I had always wanted to go to Lake Como, especially when I was studying abroad in Florence, Italy. I never got around to squeezing it into my travel schedule while I was living there, yet it was worth the wait.
This year, I planned a long weekend to the little town of Como and got to make the most of my stay, while exploring with my old roommate, Liz!
I flew into Milan on Friday afternoon and got back to Madrid, Spain by Monday evening. Now I’m here to give you the overview, including activities to add to your itinerary, restaurant recommendations and my own experiences.
Absolute “Must-Do” Overview:
- Take the ferry
- Enjoy lunch, dinner or drinks by the water
- Visit a market (Como has the cutest Christmas Market!)
- Go inside the Duomo di Como (for free!)
- Shop local (amazing for gift giving!)
- Taste the local wines
- Try risotto Milanese, a famous + local dish
- Take the funicular up the mountain
- Eat spaghetti carbonara (it’s a tradition for every Italian town I visit)
My Weekend Itinerary
My Como getaway was more relaxing than anything else. I did not want to cram in museum visits or guided tours. I hoped to see the city on my own time, enjoy some delicious Italian cooking and get as much of an authentic experience as I could.
For a relaxing escape, Como is the perfect spot. It’s so easy to explore more towns along the water as well, with the ferry readily available (and cheap).
Here’s a look into my weekend, with some tips of course – and ending with some specific spots I’d recommend!
Day One: Wandering, Shopping & Takin’ It All In
The first thing you want to do in Como is just walk.
The village is adorable, with cobblestone streets and holiday lights. There are so many little shops, with everything from market-style goods and homey bookstores to bougie boutiques.
Como is great for shopping. I walked around for a couple hours, exploring the bookstores, spice shops and enotecas. I refrained from going into the many clothing stores since I only traveled with a carry-on bag.
Como also has one of the cutest Christmas markets! Christmas in Europe is a bit longer lived, from late November through early-to-mid January. Christmas Day doesn’t mean the end of merry things here. You can keep stopping by for pretzels, chocolates, locally-made soaps and other local foods for weeks to come.
The PICTURES you can take in Como are stunning! I took plenty of pics while strolling the streets and window shopping. Between the architecture of the buildings and the color of the 1900’s villas, Como is filled with cultural gems.
Don’t worry, there are a handful of bakeries and gelato shops to stop in when you get hungry! Wind down your evening with a pizza and some wine, a classic Italian dinner. I enjoyed a DOC white wine from the region, Lombardy.
Day Two: Exploring the Lake & Mountains
Having one full day is the perfect opportunity to take the ferry to another town on the lake. Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio, Torno and even Cernobbio are great options that aren’t too far from the town of Como.
I took a short 10-minute ferry to Cernobbio, just across the water. The tiny town is very picturesque and great for a relaxing stop. You don’t need to spend too much time there, but there are some options for a quick lunch or drink by the water in a less populated area than Como, which was nice.
Bellagio is one of the most popular towns on the lake, and for good reason! Its beauty is incomparable. You can take the ferry there from Como in about 45 minutes. That gives you enough time to spend the day and be back for dinner, if you’d like.
Make sure to check the timetables, because the last ferry back to Como was at 5:10pm when I was there – around sunset.
Since the lake is mountainside, you may have the chance to see some mountaintop views on a funicular ride. The one in Como was sadly closed for maintenance when I was visiting, but this is something you should definitely check out!
Day Three: Sightseeing, Art & Drinks
Besides its natural beauty, Como has a lot of history and art to explore as well.
Como has several museums, including the Museo della Seta di Como, Museo Archeologico Giovio and Pinacoteca Civica, where you’ll get lost in the town’s art gallery.
I also went inside the Como Cathedral, which was stunning! I got to light a candle inside where there was a spot for prayer. The interior architecture lived up to all its expectations. I’ll leave you to see it for yourself.
After all that sightseeing, I’m sure you’ll be ready to take a seat and settle down. If not, Como is known for the best nightlife along the lake, although especially in the summertime. I was strolling through the streets on a Saturday night and was happy to see its liveliness compared to my first night here.
Cozy up at a bar and order yourself a local’s suggestion. I tried the “Mediterranean” cocktail at a little bar in the Piazza Alessandro Volta. It was tasty but a little pricey. Compared to Spain, you’ll definitely find higher prices, but nothing out of the ordinary for someone from the US! It’s worth it for the experience and uniqueness.
If we’re talkin’ food (when am I not?), I have one HUGE recommendation that simply will not let you down.
Liz and I went to Fontana Ristorante Pizzeria looking for pasta – and were not disappointed.
Each of our pasta dishes was only 10 Euros! A half liter of house white wine to share was only 6 Euros. That’s about 2 Euros per glass (um what??). Not only was the bill just 30 Euros for both of us to have dinner and drinks, but we also had leftovers for the next night.
I’d go back here in a heartbeat, and wish I could find authentic Italian food for this price anywhere else!
More note-worthy places:
- Cucina Antica, for jarred spices, oils and wines
- Enoteca Castiglioni, for fresh market goods & foods
- Vintage Jazz Food & Wine, a restaurant and cocktail bar
- Fratelli Carli, for gifts and packaged goods
- Porta Torre, a tower almost 1,000 years old
- Hemingway, a popular cocktail bar
- Fontana Ristorante Pizzeria (in case mentioning it once wasn’t enough)
- The Christmas Market located in Piazza Cavour
Como was just as charming as I’d hoped it would be! For anyone looking for a travel destination, keep Como in mind for either summer or winter.
The Christmas Market was a huge attraction for me, but I can also imagine how beautiful the town is in the breathing life of summertime. Thank you, Como!
How I Spent My 5-Day Trip to Florence, Italy
Read more about my adventures here, from last year’s trip to Firenze.
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