If you’re looking for an idyllic destination with a perfect blend of natural beauty and culture, then Como, Italy, is the place to be. This city, located in the Lombardy region of Italy, boasts of a plethora of attractions that are perfect for every traveler, from nature lovers to history buffs.
Como is a charming city with a lot to offer visitors. From stunning natural beauty to historical and cultural landmarks, there’s something for everyone. So, if you’re planning a trip to Italy, be sure to add Como to your itinerary.
TRAVEL CONDITIONS FOR U.S. CITIZENS as of February, 2023: Italy is open to all travelers at this time. Find updates for future travel to Italy here.
What to See and Do
Free Walking Tour
Free walking tours are available in the town of Como. This is the first thing we like to do in a new city. You’re with a local guide who knows the area and can answer any questions you might ask. Again, the tour is free, but please don’t forget to tip your guide whatever you feel the tour was worth.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta is an awe-inspiring sight to behold, with its intricate details and rich history. Visitors can take a guided tour of the cathedral to learn about its significance and see its many architectural features up close. The cathedral also hosts a variety of musical performances and events throughout the year, making it a cultural hub of the region. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower for stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
Take a Boat Ride on Lake Como
One of the main attractions in Como is the Lake Como, which is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Surrounded by mountains, the lake’s pristine blue waters offer stunning views and create an idyllic atmosphere. Visitors can take a boat ride to explore the lake’s various islands, including Isola Comacina, which has a rich history and boasts of ancient ruins.
A boat ride on Lake Como is an absolute must-do when visiting the area. The stunning lake, surrounded by majestic mountains, offers breathtaking views that you can’t experience any other way. In the town of Como, you can find several tour operators that offer various boat tours, ranging from short trips around the town to longer excursions that take you to other towns on the lake. You can also opt for a private boat tour if you prefer a more personalized experience. Some of the boat tours even stop at the luxurious villas located on the lake, giving you a chance to see some of the most opulent properties in the world. Enjoy it all with an aperitif!
Explore the Historic Center
Como’s historic center is full of narrow streets, beautiful churches, and charming shops and restaurants. Take some time to explore and get lost in its winding streets. You can also take a walk along the lake for some really amazing views. And, if you want to take longer walks, check out all of the beautiful hikes in the area.
Spend the Day on the Beach
For a relaxing day by the water, make your way to Lido Villa Olmo. This picturesque beach is situated on the shores of Lake Como and offers visitors a chance to soak up the sun and take a dip in the refreshing water. In addition to the beach, Lido Villa Olmo also boasts two swimming pools and a bar serving up refreshing cocktails. Don’t forget your camera, as you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the lake and coastline.
Lunch in Piazza del Duomo
Across from the cathedral is where we had lunch, at Bar ‘Al 2002. We enjoyed some pasta and wine while watching the locals go through their day. The women of the village, all dressed beautifully, were riding bicicletti (bicycles) everywhere. Older women were begging on the corners of the Piazza, and a prostitute… yes, a prostitute, dressed in a silver gown who seemed to be on every single corner. I think she was following Michael!
Villa del Balbianello
The Villa del Balbianello is a must-visit spot in Como. Located on a promontory on the western shore of Lake Como, this stunning villa boasts of a beautiful garden, where visitors can relax and enjoy the view. The villa has been featured in several films, including Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones.
For stunning views of Lake Como and the surrounding mountains, take a ride on the Funivia Como-Brunate. This funicular railway takes visitors from Como to Brunate, a small village located on a hilltop overlooking the lake. The ride takes about seven minutes, and the views from the top are worth the trip.
Theater Sociale di Como
For those interested in the performing arts, the Theater Sociale di Como is a must-visit spot. This historic theater, built in the 19th century, boasts of stunning architecture and hosts various performances, including opera, ballet, and theater productions.
Take a Day Trip to Bellagio
Bellagio is a beautiful town located on the shores of Lake Como, known for its picturesque streets and stunning views. It’s just a short boat ride away from Como and makes for a great day trip. See my post on beautiful Bellagio.
Top Tours for Como
See all Viator tours for Como and the surrounding area.
Annual Festivals and Events
Plan a trip around one of Como’s annual festivals and events.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Como, Italy, is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) seasons. During this time, the weather is mild and pleasant, and the crowds are not as intense as during the summer months.
In spring, the gardens and parks in Como are in full bloom, and the temperatures are pleasant for exploring the town and the lake. During the fall, the foliage in the surrounding mountains turns into beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange, making it an excellent time for hiking and nature walks.
Winter can be a good time to visit Como if you enjoy winter sports and skiing in the nearby mountains, but keep in mind that some tourist activities may be limited during this time. Summer is peak season in Como, and the weather is hot and sunny, but the crowds and prices can be overwhelming.
How Long Should I Stay
The length of your stay depends on your travel itinerary and personal preferences. If you want to explore the town and take a boat tour of the lake, then 2-3 days should be enough. However, if you also want to visit nearby towns and cities like Milan or Bellagio, then you may want to plan for a longer stay. It’s recommended to allow for at least a full day to explore each of these places. Ultimately, the length of your stay will depend on what you want to see and experience during your visit to Como.
Is Como Safe?
Como is generally considered a safe place to visit. However, as with any destination, it is always a good idea to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded areas or tourist hotspots where pickpocketing and petty theft can occur. It is also important to follow local customs and laws to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.
Special Customs You Should Be Aware
There are a few customs to be aware of in Como:
- Dress code: In churches and other religious sites, it is important to dress modestly. This means covering your shoulders and knees, and avoiding clothing that is too revealing.
- Greetings: Italians are generally warm and friendly, and a simple “buongiorno” (good morning) or “buonasera” (good evening) when entering a shop or restaurant is customary. Handshakes and kisses on the cheeks (for women) are also common when meeting someone for the first time.
- Dining: In Italy, it is considered rude to ask for substitutions or modifications to a dish in a restaurant. It is also customary to linger over a meal, rather than rushing to finish and leave.
- Tipping: Tipping is not a common practice in Italy, but rounding up the bill to the nearest euro or leaving a small amount (5-10%) is appreciated for good service.
- Siesta: In the afternoons, many shops and businesses close for a few hours for a “siesta” or break. This is a good time to relax and enjoy a leisurely lunch or stroll.
The budget for visiting Como will depend on various factors such as the time of year, length of stay, accommodation options, food choices, and activities. Here is a rough estimate of the cost of some typical expenses:
- Accommodation: Budget hotels and guesthouses start from around 50-60 EUR per night, while mid-range hotels can cost around 80-150 EUR per night. Luxury hotels and resorts can cost upwards of 250 EUR per night.
- Food: Eating at local cafes and trattorias can be a budget-friendly option, with prices starting from around 10-15 EUR for a simple meal. Mid-range restaurants can cost around 20-30 EUR for a meal, while high-end restaurants can be quite expensive. Supermarkets and food markets offer affordable options for self-catering.
- Transportation: The best way to get around Como is on foot or by public transport. A single bus ticket costs around 1.50 EUR, while a daily pass costs around 4.50 EUR. Taxis can be quite expensive.
- Activities: There are plenty of free or low-cost activities in Como such as hiking, walking tours, and exploring the city’s historic sites. Admission to some attractions like Villa Olmo and the Como-Brunate funicular can cost around 5-10 EUR.
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around 50-70 EUR per day in Como, while mid-range travelers can expect to spend around 100-150 EUR per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend upwards of 250 EUR per day.
How to Get to and Around
Here’s a guide on how to get to and around Como:
Milano Malpensa Airport (MXP) is 45 minutes from Como.
Getting to Como
- By Air: The closest international airports to Como are Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) and Milan Linate Airport (LIN). Theseis where you’ll get the best flights, and the best deals on those flights, especially if you’re flying from the United States. When searching for cheap flights, we use Expedia and CheapOair. From the airports, you can take a train or bus to Como.
- By Train: Como has two train stations – Como San Giovanni and Como Nord Lago. You can take a train from Milan, Bergamo, or other nearby cities to reach Como. Check Trainline for timetables and to find the best deals.
- By Bus: Como is well connected by bus to nearby cities like Milan, Lugano, and Varese.
See how to get the best deals on flights.
Getting to Como from the airport
A lot of people are afraid to drive in Italy, but it’s really not as bad as people make it out to be. We drove thousands of miles all through Italy, and only had one slight problem in Verona. So, of course, I recommend booking a rental car in Milan from AutoEurope and driving the 45 minutes to Como. This way, you can stop along the way if something looks interesting, and you have a car to take a few day trips. You also will not have to worry about getting on the ferry.
If I’m not making my cases for driving, then the train is your next best option. There is a direct train to Como from Malpensa. You’ll take the Red or Green metro from the airport to Cadorna Square where you will pick up the Trenord. You’ll take the Trenord to Como Nord Lago, which will take approximately 1 hour. For Trenord, you can purchase your ticket right at the station as there are no reservations needed and seats do not sell out. I would not recommend buying your ticket online because the tickets must be used within 4 hours of purchasing them. Check fares and timetables at Trainline.com.
Getting Around Como
- Walking: Como is a relatively small city, and most of the main attractions are located within walking distance of each other.
- Public Transport: Como has a good public transport system, which includes buses and trains. You can buy tickets at the train or bus station, newsstands, or tobacco shops.
- Taxi: Taxis are available in Como, but they can be expensive compared to public transport.
- Bike: Como has a bike-sharing scheme called Bikemi, which allows you to rent bikes and cycle around the city.
- Car: If you want to explore the surrounding areas of Como, you can rent a car from one of the rental agencies in the city.
Overall, getting to and around Como is relatively easy, thanks to its good transport connections and compact size.
DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT, and make sure your passport is up to date! Most countries will not permit you to enter unless your passport has more than six months remaining before it expires.
Do you need a Visa or Vaccinations?
With ivisa.com, you can check to see what documents you will need to enter Italy, and you can apply right there for expedited travel documents, including visas and health declaration forms.
Where to Stay in Como
Como offers a range of accommodation options for travelers, from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and resorts.
For budget-friendly options, you can consider staying at Ostello Bello Lake Como, a hostel known for its social atmosphere and great location. Another option is Hotel Borgo Antico, a cozy and affordable hotel located in the historic center of Como.
For a more luxurious stay, you can check out the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, a 5-star hotel located on the banks of Lake Como with stunning views and excellent amenities. Another option is the CastaDiva Resort & Spa, a 5-star resort housed in a former silk factory with a private beach, spa, and gourmet restaurant.
There are also several vacation rentals and apartments available for rent in Como, which can be a good option if you’re traveling with a group or looking for a more home-like experience. Michael and I rented an apartment in Bellagio through VRBO for a few days, and did not stay overnight in Como. For all accommodations in the City of Como, including hotels, B&B’s and rental properties, go to Booking.com.
Finding and Booking Accommodations
Finding and booking accommodations is one of the most important aspects of planning a trip. You want to find the right place for the best price. Our favorite resource when we want to rent a home or apartment is VRBO. The search engines we use for making all other reservations for lodging areBooking.comand Agoda. Booking and Agoda really seem to have the best deals on hotels, B&B’s and rental properties, and they will price match! Read more about finding and booking accommodations.
Watch These Movies Filmed in Como
Several movies have been filmed here due to its stunning scenery and historic landmarks. Some notable films include:
- Casino Royale (2006) – The famous James Bond film had several scenes filmed in Como, including a high-speed boat chase on Lake Como.
- Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) – The Villa del Balbianello, located on the shores of Lake Como, was used as the exterior of Anakin Skywalker’s home planet.
- Ocean’s Twelve (2004) – The main characters stayed at the iconic Grand Hotel Tremezzo during their time in Lake Como.
- A Month by the Lake (1995) – This romantic comedy was filmed entirely in Lake Como, featuring stunning scenery and beautiful villas.
- The Transporter (2002) – Several scenes of this action-packed film were shot in Como, including a high-speed car chase through the winding roads of the city.
Overall, this has been a popular destination for filmmakers due to its picturesque landscape and historic architecture.
Share Your Travel Tips & Comments
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