One of the most captivating landscapes in northern Italy can be found at Lake Como. It is very close to Milan and can be easily visited on a day trip. The lake is shaped like an upside down V so it’s ideal to start at the top and leisurely make your way down closer to the city. The breathtaking beauty of Lake Como can be enjoyed from many towns surround the lake, but this is the route I recommend if you are there for only one day.
Take the train from Milano Centrale to Varenna-Esino Perledo. Tickets can be bought without reservations and the journey takes about 1 hour. On the way, you will see scenic views of little villages scattered around lush green grasslands, as you will get very close to the Italian Alps.
The town of Varenna is a quite little charming place with a few boutique hotels, handful of restaurants and stores. Varenna welcomes you with a beautiful view of Lake Como and the surround mountains. Its narrow cobblestone streets and old European architecture create a charming atmosphere that will engulf you with serenity. It is the perfect fishing village where you can let yourself go for a weekend or the entire summer. Have a cup of tea or a light lunch and enjoy the views from Varenna Café.
From Varenna, take the ferry boat to Bellagio. The cruise is only 15 minutes long and costs 4.5 Euros per person. Bellagio is picture perfect with buildings painted in typical Mediterranean colors (beige, yellow, pinks), built along the lake and with the mountains in the background. Once you arrive in Bellagio and start to walk around, it may give you the feeling of being in an upscale resort town. There are some exquisite mansions that are turned into five star hotels, outdoor cafes with canopies of olive trees, and high end boutiques. Bellagio’s beauty is most admirable from the lake than from the land, but there is a nice park on the hillside you can walk into to soak in more fresh air.
From Bellagio, you will need to take another ferry to the city of Como. This distance is 30 minutes and costs 15 Euros. Como is the largest town off the lake located at its southern tip, so it is commutable by train, bus and boat. At first glance, it comes off as a bustling touristy city with lots of activity. There are kayaks, boat rental, theaters restaurants, churches, museums, shopping and much more. This is definitely not a good choice for an overnight stay if you were looking for a romantic getaway. In Como, I recommend taking the funicular up to the top of the hill where you can enjoy some of the best views of Lake Como. While up there, take a hike around, discovering the little hillside village. Once you come back down the funicular, have dinner at one of the several restaurants overlooking the lake and enjoy the picturesque sunset. To return, take the direct train from Como back to Milan which only takes 30 minutes and operates till late in the evening.