A day trip from Milan to Lake Como is one of the best things that you could do when in Milan.
Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy.
Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. It is as deep as 400 meters, and its deepest point is 200 meters below sea level, making it the fifth deepest lake in Europe.
Though people call it Lago di Como, its been also called Larius, the current name Como comes from the name Romans used – Comum.
It is shaped like an inverted Y
The lake is shaped like an inverted Y, making the Larius triangle. The towns of Como and Lecco sits at the southwestern and southeastern side of the arms. The intersection the (Larius triangle has the towns Varenna, Bellagio, and Menaggio)
Take a train from Cadorna FS or Milan Centrale
You can easily make a day trip from Milan to Lake Como on your own. Either take a train from Cadorna FS or Milan centrale to one of the towns with a train station.
Varenna and Como have train stations that connect to Milan.
Bellagio does not have a train station.
Less touristy than Garda or Maggiore, but no less beautiful
The lake is less touristy than Lake Garda or Lake maggiore. Lake Garda has these nightclubs around it, which attracts more crowd and makes it unbearably noisier.
Towns around Como have a Villa Culture.
Since the Roman times, many aristocrats and their wives used to head to the lake for relaxation and owned villas on the shores of the lake. Even today, celebrities like George Clooney, Catherine zeta-jones, Antonio Banderas, to name a few, own dwellings over here.
The villas are old, and some of them even date back to the 16th century.
Major towns around the lake
When taking a day trip to Como, the main towns to visit are Bellagio, Varenna, and Como. Menaggio and Tremezzo could also be added if you think you have time.
Don’t book return tickets.
People usually head to Como and then take a ferry from there to Bellagio and Varenna. And then they plan to return to Como to take the train back.
This is extremely time-consuming.
Ferry from Como to Bellagio takes about 2 hours, and a faster hydrofoil boat will still take 45 – 60 minutes. You’ll end up wasting so much time.
Take a train to Varenna Esino from Milan centrale
Necessary: Make sure you validate your tickets before starting your journey by inserting the ticket into one of the yellow machines.
Ferry to Bellagio from Varenna
After exploring Varenna, take the 15-minute ferry to Bellagio. While you wait for the ferry, you can sit in one of the cafes by the ferry stop and sip in an espresso.
Ferry times website
Check the times for ferry here.
Take a train back from Como Nord Lago or Como S. Giovanni
After exploring Varenna, take the 15-minute ferry to Bellagio. And once you’re done with Bellagio finish in Como, take a ferry from Bellagio to Como.
Why you should start from Varenna, and not from Como
The best towns to me are Bellagio, Varenna on this day trip. If you start from Como, you may end up spending too much time there and miss out on spending time at Bellagio and Varenna.
Start your day trip early from Milan and have breakfast in Varenna on your day trip from Milan to Lake Como. Varenna has many attractive breakfast options.
Fast boats sell out, so book your fast boat from Bellagio to Como as soon as you arrive in Bellagio.
The faster hydrofoil boats sell out fast. If you are getting to Como from Bellagio, these fast boats are your best bet. They take 45-60 minutes instead of two hours.
Book these as soon as you get to Bellagio as they sell out fast.
Day Trip From Milan to Lake Como: Things to do in Varenna
Among the top things to do in Varenna, these are my favorites.
Walk along the shore.
After getting off at Varenna station, follow the signs, and you will reach the Lake in about five minutes. Continue walking along the shores, taking in the views. Once you walk a bit, you will come across numerous cafes and restaurants and streets leading up from the valley to the town center. Follow the tourist information sign and take the street up to the road a level above.
Visit villa monastero
You can arrange your wedding there for €1500
Did you know that you can arrange your wedding there for as cheap as €1500?
The house museum displays various objects that belong owned by several owners throughout its four centuries of existence.
The former Nunnery inside is now a Conference center.
The former Nunnery inside the Villa is now used as a conference center. The international school of physics holds its lecture here every year.
The villa is also attached to a botanical garden that stretches for two kilometers. This gives you a lot of interesting backdrops for your cool Instagram pictures.
Ticket prices and opening times
You can buy your tickets at the entrance. The ticket costs about €8 for the botanical garden for adults and €10 for both the botanical garden and the House Museum.
Students, young adults, and senior visitors have discounts.
Children under 11 can go for FREE.
Hike up the Castle/30 minutes
After the villa, carry on walking uphill and follow the signs to the castle. It is an easy hike, but it takes some time, about 30 minutes, to go up.
There is a cafe at the top, so if you’re tired, rest there for sipping in your favorite drink.
You can buy the tickets at the cafe/ticket counter to enter the castle.
The castle gives you a beautiful view of the lake with shops and houses. The castle itself is also old, and you can see some ancient artifacts and work tools inside its tower.
Check out the birds that dwell on the surroundings of the castle. Also, you can see a falcon in a cage, try not to spook it. Or else it will start screaming.
On the top of the castle is where you get the full panoramic view of the lake, surrounding towns, and the valley of Varenna.
Don’t climb down the same route.
Once you take your Instagram pics and explore the area around the castle, head towards the ferry in Varenna. Don’t go down following the same route you came up and make sure you follow the signs to the ferry and not to Villa Monastero. As you exit the castle at the church and the cemetery take the route to the left.
You will be at the ferry stop in Varenna in about 15 minutes.
Be careful on the way down; climbing down is harder than climbing up.
Have lunch at Varenna while you wait for the ferry
Once you reach the valley, buy your tickets to Bellagio. The ferries are frequent, and it takes about 15 minutes to Bellagio.
If you have to wait for the ferry, consider sitting down for lunch in the restaurant by the ferry stop.
Buy tickets to Bellagio.
Tickets to Bellagio cost about 5 euros and takes about 15 minutes. Even if It is possible to pay by card, make sure you have some cash with you in case the machine doesn’t work.
Day Trip From Milan to Lake Como: Things to do in Bellagio
You’ll feel the liveliness of Bellagio as soon as you get off the boat. The first thing to do is to book the tickets to Como before it sells out.
There are many cute restaurants, souvenir shops, gelaterias on every street of Bellagio.
Great for shopping, hold off on buying souvenirs on your way back to the ferry
Bellagio is excellent for shopping but don’t buy anything just yet. You don’t want to carry around the things you buy. First, give the top sights a visit and on your way back buy your souvenirs and so on.
As you walk up and explore the streets, mentally note what things you want to buy.
Visit San Giacomo church.
You wouldn’t believe it, but this church is a thousand years old. The masters of Bellagio built the cathedral between 1075 and 1125. Make sure you take some excellent pictures of the rich altar.
Grab a Gelato and head to the Northernmost point of the Bellagio Peninsula,
Punta Spartivento is the northernmost point of the Bellagio peninsula. It comes with a restaurant right behind it, a beach to enjoy, and clean blue water to take a dip in.
Take a swim in the waters if you fancy it or just chill at the beach or the small gardens here.
Make your way back to the ferry and shop.
If you want to do some shopping, this is the perfect time to do it, as you walk back to the ferry.
Take the ferry back to Como.
If you’d successfully managed to book the tickets back to Como on the faster hydrofoil boats, this will take about 45 to 60 minutes. Or it will take about two hours.
Day Trip From Milan to Lake Como: Things to do in Como
Say hello to Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electrical battery at the Volta Temple.
It is not a temple but a museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta. If you are a science geek like me, you’ll love it.
Take Brunate funicular to the Village of Brunate for a Panoramic View of the Lake.
The funicular made its first journey in 1894. It takes about 7 minutes to reach the village of Brunate. Take in the panoramic views of the lake and the valley below, the alps at 700 meters above sea level.
Buy the tickets at the ATM point at the funicular stop.
Finish in Como and Take the train back to Milan.
It is time to get back to Como. Have dinner here in Como or have it in Milan.
Book your tickets to Cadorna FS or Milan Porta Garibaldi.
Walk to Como Nord Lago for trains to Cadorna FS
If you’re traveling to Cadorna FS, you will have to make your way to Como Nord Lago station. Trains run frequently, and you can use the trainline app or buy tickets at the station.
Walk to Como S.Giovanni station for trains to Milano Porta Garibaldi
Porta Garibaldi station is in the northwest of Milan city and quick to get to from Como S.Giovanni station.
Tickets bought with the Trainline app doesn’t need validation.
In Italy, always remember to validate your tickets by inserting them in the yellow machines before boarding the train, unless you have a seat reservation.
Alternatively, tickets bought with the Trainline app doesn’t need validation but carry a valid form of ID with you.
Day trip from Milan to Lake Como is effortless with public transport.
So, it is pretty easy to do it on your own by taking the train. If you prefer taking one of the guided tours, check out GetYourGuide.
Cheap to do own your own but the tours plan everything for you
Doing it on your own is undoubtedly cheaper, the plus side of the tour being the tours plan everything for you. You may not get a lot of free time, look for the ones that allow for free time if you wish to do tours.
Which lake town interests you? Bellagio, Como, or Varenna. And which route would you take?