After flying in and spending two nights in Venice, my mom and I took a fast train from San Lucia station in Venice to Milano Centrale which took about 2.5 hours. We rode business class, and for 20 euros extra, it was completely worth it. From Milano Centrale, we hopped on a train to Varenna on Lake Como. Our train had zero air conditioning and we thought we were going to sweat to death. Luckily the windows do open and it was only an hour and a half long journey. During the last 45 minutes of the ride, we were surprised with stunning views on the left side of the train if you are facing forward, as the train travels right alongside Lake Como.
We stayed at Hotel Montecodeno in Varenna. Although the hotel did not have picturesque views of the lake, it was a 5 minute walk from the train station, a 1 minute walk to the ferries, and a 5-8 minute walk to the shops and restaurants which makes it an ideal location for the price. Our room was simple with a spacious bathroom and excellent water pressure in the shower! It’s the little things! Oh, and it had complimentary wifi. Breakfast was provided in the mornings and included a selection of meats, cheeses, yogurt, cereals, biscuits and a variety of pastries. The chocolate croissant was absolutely delicious, and specialty coffees were brought right to our table.
Once we were all checked in and had a chance to change (like I said we were literally sweating), we strolled around the quaint picturesque town of Varenna. With so many lakeside dining options to choose from, we decided to dine at Bar Il Molo which apart from a breathtaking view had a large selection of pizzas, pastas, insalates, and more, all at a reasonable price.
Touring Lake Como
The pretty little towns nestled on the cliff side around the lake are accessible by boat, ferry, car and some are connected by train, which gives you an abundance of transportation and sightseeing options. We started off the day by hopping on the ferry and taking a 20 minute ride from Varenna to Bellagio.
Stroll the streets and take in the views of this postcard perfect town. You’ll find high end boutiques at every corner, and cute little shops in each corridor. Lakeside restaurants line the shores and there are no shortages of gelato to get your fill. After all, how often will you be touring the lakes of Italy?!
From Bellagio we ferried over to Menaggio. I was completely enamoured with the terra cotta coloured rooftops. In Menaggio there is a line up of jet boats waiting to be hired to take you on a private tour of the lake for an hour or two. If you are traveling with other people, then this is a great option because you can split the cost! Apart from Menaggio’s beauty, I personally preferred Varenna and Bellagio. Varenna might not be as fast paced as Bellagio, however it is truly charming and much less touristy, which was a big draw for me.
How to pack
We arrived in Varenna on Lake Como in the early afternoon on June 14th. The weather was overcast the following morning which was a nice break from the hot sun, but by afternoon the sun had emerged and I luckily had brought a change of clothes and changed on the ferry between Bellagio and Menaggio.
- 1 pair of shorts
- 2 black bodysuits
- 1 skirt
- 1 top
- 1 sweater that I also wore on the plane
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 denim jacket
- 1 comfy pair of walking sandals
- 1 brimmed hat
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 zip up purse
- 1 pair of joggers (for on the train)
I really enjoyed the laid back vibe of Varenna. This lake side town is relaxing, beautiful, and like I mentioned, much less touristy than it’s rival Bellagio. Lake como is somewhere that I would love to vacation longer than just two nights, because it really is a holiday in itself! With that being said:
- Make Varenna your home base. The hotels are reasonable, it is accessible by train, car and boat making it the most convenient to get in and out of
- Check the ferry timetable. The ferries run pretty frequently, but it will help you to plan and maximize your time accordingly as well as ensure that you do not miss the last ferry back to your hotel
- Dine lake side! There are some really afford restaurants right along the lake which make for a perfect evening
Websites for planning your stay
- Trenitalia – the train systems are amazing in Italy
- Booking.com – for hotel bookings
- Hotel Montecodeno – Where we stayed
- Lake Como Ferry Timetable – for planning your time
I loved Lake Como. It is the perfect spot for a lakeside vacation. If you are planning to stay a while I would highly recommend renting a car! You’ll see a lot more and make the most of your time there.
You may also want to check out my Italy Outfit Round Up, where I rounded up all of my favourite outfits from my stay in Italy!