- Towns & Villages
Kayaking on Lake Como is becoming a popular activity as you can tour up and down the lake seeing parts of it that you may not have access to on a ferry tour etc. Not only do you get to see the grand lakeside villas close up, you are also getting plenty of calorie burning exercise and toning your arms at the same time.
The first kayaks were made by the Eskimos for the purpose of hunting and were made from animal skins (usually seal) stretched over a frame made of either whalebone or wood. The kayaks were small enough to enable the hunters to get close to their prey.
Nowadays kayaks are made from other materials such as fibre-glass, plastic and wood. These small boats are human-powered by using a lightweight double bladed paddle. The design of he kayak can vary depending on what it is being used for; white water rafting, touring, surfing, racing or purely recreational and ambling across the water at your own leisure.
Bellagio Watersports provide kayaking tours starting from Pescallo Harbour. The tours normally have an early morning start and return around lunchtime Temperatures and sunlight are usually at their best at this time as well as the lake being much calmer without the usual traffic of speedboats and ferries. The tour guide has had vast experience in professional rowing and was the Sporting Director of the Bellagio Rowing Club. He is also is very knowledgeable about the lake and the history of the villas that you will see on your tour.
The kayaks used have opened seat places which guarantee maximum stability, safety usage and also allows you to have a more relaxed position during the tours. All safety procedures will be discussed before leaving on your tour and everyone is required to wear a life-jacket. It is recommended that practical clothing is worn; shorts, t-shirt as well as a hat and sunglasses. It is recommended that you also take sunscreen lotion with you. Waterproof bags are provided for purses/wallets, passport, money, mobile phones etc.
Alternatively if you don’t want to go on a tour, you can always hire out a kayak for the day. Many of the windsurfing schools and sailing schools offer hire facilities for various watersports including kayaking as well as lessons.
Please click on the map pins below to see the location and contact details for kayaking/hire.
LAKE COMO SAILING
Lake Como as you can imagine, has many sailing and windsurfing schools in the area due to the winds that sweep up and down the lake attracting lots of sports enthusiasts. Many of these schools usually have other watersports on offer, one of which is learning to sail a catamaran.
Catamarans originated from the people of Polynesia and were used for exploring and transport of getting from one island to another as well as being used in war. These boats are made up of two connected hulls (or a single hull with two parallel keels). The Polynesian people often used two logs for the hulls which resulted in the boat looking more like a raft. These log style catamarans or “kattumaram” (the word derives from the Tamil people of South India and North-east Sri Lanka and means wood tied together) are still used today of the South Indian coast. The wood used to build the catamarans is very light and comes from a local fibrous palm tree. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Western boat builders started to construct catamarans.
The catamaran is very stable and can be paddled or sailed even in strong waves. The modern catamarans of today often have a motorboat as well as a sail and have since become a very popular recreational activity. Because of the design and the how lightweight the structure is, these boats can reach high speeds of 40 knots and over. The size of the catamaran varies from around 3 metres to 96 metres in length. These larger catamarans have been adapted to allow for on-board accommodation for cruising and even ferries and ships have adopted the catamaran hull construction to allow for faster speeds. (Just have a look at images of the Seacat Ferries that used to run between Scotland and Northern Ireland between 1991-2004).
Lots of visitors to Lake Como want to try sailing or go on a boat tours but the catamarans can be a lot of fun so you should take a look at some courses and maybe set yourself a challenge to try something new. You will find many of the catamarans sail up near the top of Lake Como, as there are normally not so many speedboats racing up and down this part of the lake.
Please click on the map pins below to see location and contact details of places where you can sign up or indeed possibly hire out a catamaran (you are only able to hire a catamaran if you are qualified).
LAKE COMO SAILING
Lake Como has numerous hotels ranging from 2 star to 5 star hotels. Holidaying in any hotel is always a treat, as you can completely relax and not have to think about doing any chores at all. There are some exquisite looking hotels in Lake Como such as Villa D’Este, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Castadiva Resort in the town of Como to name but a few which have played host to many of Europe’s aristocracy and celebrities. All of these hotels mentioned are classed as 5 star hotels. However Lake Como has many beautiful hotels that are more reasonably priced to suit every budget. Please see the following examples 2, 3, 4 and 5 star hotels in Lake Como.
2 star hotel
The Quarcino Hotel has been run by the Gatti family since 1938. The hotel is ideally located in Via Salita Quarcino 4, Como and is in close proximity to the Duomo, Funicular and the Volta Temple (approximately 150 metres from the lakeside.) This hotel has 13 guest rooms with air-conditioning and complimentary wireless internet access, LCD TV and telephones are available in the rooms (surcharges may apply). The bathrooms have a shower and bidet. Housekeeping is available daily. There is private parking at this hotel for guests.
A single room at the Quarcino Hotel costs around 57 euros which is approximately £48 (including B & B) and a double room costs around 87 euros which is approximately £74 (including B & B). However you can book a room only which will of course cost a bit less.
3 star hotel
The Tullio Hotel in via alla poncia 59, Gravedona is located on the western branch of Lake Como. This hotel has a swimming pool which is 18×10 metres with a childrens area as well as two jacuzzi areas to relax in. All rooms have air conditioning, flat screen TV and SKY decoder (pay per view on request), mini bar, safe, VOIP telephone, lake views. Superior rooms have a private terrace. The hotel has a poolside patio bar area where you can enjoy the warmth of the sun whilst sipping a glass of prosecco.
A standard double room at the Tullio Hotel costs 145 euros in high season which is approximately £123 and a family room (2+2) costs 200 euros which is approximately £170.
4 star hotel
The Hotel Royal Victoria is located on the eastern branch of Lake Como in the beautiful Piazza San Giorgio 2, Varenna. Initially this hotel was called Hotel Royal, but after a visit from the Queen of England in the 1800’s, the name of the hotel was changed in her honour to “Hotel Royal Victoria”. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful lush gardens and also features a swimming pool. The views from this hotel are spectacular looking out over the lake. This hotel has 43 sumptuously decorated rooms equipped with air conditioning, telephone, satellite TV, hair-dryer, private bathroom, safe and minibar. Rooms have either a lake view or a view onto the historical Piazza San Giorgio. Luggage storage, early check-in and late check-out are all free of charge. Other facilities available on request are; room service, internet corner, WiFi, garage parking and laundry servuce – please note extra surcharges apply for these facilities. The hotel also offers to arrange on your behalf; private transfers with driver, taxi boat transfers, taxi boat tours and boats for rent – for the exact costs please contact the hotel.
Room prices for this hotel vary depending on whether you are having only breakfast, half board or full board and whether it is a standard double room or a junior suite that you book. However in high season, a double room (including breakfast) costs 200 euros which is approximatly £170 for one night.5 star
5 star hotel
The Villa D’Este Hotel is known as thee luxury hotel to stay in on Lake Como. This magnificent hotel is located in the town of Cernobbio on the western branch of the Lake Como and was once a princely residence in the 16th century surrounded by 25 acres of gardens. It was transformed into a hotel in the 1800’s and since then has had many renovations but still maintains its original charm. Many famous people have stayed at this hotel over the years from royalty to politicians and A-list celebrities. The hotel has 152 rooms all of which are decorated to a very high standard and you will feel as if you have travelled back in time when you step through the door into this hotel. Everything you can imagine that a 5 star hotel would have and more is in Villa D’Este; restaurants and bars, beauty and wellness centre, sports area, gardens, concierge services, the list is endless. It is said that standard room prices average out to be approximately 1000 euros per night which is £854. Please note that not all 5 star hotels in Lake Como will be at these prices.
Hotel prices will vary depending on what star rating it has, whether it is low, mid or high season and also with the numerous hotel booking websites to choose from, you could end getting a really good deal on your choice of hotel and manage to book it for a fraction of the cost.
Even if you are not staying in a hotel for your visit to Lake Como, why not be decadent and treat yourself to a meal or even just evening cocktails at Hotel Serbelloni in Bellagio or The Grand Hotel in Tremezzo. Many of the hotels welcome non residents for drinks and meals. Please note that hotel swimming pools are normally open only during the season which is June to end September – be sure to check this with the hotel when booking to avoid disappointment.
If you don’t mind sharing your living area with Mother Nature, then camping is a great way to experience the great outdoors. Camping is an ideal way to holiday abroad at a very reasonable price. Many places now have ready made campsites with spacious tents that you can hire out, but there is just something about bringing your own tent, campervan or caravan that makes the camping experience more personal.
Camping is for people of all ages and abilities, it doesn’t matter whether you are new to camping or a seasoned camper, the stories that you will collect from your camping experiences will be worth it.
Lake Como has several campsites, many of which are situated in the northern part of the lake near the towns of Dongo and Domaso (on the westside) and by the lakeside. Even campsites can range from the most basic such as having a patch of grass to pitch your tent on to the more luxurious sites that have swimming pools, restaurants and bars, playgrounds for children and evening entertainment.
Porlezza is another ideal place to camp and is only around 13km from Menaggio by car. The campsites here are mainly at the lakeside of Lake Lugano, not far from the Swiss border. This is a lovely area as the lake here is much calmer than Lake Como and great for swimming in.
The camping season in Lake Como usually begins around mid April until the end of September however individual campsites may vary and it is best to contact the campsite direct for further information.
Camping is all about being prepared and having the right equipment. That doesn’t mean that you have to pack everything that you can think of, however it does depend on the time of year that you go, weather, how long you are going camping for and what activities you plan to do on your holiday. Please see checklist of some essential items for your camping trip;
Shelter and Bedding
tent, tarpaulin ground cover sheet, mat for tent entrance, stakes, poles, guylines, rubberheaded hammer, pegs, peg extractor, dust pan and brush, good quality sleeping bag, pillow, camping mat or airbed (remember pump and airbed repair kit)
toilet roll, wet wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, bath towel, hand towel, soap, shower gel, brush, comb, hairbands, nail clippers, razors, deoderant, shampoo, conditioner, feminine products, any essential medication such as asthma inhalers etc, sun protection cream, chapstick, mosquito repellent, toiletry bag.
camping stove or BBQ grill, charcoal, pot and frying pan, lighter or matches, knife or penknife, chopping board, plastic knives, forks, spoons, plates, bowls and cups, tin opener, bottle opener, cork screw, potato peeler, tongs, flask, water carrier, cool box, spatula, wooden spoon, rubbish bags, aluminium foil, plastic ziploc bags, detergent, cloth, pot scrubber, dish towel, plastic food containers, water filter.
Tools and Miscellaneous Items
torch and batteries, camping light, reading light, compass, clothes-line and pegs, hand-wash powder for clothes, hammock, sunglasses, mobile phone, book or kindle, camera, binoculars, whistle, mosquito net, first aid kit, small fire extinguisher, scissors, travel sewing kit, camping chairs and table, bicycles (although campsite may hire out bikes), pack of cards, notebook and pen, travel games.
walking boots, trainers, flipflops, socks, underwear, convertible zip-off trousers, vest tops, quick dry t-shirts, shorts, swimwear, sweatshirt, rain jacket, sleepwear, sun hat or bandana, laundry bag.
Food and Shopping
You can take some food items with you but it may be better to wait until you get there and go shopping. There are plenty of mini-markets in the nearby towns and villages. There is also a large shopping centre at the north-east side of Lake Como (if travelling from the western branch of the lake) where you will find numerous shops; large supermarket, electrical goods shop, sports shop, shoe shop, clothes shops, jewellery shops, cafe, ice-cream shop, etc. See below some supermarkets in Lake Como along with opening times;
Centro Commerciale Fuentes/Iperal, (province of Sondrio)
Via La Rosa numero 354
23010 PIANTEDO (SO)
Opening Times:Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs -09:00-20:00, Friday 09:00-22:00, Saturday 09:00-21:00 and open Sundays – 09:00-20:00 (however double check this during the month of August as this is the Italian summer holidays)
Bennet, Lario Center
Via Asiago 2
Opening Times: every day including Sundays from 09:00-20:30 (double check site for Sunday opening, incase of changes)
Via Statale 85
Piano di Porlezza
Carlazzo (nr Porlezza)
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 08:00-22:00, Sunday 08:00-21:30
Campsites in Lake Como
Please zoom in and out on the map below to see the location of campsites in Lake Como. Hover over the pinhead with your mouse for the campsite name and click on it for some further information.
Youth Hostels today are for all ages, there are no longer age restrictions and they are great for meeting other like-minded travellers. They are less expensive than most hotels and some of them often have organised activities if you wish to take part. Many hostels nowadays have private rooms and family rooms as well as the dorm style rooms.
There are approximately 10 youth hostels in the Lombardy region, one of which is based in Menaggio. The International Youth Hostel in Menaggio ‘La Primula’ is just on the outskirts of the town and only a 3 minute walk from the lakeside. This hostel has organised activities, and is also good for families.
Crotto Regina is another youth hostel located in Gravedona (westside of lake – a bit further north of Menaggio), a beautiful tranquil area and not overcrowded with tourists. It was originally a typical Italian house which was turned into a family run Guesthouse.
Ostello di Como Villa Olmo is ideally located in the town of Como with nearby access to everything you need; shops, restaurants, ferry to any part of the lake etc.
Please note that many of the youth hostels and even B & B’s may only accept cash payment on arrival (check when making your booking). Please see below some example of rooms and prices for youth hostels in Lake Como;
1) La Primula Youth Hostel, Menaggio
Located in the town of Menaggio on the western branch of Lake Come and only a short walk from the lakeside. This hostel is in a prime location as you are not far from Menaggio lido, the ferry port where you can take the ferry to Bellagio and Varenna and you are close to shops, restaurants and bars. A standard Italian breakfast is included in the standard room rates but La Primula can offer a cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner starting from 6 euros to 14 euros (for a 3 course meal). The hostel offers standard shared accommodation (male/female only dormitories with shared bathroom and shower room). It also offers private rooms with bathroom and en-suite and is ideal for families. However if you are travelling in a large group you are better to book ahead to ensure you get the room that you need. This is a busy hostel in the summer months and it is recommended that you book previous to arriving in Menaggio. La Primula offers lots of outdoor activities and can organize hikes etc (for prices contact the hostel). Rooms are basic and clean; shared room (dorm) is 20 euros per person, twin room with bathroom is 38 euros per person, a family room with bathroom (for 4 people) is 80 euros per room, family room with bathroom (for 6 people) is 110 euros per room.
2) YHA Ostello di Como Villa Olmo
This hostel is located in Via Bellinzona 2, Como and is only 3km from the Swiss border. Ideally located for reaching everything and for taking the ferry to any part of the lake that you wish to visit. The hostel is open from 7am – 10am and then re-opens at 4pm until midnight. There is a curfew so be sure to return to the hostel on time or you will be locked out. Check-in between 4pm-11pm and check-out is between 7am-10am. Rooms are basic and clean. There is a garden area where you can sit outside and a large communal breakfast area. Available facilities and services include; internet and WiFi, tv, laundrette, heating, restaurant and bar, luggage storage, security boxes, heating, hair-dryer, bike rental, families welcome. Prices start from 18 euros per person per night.
3) Crotto Regina, Gravedona
This family run guesthouse is ideal for sport enthusiasts as well as people looking for a holiday that gives value for money. Located on the western branch of Lake Como close to the areas renowned for watersports means that there is plenty of activities available. The guesthouse is within walking distance to the town centre and all amenities. Crotto Regina has single, twin, double and family rooms many of which have a balcony overlooking the lake. The rooms are simply decorated but clean and bright. Free WiFi is available as well as an internet access point. The rooms all have a private bathroom. Parking is available. Check-in is between 2pm-8pm. Prices are per room per night; single room is 55-70 euros max, double room is 69-79 euros max, family room is 115-130 euros max. You can go for breakfast just across the road to the Hotel Regina, cost 7.50 euros per person.
Agriturismo which translates into farm holiday, is another type of accommodation that you can find in Lake Como. These are often old rustic farmhouses and villas located in the countryside where you are immersed in nature and surrounded by beautiful scenery away from the busy lakeside roads. This accommodation is good value for money as normally you just rent a room with one meal per day often included in the price (please check this before making your booking). Prices can start from around 15 euros per person per night upwards.
Many of the agriturismi offer cooking classes, wine or olive oil tastings, guided excursions into the surrounding countryside, horseback riding and various other outdoor activities. You can usually buy their home-made produce; cheese, wine and olive oil at a reduced rate.
There are lots of internet sites such as agriturismo,it where you can find a list of this type of accommodation in the Lake Como area. Please see below a couple of examples;
1) Agriturismo Zertin, Via ai Monti, Peglio, Lake Como
Situated at an altitude of 800m up the hillside from the lake near Gravedona, this beautifully renovated farmhouse has amazing views and is away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. Please note that you are driving up through the mountains on a narrow road with lots of hairpin bends so please be careful. The farmhouse consists of 5 rooms in total, all furnished in a rustic style, a communal dining area with a terrace overlooking Lake Como and a large garden. There is also a wine cellar where you can do some wine tasting and also buy the local produce (meats, cheeses and jams etc). Children will love meeting the animals at Agriturismo Zertin; donkeys, rabbits, sheep and goats. There is also a playground for the children and if you want to you can also hire bicyces. The type of accommodation available is bed and breakfast – 39 euros per person, half board – 56 euros per person or full board – 72 euros per person. Pets are allowed at a cost of 5 euros per day. Children 0-3 years go free and children 3-8 years get 50% discount.
2) Agriturismo Giacomino
Situated in Sorico between Como and Mezzola Lakes, this farmhouse is an ideal place for avid birdwatchers as well as a great place to go trekking and mountain-biking. Facilities include a wellness centre where you can pamper yourself and have a Turkish bath, massage, colour therapy, and Kneipp, internet access, restaurant and tv. There is also a one hour fitness trail through the 100 year old pine woods for those of you who want to have a healthy holiday. Pets are allowed (surcharges apply). Accommodation available is bed and breakfast starting from 40 euros per person (depends on room and occupancy), half board from 60-80 euros per person and full board from 75-95 euros per person per night.
Lezzeno is in the middle section of Lake Como and lies approximately 15km northeast of Como. From ancient Ligurian and Celtic origins, this charming lakeside town consists of numerous hamlets within its boundaries (which extends to over 5km.) Lezzeno is the last village you reach before arriving at Bellagio. The road in Lezzeno is extremely narrow so be careful when going for walks.
As with many of the lakeside towns and villages in and around Lake Como, Lezzeno has a pebbly beach with fabulous views as it looks across the lake onto Villa Balbianello and Isola Comacina.
There are a few sights in Lezzeno worth visiting; The Carpe Grotto in Lezzeno, also known as the Bulberi or Blue Grotto is a stunning sight to see due to the sunlight reflecting of the water and splashing colour onto the eroded walls of the Sassi Grosgalli (need to see this sight by boat). You can also visit the 16th century churches SS. Quirico and Giulitta as well as the Madonna del Ceppo oratory in the hamlet of Pescau that dates back to the 15th century.
Nesso is a picturesque little village made up of the hamlets; Castello, Vico and Careno and is situated halfway between Como and Bellagio. The houses here are grouped together and line the lakeside as well as being dotted around the steep slopes.
There are remnants of Nesso’s past as once being a fortified town during medieval times as you can take a walk to the see castle ruins; destroyed by Francesco Sforza during the war against condottiero Giangiacomo Medici. It is not possible to go inside as it is closed to the public (please remember that the terrain is very steep in this area.)
A spectacular sight to see in Nesso is the gorge. The streams of the Tuf and Nosè that flow through the village descend the Pian del Tivano and then join to form a waterfall that plunges magnificently down into the gorge. The best view of this amazing natural feature is from standing on the old Roman bridge known as the “Civera”. However to get to the bridge from the road you have to walk down approximately 300 steps. Alternatively you can take a boat trip or even hire your own boat and pass underneath the old bridge to see the waterfall.
There are some fantastic views across the lake from Pian di Nesso which sits at a height of approximately 900 metres and if you wish to continue further on your hike, you will reach Monte Palanzone and Monte San Primo.
Nesso also has some lovely churches that are worth visiting; medieval church of San Pietro and San Paolo, the Romanesque church of Santa Maria which is in the hamlet of Vico and the church of San Martino in the hamlet of Careno.
Torno is a beautiful lakeside village which is situated approximately 5km northeast of Como en-route to Bellagio and looks across the lake to Moltrasio. The village of Torno was particularly famous for its booming textile trade between the 1300’s and 1600’s; wool and tapestries in particular.
As with many of the towns and villages in Lake Como, Torno is steeped in history and nearly all of the textile trade was destroyed when the Spanish invaded in the 1500s. You can see remnants of medieval fortifications; parts of the castle wall are still visible.
One of the sights you can see near Torno is the Massi Avelli which you can reach by following the red arrow signs to the “strada regia” and then you will see signs for Molina and Piazzaga/Massi Avelli. From here follow the mule tracks and when you reach the stone bridge keep to the left and this will eventually lead you to the “massi avelli” which are a mass of erratic boulders which signify graved tombs. From here you can go onwards to Piazzaga where you can relax and have a bite to eat from the Crotto which serves traditional rustic Italian food.
In order to see the well known “pietra pendula” which is a hanging stone balanced on a rock, you need to climb up Monte Piatto from where you have some spectacular views across the lake.