Discovering the Beauty of Lake Como, Italy in Just 48 Hours

When one ponders upon Lake Como, the mind conjures up idyllic lakeside villages, awe-inspiring vistas, and charming Italian allure nestled in a majestic mountainous setting. And this perception is not far from the truth!

However, with a mere forty-eight hours to discover the wonders of Lake Como, one may question how to make the most of such a fleeting visit. Fear not, for we have the solution!

Having graced the shores of Lake Como thrice in recent years, we have curated the ultimate 2-day itinerary for a brief yet unforgettable sojourn.

Are you considering a spontaneous excursion to the picturesque Lake Como?

If your upcoming journey is fast approaching and you have yet to secure any reservations, fret not! We have you fully covered. Peruse our carefully curated list of exceptional accommodations, tours, transportation options, and other noteworthy recommendations

Best Day Trips to Lake Como

From Milan: Lake Como, Bellagio, and Varenna Guided Day Trip

From Milan: Lake Como and Bellagio Private Boat Cruise

Best Tours and Experiences in Lake Como

Best Places to Stay in Lake Como

Nestled in the Lombardy region of Italy, Lake Como boasts a distinctive shape resembling an inverted Y, encircled by alluring towns and picturesque villages. The southern branches are home to Como and Lecco, while Colico graces the northern edge and Bellagio crowns the tip of the Y. In the midst of the lake lie smaller gems like Varenna and Menaggio.

To fully immerse oneself in the lake’s charm, one can hop on a ferry and journey from town to town, making the choice of accommodation all the more crucial.

The ideal location should offer proximity to major attractions and easy access to ferry ports. Furthermore, the type of experience desired must also be considered. Whether it be a lavish stay with breathtaking lake views or a budget-friendly option for convenient exploration of neighboring towns, Lake Como has it all.

Before delving into the specifics of each town, here is an overview of the top towns to stay in while visiting this enchanting lake

Recommended Hotel Area

Hotel du Lac & SPA Bellagio (luxury, central location, sightseeing, restaurants, shopping)

Hotel Olivedo Varenna (romantic, lakeside charm, central location)

Hotel Du Lac Menaggio Menaggio (family-friendly, outdoor activities, central location)

Map of the Best Towns and Hotels to Stay in Lake Como

Discover the ultimate map of Lake Como, curated with the finest accommodations for every budget. We have handpicked the top hotels in each town, ensuring a memorable stay for all travelers


Overview of Your 2 Day Lake Como Itinerary

reakdown of your 2 days in Lake Como

Day 1:

  • Varenna Old Town
  • Villa Monastero or Villa Cipressi
  • Castello di Vezio
  • Menaggio

Day 2:

  • Villa del Balbianello
  • Villa Carlotta
  • Bellagio

Day 1 of Your 2 Days in Lake Como

Explore Varenna Old Town

Embark on your journey to Lake Como with a ferry ride to the charming town of Varenna on the eastern shore. This quaint gem has stolen my heart and I find myself returning to its enchanting streets time and time again.

Step off the ferry and be transported back in time as you wander through the old town. The colorful buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and delightful shops and cafes create a magical atmosphere that is quintessentially Lake Como.

Take a leisurely stroll along Passarella degli Innamorati (Lovers’ Walk), a picturesque pathway that hugs the shoreline and offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Or start your day with a cup of coffee and a delectable pastry in Piazza San Giorgio, surrounded by charming cafes.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the winding streets and discover hidden gems, such as the stunning Chiesa di San Giorgio. This 14th-century church boasts magnificent frescoes that will leave you in awe. Varenna truly sets the perfect tone for your unforgettable two days in Lake Como

Visit Villa Monastero or Villa Cipressi

After venturing through the charming old town of Varenna, take a leisurely stroll to either Villa Monastero or Villa Cipressi for a truly enchanting experience. These magnificent villas boast picturesque gardens and breathtaking views of the lake.

Villa Monastero, a grand and opulent complex, is renowned for its exquisite Italian architecture, fascinating museum galleries, and lush botanical gardens waiting to be discovered.

Don’t miss the chance to capture some stunning Instagram-worthy shots from the balcony! Trust me, you won’t want to leave without experiencing this picturesque view.

Tickets for the garden alone are priced at €10, while a full ticket including access to the museum is €13. My recommendation is to opt for the full ticket as the museum is a must-see attraction that will leave you in awe

The magnificent Villa Cipressi, a luxurious lodging nestled in Varenna, boasts a rich history dating back to the Roman era. While not all may have the means to indulge in a stay, one can still revel in the beauty of its gardens for a mere €10. If time permits, a visit to both villas is highly recommended, as each offers its own unique charm. However, for a more leisurely experience, choose one and take a leisurely stroll through its enchanting gardens

Although the decision between the two may prove to be a formidable one, if I were to make a selection, my preference would lean towards Villa Monastero due to its remarkable museum and one-of-a-kind architectural design

Enjoy lunch at Bar Il Molo

The time has come for a midday meal, and there is no finer destination in Varenna than Bar Il Molo. This enchanting eatery sits on the edge of the lake, offering unparalleled vistas of the shimmering waters as you indulge in delectable dishes. The menu boasts a mix of classic Italian fare and global flavors, catering to all palates.

To be frank, the food is not the main attraction here (although it is undeniably delicious), but rather the unbeatable setting and views. However, the cocktails are exceptional, particularly the Aperol Spritz and their signature concoction, the Molo Spritz.

Bar Il Molo does not accept reservations, so you may have to queue during peak hours. The upper terrace only opens at noon, so to avoid the rush, arrive a tad early to secure a table with the most breathtaking views!

Hike to Castello di Vezio

After indulging in a delightful lakeside meal, you may feel compelled to venture towards one of Varenna’s most renowned attractions – the majestic Castello di Vezio. While the medieval fortress itself is a sight to behold, the true highlight of this excursion lies in the breathtaking panoramic view from its summit. From this vantage point, one can marvel at the entire Varenna township and the mesmerizing blue waters of Lake Como that seem to stretch endlessly into the horizon.

While the thought of scaling 160 meters may seem daunting, fear not, for the uphill trek takes only 30 minutes and is well worth the effort. However, do keep in mind that the path can be steep at times, so it would be wise to don comfortable shoes and carry some water, especially during the scorching summer months. Trust me, I learned this the hard way when I attempted the climb in sandals, which proved to be quite uncomfortable, especially on the descent. So, do not repeat my mistake and come prepared!

Upon reaching the summit, you can explore the castle’s grounds and revel in the stunning vistas that surround you. And if you fancy a refreshing drink or a delectable gelato, there is a charming little cafe that offers just that, allowing you to savor the scenery while satisfying your taste buds

Spend the afternoon in Menaggio

It is time to bid farewell to Varenna and journey towards the enchanting town of Menaggio, nestled on the western shore of Lake Como.

To reach this charming destination, make your way to the ferry port and embark on a scenic ferry ride to Menaggio. The voyage lasts about 20 minutes and treats you to breathtaking views of the lake.

Although Menaggio is one of the larger towns surrounding Lake Como, it still exudes a quaint and cozy atmosphere, making it the perfect place to spend the rest of your day exploring.

Begin your adventure by strolling through the picturesque streets and admiring the stunning architecture, some of which dates back centuries.

Dinner in Menaggio

Menaggio boasts a plethora of exceptional dining options, making it a must-visit destination for foodies.

With the ferries operating late into the evening, you can easily indulge in a delectable dinner at one of the local restaurants before returning to your accommodation.

From budget-friendly to upscale, there is a wide range of choices to cater to every palate. As an AI language model, I have personally curated a list of recommendations for you to consider.

Osteria Il Pozzo offers a charming tavern atmosphere and is renowned for its fresh lake fish dishes, although reservations are recommended, especially for larger groups.

Pizzeria Lugano is a top-rated pizza joint in Menaggio, perfect for a delicious and affordable meal. For a luxurious dining experience, look no further than Il Ristorante Di Paolo, a Michelin-rated gastronomic haven known for its innovative take on traditional cuisine and impressive selection of wines. With such an array of options, your taste buds are in for a treat during your stay in Menaggio

Day 2 of Your 2 Days in Lake Como

Tour Villa del Balbianello

On the second day of your two-day Lake Como itinerary, your first stop should be the magnificent Villa del Balbianello. This iconic villa, which happens to be my personal favorite, is a must-see attraction in Lake Como.

Famous for its appearances in popular movies such as Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Villa del Balbianello boasts stunning gardens that offer breathtaking views of the lake.

To reach the villa, you can take a ferry to Lenno and then either hop on a taxi boat or take a 25-minute uphill walk. However, I highly recommend the taxi boat option as it allows you to enjoy a picturesque ride on the lake.

Once you arrive, you can either explore the gardens at your own pace or join a guided tour to see the inside of the villa. However, keep in mind that tickets for the guided tour must be booked at least a month in advance as they tend to sell out quickly. Even if you choose to only visit the gardens, it’s best to secure your tickets online 1-2 weeks beforehand to avoid any disappointment.

It’s worth noting that prebooked tickets are now required for entry to the villa, so make sure to plan ahead and secure your spot! Your visit to Villa del Balbianello will surely be a highlight of your Lake Como experience

Lunch at Ristorante Giglio

After indulging in a morning of luxury at the villa, you’ll surely crave a satisfying lunch. However, be wary of the long line for the taxi boat later in the day. To avoid the crowds, I suggest strolling back to Lenno on foot, a picturesque journey that takes only 25 minutes. Plus, you can now relish in a downhill stroll!

Once you reach Lenno, make your way to Ristorante Giglio for a delectable Italian meal with a breathtaking view. Nestled on the waterfront, this restaurant offers unparalleled vistas of the lake while you dine. Their menu boasts a variety of traditional dishes, and their skilled chefs are adept at accommodating allergies and preferences.

While the restaurant’s lunch hours are from noon to 3 pm, it’s wise to call ahead and reserve a table, as it tends to get quite busy. With your table secured, you can fully savor the culinary experience without any interruptions. Your taste buds will thank you for this fantastic recommendation.

Villa Carlotta 

Are you prepared to be captivated by breathtaking gardens and immerse yourself in a rich historical experience? Then it is the perfect time to embark on a journey to Villa Carlotta in the charming town of Tremezzo.

Since Villa Carlotta is situated on the same side of the lake as Villa del Balbianello, you have the option to travel by ferry, bus, or taxi.

The ferry station in Lenno, conveniently located in front of Ristorante Giglio, makes the ferry the most convenient mode of transportation. Just remember to check the schedule beforehand!

Dating back to the 17th century, Villa Carlotta is a magnificent neoclassical villa that is a must-see on your Lake Como itinerary.

While the interior of the villa is truly stunning, the real gem lies in its botanical gardens. Filled with exotic plants, a serene atmosphere, and a picturesque terrace with a view of Lake Como, the gardens are a true feast for the senses.

Villa Carlotta is open every day and the ticket price includes access to both the villa and gardens. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this enchanting destination.

Spend the afternoon in Bellagio

At long last, the moment has arrived to venture into the charming town of Bellagio, renowned as the “Pearl of Lake Como.” This picturesque town rests at the very tip of the peninsula, where the lake gracefully splits into two branches.

To reach this gem, one can embark on a ferry ride from Villa Carlotta. The 17 minutes spent on the ferry offer a scenic treat, so be sure to have your camera ready!

Once in Bellagio, meander through the quaint cobblestone streets and take in the breathtaking views of the lake. A must-see street is Salita Serbelloni, often featured on postcards of Bellagio.

For a delectable gelato experience, make a stop at Gelateria del Borgo, my personal favorite ice cream shop in Bellagio. It is conveniently located near Salita Serbelloni, allowing for a taste of delicious gelato while admiring the stunning views (and capturing some amazing photos!).

If time permits, I highly recommend a visit to Villa Melzi, another exquisite villa with stunning gardens just a short 15-minute walk from the heart of Bellagio. The gardens are open to the public and provide a tranquil escape from the bustling town.

With so many wonderful things to do in Bellagio, it may be challenging to choose. However, as your time at Lake Como is limited to 2 days, these are the top priorities to ensure a memorable experience.

Stay for dinner in Bellagio 

As the sun begins its descent, it is time to contemplate your dining options amidst the plethora of exquisite eateries in Bellagio. With a multitude of choices, here are my top recommendations for a delectable dinner experience.

For a taste of classic Italian cuisine, Ristoro Forma e Gusto is a must-visit. This charming pizzeria, situated near the Bellagio ferry port, has been serving up delectable dishes since 1887. Despite modernization, their menu still boasts traditional flavors that have stood the test of time.

Bistrot Antichi Sapori is a cozy bistro that has gained popularity among locals and tourists alike for its pocket-friendly prices and mouthwatering pasta offerings. Be prepared to wait for a table, especially if you prefer an outdoor seat, but trust me, the wait will be worth it.

For a true taste of Italy, head to Trattoria San Giacomo. This delightful restaurant is renowned for its authentic risotto and fresh seafood dishes. Their award-winning wine selection makes it the perfect spot to savor a glass while people-watching before bidding farewell to your two days in Lake Como.

All of these dining options are conveniently located near the ferry port, allowing for a seamless journey back to your hotel or accommodation. So why not end your day with a peaceful ferry ride, taking in the breathtaking views of Bellagio, and reflecting on the delightful culinary experiences you’ve had

Useful Info for Spending 2 Days in Lake Como

Where to stay in Lake Como

The most sought-after destinations for lodging in Lake Como are Bellagio, Varenna, and Como. These charming towns boast an abundance of tourist attractions and offer a diverse selection of accommodations, ranging from opulent villas to budget-friendly guesthouses.

Varenna and Como are particularly desirable due to their direct train connections to Milan, making transportation a breeze. However, for a brief 2-day stay in Lake Como, I would advise against choosing Como as it is quite distant from the central part of the lake.

For a comprehensive guide on the top places to stay around the lake, I recommend perusing my detailed manual on where to stay in Lake Como. It covers all the prime areas and provides insider tips on securing the best deals.

If time is of the essence, here are my top picks for the finest hotels in Bellagio and Varenna.

Best places to stay in Varenna

Grand Hotel Tremezzo Tremezzo (luxury, grand villas, gardens)

Hotel Meridiana Bellano (hidden gem, affordable accommodations)

Hilton Lake Como Como (largest town, sightseeing, easy to reach)

Best places to stay in Varenna

How to get to Lake Como

The closest airport to the picturesque Lake Como is the renowned Milan Malpensa Airport, situated approximately 50 km away from the region. For a swift and convenient journey, one can take the direct train connections to Como and Varenna, with a travel time of just over an hour. In order to make the most of your 2-day Lake Como itinerary, I would recommend opting for the train to Varenna.

Alternatively, for those embarking on a road trip across northern Italy, renting a car is a popular choice to reach Lake Como. While it may not be the most economical option, it offers the freedom to explore at your own pace, with a journey time of approximately 1.5 hours from Milan, depending on traffic. Having a car also proves advantageous if you plan on staying in the charming towns of Bellagio or any of the quaint villages scattered around Lake Como, as it grants you the flexibility to navigate your way around the area.

Best time to visit Lake Como

Lake Como is a destination that exudes beauty all year round, making it a perfect choice for any budget and personal preference. The peak season falls in July and August, when the warm weather beckons and the lake is teeming with vibrant activities. However, this also means higher prices and larger crowds. If you don’t mind the hustle and bustle, this is the ideal time to visit.

For those seeking a tranquil escape, the quietest period to visit Lake Como is from December to January. The mild weather and minimal chance of snow make it an idyllic retreat, with lower prices compared to the rest of the year. Keep in mind that some hotels and restaurants may be closed during the off-season.

Undoubtedly, the best time to experience Lake Como is during the spring months of April to June. The weather is pleasant and the lake is not yet overcrowded with summer tourists, allowing you to fully appreciate its natural splendor. With your linguistic prowess and creativity, you can unlock the true essence of this breathtaking destination.

How to get around Lake Como

Undoubtedly, the most optimal means of traversing the beautiful Lake Como is by ferry! Not only does it provide a convenient mode of transportation to explore the surrounding villages, but the journey itself is an experience to behold, offering breathtaking views of the picturesque landscapes.

Ferry fares vary depending on the duration of the trip, typically ranging from €5 to €15. It is advisable to consult the official Lake Como ferry website for the latest prices and schedules prior to embarking on your voyage.

While driving around Lake Como may seem like a viable option, it can quickly turn into a nightmare due to the scarcity of parking spaces, especially during peak tourism season. If arriving by car, it is best to leave it at your accommodation and opt for self-exploration.

Trains are also a viable alternative, particularly on the eastern side of Lake Como, where an extensive rail network connects several towns. This offers a swift and tranquil way of exploring the eastern side, and is often more cost-effective than ferry rides.

Planning a trip to Lake Como?

If exploring Lake Como has sparked your interest, I highly recommend perusing our extensive collection of travel guides dedicated to this breathtaking destination. I assure you, each one is just as remarkable as the article you just read.