread out a blanket on the grass.
  • Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve: This nature reserve is located in Sorico and offers a beautiful setting for a picnic. You can enjoy your lunch by the river or under the shade of the trees.

lake como 1 day itinerary : Your Afternoon In Lake Como Activities

Explore Bellagio

After a delicious lunch, take the ferry and  take a stroll around the charming town of Bellagio. This picturesque town is located on the tip of the peninsula where the lake divides into two branches. It is known for its beautiful gardens, cobbled streets, and stunning views of the lake. You can explore the town’s narrow streets, visit local shops, and take in the stunning views of the lake from the promenade.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/lake-como-1-day-itinerary/
famous street in Bellagio

Make sure to visit Villa Melzi, a beautiful villa with a botanical garden that dates back to the early 19th century. The garden is home to a variety of exotic plants and flowers, and it offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the town.

Boat Tour of the Lake Como: lake como 1 day itinerary

After exploring Bellagio, one of the best and most popular things to do in Lake Como is take a boat tour of Lake Como.  hop on a boat and take a tour of the lake. This is an excellent way to see the lake’s stunning scenery and to get a different perspective on the surrounding area. During the tour, you will see several historic villas, including Villa Balbianello and Villa del Balbianello, which have been featured in several movies.

see my article on my recommend Lake Como boat tours: if you don’t have time to read the full article here is the best tour I recommend.

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With only a day in Lake Como this is a great way to group some of the most popular things to do in Lake Como.

The boat tour usually takes about a few hours, and you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful views of the lake. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard and explore the lake on your own.

Dinner and Evening in Lake Como

After a full day of exploring Lake Como, you’ll want to unwind and relax in the evening. Luckily, Lake Como has plenty of options to choose from for dinner and nightlife.

Restaurant Recommendations

For a romantic dinner with a stunning view, head to Ristorante La Vista in Bellagio. They serve traditional Italian food with a modern twist and have an extensive wine list. Another great option is Ristorante Il Gatto Nero in Cernobbio, which offers a mix of seafood and meat dishes.

If you’re looking for something more casual, try Pizzeria Balognett in Menaggio for delicious pizza and pasta. For a quick bite, head to Panificio San Giuseppe in Bellagio for their famous focaccia.

Nightlife Options

After dinner, there are several options for a night out in Lake Como. For a cozy atmosphere, head to Wine Bar Bellagio in Bellagio for a glass of wine or a cocktail. Another great option is Bar Il Molo in Varenna, which offers a variety of drinks and a beautiful view of the lake.

If you’re in the mood for dancing, head to Lido di Lenno in Lenno for their weekly DJ nights. Another popular spot is L’Angolo Della Musica in Como, which features live music and a lively atmosphere.

No matter what your evening plans entail, Lake Como has something for everyone.

Tours of Lake Como

If you want an easy and stress free way to visit Lake Como as a day trip. I highly recommend taking a day tour from Florence or Milan to Lake Como. Here are the best tours that are highly rated to book:

Tips For Visiting Lake Como 

If you only have one day to explore Lake Como, you’ll want to make the most of your time. Here are some tips and tricks to help you plan your itinerary and make the most of your visit:

  • Start early: To make the most of your day, start early. Consider taking the first train or boat to the lake so you can beat the crowds and have more time to explore.
  • Focus on the highlights: With only one day, it’s important to focus on the highlights. Consider visiting the three towns of Varenna, Menaggio, and Bellagio, which are all connected by a 15-minute ferry ride. These towns offer stunning views of the lake, picturesque streets, and plenty of opportunities to shop and dine.
  • Plan your transportation: To save time and make the most of your day, plan your transportation in advance. Consider purchasing a day pass for the ferry or taking a guided tour to make the most of your time.
  • Pack light: Since you’ll only be in Lake Como for one day, consider packing light. Bring only the essentials, such as a camera, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes.
  • Stay hydrated: With so much to see and do, it’s important to stay hydrated. Bring a refillable water bottle and refill it at the many water fountains throughout the towns.
  • Take breaks: While it’s tempting to try to see everything in one day, taking breaks is important to avoid burnout. Take breaks to relax, enjoy a coffee or gelato, and take in the stunning views of the lake.
  • Be respectful: Finally, be respectful of the local culture and customs. Dress appropriately, be mindful of noise levels, and always ask before taking photos of people or their property.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make the most of your one day in Lake Como and create unforgettable memories.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best ways to travel from Milan to Lake Como for a day trip?

The most convenient way to travel from Milan to Lake Como is by train. You can take a train from Milano Centrale station to Varenna-Esino station, which takes about an hour. From there, you can take a ferry to other towns on the lake. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Milan to Como and then take a ferry to other towns on the lake.

What are the top attractions to visit in Lake Como for a one day itinerary?

If you only have one day to explore Lake Como, make sure to visit the picturesque towns of Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio. You can also visit Villa Carlotta, a beautiful villa with stunning gardens and art collections. Villa del Balbianello is another must-visit attraction, which is a historic villa with beautiful gardens and views of the lake.

How much time should I spend in Bellagio during a Lake Como day trip?

Bellagio is one of the most popular towns on Lake Como, and it’s worth spending at least a few hours exploring. You can walk around the town’s charming streets, visit the gardens of Villa Melzi, and enjoy a meal at one of the many lakeside restaurants. If you want to see more of the lake, you can also take a ferry to other towns.

What is the cost of a Lake Como ferry day pass?

A Lake Como ferry day pass costs around €15-20 per person, depending on the season and the route you choose. The day pass allows you to take unlimited ferry rides on the lake for one day, so you can easily explore multiple towns.

Can I do a self-guided day trip from Milan to Lake Como?

Yes, you can easily do a self-guided day trip from Milan to Lake Como. You can take a train or bus to Como or Varenna-Esino, and then explore the lake on your own. There are plenty of ferry routes and schedules available, and you can also rent a bike or a kayak to explore the lake.

Is it worth visiting Lake Como for just one day?

While it’s always better to have more time to explore a destination, Lake Como is definitely worth visiting even if you only have one day. You can see the highlights of the lake, such as Bellagio and Villa del Balbianello, and enjoy the stunning views and scenery. Just make sure to plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time.

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