10 things to do and see in Lake Como

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Lake Como

10 things to do and see in Lake Como
10 things to do and see in Lake Como

The most important city is Como with its beautiful monuments, the lovely old town centre and its picturesque views. Boats and hydrofoils are an excellent opportunity to see the city and admire the beauty of the landscape, but to enjoy a wider landscape  there’s the funicular railway that connects Brunate to Como.

The second-largest city is Lecco, famous for being the city of the “Promessi Sposi” (Betrothed). The countries of the lakefront  are suggestive too such as as Cernobbio, with its big villas like Villa d’Este and Villa Erba, and Bellagio, known as the “pearl of the lake” for its attractive scenery. Comacina island is less famous but very charming, a small green jewel surrounded by the waters of the lake, where some settlements of the Roman period were found, so that scholars like to call it the “Pompeii Lariana”.

Here you’ll find 10 things to see and do if you decide to spend some time in Lake Como.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lake Como, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 380 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Cathedral of Como

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Considered one of the most beautiful monuments in northern Italy, the Duomo of Como is a complex building, begun in 1396 and completed in 1740 with the construction of the dome by Filippo Juvarra, architect of the King of Sardinia.

The Cathedral of Como
The Cathedral of Como

The construction has different styles (Gothic façade, and Renaissance side doors), but is really harmonious. The imposing façade with spires and pinnacles is full of decorations. The two niches dedicated to the Latin writers Plinio il Giovane and Plinio il Vecchio, and the three decorations of the portals are made by Giovanni Rodari.  The interior, in a  Gothic style, is divided into three aisles by 10 columns and there are  many important works. Among them: paintings by Bernardino Luini (Adoration of the Magi) and Gaudenzio Ferrari (Marriage of the Virgin and Flight into Egypt), Renaissance tapestries (by Giuseppe Arcimboldi), the sixteenth-century altarpiece of Sant’Abbondio, patron of the city, the baptismal font  (1590) and the two lions from the ancient church of Santa Maria.

Where: Piazza del Duomo
When – Hours: everyday 8 am – 6.30 pm

Church of Sant'Abbondio in Como

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Built at the end of XI century, the Basilica of Sant’Abbondio is a magnificent example of Lombard Romanesque architecture and a masterpiece of the Masters of Como, ie those builders – architects – sculptors who spread the Lombard style, not only in Italy but throughout Europe.

Church of Sant'Abbondio in Como
Church of Sant’Abbondio in Como

Built by Benedictine monks, the church is dedicated to the fourth bishop of Como and  from ‘500 had many changes that modified the original appearance. Fortunately the restoration in ‘800 gave it  back its original aspect .

The stone façade of Moltrasio is marked by big columns that divide it into 5 sections, and a beautiful portal adorned by  bas-relief sculptures. The interior, with five aisles divided by tall columns adorned with precious capitals, preserves the splendid frescoes of 1300, the work of the Master of S. Abbondio, in twenty scenes that tell the story of Christ.

Where: Via Regina Teodolinda
When -Hours: Everyday 8 am – 6 pm – during winter 8 am – 4.30 pm

Palazzo Broletto in Como

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Old town hall, the Broletto (from the Latin word “brolo”, ie field, open space where citizens meet) was built in 1215, by the will of Bonardo Cadazzo, next to the Cathedral  to symbolize the continuity between the authority of the bishop and the new municipal power.

Palazzo Broletto in Como
Palazzo Broletto in Como

The Broletto is composed by two floors (ground floor with arches and first floor with three light – window) with white gray and red marble strips, and a tower built according to the ashlar technique. During the time the building had many changes and alterations. In the second half of the ‘400 a good part of the building was demolished to make more room for the Duomo; in 1764 it was transformed into a theater; It was later used as a notary archive until the end of 800. Restored several times since 1899, only in 1972 it has been restored to its original form. Currently the palace of the Broletto, owned by the city, hosts art exhibitions and congresses.

Where: Piazza Duomo

Tempio Voltiano in Como

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The building, with the shape of a neoclassical temple and  built on the lakefront, celebrates the work of the great physicist Alessandro Volta. The museum, created and funded by Francesco Somaini, was erected on to celebrate the first centenary of the death of Volta and  to host the scientific instruments that belonged to him.

Tempio Voltiano in Como
Tempio Voltiano in Como

Many of these instrument are original, others are just a reconstruction. The main part of the mausoleum is preceded by a large portico with statues of Faith and Science. The interior is on two floors. In the central hall of the ground floor there are equipments, machines and devices used by the scientist for physics experiments and electrology, and for the study of gases and their properties. The loggia on the first floor exhibits letters, publications, portraits of the scientist, and the awards he received during his  life and after death.

Where: Viale Marconi
When – Hours: from Tuesday to Sunday  from 10 am to 12 pm  and from 2 to 4 pm  (from October to March); from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am  to 12 pm and from 3 to 6 pm  (from April to September).
Tickets: Full ticket € 3, old people € 1,30; free entrance for children under 15 years old

Como-Brunate funicular

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Inaugurated in 1894, the Como – Brunate funicular connects the capital to the Larian “balcony”:  the lake and the mountains, and offers a beautiful sight of Como. The “trip” in fact, begins in a gallery and then continues outside where the two small carriages go up a steep hill allowing you to see the beautiful scenery. The funicular is  on a single track which doubles only half-way where the two cars meet.

Como-Brunate funicular
Como-Brunate funicular

The route is of 1084 meters with a maximum slope of 55% and  gives you the chance to  reach in less than 7 minutes the small village of Brunate. Pleasant holiday place, Brunate is also called the “balcony” of the Alps for its beautiful sights of Como, the whole section of the lake, the plains of Lombardy, the Alps with Monviso and Monte Rosa . One of its kind in Europe, the construction is among the most popular attractions in  Como. Although short, the trip in funicular is exciting and thrilling. To try.

Where: departure / arrival stations: Piazza A. De Gasperi in Como, Piazza A. Buonacossa Brunate.
When – Hours: The funicular runs from 6.00 am to 10:30 pm , on Saturdays from 6.00 am to midnight. During the summer, the service is extended until midnight
Tickets: one way € 2,90; round trip € 5,25

Lecco, Lake Como

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Lecco is linked to Alessandro Manzoni that from these places drew inspiration for the story of ” I promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed)

Lecco, Lake Como
Lecco, Lake Como

Here there are some places that  remember the famous novel and its author: Pescarenico, the Lecco village mentioned by Manzoni, where were found the traces of the convent of Fra’ Cristoforo, the districts and the citizens of Acquate Olate, identified as the little towns  of Renzo and Lucia. Don’t miss then the monument of Manzoni erected in Piazza Manzoni and the Manzoni museum housed in the villa where the writer spent his childhood and adolescence, with manuscripts and rare editions of famous literary work. You can visit also Piazza XX Settembre, the Old Market Square with Visconti Tower (XVI century), the Basilica of St. Nicolò, the nineteenth-century Town Hall (Palazzo Bovara) and Azzone Visconti bridge with its arches . Built during the Renaissance, the bridge was used to connect Lecco to the Duchy of Milan and still today is the access to the city for those coming from Milan or Como.

Bellagio, Lake Como

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Charming town, known for its lovely location and its old town centre , Bellagio is a great tourist town. The so-called “Pearl of Lake Como” is placed on a hill that divides the lake into the two branches of Como and Lecco, in a picturesque landscape.

Bellagio, Lake Como
Bellagio, Lake Como

Colored houses, picturesque alleys, steps, old churches are the characteristics of the old village. Between the ‘700 and’ 800, nobles and rich  Lombard  people built luxurious villas to host  famous people, both Italian and foreign. Napoleon Bonaparte was a guest of Count Melzi d’Eril in Villa Melzi, beautiful villa built in neoclassical style surrounded by a beautiful garden. The Emperor Francis I, Kaiser Wilhelm, Alessandro Manzoni however, stayed in the ancient Villa Serbelloni, a beautiful complex set in a spectacular terraced park made of paths, clearings, exotic plants and many rose bushes. Today the villa belongs to the Rockefeller foundation of New York who has made it a center of studies and conferences.

When – Hours:
The gardens of Villa Melzi are open from late March to early November daily, from 09:30 am  to 6:30 pm Tickets cost € 6.
The Villa Serbelloni Park can be visited from March 22 to November 3 every day except Monday and in case of bad weather only with guided tours for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 30 starting  at 11:00 am  and at 3.30 pm  by the Promobellagio (Piazza of the Church of St. Giacomo – medieval Tower).
Tickets: € 9.
Warning: during winter time, the afternoon tour is moved at 2:30 pm

Cernobbio, Lake Como

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Elegant town on the shores of Lake Como at the foot of Monte Bisbino, Cernobbio owes its name to the ancient monastery of Cluny (Coenobium). The city’s heart is Piazza Risorgimento, also known as the “Riva”, which overlooks the lake.

Cernobbio, Lake Como
Cernobbio, Lake Como

In addition to the awesome views, Cernobbio is known for the presence of so many prestigious villas. The impressive Villa Erba, built in 1898, is a complex made of the main house, guest house, greenhouses, boathouse, stables, service homes, surrounded by a large park. Noble residence of Luchino Visconti family (the great director loved to spend the summer holidays here), the villa is today an important congress center that hosts events. The most precious treasure of Cernobbio, however, is the sixteenth-century Villa d’Este transformed in 1873 into a luxury hotel with princely furnishings and a beautifully landscaped garden. Walking along the lake can still be admired, Villa Bernasconi in Art Nouveau style, Villa Pizzo consists of two buildings, one of which is on the lake, and the eighteenth-century Villa Fontanelle in a beautiful park.

Isola Comacina in Lake Como

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Comacina island is a place of great charm where history, nature, art and archeology are mixed up in this small place almost uninhabited.

Isola Comacina in Lake Como
Isola Comacina in Lake Como

It was a fortified citadel and  important religious center of the Diocese of Como until the twelfth century when the Comaschi, to punish its loyalty to Milan, razed it to the ground (1169). The Cavalier Caprani, last owner of the island, gave it to King Albert I of Belgium, who donated it to the Italian State and then it was entrusted the Academy of Fine Arts Brera (1920). Among the “treasures” of the island there are  the ruins of the magnificent Romanesque church of St. Euphemia, the crypt and the beautiful porch, the remains of a marble colonnade of Roman era under the church of St. John, and the three houses built for artists between the years 1936-40 by the architect Pietro Lingeri.

How to get there: Boarding in Ossuccio with Taxi-boat or Navigazione Lago di Como.
When – Hours: from March 15 to October 31, daily from 10 am  to 5 pm ; July and August until 6:30 pm
Tickets: full ticket € 6; reduced ticket € 5; Children under 5 years have free admission, from 6 to 14 years 3,50 €. The ticket office at the Ossuccio Antiquarium is open daily at the following times: 10:00 to 1:00 pm  / 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Where to sleep in Lake Como

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Lake Como is almost tourist destination for nobles, artists and ordinary people since two centuries. The great tradition of hospitality is reflected in a wide touristic services  and good prices to suit all budgets.

Where to sleep in Lake Como
Where to sleep in Lake Como

In Como, Lecco and in several villages bordering the lake there are hotels, guest houses, holiday cottages and a large number of B&Bs. Lake Como is international tourism destination throughout the year and during the high season (Easter, Christmas, long weekends and summer holidays). So we suggest you to book in advance  to find a place that suits your needs.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lake Como, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 380 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com