3 Days in Lake Como: The Perfect Lake Como Itinerary

Lake Como is a gorgeous destination surrounded by mountains in Italy’s Lombardy Region. It’s filled with breathtaking coastal villages made up of brightly-colored houses that look like a scene straight from a fairytale.

Because there are so many towns in Lake Como, it can be hard to decide which ones are worth visiting if you only have 3 days.

Hopefully, this Lake Como itinerary will save you time researching so that you can start making bookings for your accommodations and transportation to get to this breathtaking region in Italy!

Here is the best itinerary for spending 3 days in Lake Como.

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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

Overview of Your 3 Day Lake Como Itinerary

Below, you’ll be able to see an overview of your Lake Como itinerary, which covers all of the highlights that you won’t want to miss when visiting.

You’ll spend the first day exploring Varenna, where your accommodation is, and then on the other days, you’ll venture out to Como, Menaggio, and Bellagio. This way, you’ll visit all of the must-see villages around Lake Como!

Parchetta Pizzeria in Bellagio, Italy

Breakdown of your 3 days in Lake Como

  • Day 1 (Bellagio and Varenna): Bellagio Old Town, Villa Serbelloni Gardens, Villa Melzi Gardens, Basilica di San Giacomo, The Walk of Lovers, Church of San Giorgio, Villa Monastero, Villa Cipressi, Castello di Vezio
  • Day 2 (Lake Como Villas and Menaggio): Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta, Waterfront Promenade in Menaggio, Piazza Garibaldi, Church of Santa Marta
  • Day 3 (Como): Como Cathedral, Life Electric, Villa Olmo, Tempio Voltiano, Como-Brunate Funicular

Map for your Lake Como 3 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 3 days in Lake Como with different colors – I used blue for the first, green for the second, and red for the third 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 Lake Como 3 Day Itinerary


Your first stop on this Lake Como itinerary is the village of Bellagio. This is one of the most popular destinations in Lake Como and it’s easy to see why. The views are simply incredible with towering mountains on one side and the glistening lake on the other.

Since it’s a major tourist hotspot, it’s best to arrive in Bellagio early to avoid the crowds. The easiest option is to take the ferry and depending on where you’re staying in Lake Como, it can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours.

Of course, if you’re staying in Bellagio, you’re in luck, as you can venture out exploring whenever you feel ready.

The town itself is pretty small, so I recommend spending half a day in Bellagio. You can consult my guide about the best things to do in Bellagio or just browse through the highlights below.

View of Bellagio Lake Como from the water

Wander around the town’s picturesque streets

Once you arrive in Bellagio, take some time to stroll around the central piazza and then wander down the narrow alleyways lined with cute shops and cafes.

Getting lost in Bellagio is actually one of the best things to do but in case you want some pinpoints, don’t miss the streets of Salita Serbelloni (where you can get that iconic view of Bellagio) and Salita Antonio Mella. Also, don’t miss the waterfront promenade as it offers stunning views of the lake.

Book a tour at Parco di Villa Serbelloni

If you love gardens, then you’ll definitely want to visit the Parco di Villa Serbelloni. This 16th-century garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in Lake Como and provides an incredible view of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Make sure not to confuse Parco di Villa Serbelloni with Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni as they are two completely different properties!

The gardens of Villa Serbelloni can only be visited as part of a guided tour between March and November. Tours cost €10 per person and depart two times a day, 11 am and 3.30 pm (closed on Mondays).

Villa Serbelloni Gardens in Bellagio, Lake Como

Visit the Villa Melzi Gardens

In case you can’t visit the Villa Serbelloni Gardens or you prefer exploring on your own rather than going on a guided tour, you should check out Villa Melzi Gardens.

These gorgeous gardens were created in the early 19th century for Francesco Melzi d’Eril, who was the vice-president of the Napoleonic Italian Republic. He commissioned architect Giocondo Albertolli to design the neoclassical villa and landscaper Luigi Canonica to create the gardens.

The result is an incredible display of symmetry, with perfectly manicured hedges, flowerbeds, and a beautiful botanical collection.

Unfortunately, the villa itself is not open to the public but visitors are welcome to stroll around the gardens. It’s open daily from 10 am to 7 pm and an entrance ticket costs €8.

Step inside Basilica di San Giacomo

Italian churches are unlike any other and Basilica di San Giacomo has to feature on every Lake Como itinerary. The church dates back to the 12th century but it has undergone numerous restorations during the centuries.

The inside of the church is quite marvelous, with exposed brick everywhere and rich decoration. It’s unlike most other churches of its kind! It’s free to enter, but donations are welcome.

Basilica of San Giacomo in Bellagio, Lake Como

Grab a bite to eat at one of Bellagio’s many cafes or restaurants

If you’re looking for a place to stop for lunch, I recommend Ristorante La Punta. This restaurant has one of the best terraces in Bellagio, with sweeping views of all three branches of Lake Como. The food is also quite good, with classic Italian dishes such as pasta carbonara and lasagna.

Alternatively, if you’re just looking for a quick stop while waiting for your ferry, check out Bar Pasticceria Rossi. It’s located right across the ferry terminal, and it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon coffee or an Aperol Spritz.

Oh, and if you love ice cream, don’t miss out on Gelateria del Borgo. It is said to be the best ice cream shop in Bellagio and let me tell you, it doesn’t disappoint!

As a bonus, it’s located close to the scenic viewpoint on Salita Serbelloni, so if you’re quick, you can take a cute photo with your ice cream in hand.


After spending the first half of the day in Bellagio, take the ferry to Varenna, which is located just a 15-minute ferry ride down the shore.

This village is much smaller and quieter than Bellagio, but it’s still absolutely lovely. In fact, many believe that Varenna is the most picturesque village on Lake Como!

Below you can find a few ideas about what to do in Varenna. If you’re interested in more, check out my in-depth guide about the best things to do in Varenna!

Stroll around the Walk of Lovers

What better way is there to start the afternoon of your Lake Como itinerary than by going on a scenic coastal walk?

The Walk of Lovers (or as the Italian say, Passeggiata degli Innamorati di Varenna) is a quaint walking path right along the waterfront, located close to the ferry station. As the name suggests, you won’t find a more romantic place in all of Varenna!

The path is short and sweet and provides amazing views of the village, the mountains, and of course, Lake Como. This is one of the best free things to do during your 3 days in Lake Como!

Pop into the Church of San Giorgio

The next stop on your Lake Como itinerary for your first day is the Church of San Giorgio. Built in the 14th century, this historic church is a beautiful testament to the architectural style in this region of Italy.

Be sure to look closely at the floor when you go inside – it’s made from Varenna’s very own black marble, which is breathtaking. The church is also filled with great paintings, furniture, and small details that you’ll have to look closely to see.

The church is open year-round, so you can see it any season that you visit. If you have extra time, be sure to pop over and view the Church of San Giovanni Battista too!

Marvel at Villa Monastero

Next, make your way to Villa Monastero, one of the most luxurious places to visit in all of Varenna. This museum and conference center are open to the public, and it provides some breathtaking views of Lake Como from its patios.

While Villa Monastero is a museum and conference center, it also has a pretty botanical garden that is worth exploring. This is one of the most Instagram-worthy locations in the area, so make sure you bring your best camera!

The villa is open daily, from 9.30 am to 8 pm during the summer months and from 10 am to 5 pm during the winter months.

It costs €10 to enter the botanical gardens but you can also purchase a combination ticket for €13 that grants access to both the gardens and the museum.

Read Next: 7 Gorgeous Lake Como Villas & Gardens You Have to Visit

Villa Monastero in Varenna, Lake Como

Take a walk around Villa Cipressi

While Villa Cipressi is a luxury accommodation in Varenna, it’s also one of the top places to visit in the village because of its magnificent gardens.

It has its own botanic garden that visitors are welcome to stroll through, filled with exotic plants and flowers that you won’t want to miss.

Entry to the gardens costs €10, but if you want to visit both Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero, you can buy a combi ticket for €19.

Villa Cipressi also has its own spa, and if you need a refreshing evening after your first day of exploring, this can be a great spot to unwind.

Villa Cipressi, Lake Como

Hike to Castello di Vezio

Hiking to Castello di Vezio is one of the unmissable things to do when visiting Lake Como in 3 days. This castle, in particular, is said to have the best view of Lake Como from above!

Luckily, it’s not that long of a hike to get to Castello di Vezio from Varenna. Just follow the clearly marked signs that will lead you along a trail that’s slightly over 1.6 km (1 mile). Even if you stop at a few of the viewpoints, the hike shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes.

From the 1000-year-old castle, you’ll get breathtaking views of Lake Como and the Alps. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in the summer, be sure to look out for the handmade ghost statues that surround it.

Day 2 of Your Lake Como 3 Day Itinerary

Villa del Balbianello

Villa del Balbianello is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful villas in Lake Como. This 18th-century villa is located on an exclusive peninsula, and it has been featured in multiple movies, including Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.

A visit to Villa del Balbianello is an unforgettable experience. The villa is located in a very remote and natural setting, and it feels like you’re stepping back in time when you walk through its halls.

Upon visiting Villa del Balbianello, you can decide whether you want to visit only the gardens or the villa itself as well. Entry to the gardens costs €12 and can be visited on a self-guided tour.

However, it’s only possible to visit the villa as part of a guided tour. The tour lasts for around 45 minutes and costs €23 per person, which includes access to the gardens as well. The villa is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (last admission at 5 pm).

Since Villa del Balbianello has a remote location, it’s a bit tricky to get there – it’s only accessible by foot or by a taxi boat. The closest parking lot is a 20-minute walk from the villa and if you’re arriving at Lenno by ferry, you’re looking at a 30-minute walk.

Villa Carlotta

After visiting Villa del Balbianello, take a short taxi ride, ferry, or bus ride to the nearby town of Tremezzo, where you’ll find Villa Carlotta. This villa is one of the most popular places to visit on Lake Como, and it’s easy to see why.

Villa Carlotta was built in the 17th century for a Milanese marquis, but it later became the property of Giovanni Battista Sommariva, who modified the villa with a 19th-century taste, commissioned artworks, and had extensive botanical gardens planted.

Nowadays, visitors can enjoy walking through these beautiful gardens filled with camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, and more.

In addition to the gardens, there’s also an art museum located inside Villa Carlotta that’s definitely worth checking out. The museum has a wide collection of art, sculptures, and tapestries, and it’s one of the most visited museums in all of Lake Como.

A visit to Villa Carlotta costs €15 per person, and this includes access to both the gardens and the art museum. The villa is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm from March to November.

Unlike Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta is very easy to reach. The ferry port is located right next to the villa, and you can also find multiple parking spots nearby.


Next up on your Lake Como itinerary is Menaggio, one of the bigger towns on Lake Como. From Villa Carlotta, you can either hop on a bus that takes around 15 minutes to reach Menaggio or take a 30-minute ferry ride.

Even though Menaggio is a pretty small town, there are still a few things worth seeing and doing here. Below you can find some of the best things to do in the town.

Stroll along the Waterfront Promenade

No visit to a Lake Como village is complete without walking along the lakeside promenade. In particular, the promenade in Menaggio is covered with lots of plant life and intricate stonework, which only adds to the allure.

Take some time to take in the view and relax while you walk along the gorgeous waterfront promenade before continuing with the rest of this Lake Como itinerary.

Stop by Piazza Garibaldi

Piazza Garibaldi is the central plaza situated in the center of Menaggio. It’s right in the hub of where everything is happening and is surrounded by great restaurants, gelato shops, hotels, and more. 

What makes this piazza so unique is the beautiful stonework on the ground. Be sure to look at it closely, because it’s genuinely gorgeous. Maybe even treat yourself to a delicious gelato from Gelateria Edo while you’re here!

Visit the Church of Santa Marta

The Church of Santa Marta is a gorgeous cathedral in Menaggio, only a short walk from the water. While the church is exceptionally historic, it was actually recently rebuilt about one hundred years ago. A lot of the more historical remnants of the church can be found inside the church.

Be sure to be on the lookout for the marble slabs around the church. Some of them are tombstone pieces from essential people from the Roman empire that are easy to miss if you aren’t looking closely.

Day 3 of Your Lake Como 3 Day Itinerary


For your final day during your trip to Lake Como in 3 days, it’s time to pack up your stuff and head back to Como. It’s best to save this magnificent city along the lake for last because you’ll most likely be catching a train or bus back to Milan from here anyway.

If you booked accommodation in the central part of the lake, you’ll be looking at a 1-2 hour ferry ride depending on your departure location and which ferry you choose.

While Como is filled with many more attractions, here are a few of the ones you won’t want to miss.

Read Next: 18 Best Things to Do in Como, Italy (+ Practical Tips for Visiting)

Have a brunch at Babi Como

Start the last day of your Lake Como itinerary by having a hearty brunch at Babi Como. This lovely cafe is located in the center of the town and serves the most delicious and aesthetic dishes ever.

If you’re looking for a yummy brunch in a beautifully decorated cafe with all the good vibes, don’t miss out on this one!

Visit the Como Cathedral

While you have visited many other cathedrals in the other villages during your 3 days in Lake Como itinerary, you have yet to see one as magnificent as Como Cathedral. This 14th-century church is massive and commands attention no matter where you are in Como.

The construction of the cathedral started back in 1396, and it took almost 400 years to complete. Even though it’s such an old building, the cathedral is in excellent condition and it’s definitely worth taking a look inside.

The inside of the church is truly breathtaking and features mosaic artwork on the ceilings in addition to beautiful stainless glass windows that can’t be missed. Be sure to look out for the two statues in glass cases, of Pliny the Elder and Younger.

Marvel at the Life Electric monument

One of the most unusual things to see in Como is the Life Electric monument. This bizarre sculpture was designed by Daniel Libeskind, and it’s located right on the lakefront on a small artificial dam.

The monument consists of two sine waves facing each other and it’s definitely something you won’t see anywhere else.

Life Electric monument in Como, Italy

Explore Villa Olmo

Villa Olmo is one of the most impressive villas in all of Lake Como, and it’s definitely worth taking a look inside. This historic villa was built in the 18th century, and it has a beautiful neoclassical design.

The building was created by a Swiss architect and somewhat resembles Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.

Nowadays, Villa Olmo is home to a museum, and it’s possible to visit the grounds and some of the rooms inside.

The gardens are open daily, from 7 am to 7 pm while the villa can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday, between 10 am – 6 pm. The whole complex is free to visit so it’s definitely a must-visit place on every Lake Como itinerary.

Visit Tempio Voltiano

If you’re interested in learning about the history of Como, make sure to visit Tempio Voltiano. This museum is located in an old church, and it’s dedicated to Alessandro Volta, the man who created the world’s first electrical battery and was born in Como.

The museum has a number of exhibits about Volta’s life and work, and it’s definitely worth taking a look around.

It was opened in the 20th century and is filled with old batteries and science experiments that provide a unique last spot to explore before heading home from your 3 days in Lake Como.

Prices are relatively affordable at just €5 per person and the museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

Ride the Como-Brunate Funicular

The most popular attraction in Como is by far the Como-Brunate Funicular, which was built in the late 19th century. While many locals use it as a way to travel between Como and Brunate, visitors will love the opportunity to ride it and take in the incredible views from the top.

A round-trip ticket costs €6.60 per adult, which is incredibly worth it for the majestic views of the Alps. After you ride to the top and take in the scenery, explore Brunate a little bit if you have the time, it’s worth catching the sunset there.

Sunset from Brunate, Italy

Useful Info for Spending 3 Days in Lake Como

Where to stay in Lake Como

As Lake Como comprises many small resort towns, you have plenty of choices available, with accommodations varying from basic guesthouses to luxury villas.

Bellagio is perhaps the most idyllic and most convenient place to stay in Lake Como. However, Varenna, Menaggio, Tremezzo, and Como are all worthy contenders.

If you want to know more about where to stay in Lake Como, check out my detailed guide about the best places to stay in Lake Como, which includes six different towns with pros-cons and hotel recommendations.

And for a truly relaxing getaway, check out these amazing Lake Como hotels with pools or these breathtaking Lake Como hotels with lake views.

If you’re in a hurry, here are my top recommendations for the best hotels in the most popular towns.

Best places to stay in Bellagio

Best places to stay in Varenna

Best places to stay in Como

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

How to get to Lake Como

While you may think that Lake Como is a difficult place to get to within Italy, it’s actually not!

There are a few ways to get to Lake Como, with most of them centering around starting your trip in Milan. Taking a train to the Milano Centrale Railway Station or a flight to Milan Malpensa Airport are some of the easiest ways to get to Milan.

From Milan, you can easily get to Lake Como by taking the train. Depending on your plans, you can either take a train to Como or Varenna – both just take a little over an hour.

I always recommend heading to Varenna instead of Como as it’s a lot closer to the most famous towns and attractions in Lake Como.

For example, you can take a ferry ride to Bellagio or Menaggio from Varenna within 15-20 minutes, while getting from Como to Bellagio takes 2.5 hours and the ferry rides are not as frequent either.

Another option is to drive to Lake Como. Many people decide to visit Lake Como as part of a wider Northern Italy road trip itinerary, and it’s definitely one of the best options to explore this part of Italy.

Depending on which town you pick as a base for your Lake Como itinerary, it will take around 1-1.5 hours to get there from Milan by car.

I actually don’t recommend getting around Lake Como with a car as it’s usually a nightmare, especially during the summer months. So even if you arrive with a car, leave it at a parking lot and use the ferries to get around!

Panoramic view in Lecco, Lake Como, Italy

Best time to visit Lake Como

While the summer months are definitely a dream in Lake Como, it’s the most crowded time of the year to visit too. Ferries and attractions book up fast in advance, not to mention hotels and their insane prices!

For a much better experience, try to visit Lake Como either in late spring or early fall. This way, you get to experience the best of the lake without the inflated prices and the crowds.

For the first two times we visited Lake Como in August, and to be completely honest with you, it was not a great experience. For the third time, we went at the end of June, which was a lot better!

Next time I would really love to visit in April when the wisteria is in full bloom, so if you’re a flower lover, this is another great time to visit Lake Como!

View of Bellagio Lake Como from the lakefront promenade

How to get around Lake Como

Now that you know when to visit and how to get to Lake Como, you’re probably wondering how to get around.

Luckily, Lake Como has a ferry system that will bring you between all the towns that you’ll want to visit. Ferry tickets typically start from €5 for shorter routes like Varenna-Bellagio and €10 for longer ones like Como-Bellagio.

You can check the ferry timetables and book your tickets on the official Navigazione Laghi website.

To travel between towns on the eastern side of Lake Como, you may also opt to take a train. This is a quick way to get around and can be a lot easier than taking the ferry. You may also opt to take the bus, a great option if you’d rather pay lower public transportation prices.

Even if you arrive with a car, I would recommend leaving it in a parking lot and exploring Lake Como via other transportation options.

The roads around the lake can get extremely busy, and it’s a nightmare to find parking spots (especially in peak times), so you’re better off without your car.

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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3 Days in Lake Como: The Perfect Lake Como Itinerary

10 thoughts on “3 Days in Lake Como: The Perfect Lake Como Itinerary”

  1. Would you say renting a private boat to go around lake como is worth it or not really if we only have 3 full days.
    Thank you!

  2. Hi
    I enjoyed your informative itineraries. I will be taking a train from the French alps and I am wondering do I stay two nights in Varenna and then one night in Como ?

    • I would say yes! Because Varenna is at the center of the lake, it’s much easier to visit any nearby villages and attractions so you’ll have plenty to do for 2 days. Como also has a few great attractions and it’s easier to get back to Milan or any bigger cities so it sounds like a great choice for the last night.

  3. Thank you for all this wonderful info! It’s making my planning for my coming trip much easier! I enjoy all your suggestions- all explained very clearly!

  4. Hello, thank you so much for all your tips ! We’re planning our 3 days trip to Como and your articles really helped us! One more question – where should we find an accomodation? Will be there from Thursday until Sunday – Should we stay in Varenna for the whole time or combine it with other cities? Thank you so much 🙂

    • For 3 days I think it’s easier to pick just one place and do day trips from there but this might be just my preference 🙂 Varenna is an amazing choice as it’s really central so you can easily reach the other towns with a ferry.

  5. 2 full days in Lake Como
    Staying in Varenna –
    Can we do Varenna – Bellago and Menaggio in one day
    Second day lake Como

    • It depends on how many things you want to do in Varenna – I think it would be better to spend one full day in Varenna and then do Bellagio and Menaggio on the second day.


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