Located on the Italian-Swiss border, the city of Como in Italy overlooks the southwest end of its lake and is surrounded by green ridge hills, resulting in unparalleled, natural scenery.
Como is home to some of the best attractions in all of Lombardy, and it is worth a visit even for a simple stroll through the streets of the center. It is an ideal destination both for those visiting Lake Como for a day and for those staying longer.
In Como you can visit beautiful squares with Romanesque or Gothic style churches, visit the city’s historic buildings (such as Villa Olmo or Volta museum), enjoy the view of the city from above from breathtaking vantage points, go shopping in search of the best local products… and much more!
In addition, thanks to the public boat service, it is possible to reach all the towns on the lake, from the closest (such as Cernobbio, 15 minutes by boat) to the most famous pearls of the lake center (Bellagio and Varenna, 1.5 – 2h).
Ready to hit the road? Here are the attractions that you must see during your visit to Como and the best experiences that you can get!
Enclosed within imposing medieval walls – of which Porta Torre, overlooking Piazza Vittoria, is one of the most scenic gates – the center of Como is home to fascinating squares, each with its own personality.
Piazza Duomo, Cathedral and Broletto
The main square is Piazza Duomo, which houses the imposing Como Cathedral (Duomo di Como): an eclectic building, combining Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The Duomo is open for visits on weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on holidays from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Just between the cathedral and its bell tower is the Broletto, the former town hall that now often hosts art exhibitions and assemblies. It is a visually striking building, with a facade banded with Lombard marble in three different colors: white, gray and red.
Under the arches of the Broletto is the tourist infopoint, open daily from 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm. Also, if you are interested in theater, you will be happy to know that behind the cathedral is the Teatro Sociale di Como, the opera house that has hosted such illustrious musicians as Niccolò Paganini and Franz Liszt.
Piazza San Fedele and its Basilica
Just a 3-minute walk from Piazza Duomo is Piazza San Fedele. This square, originally a grain market, is home to a beautiful Romanesque church dating back to 1120: the Basilica of San Fedele.
If you happen to pass by this little square on a Saturday, you will have the chance to come across numerous stalls, where you can find antiques and handicrafts.
Piazza Volta and Piazza Mazzini
If you arrive in Como at the San Giovanni station and head downtown, Piazza Volta will be the first square in the historic center you encounter (less than a 10-minute walk). Piazza Mazzini is the adjacent square.
These two squares are the center of Como’s nightlife. In fact, among elegant Art Nouveau buildings and stores selling typical products, there are numerous restaurants, wine bars and pubs to satisfy all tastes.
Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll along the nearby Via Vitani, one of the richest vestiges of the medieval city of Como that is home to historic trattorias and fine stores.
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The historic center overlooks the lakefront with Piazza Cavour, where the office for purchasing boat tickets is located.
I recommend you go left, because the promenade leading to Como Lago station is under renovation and does not allow you to fully enjoy the experience. Here are a few attractions not to be missed on the lakefront!
As you walk along the lakefront you will see Life Electric, a monument by archistar Daniel Libeskind.
The avant-garde work is located at the bottom of a small artificial dam (called Diga Foranea) and is a homage to the voltaic pile invented by Alessandro Volta.
Follow this Volta tour if you want to discover other places in the city of Como related to the scientist’s life!
Lakeside gardens, Volta Museum & War memorial
Talking of Alessandro Volta, don’t miss the nearby Volta museum, which collects evidence of his work and even the first version of the electric battery. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The regular admission ticket costs €5.
Next to the museum is the garden area overlooking the lake, a popular place for tourists and locals especially during the summer season. Festivals and musical or culinary events are often organized here.
This area is also home to the imposing War Memorial (Monumento ai Caduti), a 33-meter (108-foot) tall rationalist-style building dedicated to the 650 fallen Como soldiers of World War I. It is possible to climb to the top of the monument, from which there is a magnificent view of Lake Como and the city. The attraction is open every Sunday, from April until the end of October, from 3 to 6 p.m. (4 to 7 p.m. in July and August).
Do you love architecture? Read more about Rationalism in the city of Como!
If you love historic villas, stroll along the romantic Passeggiata Lino Gelpi (which starts a few steps from the War Memorial) and reach the impressive Villa Olmo, a neoclassical building dating back to 1780.
Villa Olmo really has it all: an Italian-style garden overlooking Lake Como for splendid photographs, an English-style back garden for relaxing, and interior rooms full of paintings, statues, and precious stucco decorations.
And do you want to know the best thing? That admission to the villa and its gardens is completely free.
The park is open daily from 7 am and closes at 11 pm in the summer season (early April to late September) and at 7 pm in the winter season (early October to late March).
The interior can be visited Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm.
A few tips for your stay in Como
The Como-Brunate funicular
Want to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city of Como? Visit Brunate, a town that overlooks Como from the top of a hill 715 meters (about 2,345 ft) high.
The Como-Brunate funicular – which runs from Piazza Alcide de Gasperi, very close to the Como Lago train station – will take you to Brunate in a few minutes (see timetables and fares).
Once in Brunate, you can walk for about 20 minutes and reach the Volta Lighthouse (Faro Voltiano), that can be visited every day except non-holiday Wednesdays, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (closed in case of bad weather).
Be careful, though: in summer, lines to ride the funicular can last up to half an hour, so arm yourself with patience. Tickets cannot be purchased in advance, and in addition, there have been reports of inefficiencies on the part of people with disabilities (particularly regarding the return to Como from Brunate). If you have special needs, I recommend that you contact the company in advance through its official website.
Spina Verde park
Spina Verde Park is a protected forest which covers an area of 1000 hectares (3.86 square miles). The park is located southwest of Como and collects many sites of panoramic, historical, and natural interest.
One of the most interesting attractions is the tower of Castello Baradello, which stands on a hill overlooking the center of Como. It is a military fortification built in the 6th century by the locals (who were under the Roman Empire) and later restored by Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor.
The easiest way to reach Castel Baradello is by following a path that starts from Piazza San Rocco and leads to the tower in about 30 minutes.
My friends at Slow Lake Como offer a very cool experience: a 3-hour tour that will give you exclusive access to the castle and also includes an aperitivo with wine and local products and breathtaking views of Lake Como. Find out about it here!
Private boat tours
If you are looking for private boat tours from Como, here are some options that may be right for you!
at a location of your choice
with Venetian Limousine
Public boat tours
❗Looking for information about public boat service? Read my guide to boats and ferries on Lake Como!
Como’s main pier and ticket office are located in Lungo Lario Trento. Plan your trips on the Navigazione Laghi website and, when possible, purchase tickets online to avoid standing in line under the sun. During the peak season the turnout at ticket offices can be indeed very high.
Public boat service is perfect if you are on a day trip and want to reach other towns such as Argegno, Bellagio, Tremezzina or other towns of the lake.
Beaches in Como
If you want to relax on a beach, you can go to Lido Villa Olmo, a beach with two swimming pools and a bar that offers a beautiful view of Lake Como and the opposite coast.
Otherwise, on the opposite shore (at the end of Viale Geno) is the recently opened Lido Giulietta al Lago, which offers all the services you need for your day and often organizes events in its very popular bar and restaurant.
Discover the best beaches in Como!
Want to see more hotels, apartments or villas?
Check out my entire selection of the best places to stay in Como!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
about Como, Italy
Como city is more than worth a visit! It is the ideal starting point for day trips (towards Milan or other popular Lake Como’s towns) and is full of activities and attractions for all tastes: museums, hiking trails, beautiful churches (such as the popular Como Cathedral) and much more. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars where you can taste the authentic Italian cuisine.
Como is approximately 50 km (30 miles) from Milan.
The two cities are very well connected through an efficient railway service. Going from Milan to Como (and viceversa) by train takes about 1 hour, and the ticket price is €4.80.
- Villa Olmo, an imposing neoclassical building
- Como Cathedral and Piazza Duomo
- Como-Brunate cable car
- Tempio Voltiano, the museum dedicated to Alessandro Volta
- Spina Verde, a forest that collects many sites of panoramic, historical, and natural interest
- Milan, that you can reach by train in 1 hour
- Bellagio, where you can get by boat in max. 2 hours
- Brunate, easily reachable by cable car in a few minutes
- other popular Lake Como’s towns (such as Argegno, Nesso or Tremezzina), where you can get by boat or by bus