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tsto Jul 29th, 2009 10:20 AM

10 Days at Lake Como - Must Do Recommendations??
Traveling solo and spending 10 days at Lake Como (at Moltrasio) leaving the last week in August. Any suggestions for restaurants, bicyling, kayaking, hiking, shops to visit, or golf are appreciated. Unless I find an excursion that needs a vehicle I don't plan on getting a car--I can get a ferry ride to multiple locations around the lake from near my hotel. I would be interested to hear about anyone's adventures (big or small) in and around the Lake!

Dukey Jul 29th, 2009 11:12 AM

10 days?????

bobthenavigator Jul 29th, 2009 12:20 PM

Good for you--Lago Como is wonderful.

Of course, buy and read a good guide book. Also, search here for a post by Julie Vikmanis about Como that was excellent a few months ago. My suggestion is to take the local bus from Menaggio to Lugano for a day. We will be there again in Oct.

TDudette Jul 29th, 2009 01:02 PM

If you are interested in textiles/lace, take a trip to the city of Como. Yes, do check the search option on Fodor's for better info.

We stayed in Belagio at the Pergola Hotel. They had an awesome Easter dinner. We were there before spring blooms and thought it would be nice to eat there outside in the good weather. Hotel was on back side so you could do a pretty good hike to get there.

Trattoria San Giocomo, on the "front" side of Belagio, had outstanding food the night we were there.

Villa Carlotta was interesting to us (60s). Hope to read your trip report!

scrb Jul 29th, 2009 01:50 PM

I may be going to Como in May. Was going to spend a week up in Lombardy or Piedmont after a week in Liguria.

Are there really 10 days worth of things to see up there or would it be more for activities or just lounging by the water?

tsto Jul 29th, 2009 02:35 PM

Yes, 10 days! :-) I know it is hard for some to imagine 10 days in one location--this is a new idea for me too (usually I cram 6 places into 4 days)! I haven't been there before but based on what I'm hearing there seems to be a lot of "returners"--I'm thinking I'll have plenty to fill up my time. I'm guessing I'll spend a day on the water, perhaps a day of bicycling (around the lake somewhere), a day of golf, perhaps a day of hiking...before I realize it, it will be half over! Taking a day trip to the different towns around the lake seems like it could fill up 5 or 6 days easily--especially if you venture off to the North end of the lake and your dealing with the water taxi/ferry. Worst case if I'm wrong, I'll just have to lounge by the water taking in the sights and enjoying a good beverage :-).

I'm hoping those that have endulged will help me decide which towns to visit and/or have some great ideas or places to go to help me better plan my activities.

Thanks for the ideas on the previous forums--this is my first time on one of these sites and I didn't realize I could search the archives. (I've printed out Julie's trip review.) No one has mentioned Lugano to me before--I'll need to look into that. I'll also dig into the restaurants mentioned above in Bellagio and see if I can find them online.

Please keep any suggestions or input coming--I would love to hear everyone's experiences! Thanks! :-)

aprillilacs Jul 29th, 2009 03:23 PM

During our 4-day stop at Lake Como in mid-June (our second time there) we based at Lezzeno, just south of Bellagio, staying at Hotel Aurora. It was delightful! You can spend one day traveling by boat to the various villas that are dotted around the lake and open to visitors. At least a day touring Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio, which form a triangle the top of the V with the lake between them. A day in the town of Como is well worthwhile--museums, restaurants, and the funicular up to Brunate, where you can walk up even farther to the hilltop. We really loved the Hotel Aurora, and I suggest that you stop there on one of your days (there is limited boat service but it is definitely accessible by boat or bus) and check to see if you can rent one of their kayaks or go out with their boat guys on a waterboarding excursion. The kayaks are free for guests, so we had a wonderful time paddlilng on the lake in the mornings and evenings--even paddled across to the Villa Balbaniello (sp?). And if you get totally bored and want an off-lake excursion, rent a car and drive to St. Moritz for the day--a long drive but through gorgeous Swiss mountain scenery. Lake Como is magnificent--you'll love it!

StCirq Jul 29th, 2009 03:57 PM

I haven't spent much time on Lake Como (other Italian lakes, though, for sure), but I wouldn't let anyone dissuade you from spending 10 days there. I could probably spend 10 years.

tsto Jul 30th, 2009 06:45 AM

StCirq--I have a feeling I'm not going to want to come home either!--this trip has been on my list for a while so I'm really looking forward to it.

Thanks for the info aprillilacs--a lot of good information and suggestions. I was thinking that the hotels may have kayaks to rent--that sounds like fun. I will definately look up your hotel and dig into the routes you took. I'm not sure exactly where St Moritz is! I'll have some "homework" to do this weekend. :-)

TDudette Jul 30th, 2009 07:58 AM

Also, I don't think Lake Maggiore is too far away from Como.

Shanti Jul 30th, 2009 08:43 AM

Hi tsto,

A few years ago, I spent a week in Varenna on Lake Como and loved it. Ten days wouldn't be too long for me to spend there. It's so beautiful and relaxing. My 20 year old daughter was with me and she also enjoyed spending a week there

During that week we went on some day trips - Milan and St. Moritz (I drove to St. Moritz, don't know about public transportation) as well as visiting other towns on the Lake Como e.g. Bellagio, going on walks, visiting some gardens. One of the joys of Lake Como is that there are no "must sees" but lots of choices.

I'd recommend getting some guide books to learn about specific hikes, where to rent boats, etc.

Have a wonderful trip.

julia1 Jul 30th, 2009 08:51 AM

I'm one of those 'returners' - I've been back at least a half-dozen times and hope to return again some day.

Moltrasio is a delightful place to stay! There's a great cascade that rushes down the hillside through the town, and there are some good walks in the hills above. There's a small taverna near the ferry landing with the most wonderful apple cake and good wines - at least I hope it's still there. It's been a few years since I've been back.

There are several beautiful gardens you can visit on Como. Here are some images, if you're interested:
And here are others:

By all means do go to Villa Balbianello, reached by boat from Lenno. The tour of the house is very worthwhile, with stories of Count Guido Monzino and his various explorations, and the garden is sublime. It's open all week except Mondays and Wednesdays. Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays you can also walk from Lenno to the villa, about 20 minutes or so, but do try to visit by boat - the approach from the water is just so lovely. Here's a link for more information: There are some little bars and lakeside restaurants in Lenno for lunch.

In Varenna are Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. Monastero is long and narrow, spreading out along the lakeside, once a Cistercian monastery and now a beautiful garden with some interesting old bits scattered around - do make sure to climb up above the old villa and look at the faces. Cipressi is now an elegant upscale hotel - lovely place for lunch.

At Bellagio you can visit Villa Serbelloni. There are two guided visits a day, at least I imagine it is still true, one at 11 a.m. and one at 4 p.m. You can get tickets from the tourist office which is near the church above the Hotel Villa Serbelloni (no relation to the villa itself). Villa Serbelloni is a study center for the Rockefeller Foundation, providing stipends and accommodation for scholars, and they are quite serious about guarding the privacy of their scholars so visitors are required to stay with the guide and not wander about. There are the ruins of an ancient fortress at the top of the garden, with gorgeous views.

Just across the lake at Tremezzo is Villa Carlotta, another beautiful place to visit with a villa now converted to an art museum with sculptures by Antonio Canova, among others.

The city of Como is itself a worthwhile visit - the cathedral is magnificent.

And it's easy to visit Lugano from Como by train, a lovely way to spend a day. You can also visit Maggiore easily by train.

As Bob suggests, do get a good guidebook.

Big_Red Jul 30th, 2009 09:19 AM

I have been to Lake Como. Most recently was June 2009 - 5 full days at the lake. So here goes:

#1) you take the lake boats and explore the lakeside towns.
From Moltrasio you will find convenient service to the town of Como and the towns near it. This is a special service that uses boats that are not as big as the boats that traverse the lake. But you have the full lake to explore, as well.

#2) You take a few garden or villa tours. At Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianella you can tour the houses as well as the gardens. Villa Olmo (Como) and a villa in Gravedona are villas, with art shows and garden tours all combined. Villa Ciprisi and Villa Monastero are garden only tours.

#3) Hiking - There are numerous mountain huts (rifugi) in the area. Maps are available from many sources. The Touring Club of Italy's map of the area shows them pretty well. You can also look at the CAI/CIA website (Club Alpini Italy or something similar) for a listing and some info. There is a chair lift in Argegno that takes you up to 800-900 meters (Pigra), from there you can hike to Rifugio Buffalora.
Just east of the lake, there is a walk/hike that runs its full length. I think that the full length takes several days but the Bellano-Varenna section is supposed to be 3 to 4 hours.

#4) Market day at the various towns - Como has a big market on Saturday mornings (runs along the medieval walls of the town). Lenno has market on Tuesday until noon. We have not been but Argegno has market on Mondays. There is a market day in Dongo but can't remember the day.

#5) Things nearby: Lugano, St Moritz, Soglio (Switzerland) and Bergamo. Bellinzona, Switzerland - the town of three castles.

#6) Golf - Golf Club of Menaggio would be your best option. You will have to contact them about transportation. Also look at the golf tab on the Villa D'este website (several options listed). Golf is not prevalent in Italy. Mussolini had golf declared illegal.

#7) The Bernina Express. This is a train over the Bernina pass, in the Alps.

#8) I suspect that heavy car traffic will make you think twice about bicycling some places along the lakeside but maybe not.

Enjoy your trip.

bobthenavigator Jul 30th, 2009 09:20 AM

Nice post Julia !

HappyTrvlr Jul 30th, 2009 09:21 AM

We have been to Lake Como many times. Our longest stay was two weeks.
As mentioned above, visit the villas, especially Villa Balbaniello. Take the ferry from one end of the lake to the other. Visit the monastery north of Bellagio. Go over to Lugano for lunch.
Walk aroiund the medieval quarter of Como.. Buy a ferry pass for a week. You'll love it there.

phillyboy Jul 30th, 2009 09:27 AM

Hi tsto,

Here's a link to a great restaurant in Varenna ...

It's tiny ... only 5 tables ... so reservations are a must, even if you're dining alone.

Have a great and relaxing visit!

tsto Jul 30th, 2009 09:45 AM

Wow, this is great, thanks everyone! :-)
I do have several guide books at home and will dig in further with everyone's input above. Sometimes it helps to glance through the books, get the inside scoop from those that have been there, and then go back to the books to get more specific. I have found a couple of boat rental places and some that you can hire out with a driver and even waterski but they seem to be on the North end of the lake or out of Bellagio--if anyone has any recommendations closer to Moltrasio that would be great.

I have thought about Lake Maggiore as well--I haven't entirely ruled out that option yet but I'm thinking I may have my hands full on Como.

A couple of times now St Moritz and Lugano have been mentioned. I will investigate those more this weekend.

Julia1--wonderful information and the links are extremely helpful too! Your the first person I've come across with had any knowledge about Moltrasio. It is nice to hear that there are places to walk and see there too. Thanks for the scoop on the taverna--those are exactly the places I like to hear about!

It sounds like I'd better gather and conquer this weekend!! I may have more questions once I start digging in.

Thank you so much, I appreciate everyone's input--keep any suggestions or thoughts coming! :-)

tsto Jul 30th, 2009 09:52 AM

A wealth of more information flowed in while I was typing--thank you! I'll read/reply a bit later today to everyone--I have to get back to work (not quite on vacation yet, physically anyway!) :-)

Jean Jul 30th, 2009 11:44 AM

I'd love to have 10 days on Lake Como. I think all of my suggestions have already been mentioned.

The only thing I'd do differently is split the time between Moltrasio and somewhere else nearer the middle of the lake, just to be positioned closer to other sights.

tsto Jul 31st, 2009 08:58 AM

Thanks everyone--my itinerary is coming together quite nicely due to your help. Between the markets, gardens, villas, towns, golf, boating, and hiking, I'm going to get busy fast. The website links and abundance of info above is wonderful. I'm still digging in a little deeper on the towns and the villas to visit but the suggestions above have made that much easier.

I do have a couple follow-up questions that I thought I'd lay out there if anyone else has any input...

1) I haven't heard much regarding bicycling. If there are any bicyclers out there I would be interested to hear whether there is a good bike renting facility near Moltrasio (or any other towns for that matter), and whether there is a web site for biking routes around the lake (or perhaps a location to pick up a route map)? I understand most hotels rent bikes but I'm not sure about the quality/extent of the rentals...?

2) How is the nightlife around the lake? Any "go to" areas or areas to avoid? Are their any big concerns or things to be aware in this area as a female traveling solo? (other than the obvious)?

3) I would also love any additional suggestions for restaurants and tavernas (the ones above are bookmarked).

4) Traveling from MXP (Milan) to Moltrasio. Is it better to arrange for a car rather than a taxi? ('d like to avoid the train to Como and then switch to the boat--long flight in I'll be pretty wiped out.) Has anyone used a car service and if so which one?

Thanks everyone! :-)

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