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Lake Como in winter: should you go? What activities can I do?

It’s a question you regularly ask us here or on our social networks: is it worth visiting Lake Como in winter?

For our part, we visited Lake Como twice, once in the middle of winter, during the February vacations. We like to go off-season to avoid the crowds, and we always find things to do in the destinations we visit.

So, yes, it’s livelier than in high season, and some villas are closed, so you’ll have to adapt. On the plus side, there’s always something to do and, weather permitting, there’s always the chance of a nice walk with a lot fewer people. We’ve decided to devote a short article to explaining why we think it’s worthwhile to travel to Lake Como in winter.

Lake Como in winter: is it worth it?

We’re not going to mystify you any longer, we’re totally validating Lake Como in winter. It’s transformed into a haven of peace, far from the hustle and bustle of summer, offering an intimate, hushed atmosphere. In our opinion, this is the ideal season for those looking to discover the lake away from the crowds.

  • The first advantage is that airfares are pretty affordable, and in February we found a very cheap flight with a low-cost airline. I wanted to take a break before writing the school teacher exam, so we jumped at the chance.
  • Thewintry ambience of cold, mist and snow-capped peaks lends the lake a mystical atmosphere.
  • Last but not least, of course there are far fewer people around, so you can enjoy the picturesque villages all to yourself!

Lake Como in winter temperature

In winter, the weather around Lake Como is typically cool and wet, with temperatures that can vary.

Winter temperatures in Lake Como are generally moderate, but can be quite cold. Daytime temperatures fluctuate between 4°C and 8°C, so you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor activities with plenty of cover.

Please note, however, that there may be periods of rain, especially in November and December. Snow is rare in lakeside towns and villages, but it can fall and accumulate in the surrounding high-altitude areas. There’s also often fog, which adds a mystical touch.

What to wear on Lake Como in winter

In our opinion, it’s not really bad weather, just bad clothing. So if you choose to visit Scandinavia in winter, don’t skimp on your equipment to make the most of it.

In December, January and February, we advise you to opt for the famous onion technique, which consists of layering several garments.

Here’s a list of clothes you can pack in your suitcase: a warm under-sweater (heattech or wool), a warm sweater, a fleece, tights, booties or waterproof hiking boots, not forgetting the trio of gloves, hats and scarves.

What to see and do in Lake Como in winter?

In a previous article, we detailed our 10 must-do 3-day summer activities on Lake Como.

We’ve listed below the best things to do specifically in winter at Lake Como in our opinion.

Enjoy the winter panorama

As mentioned above, while snow is rare in the lakeside towns and villages, it can fall and accumulate on the surrounding peaks.

To take full advantage of these beautiful landscapes, there are several viewpoints to choose from. One of the most impressive is the Brunate belvedere, accessible via Como’s historic funicular railway. From up here, the panorama of the lake and the surrounding Alps is breathtaking, especially with snow-capped peaks in the background.

You can get there either by car from Como or by funicular, which runs from 6 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. in winter, and costs around €6 each way.

Of course, you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful views directly from the shores of Lake Como.

Enjoy the winter tranquillity of the villages of Como, Varenna and Bellagio

We advise you to concentrate on the most touristy villages, which remain lively even in the middle of winter.

Como: in winter, the city of Como, located south of the lake, is a charming blend of modern life and ancient heritage, wrapped up in a peaceful atmosphere. It’s the biggest town around the lake, and some restaurants stay open all year round. In December, historic streets and squares are lit up with festive decorations.

Varenna Varenna is a picturesque little village and, in our opinion, the most beautiful around Lake Como. It’s a jewel in winter. Its colorful houses, cascading along the lake, provide a lovely contrast to the snow-capped mountains in the background. The narrow streets and waterside promenades invite you to stroll.

Bellagio: Known as the “Pearl of Lake Como”, Bellagio is the village to visit in winter. The gardens of the villas, although less flamboyant than in summer, exude a serene beauty. The lakeside promenades, lined with boutiques and cafés, offer a peaceful experience away from the hustle and bustle of summer tourism, allowing you to fully savor Bellagio’s natural and architectural splendor.

Visit the villas around Lake Como

During your stay on Lake Como, we recommend visiting a number of villas . These residences are true architectural gems, nestled in lush gardens and offering spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Options for visiting the villas around Lake Como may be more limited in winter, as some farms are closed in winter. Here are some of the villas that are usually open in winter:

Villa Balbianello: located in Lenno, 30 minutes north of Como, this villa is renowned for its picturesque location and elegant architecture. During the winter, although the gardens are not in full bloom, the villa’s structure and breathtaking lake views offer a memorable experience. This Villa is sure to ring a bell, as it was the filming location for “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” and “James Bond: Casino Royale”. In winter, the villa is only open on certain days during school vacations. More information on the official website.

Villa Carlotta: Located in Tremezzo, Villa Carlotta is famous for its art museum and botanical gardens. Although the gardens are less lush in winter, the villa itself, with its art collections and exhibitions, remains a fascinating visit. The villa opens its doors to the public at the end of April. In winter, visits are still organized on certain days. Please contact the secretariat directly for details: segreteria@villacarlotta.it

Winter boat trip

An excellent option for exploring Lake Como is to take a ferry or hire a boat, as the lake is navigable all year round.

  • Ferry : From the town of Como, ferries depart daily from the pier. You can buy a day ticket to hop on and off whenever you like, and stop off to discover the incredible villages surrounding Lake Como (day tickets cost €25.90).

Find all the information you need about boat times and prices on the Navigazion Lago Como website.

Explore the Lake Como by boat is an experience not to be missed. Aboard your boat, with or without a license, you can rediscover the lake and even take a dip.

  • Boat rental: to rent your boat, we recommend the Samboat platform. It’s very simple, they have the most complete offer of boat rental and their website is very easy to use!

Christmas market at Lake Como

Yes, during the winter months, Lake Como also comes alive with charming and festive Christmas markets. The must-see Christmas market around Lake Como is the one in the town of Como. For a month, the city’s main monuments are illuminated, the Christmas market enlivens Piazza Cavour and Via Plinio, and the traditional ice rink takes over the city.

Hotels in Lake Como: Where to stay in winter?

Looking for a place to stay on Lake Como? To make your visit easier, we’ve included an article detailing the most interesting villages to stay in on Lake Como, along with our best hotel addresses.

In winter, we recommend staying in one of the following villages, which remain lively in all seasons: Como, Varenna and Bellagio.

★ Our recommendation for Lake Como ★

1. Small price € : Albergo Frirenze, next to Como harbor, ideal for taking a boat around the lake, right in the city center, with parking nearby. Excellent value for money in Como.

2. Favourite : Albergo Del Solethe hotel is located in right in the center of Varenna on a lovely plotYou can’t get more authentic than this! You’ll be just a stone’s throw from the lake and the Villa Monastero. The restaurant is also very good. In short, you’ll enjoy your stay here!

3. With a view: Hotel Bellagio, right in the center of Bellagio, a comfortable hotel with an excellent, generous breakfast, served under a charming arbour with a view of the opposite shoreline and Villa Carlotta in the distance.

How do I get to Lake Como from Milan?

Car

➡️Vous or rent a car at Milan airport.

We advise you to be vigilant in the town centers of villages (such as Como, Bellagion, Varenna…), as throughout Italy, some areas are located in ZLT (zona traffico limitato).

This limited traffic zone is reserved for local residents (controlled by a camera). If you enter without authorization, you’ll be fined. Overall, we recommend that you park outside the historic centers to avoid finding yourself in a ZTL and having to maneuver in the tight little streets.

We traveled for several months in Italy without ever having to pay a fine. We find that they are always well indicated. Don’t hesitate to ask your accommodation for advice.

How do I rent a car?

Car rental: To compare car rental prices, we recommend the RentalCars website, which compares the prices of hundreds of car rental companies to find the best price. To give you an idea of prices, we found a car for €50 for 4 days through Hertz .

We ticked the “debit card” option, as we had read that some rental companies do not accept credit cards. In France, a bank card is usually called a credit card, but if you look on your card, you’ll see “carte de débit” (debit card ) written on it.

Bus + Cruise

➡️Si If you don’t want to rent a car, you can book 1 day at Lake Como and its most beautiful villages, organized from Milan. Your driver will drop you off in Como, Bellagio and Varenna and then you will explore the lake by boat, for 1 hour, to enjoy beautiful panoramas from the lake.

Train

Trains depart from Milan Central Station with Trenitalia. You can reach Como’s S. Giovanni station in around 40 minutes. Tickets cost around 20 euros. Once you’ve arrived, the center of Como is just ten minutes away.

You can also take full advantage of your stay in the region to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Lake Como and visit the city of Milan, including the Duomo, Milan Cathedral and its incredible museums.

We wish you an excellent trip! Don’t hesitate to leave us a quick note or 5 stars below, to tell us if you’re planning this trip, to ask any questions you may have, here or on Instagram, we’ll get back to you with great pleasure.

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Floriane
Floriane
Je m'appelle Floriane, aventurière et passionnée de voyages depuis mon plus jeune âge. J'aime plus que tout partager nos récits et astuces de voyage avec vous. Nous aimons les escapades courtes ainsi que les voyages longs. Ce blog est né après notre Tour du Monde en sac à dos. Nous avons également réalisé un tour d'Europe en famille.

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