We enjoyed a three-night getaway to Lake Como, Italy, where we explored Cadenabbia, Bellagio, Lenno, Como and more!
Lake Como is about a six-hour drive from where we live in Germany, but we opted for the 50-minute flight instead. We flew Lufthansa from Frankfurt Main to Milan Linate, rode the Starfly shuttle to Milan Centrale, then rode the train from Milan Centrale to Varenna.
We booked first class seats to ensure we had air conditioning on the train, and I’m glad we did, as second class ended up being standing room only. Upon arriving in Varenna, we walked from the train station to the pier and caught a ferry to Cadenabbia.
The ferry from Varenna to Cadenabbia takes roughly 25-30 minutes, including docking time in Bellagio along the way. Once we arrived in Cadenabbia, we only needed to walk a few minutes down the road to reach our hotel, the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia.
We seemed to be the youngest guests at the hotel by far, but we enjoyed ourselves! Our room had a balcony with an absolutely lovely view.
After checking in, we walked to the neighboring town of Tremezzo and enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner at La Grolla Tremezzo restaurant.
From there, we went back to the hotel to settle in. My parents headed to the pool while Ben and I went upstairs to check out the rooftop bar. When we got up there, we were awestruck by the view!
We hung out for a couple of drinks, then reunited with my parents to go for dessert. We walked in the direction of Menaggio and ate at a lovely little restaurant toward the end of Cadenabbia called Ristorante Riviera. Our waitress was funny and personable, and we enjoyed our dessert and drinks in the lovely outdoor garden seating.
The following day, we began our morning with bottomless mimosas at the hotel breakfast. We had quite a few!
After breakfast, we boarded a ferry to Bellagio.
We loved Bellagio! It’s very charming. Its cobblestone streets are lined with shops, restaurants and cafes, and the area by the waterfront is full of places to sit and enjoy the view. However, it was very crowded. I believe Bellagio is the most well-known destination along Lake Como, so it’s full of tourists. Maybe not the best place to stay if you’re looking for a more serene and relaxing trip, but definitely worth spending at least an afternoon!
Steam Boat Tour
We ate lunch by the waterfront, then got on a steamboat tour which brought us all around the mid-lake area and lasted about an hour. The boat was impressive; we loved the old-fashioned look of the interior. We found a lovely place to sit on the lower deck and enjoyed a drink as we took in the scenic views.
Note: If you sit on top of the boat, cover your ears when they sound the horn! It’s very loud!
Lido di Bellagio
When we returned to Bellagio, we were in the mood to jump in the water and cool off!
We headed to Lido di Bellagio, which looked lovely from the boat, and bought a cabana for the next couple of hours. We swam in the cold, refreshing lake and drank a couple drinks as the hot afternoon sun beat down on us.
After Lido, we walked to the outskirts of Bellagio for dinner. We hoped to dine at Alle Darsene di Loppia, but unfortunately, it was fully booked! If you want to eat here, make a reservation.
We continued onward to Ittiturismo Ristorante Mella and we were not disappointed by the lovely meal we enjoyed there.
After dinner, it was a bit of a trek back to the ferry point. We didn’t mind, as the weather was lovely after sunset. We had a bit of time to kill before the 11 p.m. ferry, so we grabbed a drink at one of the restaurants next to the pier.
Villa del Balbianello
The following day began with another mimosa-filled breakfast at the dining room overlooking the lake. We couldn’t get enough of this view!
From breakfast, we hopped on board the Trombetta Express, the miniature train that goes from town to town along the coast.
We rode to Lenno, then took a small hike to Villa del Balbianello from there. You also have the option of taking a speedboat to the villa, but the hike only takes 20 minutes and offers lovely coastline views.
We decided to take the guided tour of Villa del Balbianello, though it is a bit expensive at €20 per person. You may tour only the gardens for €10, if you choose. The inside of the villa is quite lovely, and it is much larger than it looks from outside! The rooms span over six levels, complete with staircases, secret passageways, an elevator, old English furniture and treasures from Asia, North America and more.
After the tour, we rode the speedboat from the villa back to the shore of Lenno and enjoyed lunch at one of the restaurants along the lake. From Lenno, we hopped on an hour-long ferry ride to Como.
We found Como to be the least interesting of the towns we visited, but it did have good shopping! We spent some time shopping, eating gelato and having drinks at a tiny little hole-in-the-wall bar that (surprisingly) sold Bischoff, a local beer from our state in Germany.
Given the opportunity to return, we’d probably skip Como and spend all of our time in mid-lake. Como is far from the rest of the places we explored, and took a lot of time out of our day to get there and back.
We traveled from Como to Cadenabbia by bus, because the ferries from Como only ran until around 7 p.m. The bus ride to Cadenabbia took about an hour, and the rain started to come down pretty heavily while we were on it.
We planned to have dinner in Menaggio, but the rain put a damper on our walking plans. Instead, we returned to the lovely restaurant we enjoyed dessert and drinks at on the first night. We were pleased to be served by the same wonderful waitress, Fatima!
While at the restaurant, the rain really started coming down. The wind, rain, thunder and lightning outside made for one of the most intense thunderstorms I have seen. I loved watching from the shelter of the restaurant! We toasted to the end of a wonderful trip with shots of limoncello and banana liqueur.
We enjoyed one more breakfast the following morning before heading to Varenna. We had a little over an hour to enjoy Varenna before the train. Even though we had our luggage, we walked around a bit to see the sights. It was lovely! Less crowded, with a beautiful waterfront and the cutest walking path alongside the water. I would love to stay in Varenna if we return to Lake Como.
We hopped on the train to Milan and enjoyed a few hours in Milan before heading to the airport for our evening flight. This included, of course, a stop at the Duomo… followed by shopping!
Lake Como is beautiful, and it’s a place we definitely hope to return. The serene setting of the lake amongst the Alps is a relaxing and refreshing retreat from the stresses of everyday life. Though the photos cannot truly do it justice, they will help us remember the true beauty of Lake Como. Until next time!