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Where to stay

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Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 19
reviews: 43
Where to stay

My husband and I are making a trip to Italy next month and are trying to fit in Lake Como. We are looking for suggestions on where to stay in the Lake Como area... Town name not hotel name. Thanks :)

115 replies to this topic
Como, Italy
posts: 910
reviews: 26
1. Re: Where to stay

Ok, provided that this is definitely a frequently asked question I am going to write a description once-for-all and the put it on the FAQ's

There is NOT a place in Como Lake that is unquestionably better than the others, there are different areas/villages and some of them could be better suited for the traveller's taste.

1) COMO

Como it's a CITY, not a village. It boasts a population of around 100.000, so it's only partially a touristic city, it's open all year round, it has a big walking area within the ancient city walls (the streets follows the square pattern of the old roman camp) with many restaurants, shops, bars. It is serviced by 2 train stations: a) Trenord Como lago (slow train from Milano Cadorna and Malpensa airport via Saronno) that is waterfront and b) Trenitalia Como San Giovanni (Fast train from Milan Centrale/Garibaldi/Switzerland) that is slightly uphill and at 10 min. walk from waterfront. There is a cablecar and a seaplane station.

Pros: Nightlife, Shopping, Exhibits, Services, Not seasonal, All the ferry and the bus start there and you can quickly reach and visit all the villages, Milan and Lugano.

Cons: It's not "romantic", altough the central square is directly on the water, only a few hotels have lakeview and even then the view is limited because lake bends before Como and the port is closed by a pier. It can be crowded and busy, ferry coming and going with whistles, seaplanes' noise...

BELLAGIO:

Bellagio is the best known touristic resort of the lake. It is situated in a magnificent position exactly in the middle of the lake, where the three branches joins. It's a lovely small village where cars are not allowed, with many hotels, shops, restaurants and romantic alleys with stairs.

Pros: the location is celebrated all over the world, it is connected by frequent ferries (fast and slow) and car ferries to all the other villages of the lake. The choice of hotels is wide, most of them with incredible lakeview. There is a lot of things to do. At evening when ferry stops it become quieter and even more romantic.

Cons: it's a touristic destination and there is a lot of people visiting Bellagio every day making it crowded. The percentage of "locals" is tiny, so you'll likely meet other tourists rather than italians, restaurants are mostly "designed" to cater for tourists. At night, when ferry stops, it is difficult to reach Bellagio from other villages, so it's not easy to dine elsewhere.

VARENNA:

It's a peaceful village in a great position facing Bellagio, overlooked by a Castle. It's the only touristic village on the eastern shore. Cars are not allowed. It have a few bars and restaurants, mostly set around a small gulf with stairs entering the water.

Pros: It's maybe the most romantic village, some hotels are right on the water and the panorama looking south is second to none. It has an (uphill) train station connecting it easily to Milan

Cons: It's nevertheless a touristic destination, less busy than Bellagio but still "touristically designed". Seasonal. To reach Como or Bellagio or the western shore with any other destination it is mandatory to take a ferry and they stops at evening.

CERNOBBIO:

It's a sort of "lakeside area" of Como. There is a lot of runners that every day do jogging from Como to Cernobbio. It's touristic but very frequented by locals: many milanese have here a weekend home.

Pros: it's a "real" local village and it's open all year. It hosts one of the most luxurious hotels of the world, the Villa d'Este, the gulf where Cernobbio lays and the lakeview is beautiful. It's at taxi reach from Como so, even if you miss buses and ferries, you can still come back from nightlife without paying too much.

Cons: most hotels are not directly lakeside because after the shore there is a walkable area and the old village center. It's close to Como but quite far from Bellagio and centre lake, so to visit that area it's necessary to do a quite long (albeit beautiful) trip by ferry or a bumpy bus ride

MENAGGIO: it's one of the biggest village of the lake, a connecting point for Switzerland. It has a big lakeside walking area with some imposing-looking hotels with gardens in front of them.

Pros: it's a busy village not only turistic. Very well connected, every ferry, included fast hydrofoils stops here and Lake Lugano is comfortably reachable by bus. It have less stairs and slopes than most of other destinations. Directly connected with Menaggio and Varenna with shuttle ferries.

Cons: it's less romantic than Varenna, the flat ground spoils somewhat the "small village" look that it's by many considered the beauty of Como Lake locations. It's quite far from Como so, even if there are buses, getting back from there it's a rather long journey.

TREMEZZO/CADENABBIA: it's not a "real" village, it's more a group of hotels close to magnificent Villa Carlotta gardens in front of Bellagio

Pros: location is wonderful and the view of Bellagio on the other shore with the mountains peaks in the back is amazing. All the ferries stop here and there is a shuttle service to Bellagio

Cons: there is a lakeside road that can be noisy, the location is mainly turistic and heavily seasonal. There is less village feel than other destinations.

LENNO: a small village at the basis of Balbianello peninsula.

Pros: it's quiet and close to interesting points like the Comacina island and Balbianello villa. A centre lake "circle line" ferry stops here.

Cons: it's quite small and does not offer many choices. The road passing in the village could be busy. It's less connected to Bellagio and Varenna than Cadenabbia and Menaggio because the car ferry does not stop here.

ARGEGNO: It's a mid sized village located where the lake bends. An internal valley (Val d'Intelvi) starts here and it's an interesting visit, with one of the best views over Switzerland and Alps.

Pros: halfway from Como and Bellagio. It have a cable car to Pigra, a great base for hiking on mountain trails. Well connected with ferries and buses. The view uphill is great.

Cons: it's not very romantic because it has a lakeside road to cross. It faces north so it's quite cold in winter. It is not a shuttle ferry stop, neither for centre lake nor for the southern basin (although longhaul ferries and hydrofoils stops)

OTHER SMALL VILLAGES: they can be extremely romantic, at night (and often in daytime) you will be almost on your own with amazing lake views.

Some are better serviced by ferries than others. Check timetable.

Pros: romantic, peaceful, "real". Northern basin villages are great for water sports because it's often windy while Southern basin ones are warmer and conveniently close to Como, often surrounded by secluded celebrities villas (like George Clooney's one in Laglio, Versace's in Moltrasio, King Fahd's family in Torno).

Cons: often they have a single hotel and one of two restaurants, that's it, so no nightlife, no services and it's mandatory to move elsewhere to shopping.

I hope it helps: of course it's a mix of facts and personal opinions so other contributions are more than welcome.

Edited: 5:35 pm, April 12, 2012
Tucker
posts: 726
2. Re: Where to stay

Thanks to Claudio for the overview. The towns at the top of your list should be: Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna. For a first visit, I would say Bellagio. On the other hand, the hotels in the other towns are a little less pricey. (six of one, half dozen of the other).

Here & There
Destination Expert
for Sicily, Taormina
posts: 75,426
3. Re: Where to stay

Thank you claudioborghi for a very useful and informative guide of the touristic and local towns on Lake Como - Job well done!

Vagabonda

London, United...
posts: 11
4. Re: Where to stay

Thank you so much Claudio for such wonderfully informative information. I am sure many people will benefit greatly from your local knowledge. Thank you for taking the time to do so!

Stresa, Italy
posts: 1,103
5. Re: Where to stay

Well done Claudio.....maybe we won't get so many where to stay threads now!

Sydney, Australia
posts: 20,324
reviews: 53
6. Re: Where to stay

Claudio, many thanks for that succinct description.

I recall our first trip. We thought to stay at Nesso in 2004, a town on the lake edge surely. Try as we might we could find only on hotel on the internet. We must be wrong? However, we booked Tre Rose.

On arrival we found a hamlet high above the lake with a path down to a ferry stop. One hotel with restaurant, one bar/convenience store, one church, a pharmacy, a few houses, and a very, very warm welcome.

We had a lovely, clean, old fashioned room for a few nights, a restaurant overlooking the lake with a big menu but really good food. Mama could cook.

We loved the experience and remember it fondly, our first time in the lakes in Italy (except the boy racers on the road around the lake who froze us in our tracks)

Some very old photos

www.nickbooth.id.au/NickWeb/Pages/Nesso.htm

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 19
reviews: 43
7. Re: Where to stay

This is perfect! Just what I needed and I'm sure many others... Thank you.

Varenna, Italy
Destination Expert
for Lake Como
posts: 507
reviews: 10
8. Re: Where to stay

Awesome. Thank you so much for doing this. I'm bumping, and I went ahead and suggested this for a sticky.

Bridgewater, New...
posts: 2,135
reviews: 75
9. Re: Where to stay

Perfect. I've been trying to figure out which is the right place on Lake Como and your information is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

California
posts: 153
reviews: 34
10. Re: Where to stay

My vote would be to stay in ARGEGNO--IT IS small but not touristy and they have a wonderful, historic albergo at the water's edge with a great outdoor dining next to the water. Not as expensive as the other villages, but fun to take a ferry (next door) to beautiful Bellagio and Varenna. Also DO SEE Villa Carlotta (museum & gardens) at Tremezzo (quick ferry ride) on your way to Bellagio.

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