Lake Como’s villages: let’s set sail for the lesser-known destinations

  • Lake Como

Have you ever taken a ferryboat tour of Lake Como’s lovely villages?


When we speak of Lake Como, aside from Manzoni and his novel The Betrothed, one location in particular immediately comes to mind: Bellagio. Not surprisingly it is known as the gem of the Lario, Lake Como.

Yet, all you need is to get on a ferryboat and venture out a little into open water and looking around, you cannot help but be fascinated by the countless other picturesque villages on Lake Como. As you disembark, you might realise that, while less well-known, these villages are in no way inferior to Bellagio and, indeed, each offers unique and distinctive attractions.

All you have to do, then, is go to one of NaviComo’s docks, board the first ferry leaving and head for…

Tremezzo: one of Italy’s most beautiful villages

Is saying that Tremezzo is one of Italy’s most beautiful villages enough to prove its charm? Perhaps not, because this “Terra di Mezzo”, the land in between, hence its name, is worthy of a proper description.

There are those who enjoy reaching it on foot, following a trekking route almost 10 km long, or those who prefer to arrive comfortably by ferry, admiring its shores from the water and exclaiming a breathless “wow” upon seeing it.

A “wow” that is fully justified, as Tremezzo abounds with historic buildings and villas of inestimable architectural and artistic value, with incredible gardens where you may stroll amidst nature.

A sort of multi-location museum: Hotel Tremezzo, a large building famous all over the lake for its luxury and floating pools, and Villa Carlotta, dating back to the 17th century, and abounding, inside, with works of art as well as outside, in its enchanting gardens. Both properties excel for their beauty.

Menaggio: Lake Como’s tourist heart

A celebration of exotic plants, flower beds and palm trees accompany visiting families along the picturesque lakeside promenade at Menaggio.

Between an ice-cream cone, a peek at the luxurious hotels overlooking the lake and a tour of the handicraft and lavender market stalls, you might even cool down on the beach in summertime.

Menaggio is Lake Como’s tourist heart but you can always walk to the upper part of the village, which is less crowded, where you can visit the Church of Santo Stefano or the Church of Santa Marta.

And don’t forget, of course, to drop by the Shrine of the Madonna of Peace to admire its religious artwork.

Varenna: fall in love on the Paseo del Amor

On the eastern shore, opposite Menaggio, you’ll find Varenna, perched on a small promontory and considered by many to be Lake Como’s most beautiful village.

Once you disembark, you can’t help but admire its characteristic colours: streets and houses offer a picturesque triumph of brilliant colours and floral decorations.

A preferred destination for all couples visiting Lake Como, Varenna is known for its Paseo del Amor, the Lovers’ Walk: an arched metal walkway anchored to the rock and hanging sheer over the lake leading straight to Castel Vezio.

From this age-old military stronghold dating back to the late Middle Ages, you may enjoy one of the best views of the entire lake, accompanied by hawks that dominate this part of the sky.

Finally, top off your visit to Varenna by going to Villa Monastero, where its famous botanical gardens await you.

Torno: eat with gusto surrounded by history

In Torno, the characteristic colourful houses mirror the town’s time-honoured textile trade and contrast with the remains of the equally ancient and fascinating military buildings, including the walls of the castle, destroyed by the Spanish invasion in 1522.

This is the historical and architectural setting within which to stroll and enjoy the countless modern bars, cafés and restaurants in the centre, making Torno one of the lake’s best gastronomic destinations.

An unusual destination, perhaps, but surely within reach of those who wish to arrive by ferryboat, disembarking in the characteristic marina where hydrofoils, boats and all kinds of vessels are moored, from which you can depart for all the localities nearby.

Cernobbio: stay in the world’s finest hotel

Welcome to Cernobbio, a humble fishing village that has been transformed into one of Europe’s most desirable and highly regarded luxury tourist destinations.

From its beautiful old town centre, “La Riva”, which is a unique, splendid viewpoint, to the picturesque lakeside promenade, you can stroll surrounded by some of Lake Como’s most lavish historical villas

Starting with Villa d’Este, a neoclassical palace dating back to 1568, which today has become one of Europe’s most luxurious hotels and has even been acclaimed several times as the best hotel in the world, due to its lake-view garden and the extensive park that protects it.

Or Villa d’Erba, famous for having had Luchino Visconti as a guest, or Villa Bernasconi and Villa Pizzo, both of which will transport you to distant, opulent and elegant times.

Nesso: Lake Como’s hidden jewel

One of Lake Como’s most charming and unforgettable beauties with its characteristic narrow lanes all climbing uphill and colourful façades, often covered with vegetation, it is also the one least “touched” by mass tourism. This is how Nesso has managed to retain its magical aura and the sobriquet of “the hidden jewel of Lake Como”.

What makes this jewel so precious is one of the most beautiful and unexpected views of the entire lake: the Nesso Orrido (Gorge).

You need only cross the tiny medieval Civera bridge spanning a very narrow natural gorge, to observe the spectacle of two streams flowing into the lake, forming a splendid waterfall.

In a word, only in Nesso can you discover how the word “Orrido” (gorge but also “horrid” in Italian) can become synonymous with “Enchanting”.

Navigazione Laghi: discover the villages of Lake Como on board a ferryboat

Discovering Lake Como with its most characteristic villages and authentic scenic beauty is almost a must, an experience not to be missed and within everyone’s reach.

Doing all this on board Navigazione Laghi’s NaviComo ferryboats is even more thrilling and spectacular, as it allows you to travel on the lake’s most important element, water, and discover its most beautiful destinations from an absolutely unique vantage point, and then reach and enjoy them up close.

All the villages mentioned in the article can be reached with the Navigazione Lake Como service; check the timetables at

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