How to spend a weekend in Lake Como

Day two: snacks, shopping & a speedboat tour 

Start the day at Pasticceria Poletti, a homely cafe that serves freshly-baked cakes in Cernobbio. The small town sits just over a mile from Como, and offers a gateway to the weekend’s main event: a tour of the lake on a Riva boat. As the speedboat skirts the banks, play a game of guess the owners of the various mansions and listen to the skipper’s tales of the lake’s most notorious residents.

Starting to feel peckish? Moor in Lezzeno, a sleepy village drowsing over the lake’s eastern hills, and make a beeline for Ittiturismo da Abate. The menu in this family-owned restaurant is based on the catch of the day, including lake specialities such as missoltini and rice with perch.

Back on the water, make time for one more stop. Bellagio — jutting out on the promontory where the Y-shaped lake forks into two branches — encapsulates the region’s placid charm. Set aside a couple of hours to stroll around the scenic promenade with green-shuttered houses and quaint cobbled streets. Highlights include visiting the numerous shops selling local souvenirs or reaching Punta Spartivento, an observation deck at the tip of the peninsula.

Back in Cernobbio for a last hurrah, head to the Renaissance-style Villa d’Este, the lake’s grand dame hotel and overall biggest pride. The villa offers several dining options, but opt for Veranda, the main restaurant, for a gourmet meal by the property’s famous baroque garden. After dinner, take a walk up the water staircase to the nymphaeum among centennial trees and dramatic statues.

Como’s best three scenic experiences

1. Aero Club Como

Book an air excursion on a seaplane to take in the scenery from up high — though, arguably, the most thrilling part of the experience comes towards the end, when the small plane glides down and alights on the gentle waves. 

2. Como-Brunate Funicular

This popular funicular railway takes visitors on a steep seven-minute ride from Como to the panoramic village of Brunate, which offers views over the lake to the Alps beyond. The numerous hilltop villas are also worth a visit. 

3. Greenway of Lake Como

This leisurely six-mile hike through the lake’s pretty villages follows the Via Regina. Hikers can walk the entire route, from the municipality of Colonno to the community of Cadenabbia di Griante, in a little over three hours. 

Don’t miss: Como’s lakeside lidos

There are numerous lidos on the lake’s shores, but for a reasonably priced option, head to the beach in Faggeto Lario to rent a bed and take a dip. For something more upscale, head to Lenno, where the lido includes gazebos and a restaurant.

Published in the Lombardy 2020 guide, distributed with the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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