Lake Como is one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy. Is Lake Como worth visiting?
Absolutely! Lake Como is worth visiting. It’s a lovely lake with beautiful villas, breathtaking scenery, and notable landmarks. Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Como, Madonna del Ghisallo in Magreglio, and Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo are only three of the many places that visitors love about Lake Como.
Those, in my opinion, are the main reason why you should visit Lake Como. And the places I mentioned are only three of the heaven-touched tourist attractions in Lake Como. You can find more in this post; I think they’re something you’d never regret visiting!
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So, by the way, what & where is Lake Como?
Lake Como is Italy’s third-largest lake in Lombardy, northern Italy. It is one of the country’s best nature destinations, attracting more than a million tourists yearly in the past decade.
Here’s the map of Lake Como:
This glacial lake, 146 square kilometers (56 sq mi), “Y” in shape, has exceptional qualities that make it compelling to visit. It has a paradisiacal landscape and elegant villas that both never fail to give awe to its wandering visitors.
Believe it or not, Lake Como has inspired people since Roman times! Lake Como became the aristocrats’ favorite destination back in the day. And now, many multimillionaires and celebrities like Madonna, Gianni Versace, and Richard Branson have properties in Lake Como.
Chosen by some of the wealthiest people in the world as their home and rest houses, it’s not hard to believe that Lake Como has a heavenly appearance. And in this blog post, you will find which parts of Lake Como appear like paradise.
You can bookmark this post as it links to the Google Maps coordinates of these places in Lake Como. There is also practical information here. So, this can also serve as your guide when visiting Lake Como.
Let me continue the discussion by giving my opinion on which of these paradise-like places in Lake Como you should not miss when you visit:
What Should You Not Miss In Lake Como?
Based on my observation, Lake Como has three kinds of attractions that define the lake’s characteristics as a beautiful destination: historical sites, scenic spots, and charming villas. Of the many tourist attractions in Lake Como, the three unmissable are Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Villa del Balbianello, and Punta Spartivento.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Como—the historical site. Villa del Balbianello in Lenno—is the villa. Lastly, Punta Spartivento in Bellagio—a scenic spot.
We’ll discuss more of these stunning places in the next part of this post.
By the way, I just want you to know that I have more articles about northern Italy. They would help you discover attractions in this part of Italy. If you like visiting historical sites and scenic spots, I’m positive you’d find my articles helpful.
You can start with this article: Is Northern Italy Worth Visiting? 10 Reasons Why Must Visit
If you are traveling to Europe and looking for places like Lake Como, discover these alternatives (lakes with beautiful towns/villages):
- Lake Garda. The largest lake in Italy (Best alternative lake in Italy). Read:
- Lake of Sainte-Croix. The lake of the largest gorge in France/Europe near Moustiers Sainte Marie (Discover 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie)
- Lake Geneva. Come here to see the stunning views of the Swiss/French Alps & UNESCO heritage vineyards. You can learn from the following posts:
- Lake Thun. It is the lake in the Jungfrau region with several castles, caves, and adventurous things to do. You can discover lake Thun from my posts:
- Lake Lucerne. It is the lake of Lucerne, one of Switzerland’s best destinations. Learn more:
10 Unmissable places to visit in Lake Como (Things to do)
Here is the summary of the 10 places you must not miss seeing in Lake Como. They are arranged from west to east, Como to Lecco:
- Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Como
- Tempio Voltiano in Como
- Faro Voltiano in Brunate (Como Viewpoint)
- Villa del Balbianello in Lenno
- Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo
- Punta Spartivento in Bellagio
- Madonna del Ghisallo in Magreglio
- Villa Monastero in Varenna
- Orrido di Bellano
- Belvedere Parco Valentino in Lecco
Again, I based my selection on three things: awe-inspiring views, historical value, and overall impression of other people (to be more objective). You can expect that these places are remarkable and loved by many visitors (not only me).
If you need a place to stay in Lake Como, you can use this link to see the best hotel deals in Lake Como. The hotel browser has a map feature to help you find hotels at the most accessible/convenient locations. You may click this link to see guides, cruise trips, dining, and other fun activities in Lake Como.
Let’s kick off the list with Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Lake Como’s one of the most historical and Instagrammable attractions.
1. Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Como
Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Como or Como Cathedral is said to be the last Gothic cathedral built in Italy. It is located in the heart of the city of Como, only a few steps away from the lake.
Como Cathedral is an unmissable place to visit around Lake Como for its gigantic size and magnificent interior. It may not be as impressive as the basilica in Venice or Rome, but the artworks and the decorations inside the church are unquestionably stunning. They will be the highlight of your visit to the cathedral.
The high ceiling of the Como cathedral’s nave has gorgeous portraits of saints and golden decorations, giving you a feeling that you’re visiting a palace. Above the transept is a spectacular ceiling and dome decorated with golden octagons. It’s mesmerizing, thanks to the lighting and symmetry that are just so good to see.
I must not forget to mention the ancient-looking tapestries inside Como Cathedral along the church’s nave. They give the church a medieval flair and you a throwback vibe into the centuries in the past. Como cathedral’s golden altars and different paintings are worth seeing as well.
During the Christmas season in Como (from the last week of November to the first week of January), the city celebrates the Como Magic Light festival. During this time, colorful lights are projected onto the facades of the Piazza del Duomo (and other parts of the city), turning the Como into a magical winter wonderland.
Here is the exact location of Como Cathedral on Google Maps.
2. Tempio Voltiano in Como
The next unmissable place to visit in Lake Como is Tempio Voltiano, still in Como. You can find it at the shore of Lake Como, north of the city. Tempio Voltiano is a white building with a neoclassical design that you’ll first see after passing by the docks coming from the train station.
Tempio Voltiano is a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electrical battery, hence its name. It is Lake Como’s unmissable place to see because it’s easy to visit, it has beautiful architecture, and from here, you can already have a beautiful view of the lake.
Most importantly, suppose you’re an engineer like me or curious about things that changed the world. Then, visiting Tempio Voltiano is a must. Tempio Voltiano may be small, but here you can find fascinating artifacts used by Alessandro Volta in his invention of batteries.
Tempio Voltiano was built in 1927 to celebrate Alessandro Volta’s 100th death anniversary. His awards, personal belongings, and his collection of scientific instruments are safely kept and exhibited inside the museum. You must not miss seeing his batteries or the early voltaic piles.
The museum is usually open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Entry is 2 EUR. However, you can enter the museum for free every first Sunday of the month. Here is the exact location of Tempio Voltiano on Google Maps.
3. Faro Voltiano in Brunate (Como Viewpoint)
The next unmissable place to see in Lake Como lies in Brunate, a village on top of the hills east of Como. This place is Faro Voltiano (Volta Lighthouse), a lighthouse of Lake Como dedicated to Alessandro Volta.
Faro Voltiano is a 29-meter-high octagonal tower that overlooks Lake Como. It is hard to spot during the day from the lake or city. But at night, you will see it illuminates the lake and the surrounding towns with the colors of the Italian flag, red, white, and green.
I consider Faro Voltiano an unmissable place to visit in Lake Como because of the gorgeous views you can see from it. The southwest part of the lake will all be yours to see! The scenery extends even up to the distant Alps.
Faro Voltiano has fantastic views from north to west to south. Thus, I believe Faro Voltiano is one of the best places to catch sunset around Lake Como. In addition, there are also benches where you can just sit back and relax while enjoying the view.
Sometimes, depending on the weather, clouds stay at an elevation lower than the viewpoint of Faro Voltiano. This phenomenon is called the sea of clouds, and it’s gonna feel so paradisiacal when you witness one.
You can enter the Faro Voltiano for 2 EUR (1 EUR for kids) to see better views. I must say that the stairs inside of the structure are pretty Instagrammable, especially when you view them from the bottom.
To go to the Volta Lighthouse, first, you need to get a funicular ride from Como to Brunate. From Brunate, you can walk for 30 minutes to Volta Lighthouse or catch bus T3, which cuts travel time in half. If you prefer walking, Google Maps coordinates to Volta Lighthouse shall help you navigate.
4. Villa del Balbianello in Lenno
Looking for a magical place in Lake Como? You must be looking for Villa de Balbianello in Lenno. Beauty is relative, but perhaps it’s the most beautiful villa in Lake Como – the reason why visiting it is an unmissable thing to do.
Villa del Balbianello sits in a lovely location. Perched on the tip of a hilly peninsula in the western leg of Lake Como, Villa del Balbianello lets you have so pleasant, slightly overlooking views of Lake Como. Visiting the villa shall feel tranquil, as well, for being secluded from the rest of the town.
The history of Villa del Balbianello stretches back to the 13th century when it wasn’t yet a villa but a Franciscan monastery. This is why you can see a chapel in the villa when you visit today. By the late 18th century, the property was bought by a cardinal. It was only then that it was converted into a villa.
A series of transfers of ownership followed soon after. It is when most of the evolution and beautification of the villa occurred. A loggia, a secret passage, and more improvements were added to the site. The outcome of the changes was beautiful, and many people can testify too!
In the past decade, nearly 140,000 visitors came to Villa del Balbianello in a year! It was even featured in several movies like “A Month by the Lake” (1995) and “Casino Royale” (2006), and believe it or not, in “Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones” (2002).
For me, the garden is the best part of Villa del Balbianello. The plants covering the walls of some buildings in the villa and vines crawling columns of the loggia are utterly fairytale! The trees and grasses are neatly trimmed, and flowers bloom – heavenly ambiance!
The garden is meticulously landscaped and designed in the Italian style that it will probably make you press your shutter so many times during your visit. Your experience will much be better if you come on a bright sunny day when the water around the villa is sparkling blue!
To visit Villa del Balbianello, you must first go to Lenno. From Lenno, you can hike for 25 minutes to the villa or ride a Taxi-Boats from the beach of Lenno. Entry is 15 EUR. You can find detailed visitor information from this link.
5. Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo
Hit two birds with one stone by visiting Villa Carlotta, the fourth unmissable place to see in Lake Como. It is both a museum and a villa with a really picturesque garden to satisfy your wanderlust!
Villa Carlotta will let you experience a kind of Italian artistic, historical, and botanical heritage. Inside and outside the main building, you’ll find a collection of artworks entailing the villa’s history and the story of its past owners.
From the pictures, you might think that Villa Carlotta is just a “small” place only composed of one main building and a garden in front of it. But nope, it is slightly massive (70,000 square meters), and it could take you two to three hours to entirely explore the place.
Like Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta is a well-maintained place where you can see overlooking views of Lake Como. Villa del Balbianello shall feel more magical, but Villa Carlotta has a botanical garden and a notable collection of 17th to 18th centuries sculptures to give a unique experience when visiting Lake Como.
Discover nature’s little wonders in Villa Carlotta’s 8-hectare botanical garden. See various beautiful trees, cacti, flowers, and shrubs along different trails, some with panoramic viewpoints. It will be a lovely stroll, made special by Italian botanical goodness.
Villa Carlotta’s museums, on the other hand, feature many masterpieces, sculptures, and antique objects from the previous three centuries. Some of them may interest you, but the one you would like to see in the museum is the view from the small balcony with the views of the lake. It’s breathtaking!
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a very Instagrammable spot in Villa Carlotta, the front garden is absolutely the one. The fountain and the staircase look so gorgeous! Just find a good angle and add some creativity, and you’ll love what you’ll be sharing with the online world.
6. Punta Spartivento in Bellagio
Bellagio is Lake Como’s one of the most beautiful towns. Many people call it the pearl of Lake Como for being in an awe-inspiring location and having picturesque streets, fantastic restaurants, and charming little details.
There are many towns in Lake Como, but if there’s a town you should not miss visiting in Lake Como, it’s Bellagio, indeed! Its streets are totally perfect for leisurely wanderings. But, for me, Punta Spartivento is the unmissable place to see in this unmissable town.
Punta Spartivento, or the Cape of Split Wind, is a park located on the tip of the Bellagio peninsula where the three parts of Lake Como meet. Its location, almost in the middle of Lake Como, lets you see nearly 270 degrees of scenic sights! Especially on a sunny day, scenes of glittering water and dramatic mountains in Punta Spartivento will surely awe-inspire you.
If you stay in Bellagio for the night, make Punta Spartivento your first destination the following day if the weather forecast is good. Alpine lakes usually have magical views during sunrise.
Punta Spartivento has a small garden area and a restaurant too. Usually, it has fewer people. Thus if you want a peaceful breakfast, this park is probably where you’d like to visit. You can find adorable wild swans in Punta Spartivento too!
7. Madonna del Ghisallo in Magreglio
Looking for something unique to discover in Lake Como? Madonna del Ghisallo in Magreglio is the one! Well, Madonna del Ghisallo is not only unique but also scenic and mystic… a place definitely not to be missed when visiting Lake Como.
Madonna del Ghisallo is a three-in-one destination. It is a museum, a scenic spot, and a shrine where legends say a Marian apparition took place. If you’re a cyclist, Madonna del Ghisallo is totally for you because it’s a place dedicated to people like you.
The reason for that roots in the legend of Ghisallo. He is a medieval count who traveled to the hamlet of Magreglio and was attacked by bandits during his travels. But the apparition of the Virgin Mary in the shrine helped him to be safe.
Since then, the apparition became well known as La Madonna del Ghisallo and became a patron of local travelers. The shrine became one of the favorite stops of different cyclists joining cycling events in Lombardy after centuries.
Because of the increasing popularity of the shrine for cyclists, Magreglio’s local priest proposed to the pope to make La Madonna del Ghisallo the patroness of the cyclist. The pope agreed, and soon after, it became a place dedicated to cyclists.
When you visit the small chapel in Madonna del Ghisallo, you will be amazed at how unusual it is. The walls were all covered with pro-bicycling memorabilia. In the middle of the chapel burns an eternal flame that remembers the cyclists who have died in cycling.
There are a few other museums for cycling and restaurants around the area. It can be a quick visit if you won’t see them all. But, indeed, the views from Madonna del Ghisallo are absolutely scenic! If you come sometime in early spring, you can see as far as the snowcapped mountains of the distant Alps.
Here is the exact location of Madonna del Ghisallo on Google Maps. You can visit Madonna del Ghisallo in Magreglio directly from Bellagio using bus #C36. The bus departs Bellagio every day, every 2 hours, starting at 10:40 am.
8. Villa Monastero in Varenna
On the west coast of Lake Como lies Varenna, also one of the most beautiful towns you can visit in Lake Como. Like Bellagio, a visit to Varenna is an unmissable thing to do.
Varenna is an unmissable place in Lake Como because of three reasons:
- First, Varenna is undoubtedly photogenic. This colorful village looks so good with the mountains from afar and nearby in the background. It looks even better when the colors of the houses spill into the lake when sunlight strikes them.
- Here you can find Villa Monastero, a charming villa with eclectic design and home to an exciting collection of optical, electronic, and mechanical instruments.
- Above the Varenna (you can easily visit) is Castello di Vezio, a 12th-century castle with odd-looking ghost sculptures. Surprisingly, it has an exhibition dedicated to Lariosaurus, an extinct sea reptile from the Middle Triassic period.
But among the three reasons, Villa Monastero, lying to the south of the village of Varenna, is probably the one you’ll like the most. Like Villa Carlotta, Villa Monastero is also a villa that includes a museum and a botanical garden.
Villa Monastero is also built on the shores of Lake Como, similar to the villas mentioned above. A beautiful view of the lake is expected. However, it faces west. Thus it is the villa you would like to stay at to watch the sunset.
Villa Monastero may not have the charm of Villa del Balbianello or a vast garden like Villa Carlotta, but it has an eclectic design that sets it apart. Of course, also its location. The collection of electronic, mechanical, and optical instruments exhibited in the villa can be quite a thing too.
Here is the exact location of Villa Monastero on Google Maps if you need directions.
9. Orrido di Bellano
Another unmissable place in Lake Como is the gorge in the town of Bellano, located north of Varenna. It is called Orrido di Bellano, and it is an impressive 15-million-year-old spectacular artwork of nature to see while in Lake Como.
The first time I visited a gorge, I was blown away by the dramatic views inside it. The best scene is perhaps when sunlight enters the slight opening above and makes angelic rays. You might as well experience it in Orrido di Bellano.
At the same time, the meanderings footbridges attached to the canyon walls of Orrido di Bellano, its high cliffs, and the sound of rushing water will totally be a unique experience when visiting Lake Como. Besides, if it does not rain before you come, you may witness mesmerizing blue water flowing in the middle of the gorge!
Actually, a plain but scary building in the Orrido di Bellano is the one that can really make visiting the gorge different from the other attractions in Lake Como. The building is called Cà del Diavol, located at the entrance to the gorge. The images of the devil painted on its walls evoke fear and a strangely mystical vibe to anyone who comes.
If you plan to go to the gorge, I suggest not bringing your car. The parking is terrible! The entrance to the Orrido di Bellano is just minutes away north of the train station. Here is the exact location of Orrido di Bellano in Google Maps if you need directions.
10. Belvedere Parco Valentino in Lecco
Last not but not least is the Punto Panoramico in Belvedere Parco Valentino, the unmissable place (park and viewpoint) to visit in the eastern leg of Lake Como located north of the city of Lecco. It is the highest viewpoint with views of the entire east side of Lake Como.
Exceptional views await you in Punto Panoramico (top of Mount Coltignone). The fascinating transition of landforms of northern Italy, from flat to alpine, will all be yours to see.
Not only that! From here, you can spot at least three lakes. Not only Lake Como but also Lago di Garlate (which is connected to Lake Como) and Lago di Annone are situated beyond the city of Valmadrera.
I suggest you visit the Punto Panoramico during the afternoon golden hour, on a clear sunny day. It’s when you can witness Lago di Annone (sometimes Lago di Garlate) glow like a surface of a molten pot of gold – definitely wondrous to see.
Belvedere Parco Valentino is located in the Pian dei Resinelli plateau, which you can only reach using a car. Here is the exact location of Punto Panoramico or Belvedere Parco Valentino on Google Maps.
Is one day in Lake Como enough?
One day is not enough. Lake Como is huge, and it has several fantastic towns around it with numerous attractions to see. You will need at least 3 to 4 days to see the bests of Lake Como, especially if you want to do or visit the unmissable things in Lake Como.
Map of the Unmissable places to see in Lake Como
As an overview, here are the unmissable places to visit in Lake Como on Google Maps:
Guides and Tours in Lake Como
If you need tours, ticket reservations, and guides to exploring Lake Como, you may check GetYourGuide’s discounted packages for convenient travel. And for your convenience, I have listed below the tours which can be essential for seeing the bests of Lake Como:
See more activities like cruises, romantic tours, electric bike tours, and day trips from Milan here.
Where To Go After Lake Como
Lake Como is located in northern Italy—a region packed with staggering architectural marvels and breathtaking natural scenery.
Let’s say you are currently in Como. Here are the cities/towns I can recommend you can visit next:
- Milan (1-hour train ride from Como) then Bergamo (1-hour train ride from Milan)
- Milan then Lake Garda or Verona (approximately 1.5 hours from Milan on a single train ride)
- Milan then Cinque Terre (3-hour direct train ride to Monterosso)
Learn more about the places indicated above from these articles:
- Milan—10 Reasons + 21 Best Things To Do in Milan
- Bergamo—10 Best Reasons Why You Must Go to Bergamo
- Lake Garda—10 Reasons Why Lake Garda Is Worth a Visit
- Verona—12 Good Reasons Why Verona Is Worth a Visit
- Cinque Terre—10 Spots With The Best Views of Cinque Terre
Lake Como is in northwestern Italy. You can travel east to Venice or to the most remarkable places in the Dolomites.
Let’s say you took the Lake Como-Milan-Verona route. From Verona, you can try:
- Verona to Venice (1.5-hour single train ride)
- Verona to Trento (1-hour train ride from Verona), then to Bolzano (30 minutes away by bus+train from Trento). When you reach Bolzano, you can go to Cortina d’Ampezzo (the ultimate destination in Northern Italy).
Here are the details of the places mentioned above
- Trento—15 Worthy Things To Do in Trento
- Bolzano—10 Reasons To Visit Bolzano
- Cortina d’Ampezzo—10 Beautiful Places Around Cortina d’Ampezzo
If you proceed to Cinque Terre, you can travel further southeast. I suggest visiting Florence (half-day on transit from Cinque Terre) and then Rome (a 1.5-hour train ride from Florence).
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