How to Spend 2 Days in Lake Como, Italy

When thinking of Lake Como, you probably imagine picturesque lakeside towns, breathtaking views, and quaint Italian charm surrounded by a mountainous landscape. And you would be right!

But with only two days to explore Lake Como, you may be wondering how to make the most of your time. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

After visiting Lake Como three times in the past years, we’ve put together the perfect 2 day Lake Como itinerary for a short but unforgettable trip.

*Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*

Are you planning a last-minute trip to Lake Como?

If your trip is coming up soon and you still haven’t booked anything, we have you covered! Below you can find our top picks when it comes to hotels, tours, getting around, and more.

Best Day Trips to Lake Como

Best Tours and Experiences in Lake Como

Best Places to Stay in Lake Como

Salita Serbelloni in Bellagio, Lake Como

Overview of Your 2 Day Lake Como Itinerary

Breakdown of your 2 days in Lake Como

Day 1:

  • Varenna Old Town
  • Villa Monastero or Villa Cipressi
  • Castello di Vezio
  • Menaggio

Day 2:

  • Villa del Balbianello
  • Villa Carlotta
  • Bellagio

Map for your Lake Como 2 day itinerary

Below you can find a customized map that includes all the locations you’re going to visit on this Lake Como itinerary.

I marked your 2 days in Lake Como with different colors – I used blue for the first day and green for the second day, so you can easily see which places you’re going to visit each day.

How to use this map: This map is fully interactive, so you can move around, zoom in/zoom out, and click on the icons. If you want to see a larger map, click on the bracket in the upper right corner. To see more details and the different layers, click on the tab in the upper left corner. If you want to save it for later, click on the star icon next to the name of the map. Then simply open Google Maps either on your desktop or phone, go to ‘Saved’/’Maps’, and open the map whenever you need it.

Day 1 of Your 2 Days in Lake Como

Explore Varenna Old Town

There is no better way to start your two days in Lake Como than getting the ferry to the stunning town of Varenna along the eastern shore of the lake. 

Varenna is undoubtedly one of my favorite towns in Lake Como, and I keep coming back here every time I visit.

The old town will have you feeling like you have stepped back in time from the moment you get off the ferry! The colorful buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and charming shops and cafes make for the perfect introduction to Lake Como.

Start your day here with a stroll along Passarella degli Innamorati (Lovers’ Walk), a picturesque walkway that hugs the shoreline and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

You can also grab a coffee and pastry at one of the many cute cafes in Piazza San Giorgio, then wander through the town’s winding streets. Don’t forget to stop by the beautiful Chiesa di San Giorgio, a 14th-century church with stunning frescoes.

Read Next: 15 Best Things to Do in Varenna (+ Practical Tips for Visiting)

Colorful houses in Varenna, Lake Como

Visit Villa Monastero or Villa Cipressi

After exploring Varenna’s old town, take a short walk to visit either Villa Monastero or Villa Cipressi. Both villas offer stunning gardens and impressive views of the lake.

Villa Monastero is one of the most luxurious spots in the town, a vast complex known for its beautiful Italian architecture, museum rooms, and stunning botanical gardens to explore.

There are some incredible Instagram-worthy balcony spots to look out of so you won’t want to miss those!

Tickets for the garden only are €10, while tickets for the whole property including the museum cost €13. I suggest buying the full ticket as the museum is more than worth a visit!

Villa Cipressi on the other hand is a luxury accommodation spot in Varenna that dates back to Roman times. While we don’t all have the budget to stay there, you can take a walk around the grounds and admire the gardens for as little as €10. 

If you have time, you can visit both villas as they each offer unique features. However, if you don’t want to rush, choose one and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gardens.

While it’s a really tough choice between the two, if I had to pick one, I’d choose Villa Monastero simply because of its impressive museum and unique architecture.

Enjoy lunch at Bar Il Molo

It’s now time for lunch, and there is no better place to enjoy a meal in Varenna than at Bar Il Molo.

This charming restaurant is located right on the lakefront, offering stunning views of the water while you dine. The menu includes traditional Italian dishes as well as some international options, making it a great spot for all tastes.

To be completely honest, the food is not the main draw here (although it is still delicious), but rather the unbeatable location and views. The cocktails are really good though, especially the Aperol Spritz and their signature drink, the Molo Spritz.

Bar II Molo doesn’t take any reservations so you might have to wait in line during peak hours. Their upper terrace only opens at noon so if you want to avoid the queue, try to arrive a little bit before noon to snag a table with the best views!

Hike to Castello di Vezio

After you have enjoyed your lakeside meal, you will want to venture over to one of Varenna’s most well-known landmarks, Castello di Vezio

While the medieval castle itself is impressive, the real highlight of this visit is the panoramic view from its top. You can see the entire Varenna town and Lake Como’s stunning blue waters stretching out into the horizon.

While the 160 meters of elevation might look daunting at first, it is only a 30-minute uphill walk but it can get a bit steep at times.

Definitely wear comfortable shoes and bring some water as it can get hot in the summer. I did this hike in my sandals and it was not the most comfortable experience, especially on the way down, so learn from my mistake!

Once you reach the top, you can explore the castle’s grounds and take in the stunning views. There is also a small cafe where you can grab a drink or gelato to enjoy while taking in the scenery.

Girl at Castello di Vezio

Spend the afternoon in Menaggio

It’s time to say goodbye to Varenna and head to the charming town of Menaggio, located on the western shore of Lake Como.

To get there, head down to the ferry port and catch a ferry to Menaggio. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes and offers some beautiful views of the lake along the way.

While Menaggio is one of the bigger towns surrounding Lake Como, it is still pretty small so you can easily spend the rest of the day seeing all it has to offer. 

You can start your exploration by wandering through the quaint streets and checking out the beautiful architecture including historic buildings dating back hundreds of years. 

Next head to the town’s main square, Piazza Garibaldi, a lively piazza full of cafes, restaurants, gelato stalls, and all the hustle and bustle. 

After your time in the piazza, you might want to pick up some fresh gelato to head to the lakefront promenade. It’s one of my favorite spots to take in the views!

There is a market here every other Friday so if you are lucky enough to be visiting on one of those days you can enjoy handcrafted gifts and fresh local produce from the various traders. 

View of Menaggio from the water

Dinner in Menaggio 

Menaggio has an excellent variety of restaurants to choose from so you will want to stick around long enough to enjoy your evening meal at one of the local restaurants before heading back to your accommodation. 

Luckily the ferries run late into the evening so no matter where you base your trip, you should be able to get back easily! 

There are heaps to choose from, for a variety of budgets but there are some that I personally recommend.

Osteria Il Pozzo is a unique tavern-style restaurant, known for its fresh lake fish dishes, but it does get pretty busy, so you might want to call ahead, especially for larger groups. 

Pizzeria Lugano is one of the top-rated pizza restaurants in Menaggio, ideal for an affordable meal. 

For a luxury experience, Il Ristorante Di Paolo is a Michelin-rated gastro restaurant, famous for their creative twist on traditional dishes and exquisite wine selection.

Cafe del Pess in Menaggio

Day 2 of Your 2 Days in Lake Como

Tour Villa del Balbianello

Your first attraction on the second day of your two days in Lake Como itinerary is the stunning Villa del Balbianello, one of the most iconic villas in Lake Como and my personal favorite!

This stunning villa is famous for its appearances in movies, including Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. It is also known for its breathtaking gardens that overlook the lake.

To get there, you can take a ferry to Lenno and then either catch a taxi boat or take a 25-minute uphill walk to the villa. As the walk can be daunting, I recommend taking the taxi boat so you can enjoy the scenic ride on the lake.

Once there, you can explore the garden on your own or join a guided tour to visit the inside of the villa.

For the guided visit, you’ll have to book your tickets at least a month in advance as they tend to sell out quickly. Even if you only opt for the garden visit, you should get your tickets online 1-2 weeks in advance to avoid any disappointment.

You can now only visit the villa with a prebooked ticket, so make sure to plan ahead!

View of Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como from the water

Lunch at Ristorante Giglio

After your morning at the villa, you’ll want to head back to Lenno for some well-deserved lunch.

As the line for the taxi boat tends to get long later in the day, I recommend heading back to Lenno on foot. It’s a scenic walk and only takes about 25 minutes – and now you can enjoy a downhill walk!

Once in Lenno, head over to Ristorante Giglio for some delicious Italian food with a view. This restaurant is located right on the waterfront and offers stunning views of the lake while you enjoy your meal.

The menu has a great selection of traditional dishes and the chefs are excellent at catering to allergies and preferences. 

Their lunch opening hours run from noon until 3 pm but you might want to call ahead and reserve a table as they do get pretty busy. 

Villa Carlotta 

Are you ready for more stunning gardens and a bit of history? Then it’s time to visit Villa Carlotta in the town of Tremezzo.

As Villa Carlotta is on the same side of the lake as Villa del Balbianello, you choose to go by ferry, bus, or taxi.

There is a designated ferry stop in front of Villa Carlotta and since the ferry station in Lenno is located right in front of Ristorante Giglio, I think taking the ferry is the most convenient option. Just make sure to check the schedule first!

Villa Carlotta dates back to the 17th century and is a beautiful neoclassical villa that cannot be missed during your Lake Como itinerary.

While the inside of the villa is beautiful, the botanical gardens are the highlight, full of exotic plants, a tranquil ambiance, and a gorgeous terrace overlooking Lake Como. 

The villa is open every day and the ticket price includes the entrance to both the villa and garden.

View of Villa Carlotta, Lake Como from the water

Spend the afternoon in Bellagio

Finally, it’s time to explore the town of Bellagio, known as the “Pearl of Lake Como.” This charming town is located at the tip of the peninsula where the lake divides into two branches.

To get there, you can take a ferry from Villa Carlotta. The 17-minute ferry ride is really scenic so make sure you have your camera ready!

Once in Bellagio, you can wander through the cobblestone streets and admire the picturesque views of the lake. One of the streets you can’t miss is Salita Serbelloni, which is mostly featured on postcards of Bellagio.

If you’re after a good gelato, make sure to stop by Gelateria del Borgo, my favorite ice cream shop in Bellagio. It’s really close to Salita Serbelloni, so you can have a delicious gelato while admiring the stunning views (and snap some great photos!).

If you have time, I highly recommend visiting Villa Melzi, another stunning villa with beautiful gardens located just a 15-minute walk from the center of Bellagio. The gardens are open to the public and offer a peaceful escape from the busy town.

There are lots of great things to do in Bellagio but as you are seeing Lake Como in 2 days, these are the ones I would prioritize.

Girl in red dress at Villa Melzi in Bellagio, Lake Como

Stay for dinner in Bellagio 

As the sun starts to set, you are going to want to start thinking about which restaurant to pick out of the endless incredible eateries on offer in Bellagio. 

As far as dinner options go, there are heaps to choose from so here are my top picks!

If you are in the mood for a classic Italian pizzeria, you can’t go wrong with Ristoro Forma e Gusto, a gorgeous restaurant located right near the Bellagio ferry port. The pizzeria has been running since 1887 and still has similar, more modernized dishes from when it first opened. 

Bistrot Antichi Sapori is a quaint bistro, famous amongst locals and visitors for its affordable prices and delicious pasta dishes. Be prepared to wait for a table here, especially for an outside seat, but I promise, it’s well worth it!

Another great place to check out is Trattoria San Giacomo, a charming Italian restaurant known for its traditional risotto and fresh fish dishes. They have won many awards for their wine selection, so it is an ideal spot to grab a glass and people-watch before your two days in Lake Como draw to an end. 

All of these restaurants are close to the ferry port so you can easily make your way back to your hotel or the ferry for a peaceful ferry ride back to your accommodation if you’re staying elsewhere.

Parchetta Pizzeria in Bellagio, Italy
Ristoro Forma e Gusto

Useful Info for Spending 2 Days in Lake Como

Where to stay in Lake Como

The most popular areas for accommodation in Lake Como are Bellagio, Varenna, and Como. These towns have the most tourist attractions and offer great accommodation options ranging from luxurious villas to budget-friendly guesthouses.

Varenna and Como are especially great because they have direct train connections to Milan, so it’s very easy to get to. However, since you’re only spending 2 days in Lake Como, I wouldn’t recommend choosing Como as it’s very far from the middle part of the lake.

If you want to know more about the best places to stay around the lake, check out my in-depth guide about where to stay in Lake Como. It covers all of the best areas and gives you some insider tips on where to find the best deals.

If you’re in a hurry, here are my top recommendations for the best hotels in Bellagio and Varenna.

Best places to stay in Bellagio

Best places to stay in Varenna

Bar Giardino at Hotel Royal Victoria, Varenna
Hotel Royal Victoria in Varenna

How to get to Lake Como

The nearest airport to Lake Como is Milan’s Malpensa Airport which is around 50 km away from the area.

There are direct train connections to Como and Varenna, and the journey takes just over 1 hour. For the sake of this 2 day Lake Como itinerary, I suggest taking the train to Varenna.

Another popular way to get to Lake Como is to rent a car and visit as part of a northern Italy road trip!

While it is not the most affordable method, it does give you more freedom to explore and the journey from Milan is only around 1.5 hours depending on traffic.

Having a car also comes in handy if you’re planning to stay in Bellagio or any of the smaller towns around Lake Como, as it gives you more flexibility to get around.

Best time to visit Lake Como

Lake Como is one of those spots that truly is beautiful all year around so when you choose to visit is really down to budget and personal preference. 

The high season is typically in July and August as the weather is the warmest, but this comes with higher prices and a lot more crowds. This is when the lake is alive with activities so if you don’t mind the hustle and bustle, it is a great time to visit. 

December to January is the quietest period to visit Lake Como, so if you are after a peaceful retreat, there isn’t a better time. The weather is mild but rarely snows and you will find the prices much lower than the rest of the year. Do be wary that some hotels and restaurants might close for the off-season though. 

The best time to visit Lake Como is typically the Spring between April and June, in this period you can enjoy the beautiful weather, without the summer overcrowding.

Bench on the lakefront promenade in Bellagio, Lake Como

How to get around Lake Como

By far the best way to get around Lake Como is by ferry! Not only is it a convenient way to see all of Lake Como’s surrounding villages but the journey across the lake is an activity in itself with gorgeous views of the landscapes. 

Ferry ticket prices depend on the length of your journey but they typically cost anywhere between €5 to €15. I recommend checking the Lake Como ferry website for updated prices and schedules before your trip. 

Exploring Lake Como by car is probably the least efficient way to get around as parking can be an absolute nightmare, especially in the busier season so if you are arriving by car, it is best to leave it at your accommodation and get around on your own. 

Trains are also an option and are especially efficient on the eastern side of Lake Como as there is a long rail network linking a lot of the towns. This can be a quick and quieter way of exploring that side of the lake and can be more affordable than opting for the ferry.

Planning a trip to Lake Como?

Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about Lake Como. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!

Lake Como hotel guides:

Lake Como travel guides:

Lake Como itineraries:

Other Amazing Destinations in Italy: Cinque Terre | Dolomites | Florence | Lake Garda | Rome | Venice

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