Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Day trips from Varenna, Lake Como
Notices

Day trips from Varenna, Lake Como

Reply

Apr 24th, 2014, 11:20 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 275
Day trips from Varenna, Lake Como

Hello,

We are staying 1 week in Varenna, Lake Como. We are taking the train from Milan (after couple days there) and we are ending the trip with a train ride to Zurich(2 days there). The trip will be in the beginning of August.

We are 5 adults + 1 toddler.

We are looking for easy day trips w/restaurant suggestions.. i.e. we will be traveling at a leisurely pace. Walk through town, long lunch..

Please also suggest places for dinner in/near Varenna. We will not have a car.

Thanks,
S
suetibu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2014, 12:41 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
Well one sweet day trip would go by train from Varenna to tirano where you change to what I consider to be Europe's most awesomely scenic train ride - the Bernina Pass rail route - the only north-south rail crossing up and over the Alps - all others tunnel under the high Alps.

but here you get a Top of the World look -placid Alpine lakes lying at the foot of glaciers - get off at Alp Grum or Bernina Ospiz - stations near the summit and walk around the lake to the glacier (not sure if suitable for baby carriages - may be - but you can also just sit on the sun terrace at the hotel/restaurant by the stations and soak up the scenery.

For lots of good info on the Bernina Pass rail route check these IMO superb sources: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com; www.swisstravelsystem.com.

Note if going to Zurich from Varenna you can go via the Bernina Pass route and keep going to Zurich from St Moritz, terminus of the Bernina Pass trains - change there and go via Chur to Zurich - a great way to cross the Alps and not tunnel under them like on the mainline Como to Zurich does in a long tunnel under the Gotthard Pass.

https://www.google.com/search?q=bern...=1600&bih=1075
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2014, 12:46 PM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 275
Hi, We plan to do the Bernina Pass on our way to Zurich for sure
suetibu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2014, 02:19 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
I like Como itself - a really nice and not overly touristed city with neat outdoor markets, good shopping and a panoply of good restaurants of all types and for all budgets. Take a boat there for the day!
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2014, 06:16 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,116
Bellagio, Mennagio, Cadenabbia,, Lenno as starters..each town has something to offer, gardens, etc
The triangle ferry route from Varenna is easy. Look at a map,of the lake. Best,of all,is Villa,Balbianello near Lenno.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2014, 06:16 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,116
Buy a ferry pass.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2014, 08:22 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 902
Bookmarking for our upcoming trip, thanks!
cybertraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 24th, 2014, 08:57 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 670
To add to Happy Trvir's list of places to see Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, its right at the ferry stop. Rhere is a café on the grounds which is ok for light lunch.

you won't need a car,, the ferry's are easy and takes you around the lake

In Bellagio I had a lovely lunch at Ristorante Barchetta. If you go there be sure to dine upstairs on the terrace.
maxima is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2014, 05:28 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
Yup the Villa Carlotta is right above the ferry dock and is a gem - nice gardens and views over the lake.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2014, 06:11 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 275
Great!! These are all great!! More restaurant choices?
suetibu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2014, 08:37 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
Bergamo is a neat city - especially the old upper town and not far by train from Varenna - though you may have to change a few times via regional train sidelines.

https://www.google.com/search?q=berg...=1600&bih=1075
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2014, 09:20 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 275
Thanks! How about Lugano/Ticino? Worth it? Easy to get to?
suetibu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2014, 09:30 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 4,930
Varenna - Zurich by public transport:
Varenna dp 13.24 - Chiavenna 14.34/14.40 - Spluegen 16.30/16.51 - Chur 17.50/18.08 - Zurich ar 19.23

Do the Bernina ride as a day trip: much more pleasant (cableways to glaciers etc) than with tons of luggage.
neckervd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 25th, 2014, 11:56 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,687
Lugano would make an easy day trip as well - take the boat to Como and from there Lugano is a short train ride. (Trains from Varenna-Esino do not go to Como but to Milan but you can change en route some place to get to Como via that train route - maybe cheaper and quicker than boat route.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2014, 08:35 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 4,930
Varenna - Lugano:
for local people: ferry to Menaggio (15 min) plus bus to Lugano (55 min), about every hr
for railway fans: train via Monza (2 hrs 50 min) every 2 hrs
for crazy tourists: boat to Como Lago (2 1/2 hrs) 4 boats daily, citybus to Como SG railway station (5 min), train to Lugano (about 40 min, 13 trains daily)
neckervd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2014, 09:21 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 137
Sue, I'm in Varenna now. Spent a full day on the lake taking the ferry (full day ticket 15€) to three villas to visit three beautiful gardens: V Carlotta (gorgeous, house open, too); V Del Balbianello (manicured lawns, evergreens and statues, steep incline, villa tours for extra price, also water taxi to/from villa/Lenno ferry stop - 7€); and V Melzi (walk outside of Bellagio town center, also beautiful gardens).

Another day trained to Tirano to catch the Bernina to St Moritz. Gorgeous views with sunshine and blue skies. I only had 1.5 hrs in St M, so elected to buy take out at the bar across the street from the Bernina train station in Tirano, then found the walkway around the St M station to the lake. Nice walk at the lake, and benches to sit for a picnic! The town of St M is up a steep incline ... no idea if worth the hike up! The Bernina train ride back to Tirano the same, but gray skies. Much prefer blue, but you take your chances. Note - you need to book your seat reservation on the RhB website (5CHF), then purchase a separate ticket for the fare. The web site is tricky at this point, so I purchased my ticket at the station in Tirano (next door to the Trenitalia station, paid 106 CHF for my round trip 1st class seat in the panorama car). Love trains and this is a spectacular trip!

Today I visited both Varenna villa gardens - Monastero and Cipressi. Both lovely, but Monastero is the winner. Of course, gorgeous views from each. Restaurants - I'm staying at the Hotel du Lac and they have a very nice light lunch menu - great views from their terrace. Many eateries along the walk from the ferry to this hotel. I had dinner at LaVista - again, great views, delicious meal, pricey. Tonight I'm going to Il Cavatappi. Heard good reviews for it, so high expectations! For any restaurant dinners (not the more informal places along the walkway), you need reservations as they have limited seating/tables.

Love the town of Varenna, small and charming. Beautiful small historic 14thC church on the square, San Giorgio, do visit the inside. Enjoy your planning and the trip to this area!
Janetd5 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2014, 10:19 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 4,930
Bernina-Express:
If you can survive in non airconditioned cars, you may take (cheaper) local trains, for example:
Varenna dp 7.24 - Tirano 8.50/9.40 - Bernina Diavolezza 11.22/11.30 - Diavolezza/Pers Glacier restaurant (9800ft) 11.40/13.00 - Bernina Diavolazza 13.10/13.22 - St. Moritz 14.09/18.08 - Chiavenna 19.43/20.40 - Varenna ar 21.36
Standard fare for the Swiss leg 55 CHF (1st class 70 CHF), without the Diavolezza Glacier gondola (33 CHF).
neckervd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2014, 03:13 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,704
To your request for dining recs in Varenna:
We stayed there last September and didn't want for good places to eat.

We ate twice at Vecchia Varenna and enjoyed both experiences.

I was very excited to try the new restaurant in town--Varenna Mon Amour. It's up one of the steep streets made of steps from the water and close to Hotel du Lac (as is Vecchia Varenna). The place had great decor, old stone walls and modern touches. Our first two courses were excellent but service was very slow and our third courses came so late that were were too tired to enjoy them and my husband actually disliked his. I think this place might be a tough one to do with a toddler although it might work and you might get the best the place has to offer by sticking to starters and appetizers and forget ordering a main course.

The Il Cavallino, a slow food movement endorsed place by Hotel Olivedo near the Varenna ferry stop serves an excellent pizzocheri--a buckwheet noodle pasta with great cheese--specialty of Lake Como area. Their fish dishes were not, however, as good, so I'd stick with the pasta, which will also keep your tab down considerably.

Nuova Isola also close to Hotel du Lac (alas, without water views but in a nice courtyard with outdoor tables) provided an excellent meal of risotto with lake Como fish in brown butter and sage, then pork with mushrooms and bacon.

For a while Chowhound posters were very much into Il Cavatappi, a very small restaurant on a back street just off the main square in front of the church in Varenna. We found it servicable and cute but not over the top good, Certainly better, however, than the large hotel directly on the square whose name I unfortunately cannot recall.

When you go to Bellagio, I highly recommend lunch outdoors on the arcaded terrace of the Hotel Suisse. They also have an excellent pizzochieri and a very nice scallops and shrimp in basil butter.

I wouldn't call Varenna a gourmet paradise by any stretch of the imagination but you can find good food at several places. For a simple meal the places just below the Hotel du Lac on the walkway that passes through Vecchia Varenna have lovely outdoor seating. Your toddler would probably prefer it to some of the more adult places I've recommended above.

Enjoy your time in Varenna. It's one of our favorite destinations ever.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2014, 05:32 PM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 275
Thank you so much.. This is all great info - especially regarding the restaurants and the villas.. I'm assuming that unless mentioned, the villa gardens are free?...

I know it has been suggested that we take Bernina Express as a day trip, but we would very much like to keep that to our last day because

a) we would like to enjoy the 5 full days that we have in the lake como region itself..
b) we are definitely going through the route on our way to Zurich. From Zurich a few of us are taking tours to Jungfraugoch...

But I am concerned about multiple train transfers with luggage and toddler. Is there a way to minimize the hassle while taking the most scenic route possible from Varenna to Zurich (we added the Zurich leg of the trip primarily to allow for this ride)?

I'm very grateful for all the advice,
S
suetibu is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 26th, 2014, 07:12 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 924
Bookmarking for future trip. Great suggestions!
hazel1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:40 PM.