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Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como as a vacation destination belies the idea that Italy is all Roman ruins and antiquities. This picturesque area in the Lombardy region near Milan in the north of Italy is both unique and stunningly beautiful, highlighting quaint villages and towns, and gorgeous, historic villas. With a backdrop of the snow-capped Alps and  rolling green hills mirrored in the crystal waters of the lake, Lake Como is a favorite of the famous and an inspiration for the artist and writer. It continues to be a popular destination for the world traveler.

Lake Como - Varenna

Varenna on Lake Como

The Golden Triangle

The most popular activity for the visitor is to cruise Lake Como touring the “Golden Triangle” which takes you to the three most charming towns on the Lake: Bellagio, Menaggio, and Varenna. In between soaking up the stunning views of villas and gardens while cruising the lake, your visits to these towns affords opportunities to stroll ancient, narrow streets, shop for souvenirs, or savor the cuisine of the region. Bellagio is known as the “Pearl of Lake Como”. for good reason with its cobbled streets and colorful buildings. Varenna is quieter, a fishing village while Menaggio is quite the opposite – a busy town, bustling harbor, with many shops and cafes.

The Villas

Lake Como - Villa Balbianello

Villa del Balbianello

Current day visitors are not the only ones to appreciate the beauty of Lake Como. Historic and grand villas line the shore and luckily for us, many are open to the public for exploration. Stroll the heavenly gardens and marvel at the lush interiors. The most famous villa is perhaps the 17th century Villa Carlotta in Tremezzina known for the magnificence and variety of its gardens: botanical, Italian, and water. The villa itself contains many artistic treasures. An 18th century one, Villa del Bellagio also has lovely grounds but is best known currently as the setting for several films in series such as Star Wars and James Bond. Be sure to visit Villa Olmo and Villa Monastero as well, the latter having a museum on site.

More Activities Available

Lake Como Relaxation with a glass of wine

Enjoy a glass of local red wine

Lake Como is surrounded by hiking trails for the more active visitor. A popular trail is that of the Sentiero del Viandante which runs along the eastern shore for 45 km (28 mi.). You can also fish, swim, or rent a kayak or paddleboard. Not into sports? There’s always shopping! Como town is known for its silk products manufactured locally. Or just take in a meal or two sitting in a café by the lakeside, and relax with a wonderful regional wine.

Plan Your Visit to Lake Como

The hotels in Lake Como are grand and luxurious. Several boast staggering views over Lake Como and Bellagio. If you desire traditional Italian luxury, you’ll find it here. It can get relatively cold in the winter months, and many places close during winter, so the best time to plan your visit is in spring or Fall. June is historically the month with the most rain, and summers can be hot and humid. Summer is also peak season, so you reduce the size of the crowds by traveling in the shoulder seasons. The nearest airport is Milan Malpensa. When you arrive in Milan, your private driver will be waiting to whisk you away to your accommodations.

Article condensed from that originally appeared on Real Travel Experts. All images AdobeStock.