How to organize a Lake Como day trip from Milan? This is one of the most frequent questions from foreign visitors in Milan that want to organize a tour outside the city, and find online or they understand from locals that a one-day trip on lake Como is a must.
Como is actually a pretty big lake, there are plenty of villages, villas, sightseeing attractions and it might seem hard to put down a plan, especially if you are afraid to miss something and you have only one day. Furthermore, is lake Como really worth a visit?
To answer the last question, well, the answer is yes! Of course, it depends what you are looking for during your stay, if you are just looking for the fashion shopping experience of a lifetime, then it is better to stay in Milan. But for everyone else, Como is a place where you can get art, culture, lifestyle, good food and relax all at once. Some reviews have put lake Como on the top of the list of the best lakes in the world, you might or might not agree, but there is clearly something worth there to see.
Proximity is a key factor for choosing Como as a one-day tour destination from Milan. If you have a car, from Milan you just need to take the highway and you will arrive in Como in around one hour. On a busy day it is not always easy to find a parking on the streets, but you rest assured that there are a few parking silos (one of the closest to the lake is Valduce), where there is always some space, and you won’t spend more than 10 or 15 Euros for one day parking. For those who don’t have a car, getting to lake Como by train is also very convinient. From Milan Centrale or Garibaldi station there are couple of trains every hour which get to Como San Giovanni station. From Milan Cadorna station there is a train usually once per hour which will get you to Como Lago station. The former is a faster option but you will need to walk a bit to get to Como center (15 minutes) or you can arrange a taxi. The latter arrives exactly on the border of the lake, 5 minutes from the main square of the town.
Now we come to the main question. What to do on lake Como? Lake Como is a place which would need a few days to fully discover and enjoy, but if the time doesn’t allow you, then, yes, you can have a glimpse of all you need to see in a one-day tour. It is just about organization.
Make sure you leave from Milan (or any other neighbor cities) not after 9am and get to Como by 10 am.
Como town is quite pretty, the historical center is a maze of little pedestrian streets surrounded by the old Roman walls. The Duomo, the main cathedral of the town stands on a little square which is very charming for a coffee or a light lunch. You can decide to scroll around as soon as you arrive or in the evening before you go back to Milan or to your next destination. But make sure you give enough time to the lake, which is what makes this area really quite unique.
From now on, what you need is a boat (you can always use a car to move around, but seeing the lake from the lake is by far much better). There are basically two options. The ferries, which start from Piazza Cavour and connect all the villages on the lake. Pay attention, there is a fast one, which brings you to Bellagio (the center of the lake) in 45 minutes, and many others which take the slow way, around 2 hours to do the same tour stopping in each single village. (in the high season, consider always some queue for the ticket).
Or you can get a private boat, which will be flexible in terms of departure time and duration. This is clearly a more expensive option, but will give you a very different experience in terms of enjoyment and in what you can see.
If you take a map of the lake, look for Como town and Isola Comacina (the only island on the lake). In the area between these two locations there are plenty of villages, such as Cernobbio, Blevio and Torno, Moltrasio, Carate and Laglio, Nesso. They are very nice and all worth a visit, but if you have a single day, just plan to see them from the lake without stopping. A ferry won’t allow you to see everything and won’t be able to get too close, while a private boat will bring you very near to each sightseeing spot in around 1 hour.
Watching the map again, look for Isola Comacina and Varenna. Basically, all the sightseeing spots where you will have time to stop for the one-day tour are located here and are the following:
– Isola Comacina, the only island of the lake, with a nice walk around the ruins of the old village;
– Villa Balbianello, the most famous villa on the lake, where Star Wars and James Bond Casino Royal have been shot;
– Villa Carlotta, one of the nicest botanical gardens in Italy;
– Bellagio, the village which stands exactly in the center of the lake, with a nice pedestrian center and the gardens of Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni which are open to public;
– Varenna, a nice typical village with pastello coloured houses.
Taking a ferry will usually allow you to stop in Bellagio, and from there decide if you have time to go somewhere else or just go back to Como directly. It is better to have a clear plan in order to avoid missing the fast ferries and then being in trouble to organize plans differently
A private boat tour will allow you to see all the aforementioned spots, and on a full day tour stop in most of them.
Plan ahead also a nice lunch, possibly based on local fish food, which is prepared in a very particular way.
We hope these pieces of information have been helpful for you to organize your lake Como one day tour, if you have any question, don’t hesitate to contact us.
We will end our article by pointing out our suggestions if you would like to consider a Lake Como day trip from Milan with one of our private boats:
- a one-hour boat tour, if you are just looking to be on a private boat for a short time and take a few souvenir pictures, while arranging the rest of your day in Como or on the lake;
- a three or a four-hour boat tour, if you want to take it easy from Milan, or if you don’t have too much time to spend in Como, but you still want to see all the spots from the lake, maybe with one or two quick stops, and still not have the feeling to be rushing;
- a six or eight hour boat tour, if you want to enjoy at best the lake, be able to spend some time in a very typical restaurant, and get to know closely lake Como.