We are really lucky that we get to divide our time between London and Italy (at least we used to, before the pandemic). We are also incredibly spoiled as we have families in two different parts of Italy both equally stunning but could not be more different. My spouse’s family comes from the gorgeous area around Lake Como, so as you can imagine, we try to go back as often as we can. Here we have compiled a little guide to help you out when planning your next trip to this stunning location.
Where Is It
Just 25 miles north of Milan and surrounded by the Italian and Swiss Alps, Lake Como (also known as Lario) is the third largest of the Italian lakes (after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore)
How To Get There
Direct flights to Milan are your best choice, with the city only a 30 minutes train ride away from Lake Como (or a couple of hours drive if you prefer renting your own car). In case you are not a fan of trains and do not fancy driving, there are also plenty of car services that will pick you up at the airport and take you to your destination like My Lake Como.
Even before George Clooney bought a house here, Lake Como was quite the destination to visit. Think opulent historical villas, sleepy fishing villages, traditional trattorias, lush gardens, rugged mountains, smart hotels, and expensive boats.
Lake Como has so much to offer that it is simply the perfect destination for any family, from city lovers to outdoors enthusiasts, you can find it all here.
There is so much for kids to do! Italy is pretty family-friendly anyway but this area has a lot to offer for families. From the beach area of Lido di Menaggio, with its swimming pools and sandy beach, to immersing yourself in nature by kayaking in Bellagio, to boat rides and mini-golf. There is really so much to do, you will be spoiled with choice.
When To Visit
There isn’t really a bad season to visit but if you want to make the most of the sunny days and warm weather, then between April and October is really the best time to go.
We are extremely lucky as we get to call this part of Italy home so there is very little we don’t like about it. Lake Como is such a fabulous destination for families, people are warm and friendly and will always go the extra mile to help out, the food is amazing (but so it is pretty much everywhere in Italy) and there is so much to keep the family entertained.
Some of our favorite things to do:
- Visit the villas. The shores of the lake are surrounded by villas of various ages, surrounded by magnificent gardens. Book a visit or rent a boat and check out these gorgeous residences in their natural landscape. Not to be missed: Villa Carlotta, Villa del Balbianello (Star Wars fans, I am looking at you), Villa Serbelloni, Villa Melzi, and Villa Monastero.
- Como city: make sure to check out the city, wander around its cobblestone streets, soaking up the atmosphere, visit its historical sites, like the Tempio Voltiano and the Silk museum, and obviously stop for a bite to eat or a bit of shopping.
- Walking and hiking. Take your pick, from easy family walks to more difficult, skilled hikes lake Como can cater to everyone’s taste.
- Ride the funicular. If you are not a fan of hiking or walking you can still make the most of the panoramic views by taking the funicular to Brunate. This seven-minute journey connects Como to Brunate with a charming little train that made its first run back in 1894. Not the best if you are scared of heights as Brunate is located 700mt above sea level and the funicular runs at the maximum permitted gradient of 55%. Once you reach the viewpoint though, you will not be disappointed.
- Sailing. Dinghy sailing is very popular in the area, you will often stumble upon a regatta or sailing championship when visiting. If you have the inclination and time to dedicate a few hours of basic training, why not learn to sail on these beautiful waters?
- Water skiing. Many companies across the lake offer water skiing and waterboarding for all levels. They will provide you with equipment and instructors, so all you need to do is bring yourself and get ready to have some fun.
Lake Como is actually strategically positioned to be close enough to visit a few Italian cities, like Verona, Milan, Bergamo, and Venice, or drive to Lake Garda for a spot of lunch or a stop to Sirmione’s famous Spa. Talking about lakes, one of our favorite day trips is to Lake Lugano in Switzerland. The city of Lugano is a popular tourist destination, especially in spring when the camellias are in bloom.
Where To Eat
You can’t really go wrong with Italian food and let’s be honest, even the fussiest of kiddos will probably never say no to a delicious plate of pasta or slice of pizza. Lake Como has plenty to offer when it comes to good food, from gourmet and foodie options to more relaxed and family-friendly restaurants and cafes. Here are some of our favourites:
- Terrazza Belvedere in Bellagio. Panoramic view, stunning gourmet food, simple and sophisticated. On the pricier side but worth at least a stop.
- La Griglia if you want a taste for traditional dishes then this is the place for you. Located in Argegno, La Griglia offers the perfect combination of friendly staff, amazing food, and a relaxed atmosphere.
- La Baia, this is your to-go restaurant for dinner by the lake. This fantastic fish restaurant is located between Menaggio and Gravedona and it really is a must-stop. They also have pizzas on the menu for the pickiest of eaters.
- La Ca’ Vegia, right, this is my absolute favorite restaurant and one that we always go to when home. The restaurant is located in Peglio, a little drive from Lake Como but it’s definitely worth it. The setting is stunning and the food is simply too delicious to describe. If you are looking for authentic flavors and traditional dishes, this is the place for you.
Where To Stay
We always find that when traveling with kids we prefer to rent a property instead of booking a hotel room. My Lake Como has a selection of properties for you to choose from, all situated in lakeside towns on the western shores of the lake.
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