Lago di Como: an insider’s guide

5 February 2023
Written by The Italy Insider
Insider's Guide

Lake Como is one of the most popular destinations all year round, for Italians and foreigners alike. Perhaps it is due to its placid character, or to its charm suspended in time: there’s the magnificent sunshine that glistens on the lake, plants and trees regain their saturated colours and there aren’t as many visitors as in Summer. In the past years, this destination has also seen a revival with the many renovations of historic luxury hotels as well as new openings. The culinary scene is thriving with Michelin starred restaurants and not only – think family run trattorias overlooking the lake. Not to mention the picturesque villages to visit from Bellagio to Varenna, Tremezzina to Cernobbio and of course, the instagram boom of l’Orrido di Nesso. Here is our insider’s guide to Lake Como including the best things to see, where to eat and where to sleep.

Lake Como. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini
Lake Como
Lake Como. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini
Lake Como
Lake Como. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini

What to see

Orrido di nesso

Nesso is a small, picturesque village on the shores of Lake Como, split in half by a natural gorge. One of the most picturesque destinations to add to your Lake Como ‘must’ see’s.

Museo della barca lariana, lario

The Barca Lariana Museum has a unique heritage, born from years of life and knowledge of Lake Como, which have led to the creation of a collection of inestimable value for the nautical sector and for the history of Italy. WEBSITE

Orrido di Bellano

The Orrido di Bellano is the town’s main tourist attraction and one of the most important on Lake Como. It is a natural gorge created 15 million years ago by the erosion of the Pioverna torrent and the Adda Glacier, which, over the centuries, have modelled the rock into gigantic potholes, gloomy ravines and suggestive caves.

Brunate e passeggiate

For a Como native, the classic out-of-town excursion is to Brunate. Many paths start from there, but the traditional walk is the one to the mountain huts: a route of about two and a half hours with no particular difficulty, recommended for the whole family and mountain bikers, to enjoy the view of Lake Como.

Archivi Vitali, bellano

ArchiViVitali is a non-profit, cultural association that collects the archives of Andrea Vitali, Giancarlo Vitali and Velasco Vitali. The association has as its first aim the organisation of three separate archives that collect all known and available documentation around the literary and artistic life of the individual authors. WEBSITE

Historical Villas

Villa Carlotta, tremezzina

Villa Carlotta is a place of rare beauty that preserves and enhances a unique historical, artistic and botanical heritage on Lake Como and offers it as a living reality for the entire area. Built at the end of the 17th century by the Marquises Clerici of Milan, the Villa tells the story of over three hundred years of great collecting and every year opens the doors of a fascinating botanical garden to thousands of visitors from all over the world. (opens March 18th) WEBSITE

Villa del Balbaniello, tremezzina

From the tip of the small wooded peninsula of Lavedo, stretching out sheer above the waters of the centre of Lake Como, Villa Balbianello elegantly overlooks a wide panorama that makes it one of the most scenic residences on Lake Como. Its spirit also lives on in the stunning garden, which ranges from bold pruning and romantic glimpses, avenues lined with statues, panoramic terraces and abundant flowering, culminating in the 18th-century Loggia that crowns the entire complex. WEBSITE

Villa Erba casa di Luchino Visconti, Cernobbio

Villa Erba is a villa rich in history and culture, which has become a unique conference and exhibition space, combining modernity and technology with the beauty of a magical place. It has hosted the events of the greatest fashion houses and film sets and is undoubtedly one of the most precious venues on Lake Como. WEBSITE

Villa Monastero, varenna

Villa Monastero is one of the main historical and landscape sites in the area, thanks also to its privileged position. The complex consists of the villa itself, now a museum and conference centre, and the splendid Botanical Garden that surrounds it, extending for almost 2 km along the lake shore. WEBSITE

Lake Como
Lake Como. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini
Lake Como
Lake Como details. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini
Villa Monastero

i giardini di villa Melzi, bellagio

Villa Melzi d’Eril is famous for its breathtaking park, in which botanical species of all kinds triumph. Particularly fascinating is the Japanese pond with water plants including water lilies and all around, maples and Japanese cedars. Rich azalea and rhododendron blossoms in April and May give life to the colourful meadows and slopes surrounding the villa. Very picturesque is the small chapel on the edge of the lake. WEBSITE

What to do

Lake Como. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini

head to a BEACH CLUB  

Mor, Tremezzina

The Mor Beach Club aims to combine tradition and innovation in a coherent manner, thanks to the joint enhancement of the rich traditions, nature and heritage of the Lake Como area, and of a historic building with Art Nouveau architectural features. The area of more than 2,300 square metres offers a restaurant, a private beach, a terrace and an outdoor swimming pool furnished with cabins. All the rooms have been carefully selected in a colour palette that recalls the surrounding elements: from the soft shades of earth and sand to Provençal blue and the grey tones of the lake. WEBSITE

Where to eat

fine dining

Materia, cernobbio

where to eat Lake Como

A one-star Michelin restaurant, Materia is the creative workshop of chef Davide Caranchini, who works with a balance of local produce (including much of the raw vegetable material from his vegetable garden). With him, in this haute cuisine adventure, are dining room managers Ambra Sberna and Marco Sberna; while Luca Sberna is in charge of the wines. WEBSITE

Kitchen, Como

Nestled in the greenery of a private park, the starred Kitchen restaurant will delight you with its creative Italian cuisine. You will enjoy exquisitely Italian cuisine with a modern approach, in an atmospheric location with a convivial ambience and an intimate atmosphere, with attention to detail to make you feel at home. WEBSITE

Favourite Restaurants

Figli dei fiori, como

Figli dei fiori is a flowershop, bistro and tavern at the same time. Here, specialists in outdoor and interior design are at your complete disposal to recreate your space, while the bistro offers a sophisticated and timeless setting amidst flowers, plants and unique architectural elements. In the Osteria, instead, you will discover the roots of traditional cuisine with a contemporary twist. WEBSITE

Crotti Valdurino, Moltrasio

Crotti Valdurino is a very characteristic place to eat in an absolutely family atmosphere. In its premises that have the flavour of a grandmother’s house or on the beautiful terrace overlooking Lake Como looking towards Torno, you can enjoy a typical Larian experience. All typical local dishes in an enchanted and silent place where time seems to stand still.  WEBSITE

Trattoria del Porto, Careno

Trattoria del Porto, which has been run by the Zambra family for decades, offers a picture-postcard lake setting and a menu based almost exclusively on lake fish. The view from the terrace is truly priceless, in this timeless refuge that can be reached from the lake by boat. It is certainly one of the most cosy, typical and genuine trattorias on Lake Como. WEBSITE

Pesa Vegia, bellano

Pesa Vegia is the most famous restaurant in Bellano and overlooks the lake. Here you can taste a cuisine of great research, where the raw materials of the territory – not only fish – end up in revisited dishes, such as the pizzoccheri raviolizzati or the salmon trout carpaccio with raspberry vinaigrette, songino and Parmesan.

Momi, Blevio

Returning towards Como, we find Momi in Blevio, an eatery from where you can literally caress the lake thanks to its magnificent terrace that reserves breathtaking sunsets in a romantic dinner atmosphere. A special cuisine thanks to the passion that Momi, owner and chef, puts into the kitchen through the imagination of his dishes.  WEBSITE

Una finestra sul lago, Carate

Una Finestra sul Lago

Directly overlooking Lake Como, in Carate Urio, we find Una finestra sul Lago, an eatery offering delicious and refined cuisine and a delicious Italian pizza enriched by a sugegustive panoramic view. Inspired by the ancient Italian culinary tradition, all dishes are prepared with great care and taste. Creativity, harmony of flavours, and high quality raw materials are the ingredients of each dish, enhanced by Chef Davide Foriglio’s magic touch in a sublime mix of products. WEBSITE

Mistral e La Goletta, bellagio

In a timeless setting, the luxurious Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni can count on a diversified catering service, capable of satisfying a public with the most diverse tastes. The hotel features two restaurants: La Goletta, cosy, classy and with an informal touch; and the Michelin-starred Mistral Restaurant. Both are directed by chef Ettore Bocchia, who, while in the former pays homage to regional cuisine, in the latter rewrites Italian tradition with creativity, respecting seasonality. WEBSITE

Silvio Dal 1919, bellagio

The name Silvio is in Bellagio synonymous with hospitality and the best local cuisine. Over the years, the Ponzini family has modernised the rooms of the homonymous hotel and added the possibility of staying in various flats scattered throughout the municipality nestled in the Lario. At the restaurant, the freshwater fish proposal is still unique and inimitable, including rice and perch, carp agon, savetta fillet, whitefish in green sauce, burbot soup and much more. WEBSITE

Trattoria del Glicine, Cernobbio

Trattoria del Glicine is a well-kept restaurant with a summer terrace overlooking the mountains and the lake. The kitchen offers a seasonal menu that focuses on local tradition in winter and a little more Mediterranean in summer. The fish dishes are excellent, both from the lake and the sea. The wine cellar is of a high standard, with about a thousand labels. WEBSITE

Osteria Il Governo 1801, Lezzeno

Among the best restaurants on Lake Como is the Osteria Il Governo 1801 in Lezzeno, near Bellagio, run by a young team capable of making anyone feel immediately at home. The osteria is a location with a high historical value, offering traditional Lombard cuisine alongside dishes from all over Italy, served in the elegant garden overlooking the lake. The menu often features welcome surprises and new off-menu dishes born from the chefs’ imagination. WEBSITE

Table at Trattoria del Glicine
Where to eat on Lake Como
Osteria Il Governo 1801


Gelateria Le giuggiole, Moltrasio

Gelateria Le Giuggiuole’s ice cream is artisanal and natural. Through their variety of flavours, it is possible to rediscover the taste of the tradition of Italian ice cream makers, with their recipes executed ‘as Nonna commands’.

Pasticceria Lorla, bellano

Pasticceria Lorla delights locals and non-locals alike, offering traditional haute patisserie products in a warm and convivial atmosphere.


Harry’s Bar, Cernobbio

Harry’s Bar is a renowned bar and restaurant located in one of the most beautiful squares on Lake Como: the Riva di Cernobbio. The warm and elegant ambience welcomes guests in a romantic atmosphere. Simplicity and tradition are the main ingredients of Harry’s Bar, which offers typical Italian cuisine, made with fresh, seasonal products. WEBSITE

La Terrazza 241,como

La Terrazza 241 is the cocktail bar at the Hilton Lake Como, and it is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy a drink in the city with a spectacular view of Lake Como, complete with an infinity pool. On the hotel’s rooftop, you can sample mixology classics and signatures, but also treat yourself to a snack or a real dinner. WEBSITE

 @Home, Como

@home is a small venue in the historic centre of Como, where the idea of mixing and comfort food meet, always looking for new products and specialities. The project was born in 2015 by two brothers, Davide and Luca, who wanted a unique place where they could ‘share moments’ over a cocktail and good food. WEBSITE

Where to sleep

Villa Passalacqua, Moltrasio

best hotels Lake Como
Giardino all’italiana. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini
Swimming pool at Passalacqua. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini

Villa Passalacqua is a unique place. Already in the 18th century it was created as a place of the heart on Lake Como for friends, for love and leisure, for the pleasures of the table and for the Italian art of dolce far niente. Passalacqua revives the Italian tradition of villeggiatura: an annual ritual for Italian families, a long-awaited seasonal move from the town house to the country residence. WEBSITE

Grand Hotel Tremezzo, tremezzina

What to do in Lake Como
Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Ph. Credits Sophie Knight
What to do in Lake Como
Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Ph. Credits Sophie Knight

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is housed in a historic residence, where one can experience the aristocratic luxury of Lake Como, expressed at the highest level. All rooms have spectacular views over the waters of the lake or the tranquillity of the park and feature period interiors and comfort details: from balconies and terraces to whirlpool baths. WEBSITE

Il Sereno, Torno

best hotels Lake Como
Penthouse Suite at Il Sereno. Ph. Credits Urquiola

Il Sereno is a luxurious hotel located in an elegant, completely new structure, whose forms have been enhanced by the architectural inventiveness of Patricia Urquiola. In the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, the mastery of the brilliant Neapolitan chef ranges over all kinds of cuisine with undiminished success and balance: a few regional quotations, vegan dishes, Asian references, Lombard and lacustrian cues, as well as a great deal of creativity. Everything is divided into various tasting menus and à la carte choices. WEBSITE

Mandarin Oriental, Blevio

Lake Como best hotels
Mandarin Oriental. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini
Lake Como best hotels
Details at Mandarin Oriental. Ph. Credits Enrico Costantini

Mandarin Oriental is an oasis of tranquillity, situated on the sunny shores of Lake Como. It is housed in Villa Roccabruna, a 19th century structure that has been expertly restored to create a sense of modern Italian elegance with a delicate Oriental charm. The hotel also offers a spa, the largest in the area. WEBSITE

Aria, Cima di Porlezza

Whoever crosses the threshold of the ARIA Retreat & SPA immediately feels pervaded by an incredible feeling of freedom and protection. From its large windows you can enjoy a panoramic view of the subtropical park, the lake and the mountains. As a haven of tranquillity, 15 exclusive suites will be at your disposal. WEBSITE 

Villa d’Este, Cernobbio

Villa d’Este has been the home of the aristocracy for centuries and, after princesses, marquises, sultans and tsars, since 1873 it has been an elegant five-star resort, one of the world’s most celebrated hotels of charm. Overlooking the lake and surrounded by a wonderful private park of 10 hectares, Villa d’Este offers elegant rooms and suites with a stunning view of the lake or the garden. WEBSITE

Grand Hotel Vittoria, Menaggio

The Grand Hotel Victoria in Menaggio is the newest 5-star luxury identity on Lake Como. A completely renovated late 19th century Art Nouveau masterpiece, enriched by beautiful gardens and relaxation areas and surrounded by breathtaking views of the lake and its mountains, the Grand Hotel Victoria aims to enhance and celebrate the concepts of art and Made in Italy. WEBSITE

Vista Palazzo, Como

Vista Palazzo is the absolute excellence of service that lives in the cosy atmosphere of a dream home, with all the highest standards of luxury. It offers a sophisticated yet comfortable environment that provides an immersive experience in Italian elegance, revisited in an international key. Refined finishes, careful choice of materials and furnishings: you will be surrounded by the best of Made in Italy design. WEBSITE

Lake Como Villa D'Este
Villa d’Este
Corner Suite at Vista Palazzo

Musa, Sala Comacina

One of the bathrooms at Musa

Musa offers an unexpected face of Lake Como: here is enclosed the true essence of Italianness, declined in moments of panoramic relaxation and unforgettable gourmet emotions. You can choose from a range of room types designed by “Claudia Kempen Concept”, or book the entire villa, located not far from the hotel. WEBSITE

Villa Lario, Pognana Lario

the best hotel Lake Como
Suite overlooking the lake

Villa Lario Resort welcomes its guests in a charming private park, directly overlooking the waters of Lake Como. Here you will find a cosy oasis of intimacy, where you can enjoy a relaxing luxury stay on the sunniest shore of Lake Como. The rooms are finished with top quality Italian-made materials and, starting from the name given to them, retain their love for Lake Como. All enjoy unparalleled views of the surrounding nature, and some are located directly on the lake and boast a splendid terrace or private garden.  WEBSITE

Filario, Lezzeno

Modern architecture, clean design and genuine hospitality create a luxuriously modern atmosphere that sets Hotel Filario apart from the rest of Lake Como. History and tradition have been the basis for shaping an establishment that offers the best views of the lake. Added to this is a restaurant that shows great promise, with chef Alessandro Parisi from Campania and tables almost on the water. WEBSITE

Villa Flori, Como

Villa Flori likes to reveal itself only to those who enter the park, protected from view from the street by two gigantic Cedars of Lebanon. It presents itself in all its elegance, with original furnishings, preserved by the renovation. Stuccoes, floral frescoes, wooden floors, wood panelling on the walls, are the same as when it was built. These are complemented by very modern details, creating a striking contrast. WEBSITE

Borgo San Rocco, Tremezzina

In Griante, on the western shore of Lake Como, Borgo San Rocco rents out two newly renovated apartments (three others are under renovation), with independent entrance and outdoor spaces, plus other common areas with a swimming pool, sauna, panoramic pergola , a perspective garden and an organic vegetable garden where guests can pick vegetables to cook at home. The village belongs to a historic villa surrounded by a park of cypresses, cedars, sequoias and centuries-old trees, with a view of Bellagio, the Grigne, and the Valtellina mountains. The position is in fact strategic for walks in nature and for boat trips on the lake: the landing place is very close. WEBSITE

Ostello Bello, Como

Ostello Bello is an innovative Italian project, started in 2011, operating in the hostel sector. It is successfully revolutionising the old concept of ‘hostel’: it imagines and creates hostels as experience incubators, cultural hubs and social media for real. The old building that houses the Ostello Bello di Como, with its patio, terraces and secret garden, will make you fall in love at first sight. WEBSITE

Ca Spiga b&b, Laglio

Ca’ Spiga is located on the romantic shore of Lake Como, in an old village of stone houses. Here Andrea and Alessandro have brought their grandparents’ old house back to life. This structure was the first Albergo Diffuso to be officially recognised by the Province of Como, riding on a concept that aims to revive small villages rich in history and not destroy them in order to rebuild soulless buildings. WEBSITE

Villa Rosalinda, Dongo

Villa Rosalinda is a stately villa located in a quiet area in the historic centre of the municipality of Dongo, a stone’s throw from its small harbour on the western shore of upper Lake Como. The residence dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, but during the renovation that took place at the beginning of 2019, wall elements presumably dating back to the 17th century were discovered. The villa has an irregular ground plan on three floors and a small park. WEBSITE

Villa le Ortensie, Faggeto Lario

Villa le Ortensie is a charming guesthouse. A peaceful retreat, providing bed and breakfast with breathtaking views of Lake Como. Their secluded and quiet location offers the opportunity to relax and escape the crowds, while remaining close enough to explore the villas, gardens and other delights of Lake Como. WEBSITE

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