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Lake Como: Where to Visit for Your First Time

Michaela Atiae, Staff Writer

Passalaqua Lake Como

Once you go Lake Como, you never go back. Just ask George Clooney, who religiously decamps to his Italian villa each summer. He’s onto something, and you should be too. These are the hot spots as well as what to do in Lake Como this summer.

But First, What to Do in Lake Como

The first time you see Lake Como, it’s beautiful enough to make you question why you would ever need to go to a beach.

1. Buy Silk in Como

First off, you have to visit the city of Como and buy silk. Como is the largest leading silk maker in Italy, despite Milan being the fashion capital. The city caters its craft to the luxury market, and with many stages of production, it makes sense. What makes Como most ideal for silk is two things. Its access to large bodies of water and the many mulberry trees- silkworms’ favorite snack. 

If you’re in Como City and want to learn more about the soft fabric, you have to check out the Como Silk Museum. They’ll take you through the various stages of production and lore. Another stop for fashion lovers is the Antonio Ratti Foundation. The textile designer created the nonprofit so you can share in his love of textile. There’s a section in the Foundation dedicated just to Como silks with some of his earliest designs. 

If you’re hunting down the perfect silk, look out for famous names like Mantero, Ratti, Clerici, and Frey.

2. Shopping in Bellagio

Many local shops will have funky knick-knacks to take home as souvenirs. You can walk up and down the many side streets and staircases and continue finding small stores hidden within its walls. From woodwork and glass blowing, to antique jewelry, rugs, and local art, Bellagio is the ideal town to find the gifts you promised friends and family back home. I Vetri di Bellagio has dishes, lampwork, jewelry, and Christmas ornaments blown in vibrant colors. The owners only let a handful of people in at a time because of the fragile nature of the pieces, but the wait is worth it.

3. Lake Boat Rides

You have to get on a boat when in Lake Como. While there are connecting buses and trains between towns, either the ferry or a private boat tour is by far the best way to travel. Not taking a boat in Lake Como is like not seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The ride is the destination in this case because the waters are what make it so beautiful. It also gives you a new perspective during your stay as you watch the small towns come in and out of view propped up against a mountainscape.  

3. Hike to a Castle or through Villa Gardens

Italy is brimming with castles and villas. Lake Como in particular experienced its fair share of wealthy guests from nobles to aristocrats during the Roman Empire, which means it’s a goldmine for luxurious homes, even James Clooney is on board. 

Now, those villas are converted into small windows of history’s past and you can tour the rooms for a relatively cheap cost. Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo is a museum with 17 acres of garden. From the outside the building is grand, but you would never guess what a hike is in store beyond the gates. In Varenna, a 30 minute hike up to Castello di Vezio will be rewarding with views only getting better the higher you go. The sculptures and flags are also full of history and the outdoor terrace for a celebratory drink is waiting to welcome you at the top.

4. Relax by the Pool

Food & Drink

Now you’ve made it through the essentials of what to do in Lake Como, we know you travel to eat and drink. Or at least you enjoy it. These are the places to check out in Lake Como this summer.


Il Platano Restaurant at Villa d’Este – Lake Como. Courtesy of Villa d’Este – Lake Como on Facebook.

Bar Pasticceria Rossi

It’s right by the water, ideal for people-watching, and the inside feels like an authentic old-school bar. They make a good Cosmopolitan, so you can grab some quick refreshments before making the trek up the steps of the charming town.

Villa D’Este 

You have to grab lunch at Villa D’Este – one of the most classic hotels in all of Europe. This is the type of luxury that puts Lake Como on the map. They have multiple eateries like the Grill, Veranda, Canova Bar and lake terrace, and Il Platano. There’s something for everyone here.

Where to Stay:

Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Mandarin Oriental, Lake Como

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