Lake Como Walking Tour
Set serenely atop the Lombardy Plains of Northern Italy amongst the foothills of the soaring Alps, and a short distance from fashionable Milan, Lake Como is a world unto itself. Our guided walking tour captures the beauty of it all, from Alpine villages to luxurious lakeside villas. You hike along the high crest of Monte Brunate for your first enthralling vistas of iconic Lake Como. A family-run alpine restaurant offers up hearty food and superb views from their panoramic terrace. Our hikes take you back in time as we pass villages and hamlets seemingly untouched by the rush of modern life. From our lovely hotels on the shore of Lake Como, ferry boats transport you from village to village, allowing you to relax and fully enjoy the beauty of the region. (Luggage is transported by van or by ferry. 2 nights Como, 2 nights Lenno, 2 nights Bellagio.)
Lake Como Walking Tour itinerary
Independent arrival in Como town. Established by Julius Caesar, the original Roman layout of the city is still clearly visible inside the medieval walls. Your hotel is the three-star Hotel Firenze, centrally located on the beautiful square dedicated to Volta. Enjoy an evening wandering though the cobbled streets of old Como or join the locals for a stroll along the lakeside promenade. Dinner is on your own tonight. Overnight Como. Hotel included. Dinner not included.
Meet your guide(s) after breakfast in the lobby of your Hotel Firenze for a short transfer up to the Alpine look-out of Alpe del Vicere to start your walk. Wind your way along the high ridge of Monte Brunate for breathtaking views of the lake and city of Como. Stop for lunch along the way at a “baita,” an Alpine chalet that has been turned into a lovely restaurant. Try the fabulous polenta with porcini mushrooms. A steep descent back to Como is ingeniously avoided by using the Monte Brunate funicular (cable car). We then take you to Como’s best gelateria, near the Duomo, for a taste of heaven. There is time this afternoon to explore Como’s narrow cobbled streets and spacious piazzas before dinner. Overnight Como. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
This morning you have a ferry ride that calls in at all ports as it makes its way up the lake. Quaint villages and romantic villas slide by as you gently cruise up the lake beneath the imposing mountains that line Lake Como’s shore. We disembark in Lenno, follow an ancient pilgrimage path to the 15th century Sanctuary of the Madonna before taking the centuries' old path that links the now mostly abandoned terraces and farms to the village of Ossucio. Have lunch in an exquisite little piazza right next to the water, then enjoy a guided visit of the unforgettable Villa Balbianello. Originally built in 1787, the villa is now owned by the Italian National Trust. Its last private owner, Count Guido Monzino was an Italian mountain climber and adventurer who led over 20 expeditions world-wide, including to the North Pole, Everest, and Equatorial Guinea. He was also heir to a fortune and he filled the villa with priceless art and collections from his travels. The romantic setting of the villa has been featured in many films. We return to Lenno and enjoy a great gelato before getting to Hotel San Giorgio, your home for the next two nights. The San Giorgio is truly a special place: it was built in the 1920s and is still owned and operated by the same family (4th generation), who have retained its Old World charm and hospitality. The hotel is located on a quiet bay with beautiful gardens extending to the lake shore. It is the ideal place for you to hang up your hiking boots, sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of Lake Como Overnight Lenno. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Today's walk takes you into the hills above the lake. We lead you on tiny trails and ancient passages through a string of lakeside villages and hamlets to the Villa Carlotta. We enjoy our picnic at what is surely one of the best picnic tables in Italy, set amidst the splendid gardens of the 17th century villa that was once home to Prince Albert of Prussia. You have free time to explore the fabulous park and gardens as well as the interior of the villa before a return walk along the lake that takes us to the Hotel San Giorgio. Dinner tonight is at the lovely Restaurant Santo Stefano. Overnight Lenno. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Take a ferry to the opposite shore of the lake to the beautiful village of Bellagio. Our walk takes you through the gorgeous park and gardens of the Villa Melzi before heading up an old cobbled path and into the hills behind Bellagio. We walk through thick beech forest and past stone farmhouses to the aptly-named Baita Belvedere for lunch. The view over the two arms of the lake with Bellagio village at the tip of the peninsula is without compare. After lunch you can choose to continue the walk and descend to the lake or opt for a van transfer, and then loop around the Bellagio peninsula passing once-glorious villas to the tiny fishing port of Pescallo. You have free time in the afternoon to peruse Bellagio’s shops and boutiques before a wine tasting in a remarkable enoteca, whose origins go back 500 years. Tonight is a free night so you are free to choose where you wish to dine. Your guides will have plenty of suggestions. Overnight Bellagio at the Hotel Florence. Hotel and breakfast included.
A short ferry ride to the village of Bellano takes us to the north shore of the lake. Set out for a lovely hike that climbs above the water to eventually arrive at the medieval Castle of Vezio, from whose stone ramparts you will have a bird’s eye view onto Bellagio, just a few kilometres away. Speaking of birds, Vezio castle is home to a nursery that breeds, nurses, and trains birds of prey. Falcons, eagles, and owls perch amongst the trees and look down on us as we explore the castle. Then we descend to the lovely village of Varenna where you have some free time before taking a ferry back to Bellagio. Our farewell dinner is at one of the area’s best establishments, the Ristorante alle Darsene di Loppia. Overnight Bellagio. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
After breakfast return by boat to Como and transfer to your next destination, or to the Varenna train station, or go to Milan airport with a car and driver. We have not included the final transfer because the departure options are too numerous. Some may wish to linger and others may have an early departure. There are many boats that you can take as well as buses; you can take a fast hydrofoil back to Como (25 minutes) or extend your vacation by taking a leisurely and scenic slow ferry back to Como (1 hour and a half) or you can opt to take the bus to Como (1 hour). We can also arrange for a car and driver to take you to Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa, or Bergamo airports. Breakfast included. Final transfer not included.
Activity rating: 3 out of 5 = Moderate: Rolling terrain with the occasional short, steep ups and downs. Daily activity is usually 4 - 5 hours split between morning and afternoon. Max distance 12 kms. The walks are often along paths and trails with uneven and rocky surfaces so you need to have good footing.
Trip Includes: All accommodations in 3 star hotels (2 nights Como, 2 nights Lenno, 2 nights Bellagio); 6 breakfasts and 4 dinners; bilingual Customwalks guide(s) to accompany the tour and lead you on the walks; transfer on Day 2 and luggage transfer on Day 3 (from Hotel Firenze in Como to Hotel San Giorgio in Lenno); all visits as per itinerary; ferry tickets; and wine tasting. Does not include lunches. Does not include onward travel from Bellagio.
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Getting There: the trip starts with your independent arrival in Como at our pre-booked hotel. Como is well connected by rail from Milan.
Air: The closest airport to the start of the trip is Milan, which has two airports. Milano “Malpensa” receives most of the international flights while Milano “Linate” Airport is only 7 km from Milan, and the "Milano Centrale" train station is easily reached by private airport bus (in front of the Arrivals terminal). Taxis to the center cost about €25. For a complete list of Italian airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page. There is also a train from Malpensa airport to Como, with one change.
Rail: There are several trains per hour from Milan to Como. The trip takes 40 minutes to one hour. See the Trenitalia website (in English) http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en. For alternative high-speed rail travel, see the Italo website. For complete information on using the Italian train system, see our blog post.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: Independent departure from Bellagio after breakfast on Day 7 (Saturday). We have not included the transfer back to Como in the price of the trip because there is a wide variety of boat and bus options. You can choose to take a fast hydrofoil back to Como (25 minutes) or extend your vacation by taking a leisurely and scenic ferry (1.5 hours). Or you can opt to take the bus to Como (1 hour). From Como you can transfer by train to a number of different cities in Italy. We can also arrange a car and driver to take you to any of the three airports, Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, and Bergamo. The cost is €160 for 2 - 6 pax.
If you should book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip. Please e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
Our trip through Italy was simply fantastic. Everyday was packed full of energetic activity, cultural learning and most importantly never-ending smiles and genuine laughter. You created a truly amazing experience that we will treasure forever. Thank you again for sharing your many talents and passion!
The trip was amazing in every way. Thanks to our great guide and a great group, we'll remember it fondly forever. We can't wait to try another tour!
by DH from Colorado USA