10 Reasons Lake Como, Italy, Should Be on Your Bucket List
Fresh lakeside air, an unbelievable palette of blues and greens, and a charming small-town atmosphere await those who visit Varenna, a village on Lake Como in northern Italy. Perfect for a family trip, a romantic honeymoon, or even a solo adventure, Varenna is an escape from the chaos of nearby Milan — and a naturally beautiful destination of its own. Whether you want action on the lake, leisurely strolls by the water, or a relaxing place to do some thinking, Lake Como has something wonderful for you. Here's how to best enjoy this slice of Italian paradise.
Take Romantic Strolls
Lover or not, this lakeside pathway is an enchanting way to see Varenna from the water. Stroll from the ferry drop-off to a stretch of pristine water to a row of shops, restaurants, and gelaterias — and you'll see why the romantic trail was named with love in mind.
See the Views Worth a Climb
Grab a map from the tourism office and follow the marked Greenway dei Patriarchi to find Baluardo, the most beautiful lookout point in town. The hike up the rocky steps and thick vegetation is a brief challenge, but when the trail suddenly opens up to a small clearing with picnic tables and wide-open skies, you won't believe your eyes. Here's a perfect spot to catch up on journaling or to enjoy a picnic lunch of bread and cheese.
Visit the Cemetery on the Water
The same hike leads to the most gorgeous and well-kept cemetery you've ever seen. Each grave is intricately designed, strewn with fresh flowers, and sandwiched between the greenest trees and bluest water. I had never understood why tourists would visit cemeteries before, but this changed my mind completely.
Explore the Origin of the Lake
Cool down from your hike at the Fiumelatte ("river of milk"), the water source of the lake. The cascading white water creates a refreshing mist in the air, and its position in the hillside offers a unique view of the lake through gaps in the trees.
Take Gelato Breaks
Varenna may be a quiet lake town, but it still bursts with the bright flavors of Italy. Sample all-natural gelato from either of the town's main gelaterias — vegan flavors from La Passerella and traditional bites from Gelateria Riva di Riva Duilio — and grab a prime spot on a bench to finish your cone with a view.
Check Out the Glamorous Gardens
Waltz into the Villa Monastero, and watch in awe as its flowers sprinkle bright colors against the blue and green backdrop and its arches and windows open up to the clearest views of the lake. Take your time checking out the Mediterranean plants in the gardens before having lunch at the cafe and touring the inside of the villa, full of historic art and furniture.
See the Birds of Prey at Castello di Vezio
Ogle at owls and hawks, kept by a falconer at this partially ruined fortress. A 30-minute hike from town, it's a perfect place to enjoy the ancient art of falconry — and the mystery of the castle's unknown origins.
Visit Nearby Towns
If you have a few days in Lake Como, catch a cheap ferry ride to another town on the lake, like Bellagio or Menaggio. Either town makes for a stress-free day trip to enjoy another side of the lake.
Go Kayaking on the Water
Now that you've seen the lake from so many angles, it's time to see it from the inside. Rent a kayak or canoe for an hour or two to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the water — and a killer arm workout.
Sip Wine With a View
As the sun sets on your evening in Varenna, there's no better way to unwind than with a glass of wine and regional cuisine by the lake. Grab meat, bread, cheese, and produce at one of the town's markets or a delicious panino from Al Barilott. If the restaurant scene is more your speed, eat at Osteria Quatro Pass, a cozy restaurant serving pasta dishes highlighting fish from the lake.