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Don’t sleep on Como City, located on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. If there’s one place on this planet that can inspire a lifelong affair with food and culture, it’s here. I’ve had the immense pleasure of tasting, exploring, and savouring every bit of it. So, let me take you on a journey through Como City, a place where time slows down, flavors come to life, and every cobblestone street is a story waiting to be told.
In this guide, you can read about the main places to see and visit here, how to get to Como City, the main landmarks of Como City plus a Como City one day itinerary.
Compare to her neighbouring towns in Lake Como, Como City is easier to explore with its wide, flat streets, and its super accessible for cars and great transportation links.
Quick background story:
Admittedly visiting Como City was purely a silly coincidence on my part. You see, we came here for my best friend’s wedding at Villa del Balbianello, and I thought the wedding venue was at a different villa closer to Como City. Turns out, I was wrong, very wrong. Nevertheless, it was a happy mistake, and we got to explore and visit the charming Como City that potentially we might have not considered. Plus the Airbnb’s were cheaper!
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- How to get to Como City (From Milan)
- Best things to do in Como City
- Where to eat in Como City, Lake Como?
- How much time do you need to stay in Como City?
- Best time to visit Como City, Lake Como
- One day Itinerary
How to get to Como City from Milan?
Many people visit Lake Como from Milan which was the city where I flew to from Newcastle Upon Tyne to get to Como City, Lake Como. From Milan, there’s a variety of transportation options that cater to different budgets and preferences.
Train from Milan to Como: The train is a popular and convenient option for travelling from Milan to Como City. Trains depart from Milano Centrale station which is well-connected to the rest of Milan and Lake Como. The journey takes around about 30-40 minutes, and the trains are frequent.
Price: Ticket prices can vary but are usually around €5-€10 one way.
Ferry from Milan to Como: If you’re looking for a more scenic route, you can take a combination of train and ferry. Start by taking a train from Milano Centrale to Varenna-Esino station (approx. 1 hour) and then hop on a fast ferry to Como City.
Price: Train ticket prices can range from €10-€15, and the ferry ticket from Varenna to Como can costs around €10-€15.
Rental Car: If you’re looking for flexibility and want to explore the area at your own pace, renting a car is an option. However, keep in mind that parking in Como City might be challenging, and traffic conditions can vary.
Price: Car rental prices can vary based on the type of car, rental duration, and provider. Prices typically start around €50-€100 per day.
Duration: Approximately 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic.
Or you can take a private ferry tour from Milan to Lake Como
Bus from Milan to Como: Buses are another option, though they might take longer than the train. Buses depart from Milan’s Lampugnano bus station and arrive at Como’s bus terminal.
Duration: About 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic.
Price: Bus ticket prices can vary but are generally around €5-€10 one way.
Private Transfers and Taxis: For those who prefer a more personalised and direct journey. You can arrange for a private transfer or take a taxi from Milan to Como City. This option offers convenience and comfort but it can be more expensive.
Price: Private transfer and taxi prices can vary significantly, but they can range from €80 to €150 or more, depending on the provider and type of vehicle.
Duration: Approximately 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic.
Hydrofoil/Ferry from Milan to Como: If you’re looking for a scenic and leisurely way to reach Como City, consider taking a hydrofoil or ferry from Milan. While it’s not the fastest option, it allows you to enjoy the stunning views of Lake Como during your journey. Keep in mind that schedules may be limited, so check in advance.
Remember that prices and travel times can vary based on factors like the time of day, the day of the week, and the type of service or class you choose. It’s advisable to check the latest schedules and prices on official transportation websites or contact transportation providers directly before your trip to Como City.
Price (One-way): Prices vary based on the type of ferry and service, but they can range from €15-€50 or more.
Duration: Around 3 to 4 hours.
- Prices: Please note that the prices mentioned are approximate and can vary based on factors such as travel class, booking time, and season.
- Timetables: Train, ferry, and bus schedules can change, so it’s essential to check the latest timetables and routes before you travel.
- Routes: Como City is the main hub in the Lake Como region, but it’s also worth considering visiting other towns like Bellagio, Varenna, or Menaggio, which are accessible by ferry from Como City.
Best things to do in Como City, Lake Como:
1. Como Old Town
The best way to explore Como City is walking around Como Old Town. This is also great if you are short on time. Start your adventure in Como City’s historic center. Cobblestone streets, centuries-old buildings painted in hues that could make a rainbow jealous. Lose yourself in this labyrinth of charming alleyways.
The loveliest part of the Como Old Town is by the lake. You can see the best sunsets in the evening here. You will also find shops, restaurants, and museums nearby the wall as well.
2. Como Cathedral
Como Cathedral, also known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta or the Como Duomo, is a magnificent architectural masterpiece located in the heart of Como City on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. This stunning cathedral is a testament to the city’s rich history. It is one of the most iconic landmarks in the region and 3rd largest in the Lombardy region.
Opening time and prices: The entrance to the Como Cathedral is usually free of charge. Visitors are welcome to explore its interior and appreciate its beauty without incurring any admission fee. However, please note that opening times and entrance policies can vary, especially during holidays or special events. It’s recommended to check the official website or local sources for the most up-to-date information on opening hours, as well as any changes in pricing or visitor guidelines
3. Porta Torre
Porta Torre, situated in Como City, Italy, is a historic gateway that provides a captivating glimpse into the city’s medieval past. This ancient stone tower and gate once served as a key entry point through the city’s fortified walls. Porta Torre’s robust architecture and preserved medieval features stand as a testament to Como’s rich history.
And don’t miss the statue of Guiseppe Garibaldi that is nearby.
4. Lakeside Promenade
The lakeside promenade is where the soul of Como City resides. As you walk along the water’s edge, you’ll be greeted by views that could inspire poets. The serene beauty of Lake Como, with its elegant villas dotting the shoreline, is a sight to behold.
Start at a beautiful little square called the Piazza Cavour, it’s a vibrant, charming spot packed with bars, cafes and sometimes music by the street performers. It’s a mood.
Also do visit the Como fountain (Fontana di Villa Geno) which features an impressive 30 meter high water.
Nearby, there’s Como monument to the Fallen, a memorial honouring soldiers who lost their lives in WW1. Continuing along the promenade, you can walk all the way to the popular Villa Olmo.
And visit Life Electric, a modern sculpture dedicated to Alexander Volta, the inventor of the electric battery. Life Electric is located on the very end of the Breakwater pier (Diga Foranea).
5. Villa Olmo
Villa Olmo is one of the most popular attractions in Como City. One of the most beautiful villas in Lake Como. This historic gem serves as a cultural hub, hosting art exhibitions, concerts, and various events. The villa’s elegant architecture, with its symmetrical facade and graceful columns, exudes timeless charm. Visitors can explore both the interior, with its beautifully adorned rooms, and the meticulously landscaped gardens, making it a destination where art, culture, and natural beauty converge harmoniously.
Price: There is no charge to walk through the main houses, and you can also see the theater which was a later addition to the property.
Opening times: The park is open everyday. You can only see the interior of the building (Villa) from Tuesday to Sunday. Sometimes the building is closed for events and exhibitions. Please do check the official website for more up to date information.
6. Volta Temple and Gardens
Volta Temple is a small neoclassical monument dedicated to the renowned Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1927. This elegant temple-like structure houses various artifacts and scientific instruments associated with Volta’s groundbreaking work, particularly his invention of the electric battery. Visitors can explore this tribute to Volta’s contributions to science and electricity in a tranquil setting, offering a glimpse into the scientific legacy of this celebrated figure in the history of physics.
7. Brunate Funicular and Views
Brunate, a nearby village to Como City, is often called the “balcony in the Alps” due to its elevated location. Situated at an altitude of 800 meters, it provides breathtaking panoramic views of Como city, Lake Como, and the surrounding area, making it a must-visit attraction for first-time visitors to the region.
It’s literally one of the best things to do in Como City. The ride provides one of the most spectacular views of the lake and Como City. This is one of the main reasons to do this funicular as Brunate is quite small with several villas to admire and churches such as Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo.
If you want to see even more beauty, it is worth climbing up to the Volta Lighthouse (see below).
Tip: The Como-Brunate Funicular runs between 6am to 10.30pm every 15 to 30 minutes. During the summer seasons, it could run until midnight. It’s not something to plan in advance, just head over, get the tickets and enjoy. Though do check with their website for more up to date information on times and make sure you can coordinate accordingly with your plans.
Price: A one-way ticket on the funicular costs around € 3.30 (Adult), whereas a return ticket is €6.10. Cost per luggage is €1.30. Children under 110 cm in height travel for free. Single reduced ticket (children up to 12y) € 2,20 . Guide dogs travel free – Dogs must wear a muzzle. Small-sized animals € 1,30
Check their website for more up to date prices and times
8. Volta Lighthouse
Once you arrive on the top station of the Brunate funicular, one of the attractions up here is to visit the Volta Lighthouse. The hilltop lighthouse is a memorial to Alessandro Volta and it is located higher than the village. The views from up here is absolutely stunning.
The road will not be easy. You will have to climb the hill on a cobblestone road for about half an hour or more (depends on your speed). And then you have to climb 143 spiral stairs to the top of the lighthouse. But the panorama is absolutely incredible. You might be able to see the snow-capped Alps, Lake Como, surrounded by small towns and lush nature.
Tip: Possibly in high seasons like summer time, there might be a shuttle bus between the Brunate funicular station and the lighthouse.
Price: There is a small fee to enter Volta Lighthouse and in high season, it is normally open daily except Wednesdays, from 10.30am to 18:30pm.
Address: Via Giacomo Scalini, 22034 Brunate CO, Italy
9. Como Silk
Did you know that Como is one of the most important players for the silk industry globally. I never knew that, always thought it might have been China. Turns out, thousands of Comaschi who are the people from Como, now work in their silk business.
These days, Como produces about 70% of Europe’s silk and they are high quality silk, So much so that the leading fashion houses source their silk from Como.
You can visit the Lake Como Silk Museum, and they have demonstrations showing how it was originally produces. Aside from the museum, if you are interested, you can visit the boutiques dotted around Como City and other communes in Lake Como and do some (window) shopping.
10. Como Museums
If museums are your thing, you are in luck as Como city has a quite a few museums. You can visit the Archaelogical museum at Palazza Giovio, the Pinacoteca Civica which is an art gallery or the Museo Garibaldi known as the Civic Museum of the Risorgimento which is a historical museum celebrating Como’s part history.
These museums are smaller than the ones in the big cities in Italy so if you have time to spare, it will be interesting to visit them especially on those rare rainy or colder days.
Please refer to Como City official website for more information
11. Explore Lake Como
When I went to visit Lake Como, Como city was my base as mentioned in the introduction. Como city is one of many communes in Lake Como. It is almost goes without saying that you have to travel and visit the other towns such as Bellagio, Varenna and Lenno to name a few. Also don’t miss Villa del Balbianello, it is a stunning villa but also lots of movies were filmed here like Star Wars and James Bond.
Even if you pressed for time, do visit Varenna and Bellagio, you can easily do both in a day and the ferry goes there frequently from Como City. Takes about less than an hour and Varenna to Bellagio is a short 15 to 20 min by ferry.
You can find more information on Varenna below:
Where to eat in Como City, Lake Como?
- Ristorante Sociale: Tucked away in the heart of the historic center, Ristorante Sociale is a culinary gem. Here, they take traditional Italian dishes and give them a modern twist. The homemade pasta and especially creamy risotto, is nothing short of a revelation.
- Polenta: Como is famous for its polenta, a creamy cornmeal dish. It’s often served with a variety of toppings, from earthy mushrooms to indulgent cheese. Try it at a local trattoria for an authentic taste of the region.
- Gelato: Italian gelato is a mandatory indulgence, and Como City serves up some of the best. Flavours like stracciatella, pistachio, and classic vanilla as you explore the town’s streets and the lakeside promenade.
How much time do you need to stay in Como City?
You can come here to Como on a day trip or a few days depends on your time and budget. For a day trip, please have a look below for a one day itinerary. If you like, you can stay in Como for a few days and make it your base. Since it is a bigger town, accommodations are relatively cheaper than in Varenna or Bellagio and possibly more availability. And parking will possibly be easier if you have rented a car.
It’s nice to have a leisurely few days, and take advantage of the fast ferry to Bellagio, then from Bellagio, take a ferry to Varenna then back again to Como. The next day, visit Lenno and Villa del Balbianello then Tremezzo and/or Menaggio and back again to Como and enjoy the bustling nightlife in the high season.
Best time to visit Como City, Lake Como
Spring: Spring in Como sees temperatures gradually warming from around 50°F in March to an average of 62°F in May. Tourists begin to arrive, and the city comes alive with blossoming trees and flowers. Smaller crowds and occasional showers make it an ideal time to visit.
Summer: Summer is peak tourism season in Como, with warm temperatures in the high 70s. Tourists flock to the city for its beaches and outdoor activities. Rainfall is rare, but this will be the high season so keep in mind prices for flights and accommodations will rise significantly.
Autumn: Autumn is a pleasant shoulder season with fewer crowds and mild temperatures. The fall foliage transforms the city into a picturesque setting. It’s an excellent time for outdoor activities, with lower humidity and minimal rainfall.
Winter: Winters in Como are chilly, with temperatures often dropping below freezing at night. Snowfall is expected in higher elevations, but fewer visitors mean great deals on hotels and flights.
One Day Itinerary
You have only one day to do Como City or an afternoon, here is what I suggest you can do.
If you arrive by train from Milan or another city in the morning or by ferry, start your day with a stroll around Como old town.
1. Take in the picturesque lakeside setting and do not forget to snap a few photos before heading to your first stop, the Como Cathedral and then to Porta Torre.
2. After your visit to the cathedral and Porta Torre, head over to the Funicular. Enjoy this breathtaking view from the top at Brunate, have a stroll around, perhaps a light lunch with a view. And here, you will have to make a decision whether to head back down Como or take a short hike to Volta Lighthouse.
3. Head back down to Como old town and visit Villa Olmo. Visit one of the cafes around the Piazza as they normally will have lovely outdoor seating areas. Enjoy a spritz or glass of wine and do try a polenta dish or their seafood.
Always check for ferry times and train times, if you are not staying in Como City.
Hope this guide helps and have an amazing trip
Sarah Courtney (@heywhatsupcourtney) – Published 24/08/2023