How to take a day trip to Lake Como from Milan
Milan is a lovely city, full of amazing architecture, centuries worth of history and a buzzing atmosphere. But like any major city it can be hectic, busy and especially when the heat descends a little claustrophobic. We took a welcome break out of the sweltering heat of the city out to the stunning shores of lake Como only an hour away from Milan.
We decided instead of heading to the larger and busier town of Como, the namesake of the lake, that we would instead visit a couple of smaller towns further down the coast of the lake. Varenna would be our first port of call, the multicoloured terraced houses of this wonderful Mediterranean village are picture perfect. The sun was glistening off the beautiful deep blue of the water and finally we could relax after the chaos of the city.
Strolling around the cobbled streets of Varenna we were instantly blown away by the sheer beauty of this place. We had heard tales of it years back when family friends visited but truly words can never do it justice. But what better way to experience the majesty of the lake than by venturing out on to the shimmering waters themselves.
The next port of call was an equally tranquilly little town called Bellagio, just 15 minutes by ferry across the still waters. Bellagio sits at the point in which Lake Como splits apart to form two legs, this means that although it isn’t actually an island, with the water surrounding much of it and it has the feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world! Away from the hustle and bustle, the crowds and the noise. Here you can hear the birds in the trees, the water gently lapping against the rocky beaches and the chatter of locals in their beautiful native tongue.
This place just oozes class; grand old hotels cling to the cliff sides that surround the lake, restaurants perch on the waters edge and a maze of steep cobbled streets lead on to boutique shops. A million miles away from the graffitied boulevards of Milan.
If you ever get the chance to visit Lake Como then grab it with both hands, we have visited some stunning places around the world, the Swiss Alps, Dolomites and the mesmerizing Slovenia lakes and rivers, but this has to be up there with the best. The atmosphere is so serine and the villages so picturesque and quaint, to explore this region is to truly step inside those postcard images of Italy we always dreamt of.
But the adventure didn’t end there, as much as Bellagio is a quiet and unassuming town sat on the lakes edge it is rather popular with the tourists. We decided to rent a bike out from a local shop and explore further afield where local men sit and play chess in the afternoon sun and old women adorned in headscarves sweep up outside of their pastel coloured traditional houses.
Biking around the lake is a wonderful way to take in one of the most amazing locations in the world. Surrounded by mountains, sunny and timelessly picture perfect the view from the roads which wind their way around the lake are nothing short of spectacular.
However, this isn’t just a gentle stroll in the park, the roads, lanes and paths that take you around the lake are sometimes steep and hard going! This is one of the most picturesque workouts you are ever likely to come across!
The bike shop is located just across from the ferry station and the woman there is really quite lovely, she will sort you out with a bike that fits you perfectly! But if you stick with it you will be richly rewarded by some little hidden spots where you can enjoy the crystal clear waters all to yourself, if the summer you can even take a dip in there waters too!
Little churches, boats bobbing up and down on the gentle tide of the lake, narrow streets leading to private arches and little beaches next to the old wooden houses. This place truly is paradise!
Cycling around the lake is the perfect way to see so much and yet stop whenever you like to take in yet another wonderful village, amazing viewpoint and secret lagoons. There is just so much to take in and so many angles from which to take in the beautiful scenery around here that we would certainly recommend spending a few days touring on the bike if you really want to see it all. But even in a day there is much you can see and make it back to Milan in time for dinner!
How to get there
The train from Milan to Varenna leaves regularly throughout the day. The journey only takes just over 1 hour and is absolutely stunning, I could hardly concentrate on writing my journal as I was fixated by the wonderful scenery that flashed before my eyes once we left the suburbs. A return costs around 13 EUR.
The ferry over to Bellagio runs really quite frequently and if you need to you can even take cars or bikes over too. The cost 9 Euros each for a return which is really not that bad at all. The ride over is nothing short of spectacular, to get out and onto the lake really gives you a 360 perspective of the amazing mountainous scenery that surrounds you. You can even see out to some snow capped peaks in the distance. I would love to spend more time around here and explore the mountains in more detail.