lake como, italy

Close to the Swiss border and just 45 minutes north of Milan, Lake Como is a seriously picturesque destination, with the water surrounded by forest-covered hills and framed by the Alps. Though the lake takes its name, Como is just one of the towns on the water with beautiful villas and cute villages dotted up and down the shoreline. Whether you take day trip out from Milan, head down after some time on the slopes or just want to spend a few days soaking up life by the lake, there’s plenty to do in Como.


[easy-image-collage id=107573]

Frankly, it’s easy to eat well all over Italy and Lake Como is no different. For a rustic lunch in a relaxed atmosphere, Ristorante Sociale is great – the menu is full of simple pasta dishes like gnocchi in sage butter and spaghetti carbonara, and the shelves are lined with bottles of wine, so you won’t struggle for a drink. Visini is one of those great delis that serves up the food you see in the front counters and the back of the shop. They’re big on local produce but they aren’t afraid to go modern, so as well as amazing meats, cheeses and this incredible light pizza, you can also get things like tuna tartare, salmon sashimi with passionfruit and beet crisps.

For something more upscale, Il Gatto Nero in Cernobbio – a fave of Amal and George – is the place to head to. It’s gorgeous inside and has insane views over the lake too. The food is typical of the area, with the likes of deer tartare, perch risotto and braised veal cheek on the menu. And thanks to the opening of the Hilton Lake Como, the area now has a great rooftop cocktail bar (which also serves up a modern sharing food menu) in Terrazza 241.


[easy-image-collage id=107568]

Just walking around the shoreline in Como is a sight enough in itself but the gothic Duomo is well worth a visit. The domed ceiling is very snappable and the cathedral is home to some beautiful tapestries. Whilst there are private villas to explore in the town itself, one of the most spectacular around the whole lake is Villa del Balbianello. It’s been on screen in both Casino Royale and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones – you’ll recognise the view when you see it – and it has a pretty amazing history. The last owner Guido Monzino was a great collector of antiquities and an a explorer, so the place is full of artworks, ancient sculptures, maps, books and furnishings, with a mini-museum dedicated to his adventures on the top floor.


[easy-image-collage id=107562]

The best views of the lake (provided the mist isn’t rolling in) are from the top of the surrounding hills and the best way to get up there is on the funicolare. It’s been in operation since 1894 and whizzes you up the steep track to the village of Brunate in just a few minutes.

What you really want to do though, is get out on the water. Taxi Boat Varenna does great trips on top of the range boats (they’ve got those all important chargers on board so you won’t be running out of battery trying to get those ‘grams). Stop by Nesso to see the waterfall and go all the way up to Bellagio if you can; it’s a super cute village with lots of cobbled streets and pastel painted buildings.