If you’re visiting Milan, make sure you spend at least 1 or 2 days on Lake Como. It’s only a 1-hour train ride away!
As much as I enjoyed Milan, its small streets, beautiful galleries and architecture, Lake Como took my breath away! We only managed to spend 1 day there, unfortunately, but we still saw the most important sights on it. The only disappointing thing about Lake Como is that I didn’t see George Clooney 🙁 (he has a house there!)
If you plan a 1-2 day visit, make sure to visit the triangle of Varenna, Bellagio and Menagio.
How to get there
Firstly, you need to go to Milano Centrale, the Milan Central Station. You can use the ticket machines to get a ticket to Varenna-Esino (the direction is Tirano, this will help you find the right platform afterwards, because your ticket doesn’t really show it). When you get to Varenna, you can purchase a daily ticket for the ferry (about €9), which is valid until you go back to your original point.
1. Varenna city
Varenna is a gorgeous little city on Lake Como and is your first stop when you hop off the train. My recommendation is to first go up to Castello di Vezio, as it would save you a bit of time. We chose the main road to go up, it took us about an hour, but the climb is so worth it, don’t miss it!
2. Castello di Vezio
This castle was my favorite place on Lake Como <3 If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch the falconry show there, which would make your experience even more unforgettable. The castle has amazing gardens and breathtaking views of Lake Como. There is even a tower with a steep staircase where you can go even higher to enjoy the views.
3. The ghosts of Castello di Vezio
The ghosts of the Castello di Vezio are made every spring from gauze covered with a chalk mixture! Then this cloth is draped over willing (or excited? 😜) tourists who stay very still for about 20-30 minutes. Afterwards, the casting is carefully removed and placed around in the castle ruins. There were quite a few of them around. I didn’t find it creepy at all, until I took a very close-up shot of one of them. They actually remake them ever year, as the winter rains, cold and snow destroy them. I wanted to be one of them so badly, but as unlucky as I am, no one asked me to pose for a ghost cast 🙁
4. Villa Monastero
After you’ve visited the Castle, you’ll see a few signs that can lead you to different places. Choose the signs that lead to Villa Monastero or Varenna. There you’ll find a steep path down (it’s definitely harder to go up this path, this is why I recommend using it only to get back to the town). The gorgeous villa often houses different events (even by Nobel prize winners!) and is surrounded by a fascinating botanical garden which is 2 kilometers long (so it’s quite a walk to take around).
5. Bellagio city
After you’ve finished exploring Varenna, hop on the ferry and take a 15-minute ride to Bellagio.
6. Tourist Train
When we arrived at Bellagio, we saw one of the tourist trains (it’s a hop on/off one!), which will take you through all of Bellagio’s sights in about 30-40 minutes. It wasn’t expensive at all and it was worth it. The little train has a guide recording for all the sights as well, so you’ll get to know Bellagio pretty quickly.
7. Villa Melzi
After we finished with the train tour, we spent about an hour in Villa Melzi. It was incredibly gorgeous and very different from Villa Monastero in Varenna. Just take a look at how beautiful it is!
If you’d like to visit Menagio too in your 1-day trip, make sure you get to Lake Como early (check the train schedule online beforehand). The last ferry from Menagio to Varenna is at around 6 p.m., so make sure you don’t miss it 🙂