Top Things to Do in Lake Como

July 1, 2024


A Guide to Visiting The Glacier Lake

Whether you are having a wedding celebration or just a vacation, there are many, many ways to spend your time in Lake Como. It is a beautiful area, ripe with history and art, food and culture. But the diversity and excitement can make it easy to question what to do while in Lake Como.

As you plan your time here, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all of the options and feel like you have to fit everything in. 

My best advice? Pick a few things that you absolutely must do or see and then just enjoy your time in Lake Como. Take time to sit by the lake and enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine. Or spend an afternoon and wander aimlessly through one of the smaller villages, peaking in shops and exploring side streets.  

Don’t feel like every moment of your trip needs to be scheduled or managed. Rather, soak in the moments and culture without succumbing to a full agenda. 

That being said, arriving with a few set things that you know you want to experience is always a good idea. You don’t want to be left questioning what to do with your day or spend your vacation researching what is next.  

So,  basically, don’t over-plan. Be prepared but allow space for magic to happen.

To help make that happen, I’d like to share with you my top things to do in Lake Como. 

Top Things to Do in Lake Como

Visit a Villa (or Five)

One of the top things to do in Lake Como is to visit some of the many ornate and historical venues that line its shores. Many villas in the area have renowned botanical gardens – lush from Lake Como’s ideal temperate climate – and museums that house art or historical artifacts. 

Villa Pizzo and Villa Carlotta are just two options that offer gardens and a museum, along with exceptional views of the lake. 

Villa Balbianello is one of the most famous villas on Lake Como having been in several movies, including Star Wars and Casino Royale. Its grounds will leave you breathless with its monumental arches and the shipping museum has been carefully curated to make it an exceptional visit. 

visiting villa balbianello as a top thing to do in lake como

Outdoor Adventures


Not many people realize how many hikes there are in the mountains surrounding Lake Como. And in true Italian fashion, many of the hikes are dotted with restaurants and cafes where you can stop and enjoy a nice meal or drink before continuing on. 

Sentiero del Viandante is one of the most popular and famous hikes in the area. An ancient route, dating back to the Roman times, this 45 km path is a trek through both culture and nature as you make your way along the eastern coast of Lake Como. The hike is divided into four parts and runs along the same path as the train, making it easier to tackle. 

For a shorter day hike, you can always take a cable car from Argegno up to the small, relatively unknown village of Pigra. Once there, find the Pigra to Alpe di Blessagro and enjoy the views from this hour-long hike. 

These just scratch the surface. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers of trails surrounding Lake Como, all of them promising great views and intricate culture. 


After a day of hiking, what sounds better than relaxing by a beach?  

The central and northern parts of the lake tend to have cleaner beaches and clearer water but keep in mind that any beach is going to be busy in the summer months, so arrive early. 

Lake Como beaches are mostly covered in stone so bring a chair (or plan on renting one) for the best experience. 

Boat Tours

There are many, many boat tour operators scattered throughout Lake Como. You can book anything from hour-long cruises to full-day excursions, even sunset tours. The options are limitless. 

If you can’t swing a private boat tour, just know that there is public boat transportation in the lake (like a bus system). You can find more information here on that. It’s good information to have as traveling by boat is oftentimes easier and faster than cars when on Lake Como. 

a boat tour on lake como is a fantastic thing to do

Visit the Villages

Como and Bellagio get a lot of publicity when it comes to Lake Como and it is well-deserved. Both towns are charming and easy to get to, making them meccas for tourists.  

However, when you are planning a trip to Lake Como, I recommend spending at least a day (if not several) exploring the smaller villages surrounding the lake. What these lack in size, they make up for in charm and culture — and no trip to Lake Como would be complete without spending some time in these outposts. 

While there are many villages and all of them are special and quaint in their own way, here are a few that I think stand out with their charm. 


Varenna is a wildly charming and attractive village on the east side of Lake Como. With colorful buildings and ornate bridges (that many locals jump off of into the chilly lake water), this idyllic town is also one of the easier villages to get to. 

Two of the top places to visit in the area are the Villa Monasterio and the Castello di Vezio.


Home to the famed Villa Balbianello, Leno is often overlooked as a destination in-and-of itself.  Dwarfed by this monumental attraction, Leno is a beautiful and fun place to explore after you have seen the Villa. 

There is a beautiful waterfront area to explore; make sure you take the time to enjoy a meal with a lake view. The other “can’t miss” attraction is the Church of St. Stefano with its intriguing history and underground chapel and crypt. 


A small and quiet village, Cernobbio is home to Villa d’Este, a 16th-century villa turned luxury hotel. While you can only visit the villa if you are a guest, the village itself is reason enough to visit. There isn’t as much to do in Cernobbio as other places but it is very quaint and offers a less touristy experience with its smaller restaurants and local parks. 

visiting a villa on lake como

Interactive Photography Session

A final thought for things to do when you visit Lake Como is to make sure you document your trip. Lake Como is such a special place and your time here should not be taken for granted. 

Whether you are celebrating a marriage or taking a summer vacation, consider contracting a professional photographer to spend a few hours with you during your vacation is a great way to capture beautiful, artistic images. 

During my photography sessions, I spend time capturing posed formals but also dedicate a lot of the session to photographing unscripted interactions. This can be while on a boat ride along Lake Como, while visiting a famous villa, or just relaxing on the beach. 

The beautiful thing about hiring a photographer while you are on vacation is that you can schedule your session around your activities, allowing you to still enjoy your time but still document the incredible beauty and experience of where you are. 

I’d love to talk to you about my photography services for weddings, engagements, or portrait sessions.  Reach out today for more information. 

vow renewal or wedding in the villas of lake como

Recommended Resources

 Lake Como Travel is an exceptional website with a ton of relevant information. 

Navigazione Laghi has great options for booking public boat transportation around the lake.

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the artist

Meet Ezechiel

With my love of classical art and my passion for learning languages, I was destined to become a photographer for people from all over the world — people just like you. 

Getting to know you, your story, and your intricacies is key to the unique and personal approach that I take with all of my photography clients. Each person, and therefore each session, is different and its own story.

I take great pride in creating work that is natural and organic, yet still refined and fashion-forward.