Not as widely known as many of Italy's other top tourist spots, but there is a reason George Clooney chose here to buy his summer home (I learned that from my mom). Lake Como is a gorgeous lake in northern Italy on the edge of the Italian Alps. Quaint towns with cobble stone streets border along the sides of the lakes with boats passing through to get travelers from one to the next.
There are a few options depending on which town you would like to spend your time and where you would like to begin. Como is a larger town at the base of the lake, it is a great starting or ending point for your trip. I decided to split my time between Bellagio and Como, starting in Bellagio and working my way down. There is a direct train from Milan's central train station that passes through Lake Como's east side towns. You will catch a train that is heading towards 'Tirano' and get off at the stop 'Varenna Esino.' The journey takes about an hour and trains run every 20 minutes so you don't need to plan too far ahead. Once you arrive in Varenna, you will have to take a ferry over to Bellagio. These towns are small so they are very easy to navigate around. The ferry from Varenna into Bellagio takes less than 10 minutes. If you decide to check out other towns, you will use the same ferry service. The same service will then take you back down to Como. It is about a 2 hour ferry ride from Bellagio to Como.
What to Expect
These towns are filled with beautiful shops, cobble stone streets, and delicious food. It's Italy, what else would you expect! As you travel down the lake, you will be in awe of the snowcapped mountains looking back. I went in December and it was not busy at all, the summertime can get very crowded. While it is beautiful, Bellagio is small and did not have so many things to do if you are traveling alone. Como is larger and has more lively areas to meet others. In December, they set up a cute Christmas Market with fun things to buy and tasty treats! I ended up buying 3 cannolis to take home to my boyfriend (surprisingly they survived me and a plane ride). They have fun music and gorgeous light displays projected onto the sides of buildings.
Best Time to Visit
Early fall or late spring are the perfect times to visit. You can avoid the heat, prices, and vacation crowds that come along with summer.
Where to Stay
I stayed at Hotel Suisse in Bellagio, located near the waterfront. It cost about 100 USD per room a night in December. Hotel Suisse was quaint and offered all necessary amenities.
In Como, I stayed at Ostello Bello Hostel. It cost about 25 USD a night for a dorm style room. The hostel is located minutes from the lake and in walking distance to the main square. It was up to date and very clean. They have a large outside patio area, which is a perfect place to socialize.
Where to Eat
You really can't go wrong eating anywhere in Italy, but one of my favorite Italian meals was in Bellagio. Hotel Suisse is attached to a restaurant that serves great wine and food. I ordered fettuccine alfredo and when they brought it out, it was inside a giant bowl of parmesan cheese. They grate the cheese while mixing it into your pasta. It was a delicious experience.