What’s the Best Place to Stay in Lake Como?
Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. It’s inverted ‘Y’ shape lake, stunning waterfront villas, and open air restaurants make it the perfect relaxing place to spend the summer. The best way to properly enjoy Lake Como is to pick an area as your home base and then take advantage of the ferries which traverse the Como villages every day.
For a complete guide to Lake Como’s prettiest towns and suggestions for what to see and do, check out this article. If you’re looking to narrow down the tough decision for where to stay, keep reading!
Quickly jump to each section:
What’s the Best Place to Stay in Lake Como?
The best place to stay on Lake Como is subjective, but I would recommend basing yourself in Varenna, Bellagio or Tremezzo. Before you decide where to sleep, determine what you want to do:
Do you want to just relax and enjoy the charm?
Opt for heavenly luxury at Tremezzo’s famous Grand Hotel.
Do you want to sight see?
For example, you can explore the fabulous villa where Casino Royal and Star Wars were filmed, check out Como’s medieval churches, maybe ride the funicular for aerial views… In that case, you’ll want to use the Lake Como ferry system and either Bellagio or Varenna would make more sense.
Bellagio or Varenna?
These two towns are the most popular choice for travelers visiting Northern Italy.
Varenna is better connected to greater Italy, as it’s the only town with a train station. It also has a beautiful shoreline with restaurants right over the water. In the evenings, it’s really beautiful to watch the sun set by the lakeside cafes and I left feeling Varenna had a gentle, lovely vibe.
Bellagio is better connected to Lake Como’s towns as ferries stop here criss crossing the lake. It’s much more hilly, so be prepared for lots of steps, up and down. There are more restaurants and more shops here so it’s bustling in the daytime and I got the vibe that old money Europeans would go wild here. Bellagio is by far the most famous town of all the villages on Lake Como.
How much luggage do you have?
First, make sure to bring sturdy luggage with strong wheels. If you have lots of bags, I would recommend basing yourself in Varenna. First you have to schlep your bags from Milan to Varenna and hurry to get off the train platform (trains stop for only 1-2 minutes). If you head onward, you then have to carry your bags through town to the ferry station and onto the crowded boats. Better yet, just leave your luggage at Milano Centrale’s train lockers and bring weekend duffles or carry on backpacks!
“This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests”
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1818
Where to Stay in Varenna, Italy
Varenna is the only town to have a train station with a direct route to Milan, so if you’re short on time, stay in Varenna and then do day trips to the other towns along the lake. Milan is under an hour away or you could head north to Switzerland for a day trip.
Meanwhile, ferry services connect the entire region of Lake Como so if you stay in Varenna, you won’t have to worry about dragging your luggage on multiple boats. Here are the most popular hotels in Varenna that make for a great base:
1 | Villa Cipressi – Villa Cipressi is located near the church, a bit higher than the waterfront so the rooms have excellent views of the lake. It’s an older hotel but incredibly beautiful and the staff is great. If the restaurant is open, try it! It’s known for its food. The best part of Villa Cipressi is that guests have access to the private gardens which run along the lake. Really amazing gardens that are terraced into the village!
2 | Hotel Olivedo – This affordable hotel is right in front of the ferry terminal at Varenna, making it both convenient and fantastic for people watching! Hotel Olivedo has quieter views of the lake, a tasty restaurant, comfy lounge and decent sized rooms.
Where to Stay in Bellagio, Italy
Bellagio is paradise for shoppers. It’s more bustling than Varenna, with lots of restaurants, ritzy luxury stores and boutiques. Stay here for more luxurious accommodation. Here are the most popular hotels in Bellagio that make for a great base:
3 | Hotel Belvedere Bellagio – Perched high on a hill, Hotel Belvedere is a landmark Bellagio hotel that’s famous for its incredible pool, rooftop restaurant and stunning views of greater Lake Como. The rooms are large and airy and you’re pretty much guaranteed to never want to leave!
4 | Hotel du Lac – On the flipside, Hotel du Lac is the perfect place to stay in Bellagio if you want to be in town near all the action. It’s surrounded by great restaurants, boutique shops and close to the ferry so the location is truly fantastic.
Luxury Hotels on Lake Como
For a true escape to paradise, consider Tremezzo. The town of Tremezzio is dreamy, located right across the lake from Bellagio, with spectacular views and the famous Villa Carlotta. This is also where Lake Como’s most famous luxury hotel is located!
5 | Grand Hotel Tremezzo – Treat yourself to a room with a view over Lake Como and Bellagio. Or, splurge on one of eight rooftop suites that come with private terraces and outdoor jacuzzis! Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a member of Luxury Hotels of the World and well worth the cost, especially if you’re honeymooning in Italy or having a romantic couples getaway. The property includes a lush garden, 3 heated swimming pools (one of which floats on the lake), and its own private beach exclusively for guests.
Where will you stay in Lake Como?