The most glamorous lake in the world has much more to offer than celebrity spottings and unimaginably luxurious villas.
For decades, thanks to the incredible beauty of Lake Como, the city of Como and its surrounding villages have been one of the favourite destinations in Italy for travellers searching for a real taste of la dolce vita.
Whilst most tourists don’t even stop in the city, heading directly to one of the luxury resorts located on the lake’s shores, we’d urge you to reconsider. Como – a cute northern Italian city that boasts amazing views over the lake, wonderful restaurants, and a lively atmosphere – is definitely worth a visit, even if it’s just for one dinner.
The city centre is just one of the many places to visit in the area. For such a small place, Lake Como offers an incredible list of things to do and places to see. There are the charming villages to explore by boat or by car, like Bellagio or Tremezzo; there are water sports aplenty to try, or, indeed, visitors can avail of the more glamorous option of boat tours on the lake’s shimmering water. However you decide to spend your time here, it will be next to impossible not to fall in love with this little slice of Italian paradise.
The Packing Edit
Villa Làrio is one of the best venues from which to enjoy the lake, whether you are relaxing with friends, family, your SO, or solo. The private pier allows guests to enjoy the fresh waters of Lake Como in total privacy and (almost) total absence of boats. The hotel’s vast gardens offer the opportunity to unwind in the shade whilst listening to the soft sounds of the lake – it’s also a soothing location for remote working, just FYI. The cherry on the top: the outstanding infinity pool that overlooks the shimmering water of one of the most famous lakes in the world. Enjoy the incredible vista from your sunlounger whilst the hotel’s staff keep your your extra-chilled spritz topped up. Bliss.
Mandarin Oriental Como
A well-balanced mix of the Mandarin Oriental’s trademark charm and Italian opulence combine at this lavish property. Comprising of 21 guest-rooms, 52 suites, and two private villas (for guests seeking a little extra privacy), we’re major fans of Villa del Lago – a three-bedroom private villa with garden, terrace, and outdoor jacuzzi. The panoramic suite has a private pool to enjoy your holiday in complete peace, with fabulous views of the lake at every turn. If there is one single thing that sets the Mandarin Oriental Lake Como apart from other luxury properties in the area, it’s the signature 1300 sqm spa and, of course, its iconic floating pool that dominates the lake.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Loved by Italians and tourists alike, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a pillar of luxury hospitality on Lake Como. An Art-Nouveau building niched in 20,000 sqm of gardens that boast palm trees, azalea, rhododendron, tulips, geranium, and hydrangea, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a straight-out-of-a-film kind of property. The hotel also offers an incredible spa overlooking the lake, three different pools – including the WOW pool, or water-over-water; the flowers pool, which is tucked in the park for a more private dip; and the wonderful infinity pool, which is connected to the spa –, plus lots of activities, from lake excursions to wine tasting, and pasta-making classes.
EAT + DRINK
Italy is not short of amazing restaurants, and Feel is right up there with the best of them. For a delicious and elegant dinner, this is a must-try. At the helm of this culinary gem are chef Federico Beretta and sommelier Elisa Forlanelli. Together, the couple have created a gourmet experience which celebrates the region. With two tasting menus to choose from, dedicated to the freshwater and underwood, diners are spoilt for choice. The first menu is a five-course homage to the lake and includes tempura fried frogs and barbecued eel; the second is an eight-course marathon of flavours, which includes classics of northern-Italian cuisine, like minestra di riso, and modern adaptations – think coffee-cured escargots. Which will you choose?
If you want a taste of the south of Italy whilst in Como, Crìanza can satisfy your craving. Located in a less touristy area of the city, this cosy restaurant celebrates the flavour of Puglia through a variety of traditional dishes. From delicious orecchiette and mouth-watering stuffed aubergines, to fresh fish and perfectly cooked beef, Crìanza offers a nice alternative to the richer northern Italian cuisine.
La Vita è Bella
Whether you are searching for an Italian restaurant with an international twist for dinner, or a delicious salad bar for an extended lunch break, La Vita è Bella has you covered. The variety of their menu is impressive – you’ll undoubtedly find something that will satisfy the palate of every person at your table. Main courses range from beef tartare with chicory and the classic cotoletta alla milanese, to more sophisticated options, like spicy sea urchin pappardelle with pistachio and fish carpaccio with fish caviar.
If you are keen to explore your surrounds, take the car and visit the most famous village of Lake Como: Bellagio. This little gem is known for its adorable cobbled streets, its elegant and charming architecture and, of course, glorious views of the lake. A must-visit for first-timers in Como, if you don’t have a car you can also reach the village by taking one of the boats that sail from Como’s pier and stop at some of the nearby villages en route.
Explore the lake
Nothing feels more luxurious than exploring Lake Como on a vintage boat. From a serene cruise to snoop around the most beautiful villas of Lake Como (including George Clooney’s Villa Oleandra) to a six-hour excursion, discovering every corner of the lake, an afternoon spent on the water is yours to shape as you see fit. 007 fans – why not embark on a tailored tour, which includes a private tour of Villa del Balbianello, where Casino Royale was filmed.
Try a water sport
If not on Lake Como, then where? Whether you are passionate about water sports or a complete novice there is so much to do on Lake Como (particularly in the summer months), so it would be a shame to not try, at least, whilst you’re here. From tranquil kayaking to more energetic sports, like water-crafting or jet skiing, you can do almost anything on the placid waters of the most famous Italian lake.
CF Top Tip: Check out Water Experience Center for inspiration.