Lake Como has attracted attention recently for being the holiday destination of choice of Hollywood heartthrob, George Clooney. But truth be told, Lake Como’s vast and unique beauty has been a draw for the rich and famous since the Roman Empire; studded with picturesque towns, Gatsby-esque villas and an alpine back-drop, the 120km of Y-shaped shoreline is a dolce vita dream.
The gorgeous hotspot in Northern Italy is a popular tourist destination for relaxing holidayers, keen historians, ardent walkers and hikers, cyclists and water-sport enthusiasts alike. It’s a bucket list dream destination for many and with good reason – it ain’t cheap. So to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ out of your trip, then check out our nifty little guide below – it’ll ensure that this once-in-a-lifetime trip is one for the ages and memoirs.
Things To Do
Learn How To Cook Handmade Gnocchi Gnocchi has been a traditional Italian pasta dish since Roman times and its simple taste and rich history have helped it to remain a household favorite over the centuries. Learn how to make your own melt-in-the-mouth gnocchi from a pasta aficionado and expert chef. Start your day at 10am and learn the secrets of this ancient art before relaxing and enjoying the fruits of your labor over a well-earned lunch at 1pm.
Go Shopping With the Dolce Vita Jet Set Spend a leisurely afternoon taking in Como’s broad mix of designer boutiques, galleries and local shops.
Take the Funicular Cable Car from Como Up To the Village of Brunate The line has been in operation since 1894 and is an absolute must when visiting the lakes. Costing a mere $5.50 USD and taking just four minutes to reach the top, there’s no excuse not to hop on board. The exquisite views over the lakes are breathtaking at anytime of day, but for a real treat jump on at sunset.
Water Ski Like a Boss The crystal clear and calm waters of Lake Como are the perfect place to learn how to water ski or wake board. Surrounded by Alpine landscape and rustic little towns, there’s nothing quite like gliding through the waters of this Italian paradise (with the James Bond theme tune playing in your head…)
Take the Lake Como Ferry and Explore the Major Towns Of the Region Stop off for a cheeky aperitivo in each of the four unique and mesmerizing towns of the mid-lake region: Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio and Cadenabbia.
Spend a Day Exploring Some the Region’s Iconic Churches From the 11th century Chiesa San Giacomo in Bellagio to the ancient church of Santo Stefano in Lenno (where you’ll find a crypt dating back to Roman times) and the gothic Cathedral of Como, Italians once again prove that they know how to worship in style.
Take a Tour and Delve into the Lives of Lake Como’s Rich and Famous Accompanied by a local guide you can explore the palatial private villas of the celebs that have dropped anchor in this exquisite location. From neoclassical paintings and romantic statues to gardens boasting over 800 species of flora, you’re not going to want to miss out on this opportunity to see how the ‘other half’ lives.
Take a Hike! Led by a knowledgeable alpine guide, head into the mountains and and explore the foothills of the magnificent Swiss Alps. Views from up high offer a stunning panorama of the surrounding landscape.
Where To Stay
Accommodation prices in Lake Como are enough to make an investment banker’s eyes water, so if you’re not willing to drop a decent wedge of budget on your accommodation, then our suggestion would be to skip the middlemen and go straight to an Airbnb. ‘Budget’ in Lake Como still translates to around $75 USD/night, Airbnb’s however, start from around $55 USD/night for your own apartment or as little as $25 USD/night for a private room in a local’s home.
However, if you do have some cash to throw around then there are some absolute gems. Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria is an enchanting boutique hotel on the shores of Laglio, a romantic village whose name is now synonymous with the holidaying George Clooney.
Where To Eat
As is typical of Italian culinary tradition, there’s a real emphasis on regional cooking in Lake Como. Expect to find plates piled high with local lake fish, cheese and cold cuts as well as hearty soups and stews.
A few of our favorites include The Market Place, a cozy restaurant in a modern setting offering a range of international cuisine. Head Chef Davide Maci’s menu emphasizes simple flavors from locally sourced produce. Natta cafe is located within 15th century stone arches with a wooden ceiling and exposed beams; the spacious loft is laid-back and a perfect place to grab a glass of wine and some nibbles with friends. Osteria La Lanterna is a charming little restaurant in a rural setting, run by a young couple that have come back to their home village after traveling the world. The menu focuses on traditional cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.
Where To Drink
Lake Como is all about its wine bars and late-night restaurants, so if you’re in the mood to mosh it’s probably not the right place for you just yet. However, if you like live music, top notch plonk and classic cocktails then we can sort you out.
Millesimo Enoteca-Winebar-Cafe is located lakeside and its affable staff will charm the socks off you. With a large selection of specialty wines and tasty charcuterie platters, Millesimo is the perfect place to while away an afternoon.
For live piano and panoramic views of the lake at sunset, head to T Bar in the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. The knowledgeable bar staff will happily whip up any of your favorite tipples or one of their famous cocktail du jours.
Local Customs/Insider Tips
Do Not Underestimate Just How Expensive This Trip is Going to Be Spare yourself from the stress of trying to budget day by day and save up enough money before you head over; then just relax into the high-flying lifestyle of the region. You’ll have earned it by then…literally.
Learn a Few Words Of Italian It really does make all the difference; the locals will appreciate your efforts and you’ll have a few laughs along the way.
Hire a Speedboat On the Cheap Head over to Lido De Lenno and ask for Igor, a charming chap who will lease you his speedboat for just $45 USD/hour. After a quick driving lesson, the day will be yours to spend jetting about the lakes and exploring at your own pace.
Learn to Fly a Seaplane You’ll recall that we mentioned the James Bond theme tune earlier? Well, kick it up a notch and take a flying lesson from the Aero Club Como! Learn how to take off and land in the water whilst looking out over the spectacular surroundings and terrifying your flying instructor by attempting to do a loop-the-loop!
If Lake Como is one of your all-time dream destinations then make sure to share it with others on the BUCKiTDREAM app via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Go on, Clooney’s waiting…