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Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places on earth, so beautiful that it reminds me of spectacular scenery of Middle Earth, is Lake Como. I seriously pine about returning to Lake Como. I pine for Lake Como … maybe once a week? Haha.
For example, my memories of magical Como transport me to another land whenever I’m stuck inside my apartment on a dreary New Jersey afternoon. This happens more often than you think!
Anyway Lake Como is located in northern Italy’s Lombardy region, near the Swiss border. I highly recommend anyone come to Como, especially if planning a Northern Italy itinerary.
Don’t assume that you can’t afford to visit this part of Italy either.
Although Lake Como has the stereotype of being a fancy resort area (don’t get me wrong, you’ll see a lot of luxury hotels surrounding the lake), I still think this is a place where travelers of all types and budgets can enjoy on a needed holiday.
This guide for 2 days in Lake Como will get you started on making your lakeside dreams come true!
Travel Tips for 2 Days in Lake Como
In general, 2 days in Lake Como is very easy to manage for most people. Tourism infrastructure is fantastic here.
Believe it or not, I would actually recommend Lake Como if it’s your first time traveling solo in Italy or even your first trip to Europe!
Below, I have tips about time management, accommodation, packing, and more for your weekend stay in Lake Como.
Is 2 Days in Lake Como Enough Time?
Personally, I don’t think 2 days in Lake Como is enough, haha. But I loved this region. I want to spend a week here, taking the boat from town to town, hiking, relaxing near the lake, and reconnecting with myself.
However, for most itineraries, 2 days in Lake Como is a sufficient amount of time.
You can also take a day trip to Lake Como from Milan, but I personally recommend staying in the region if possible. The lake is beautiful to see overnight.
How to Get to Lake Como
Public Transportation from Milan
Train is the easiest and fastest way to reach Lake Como from Milan – which is the closest big Italian city.
The fastest (and most direct) trains to Lake Como only take about 40 minutes.
Remember, though, that Milan is a big city. After all, there are three separate train stations – Porta Garibaldi, Centrale, and Cadorna – and all stations have lines that go to Como.
So make sure you know your departure station ahead of time! You don’t want to walk to Centrale and then realize that you need to go to Garibaldi.
If you’re going from Milan’s international airport to Como, then you’ll want to take the Malpensa Express, which makes reaching Como easy without having to go into Milan itself.
Getting Around Lake Como
Once in Lake Como, you have a few transportation options at your disposal.
The main way to navigate Lake Como are the ferries and boats. In high season, you will want to review the boat times and routes to maximize your 48 hours in Como. You don’t want to stand in line forever and then miss your boat.
Boats also reach capacity, which … is frustrating, but there’s not much you can do about it.
In addition, Como has regular and reliable bus services that go around the lake. The bus is a fantastic option if you’re looking to save some money. Again, make sure to check times and know when the last bus is!
Lake Como is huge. You don’t want to miss the last ferry or bus (I, uh, almost did that), because otherwise, you could be looking at a 100 Euro cab and no one wants to fork over that kind of money.
2 Days in Lake Como: Where to Stay
Lake Como has tons of options for accommodation. There’s no way I could list every possible hotel and hostel here, so I chose my three favorites to share in this post.
At the end of the day, my advice is to research towns and hotels ahead of time.
- Hotel Centrale Bellagio: This highly-rated 3 star hotel makes Bellagio accessible for everyone – not just the super rich. Spend time relaxing in the beautiful garden. (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Hotel Garni Corona Menaggio: Menaggio is another lovely small town not far from Bellagio. This stunning small hotel overlooks the main piazza and Lake Como. (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Ostello Bello Lake Como: Ostello Bello is the perfect budget option for backpackers! It’s a super friendly and fun hostel where you can make tons of new friends if you’re traveling alone to Lake Como. (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
What to Bring for a Weekend in Lake Como
- Italian Phrasebook: Most people in Lake Como speak English, since the region is a major tourist destination. However, it’s always nice to learn a few Italian phrases before spending 2 days in Lake Como. It shows respect.
- Lake Como Guidebook: Lonely Planet writes my favorite travel guidebooks. Believe or not, LP has a guidebook specifically for Lake Como! This guidebook will help you plan your days.
- Secure Crossbody Bag: Like any popular area in Italy, you want to be mindful of pickpockets. My advice is to invest in a Pacsafe secure crossbody bag to keep your belongings safe at all times. Don’t be paranoid, but do be prepared.
- Sturdy Walking Shoes: You’ll want good shoes for Lake Como, because you’re going to walk. You’re going to walk a lot. For example, this cute little slip-on moccasin works perfectly for a lakeside stroll in the villages. For hikers, I’d take it a step further and bring high-quality hiking boots for your 2 days in Lake Como.
- Travel Insurance: Always, always, always buy travel insurance for any trip overseas. Your health insurance, for example, might not cover illness or injury abroad. I always buy World Nomads travel insurance for all my trips and have zero complaints!
2 Days in Lake Como: Map & Highlights
For your 2 days in Como, you’ll see a lot of beautiful nature and charm in the small towns. Don’t come to Como expecting to see the same museums and epics sites that you would see in Rome.
Como is all about beautiful scenery that seeps into your pores and helps you relax.
Lake Side Views
Obviously, the main attraction in Lake Como is the lake itself. The pictures don’t do justice to the water’s sheer beauty. You need to come see the lake in-person.
Because Lake Como is so pretty, you’ll notice a lot of cafes, walking paths, and villas take advantage of the shores. You’ll encounter so many photo opportunities that there’s no way I could possibly list them all for you.
Take a stroll around the lake in the mornings when most tourists are still fast asleep.
Mountains surround Lake Como making this region a paradise for hikers. The views will literally snatch your breath away.
Research the best hikes and walks in Como ahead of time. Like anywhere else in the world, paths vary in difficulty and you don’t want to overexert yourself too much, especially in the summer heat.
Beautiful Villas Everywhere
I fell madly in love with Como’s villas. I don’t mind fantasizing that I’m rich and famous, and besides, all of the gardens made for some spectacular photography!
Some of these villas are privately owned, but many are museums that are open to the public. In this itinerary for 2 days in Lake Como, I will talk about two different villas: Villa Olmo and Villa Carlotta.
Delicious and Authentic Pizza
Mmmmm, who doesn’t love pizza in Italy?
My favorite pizza place in Como is Ristorante Pizzeria Napule E’ lago. This place is super popular and busy, but the food was heavenly. I highly recommend a dinner here if you’re able to get in!
Small Town Italian Charm
Lastly, I adored all the small towns that litter Lake Como’s shorelines.
We all know that Como is the lake’s main city. Well. It’s more like a large town when compared to nearby Milan.
However, if you want to experience Como’s smaller towns, then you need to hope on a boat and explore the region.
Personally, I adored both Bellagio and Varenna, but Lake Como has even more adorable towns that deserve your time and attention!
2 Days in Lake Como Itinerary
Whew! Are you still with me? Good!
Let’s put everything that we’ve learned together in a comprehensive itinerary.
As always, I like to leave some “wiggle room” for you to add your own touches. I know now everyone has the same travel style that I do and that’s okay!
Day 1: Delights of Como
You’ll likely arrive in Como for your first day. I recommend sticking to the immediate area. Don’t worry! You’ll still have plenty to see and do!
To be honest, I spent a lot of my first day in Como sitting next to the lake and devouring dark chocolate gelato, haha. However, I still had a pretty busy day.
Here are some suggestions for Como and its surrounding area.
Como Cathedral dominates the town of Como.
This stunningly gorgeous Gothic cathedral is dedicated to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was built between the 14th and the 18th centuries.
After you visit the cathedral, take a walk to the nearby Piazza Duomo, which is Como’s main bustling pedestrian square! It’s a great spot to do some people-watching.
This adorable funicular connects the city of Como with the much smaller village of Brunate. This funicular was first built in 1894 and runs every half hour.
As a village, Brunate is super cute, but there isn’t too much to do. Go for all the viewpoints and maybe have a coffee on a scenic perch.
Last but not least, take a walk along Lake Como’s shores until you reach Villa Olmo. The walk – in and of itself – is an attraction as you encounter wistful hyacinth and tulips, graceful white swans, and glistening mountain reflections in the water.
At Villa Olmo, you will discover a stunning neoclassical lakeside villa. The surrounding park is the perfect place to take pictures of Lake Como.
Day 2: Exploring Lakeside Towns
I loved Como. A lot.
However, on your second day, you want to see more of the smaller, even more charming lakeside towns. Board a ferry bright and early to embark on your adventure!
In Tremezzo, the main attraction is Villa Carlotta. The ferry stops at both the town and the villa, so you can decide if you want to spend additional time seeing Tremezzo.
Villa Carlotta is one of my favorite places in all of Lake Como.
Go inside the museum to see great art, especially sculptures, and then step outside to explore the abundant gardens. I could relax all afternoon here if I had the time.
For all its elegance, Bellagio is small and compact. Make a point to wander the streets and “get lost” when you visit this famous Italian town.
The town center is home to some wonderful shopping if you have Euros to spend! Those Italian leather products are quite gorgeous, if I do say so myself.
And, even though I could never afford to stay there in my wildest dreams, I loved seeing Bellagio’s Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. It made me feel as if I was an extra in a James Bond movie.
Varenna is a haven for photographers. Take plenty of pictures of Villa Cipressi & Castello di Vezio as you stroll around this stunning village.
If you have time, Villa Monastero is home to a colorful botanical garden that’s worthy of your attention.
Keep in mind that if you’re staying in Como that the ferry ride is over two hours. You don’t want to miss the last boat out of the town unless you want to pay through the nose for a cab ride.
I hope you enjoyed reading about these 2 days in Lake Como and are already planning your Italian vacation! You’ll fall in love with the nature here and will want to return again and again.