for a hassle-free trip to Lake Como

In recent years, the popularity of Lake Como has increased more and more.Β The consequences, which are the result of a higher-than-expected tourist influx, are now coming to the surface and relate in particular to overcrowding and poor efficiency of public and private transportation services.

Now, don’t get worried: in this article I try to provide some useful suggestions for a hassle-free vacation on Lake Como that will help visitors while also having a positive impact on locals (who live with these issues on a daily basis) and, in general, on the area as a whole.

1. Travel sustainably

There is good tourism and tourism that harms the area. The tourism success of recent years risks going down a road of no return, and both tourists and institutions can still do a lot. But since local institutions move, as is typical, extremely slowly in dealing with these kinds of problems, the best thing I can do is to provide some tips for those who want to take home only beautiful memories of our lake.

Overcrowding on Lake Como
People disembarking from the car ferry

1.1 If you can, avoid the peak season

❗ Certainly the busiest months for tourists are between June and September. This can result in congestion in popular towns or on public transportation, full restaurants, and, in general, a tourist experience that does not live up to expectations.

βœ… If you have the chance, visit Lake Como in the off-season, when the attractions, weather and frequency of public transportation are still favorable. April, May and October, for example, are ideal months to visit Lake Como. If you can only take vacations in the very high season, then you might just consider visiting places away from the crowds (read on).

Take home more than just a photo during your boat ride!

1.2. Visiting Lake Como in one day? What a waste!

❗The β€œunfortunate” trend in recent years too often sees Lake Como simply as the setting for selfies or Reels to be uploaded to social networks. Many visitors, usually from Milan, therefore devote only a one-day visit to Lake Como, discovering the usual 3 or 4 places that end up being very crowded – as well as the ferries and buses used to reach them – and to the detriment of an entire portion of the territory that remains, to most, almost unknown.

βœ… Take your visit to Lake Como to the next level, and be sure to devote at least 2-3 days to it. That way you can choose to stay overnight, even in one of the less crowded towns, and plan your visits in a smarter way, devoting the necessary time to the villas, shops and towns you choose to explore.

Val Sanagra, Menaggio
Wonderful walk along the Sanagra stream, near Menaggio

1.3 Lake Como is not only Como, Bellagio, and Varenna

❗Especially those who choose to visit Lake Como in a single day usually always do the Como – Bellagio – Varenna itinerary. It is definitely an interesting itinerary for those with little time (see my post on the Instagram channel), but besides the problems already mentioned, there is also the fact that there is a whole other world to discover.

βœ… If you are making a multi-day trip, and especially in high season, it is important that you take some time to inquire about the towns around Lake Como and their attractions (including nature trails, which are splendid in the fall). Once you have an idea of the places to explore, which are not just the “fancy” ones, choose your hotel room or apartment in a convenient location to reach them all by bus or ferry.

2. Use private and public transportation the smart way

There are a lot of different ways to get around Lake Como without a car: private or public transportation will take you wherever you want to go. But it is very important to plan trips carefully, and I will try to give you an overview and some warnings.

Como-Bellagio bus ride
Como-Bellagio bus ride

2.1 First of all: don’t underestimate the distances

❗Many travelers think they can visit three or four Lake Como towns in one day without any stress. The truth is: the distances are greater than one can imagine (the lay of the land is also sometimes challenging), the frequency and availability of cabs and transportation is not always very high, etc.

βœ… If you want to avoid doing everything in a hurry, plan your itinerary by grouping the places you want to visit by area, and overestimating the time you will need to reach the following stop of your tour. If it helps, here you can find a map of Lake Como with the main villages, attractions, beaches, etc.

Hydrofoil | Boat trips on Lake Como
The fast service ferry

2.2 Learn the essentials about cabs, ferry and bus service

❗If you travel by public transportation, which I recommend given the complex road conditions on Lake Como, the first thing to know is that rides are not particularly frequent, even in the high season, and that they do not run until late in the evening. On the other hand, cabs are also limited in number, and in high season it is difficult to find any available at the last minute. Services such as Uber are used more in large cities, such as Milan, than on Lake Como.

βœ… To ensure you are not caught unprepared, take a few minutes to read the guides I have prepared on ferry, bus and cab services in the Lake Como area. Also discover the transportation apps that may be most useful to you.

Smart travelers plan trips and buy tickets in advance

2.3 Plan trips (and buy tickets) in advance

❗By now you must have realized how important it is to plan your trips as well as possible and in advance. This is also helpful to avoid, for example, the online sale of your ferry ticket selling out a few hours before your travel date, forcing you to stand in a half-hour line at the shore ticket office in order to board.

βœ… Check ferry schedules and purchase tickets on the Navigazione Laghi website, while using the Arriva MyPay app for bus rides. Consider that all towns have at least one bus or ferry stop, so a smart way to get around is to use a combination of public transportation. On the eastern side, the one that starts in Lecco and passes through Varenna, you can also get around by train coming from Milan (note: train rides also do not run late).

3. Beware of tourist traps

Like many popular tourist destinations, Lake Como is not immune to situations where there are those who want to take advantage of it. Here’s how you can avoid running into unpleasant or disappointing situations.

The so-called "buttadentro" (the person who drags you into a place)
The so-called "buttadentro" (the person who drags you into a place)

3.1 Choose carefully which restaurants and tours to attend

❗Popular destinations often hide pitfalls, such as expensive restaurants that have nothing special but are just lucky enough to be in the right square, or boatmen of dubious professionalism who lure you and convince you to take part in one of their tours.

βœ… Before entering a restaurant, always consult the menus displayed outside and, if you can, look at its online reviews. I know it is not very romantic, but sometimes it can be very helpful to avoid disappointment. The same goes for anyone who offers to take you on a private boat tour: ask for the name of the company and verify that it is reputable and licensed to do so.

La Vecchia Chioderia farmhouse (outdoor tables)
La Vecchia Chioderia farmhouse, Grandola ed Uniti

3.2 Discover the territory off the beaten path

❗In places frequented by the greatest number of people, it is almost a given that you could come across situations that do not stand out in terms of authenticity and genuineness.

βœ… Instead, try to prefer places and experiences off the beaten path, such as combining a walk in the woods with a stop at a farmhouse that specializes in preparing local dishes. There is so much to discover!

4. Take out insurance for your personal belongings

Enjoying one of my all-time favorite spots on Lake Como
Travel worry-free, covered by insurance!

❗A final consideration for a hassle-free vacation to Lake Como, especially for those who plan to be on the road for a long time and want to feel completely comfortable, is to have insurance that can cover your personal belongings.

βœ… Whether it’s your travel documents, your clothes, your smartphone or other devices, it’s important to make sure you choose insurance that can get you covered, and after some search I found that with Renters Insurance your personal belongings are even covered from theft, whether you travel to Lake Como or anywhere else away from home.

All clear? Let's do a little recap

1. Spend time discovering what Lake Como has to offer

2. Choose the most suitable place and time for your vacation, taking into consideration even the less iconic destinations

3. Plan your travels intelligently and, when possible, purchase tickets in advance

4. Choose carefully which restaurants, activities and tours to attend

5. Take out insurance for your personal belongings

6. Finally, live your hassle-free trip to Lake Como!

Experiences & tours

Make your trip a unique experience!​

Venetian Limousine
2 hour boat tour with
Venetian Limousine
Cooking class in Bellagio
Cooking class experience
in Bellagio
Val Senagra
Val Senagra:
the enchanted valley
Venetian Limousine
4 hour boat tour with stop
at a location of your choice
Como-Brunate-Torno: breathtaking scenery
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