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The jaw-dropping beauty of Lake Como has had poets in raptures for centuries. Visit and you’ll soon see why. Here in the foothills of the Italian Alps, forested mountains rise sharply from the lake, towering over elegant waterside villas. It’s Italy at its most romantic.
Shaped like an inverted Y, Lake Como is lined with elegant lakeside towns and villages. At the centre, where the lake’s three long arms meet, Varena, Menaggio and Bellagio, Como’s most picturesque settlements, gaze across the water at one another. Bellagio is one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, not just Lake Como. If you stay in Varenna just a bit further north, you can bask in heavenly views of the town. Stay in Menaggio if you’re into watersports, golf and hiking. Look out for the staircase that takes you up to La Crocetta, an observation point that gives you superb views.
Tremezzo on the western shore is another of Lake Como’s prettiest towns, and also has one of the lake’s most sumptuous villas you can visit. The city of Como itself, right down on the south-western point of the lake, is one of the region’s highlights and is packed with unmissable sights. And in nearby Cernobbio, take a tour of the 19th-century Villa Erba, or join the 125km (77-mile) long-distance footpath of Via dei Monti Lariani.
When you want to explore further, simply take a boat trip on one of the ferries that regularly shuttles up and down the lake. Follow the many hiking trails that lead upwards through the woods towards summits that offer heart-stopping views of the lake and mountains.
Lake Como is a safe place to visit, with very little violent crime. As always in tourist hotspots, keep an eye out for pickpockets. For up-to-date travel advice for Sicily, check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
No, travellers with a full British passport do not need a visa to go to Lake Como.
If you’re planning a summertime beach holiday, you’ll want to stay six or seven nights to give you the time to relax as well as explore other towns. But for a city break to Como with perhaps a day trip, then three nights should be sufficient.
If you’re visiting churches, it’s courteous to keep your shoulders and knees covered, and to remove your hat indoors. Beachwear should be worn only at the beach or at lidos, so cover up when you’re out and about.
Lake Como is served well by public transport. Ferries and hydrofoils cross at various points along the lake all year round, and trains and buses connect most of the lakeside towns. There are also trains and buses connecting the lakeside towns with Milan and Bergamo.
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