After spending a few days exploring the effortlessly elegant city of Milan we were keen to get out of the crowded streets and into the surrounding countryside and searched for day trips to Lake Como from Milan. One of the places we had always dreamt of visiting was Lake Como and the pastel coloured towns that sit around its edges. Set against the foothills of the Italian and Swiss Alps, this idyllic turquoise lake is dotted with ancient towns and has been home to aristocrats, the wealthy and the famous since Roman times. It makes for a one of the most wonderful day trips from Milan being only 85km (53 Miles) from the city with travel times between 1 hour and 1.5 hrs! We headed from Milan to Bellagio for an amazing Lake Como day trip from Milan where we enjoyed gelato by the water, took a ferry across the lake and cycled through some stunning scenery! Here’s a guide to a day trip: Milan to Lake Como, including detailed transport information for Lake Como from Milan including essential information such as which airport for Lake Como you should use and how to take the train from Milan to Lake Como. Want the lowdown on How to get to Lake Como from Milan, check it all out here.
Transport: Lake Como Day Trip from Milan:
Transport Options from Milan to Bellagio, Varenna and Lake Como (Plus: Closest airport to Lake Como & Milan to Como Train)
Pondering how to get from Milan to Lake Como? Thankfully getting to Lake Como from Milan is easy and not too time consuming. Whether you decide to take public transport or hire a car it’s a relaxing and easy going trip. Here’s our run down of the different ways to get from Milan to lake Como including which airport for Lake Como and information on the train from Milan to Lake Como. The proximity of this incredibly beautiful place to the city means a Milan day trip to Lake Como is easy to arrange.
Here’s a rundown of the different ways of Getting to Lake Como from Milan –
Taking the Train from Milan to Lake Como:
Milan to Como Train From The City Centre:
There are two railway lines connecting Milan to Como and both offer different options for your Lake Como day trip from Milan. You can’t get a direct train from Bellagio to Milan but you can head to Varenna instead and take the ferry from there. Taking the train from Milan to Lake Como is a really easy, cheap and quick way to get up here from the city.
The Milan to Lake Como train leaves from these stations: Milano Centrale, Milano Porta Garibaldi, and Milano Nord Cadorna
Trains from both Centrale and Porta Garibaldi travel along the same line, however the trains from Centrale make fewer stops but leave less frequently. The trains from Porta Garibaldi stop at all the local stations and take twice the amount of time, however they do leave more frequently. So either are great options for the train from Milan to Como.
From Milano Nord Cadorna you can also take a slow but scenic train to Como Nord Lago. This train does however terminate at the city of Como and doesn’t go up as far as Varenna. Bear this in mind when planning your Milan to Lake Como train route.
If you are headed to Varenna you will need to travel from Milano Centrale or Milano Porta Garibaldi as it is the only line that continues up. Remember you can’t get a direct train from Milan to Bellagio but alighting here means you can jump on the ferry over to Bellagio.
You can book your Como to Milan by train tickets online or buy them on the day from one of the many ticket booths or machines. If you use a machine below the station in Centrale be aware there are often a few “dodgy” guys hanging around offering “help”, don’t let them help you are they are out to scam or pickpocket you! If you’re not sure then go to a booth upstairs or at the very least don’t let them help and keep your an eye on your valuables!
One thing to remember when you travel on the train in Italy and especially Lake Como by train, is to validate your ticket at the little stations on the platform before you get on the train or your ticket isn’t valid and you could get a fine. We’ve written a post here explaining how to navigate the trains in Italy and how to find cheaper tickets: A guide to using the Train in Italy: How to travel for cheap and like a local!
Tickets for the train to Lake Como from Milan from cost between €5 – €19 (£4.50 -£17.00 / $5.70 -$21.65) depending on which train you catch. We paid €13 (£11.60 /$14.80) for a us both for a return and the train took around 1 hour. Regional trains are usually the cheaper option for the Lake Como train from Milan.
The quick and regular services are one reason this is one of the best and easiest day trips from Milan and why taking the Milan to Lake Como train is a great way to do it. The Milan to Como train time is between 1 and 1.5 hrs
Be sure to check the train to Lake Como from Milan schedule the day before you intend to travel and also check the Lake Como to Milan train for your return too so you don’t get stranded! Remember you can pre book your Milan to Como train tickets too.
From The Airports: (Which airport for Lake Como)
From Bergamo Airport there is no direct Bergamo to Lake Como route. The best option is to take a bus to Milano Centrale and from there go from Milan to Como Lake by train. Depending on what time you arrive you might have to travel up to Lake Como the day after as it’s a little awkward to get from Bergamo to Lake Como.
From Malpensa airport it is possible to reach Lake Como on one of the TILO trains. However these don’t go up as far as Varenna so you would need to change in Como town. They are also at the more expensive scale and take an hour and a half from Milan Malpensa to Lake Como. The best option would be to go from Milan Centre but this is the closest airport to Lake Como.
Which airport for Lake Como? That would be Malpensa but depending on where you want to go at Lake Como it might not be the quickest Milan airport to Lake Como.
Renting a Car and Driving from Milan to Lake Como:
Renting a car is an ideal way to get to from Milan to Como especially if you plan on exploring the lake and Northern Italy in more depth. Having your own transport means you can take the scenic route towards the lake as well as seeing many more of the towns and villages along its banks especially those that aren’t easily reachable on the train and see much more in a day than by using public transport. If you are renting you might also want to consider renting for a few days and spending that time navigating much of the lake or carrying on up into the Dolomites. It seems like a shame just just do the Milan to Lake Como drive and then hand the car back!
It is also possible to rent from the airports, if you’re wondering which airport for Lake Como then that would be Malpensa. Driving from any Milan airport to Lake Como is pretty simple and easy.
The ferries from Varenna and Bellagio allow cars onboard too for an extra charge.
The drive from Milan to Varenna is 79 km (49 Miles) and takes around 1 hr 20 mins. Use Google Maps or the free app “Maps.me” which can be used offline to get directions. We recommend using some sort of GPS for getting from Milan to Lake Como if you are unfamiliar with the area.
There are many rental companies in Italy to choose from for your Milan to Como drive but we recommend Discover Car Hire.
Lake Como from Milan Driving Map
Taking your own transport might be the best way to travel from Milan to Lake Como as you can take in the scenery on the way and stop when you want. The distance from Milan to Como is between 80 – 100 km if you head all the way up to Varenna. The only disadvantage of the drive from Milan to Lake Como is that you might want to stop that many times it makes a day trip hard to do!!
How far is Lake Como from Milan? To the start of the lake it’s only 50km! So travelling to Lake Como from Milan is really easy!
Getting from Varenna to Bellagio on the Ferry:
If you’re wondering how to get from Milan to Bellagio then you will have jump on a ferry from Varenna where you’ll get off the train.
From Varenna follow the signs for the ferry port and buy a ticket for Bellagio from the large kiosk.
The ferry runs around every half an hour or so from just outside of the ticket office. Be sure to check the train times and ferry times so you can time your journey.
Ferry price: €9 (£8.00 / £10.26) each for a return
Getting To & From Milan:
Of course, before you go from Milan to lake Como you need to get to Milan itself. There are a variety of different ways from air travel to trains and buses and it’s a well connected city. Remember to add this in to your Milan to Lake Como train time if you plan on going the whole way in one day.
Milan has 3 international airports that are all well connected to the rest of Italy, Europe and the world. Budget options are also well catered for in Milan too with it being one of the cheapest places to fly to in Europe and certainly from the UK.
Which airport for Lake Como? The closest airport to Lake Como is Malpensa but you will still probably want to travel from the city if you’re taking the Milan to Lake Como train.
You can take flights to almost all of Europe and many destinations in Asia and the UK as well as Africa and some South American destinations too. Milan is also well connected to major hubs like Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Bangkok and Istanbul to meaning you can travel here from further afield easily.
Milano Centrale is the main station for Milan and is a beautiful building which offers a great way to travel around the country. If you want to continue straight on then arriving by train is ideal as it’s easy to continue your Milan to Como journey from here.
The station covers a large number of destinations both domestically and internationally. Travelling around Italy by train is a wonderful way to see the country and it’s perfectly placed to continue around Europe too.
By Bus/ Coach
Milan also has great connections for the ultra budget traveller too with their coaches connecting pretty much all of Western Europe (255 destinations). Coaches from here are safe, comfortable and offer great amenities too.
Accommodation in Milan
Best Hotels: Ostello Bello
Ostello Bello is one of the best hostels in Milan and here you will be getting anything other than a bog standard hostel experience. Throw out all your misconceptions because this place is honestly one of the best places we’ve ever stayed. A fun, funky and bohemian vibe it offers breakfast, kitchens, terraces with hammocks and is walking distance to the main train station. It also offers both private rooms and dorms too at great rates, it is also close to the train station so ideal for travelling from Milan to Lake Como.
Best Affordable Hotel: J24 Hotel Milano
This stylish and modern hotel is right near an underground station and offers a sophisticated place to base yourself whilst in Milan. It offers continental breakfast, a bar and flat screen tvs in each room too and has a chic industrial style. It’s the ideal place to base yourself in Milan.
Best Apartment Option: Gegix’s House
Offering a variety of apartment accommodation that can house up to 6 people it is ideal for those wanting ultimate privacy or travelling as a group or family. With air conditioning, a balcony and incredible city views it’s a perfect base from which to explore Milan. It also comes with all the amenities that make staying in an apartment so appealing such as a full kitchen and washing machine facilities. Your stay also includes an Italian breakfast, perfect for filling up before you travel from Milan to Lake Como.
Find More Options Here:
Spending A Few Days In Milan?
We’ve recently written an in-depth guide to spending two days in Milan covering all the must see attractions and things to do on a budget too.
READ MORE: See Our Guide To Two Days In Milan Here
If you’re pushed for time and want to either spend more time in Como or only have a day to see the highlights of Milan then check this incredible tour out below. We highly recommend this one as it comes with a highly sought after last minute ticket to get entry to the Last Supper mural. These normally have to be booked months in advance! It also covers all the must see locations with a knowledgeable guide.
Take a Milan to Bellagio Tour Instead?
Still wondering how to get to Lake Como? Why not do a tour.
If you’re not comfortable visiting Lake Como from Milan yourself or you just want to be sure you can return in one day and make the most of your time by hitting all the highlights then why not consider a tour? Forget the Milan to Lake Como train and get someone else to take you there!
If you’re not confident driving abroad or taking public transport then these tours include transport, sometimes food too and activities and you can be sure to get a lot more information from your guides too as well as knowing exactly where to visit when you do arrive! The organised day trips to Lake Como from Milan make it even easier to stay on schedule and hit up all the highlights in a day.
There are some great day tours to Como out there that offer pick up right from your front door and drop off later in the evening. It’s certainly an ideal and relaxing way to do this trip without having to worry about train times or negotiating the Italian traffic!
Check Them Out Here:
When Is The Best Time To Visit Lake Como
And Do The Milan To Bellagio Trip?
Undoubtedly Spring and Summer are the best times of the year to visit as the weather is great, the atmosphere is incredible and the towns are in bloom with wonderful flowers. Also when doing a single Milan to Como day trip you want to maximise your chances of good weather!
However. In reality this area is so beautiful in any season or weather and there really isn’t a bad time to visit. Winter is much quieter and the snow covered peaks in the distance. Sometimes it can snow in Como itself but it rarely sticks! Winter might bring a calmer atmosphere but you might also find some of the ferries are less frequent and other services are more staggered or closed. It can also get extremely cold here in the winter!
The shoulder season of Autumn is a good compromise as the weather is still good and most of the crowds have dissipated.
Also bear in mind that weekends can be busy with local visitors from Milan and the surrounding cities as it is a popular get away from the city. If you can head here during the week!
See more information about Lake Como here: www.lakecomo.is
Lake Como day trip from Milan: How To Spend A Day In This Incredible Area
Arriving In Varenna
Departing the Lake Como train from Milan at the town of Varenna on the banks of Lake Como this village is the ideal place from which to explore the lake, particularly on a day trip where your time is limited. If you are going to do Milan to Lake Como by train then this is the perfect place to alight.
There are villages and towns dotted all around the inverted Y shaped lake and all offer some incredible views and picturesque views of the water through the arches of the villas and centuries old dwellings. However some are a little more accessible than others and as a day trip we wanted to visit somewhere close to the train lines given our time scale we felt it would make an incredible Lake Como day trip possible!
The location of Varenna gave us some great opportunities to explore a few areas of the lake in a short amount of time making is an ideal option for us out of the many day trips from Milan. It has a great central location on the lake, great ferry connections to places like Bellagio as well as being within an hour of Milan.
Arriving in Varenna we were instantly blown away, the town and lake was everything we had expected of a place with such a reputation as Lake Como. Even after our adventures in the Swiss Alps the views here made it one of the most picturesque places we had ever experienced and to make it even better the sun was shimmering off the surface of the lake and the temperature perfect for an adventure.
The village is quite small but there is a lot to discover and it’s ideal to go for a wander, especially along the shores of the lake. Places to look out for are: The Villa Cipressi, The Villa Monastero and The Castello di Vezio.
Milan To Bellagio: Taking The Ferry Across Lake Como
After a short time exploring Varenna on foot we decided to continue our journey onwards to the larger town of Bellagio. With much more to see and do around this more extensive area our Lake Como day trip from Milan would be mostly centred around Bellagio.
Bellagio is special for many reasons but its location at the fork in the inverted Y makes it feel like an island floating perfectly in the middle of the mountain encased lake. It seemed like the perfect location to head to to get a taster of what Lake Como is all about in the day we had here given its beautiful architecture, stunning position, perfect size and of course the ferry ride across the lake to reach it!
Taking the public ferry across Lake Como is one of those incredible experiences you come across that hits all the right notes. It’s cheap, offers jaw dropping scenery and transports you to a place that is beautiful beyond words. The ride over is nothing short of spectacular. To get out onto the lake itself and take in the panoramic views of the towering mountains and azure water lapping up at the sides of the shore with its colourful villages dotted amongst the hues of green and blue is simply incredible.
The ferry runs frequently and can also accommodate cars and bikes too which makes it ideal for exploring further if you have your own transport and costs €9 (£8.00 / £10.26) each for a return. Be sure to check the times so you can plan for your return Train from Milan to Como.
Renting Bikes and Exploring Beautiful Bellagio
Bellagio is just somewhere that oozes class with the grand old hotels lining the cliff sides, the chic restaurants on the water’s edge and a maze of steep passages full of boutique shops. The romance of the place continues with the narrow cobbled streets lined with beautiful wisteria draped pastel houses all leading down to the gently lapping waters. If you do a Lake Como day trip from Milan then Bellagio is a must visit.
It feels a million miles away from the revving cars and beeping horns of Milan, the busy streets and sticky subway trains are a long forgotten memory as you stroll idly though the sleepy alleyways of this beautiful town. Getting lost here is all part of the magic, wandering aimlessly around the warren like layout, stopping occasionally to window shop or grab a gigantic gelato, it’s the best way to fully indulge in this beautiful little towns dreamlike vibe. Escaping the city for the gentile paradise of Lake Como makes this one of the most incredible day trips from Milan.
After a while exploring the charms of the most famous town on Como we decided to rent bikes and head along the banks of the lake to get a feel for some of the smaller villages.
Riding around the lake turned out to be more involved than we first imagined, we pictured a gentle track along the water’s edge where we would trundle along. Instead however there are a series of steep roads set back from the lake itself which makes the riding not as laid back as we expected. However from the vantage point of the hilly roads the view is nothing short of spectacular with many offshoots to ride down (and back up!) to take in some really hidden gems.
One thing to bear in mind if you do ride around the lake is the traffic along the tight winding roads and also to remember than the front brake on bikes here and in many countries in Europe is reversed compared to what it is in the UK (A friend had a pretty rude awakening to this fact whilst we were in Switzerland mountain biking a few years back!)
As well as managing to give ourselves a decent workout we had a wonderful time escaping the groups of tourists around Bellagio and seeing a bit more of the local life of Lake Como. We spotted many old tiny stone churches with locals gathered in their small squares next to the lake, chatting with incredibly enthusiasm in a way only the Italians can! Nearby would by small docks with boats bobbing up and down next to traditional wooden houses by the crystal clear rivers feeding the lake.
Once you start riding from here you really get an idea of how big the lake is and just how many little towns and villages there are to explore. I first became aware of this majestic lake when a couple we know came here to spend two weeks riding around it on motorbikes. At the time I wondered how you could spend an entire fortnight at one lake, but now with the many little villages, towns, lagoons and secret spots to explore along its edges I can see why! Renting a bike is a great way to see more around the lake and really makes it one of the best day trips from Milan.
So, we headed back from Lake Como to Milan having had an incredible day that we’ll never forget!
Bike Hire Cost:
€25 for two (£22.30 / $28.50) OR €20 for one (£17.90 /$22.80)
The main places to look out for in Bellagio are:
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi (The most beautiful street with great places to eat)
Villa Serbelloni & Villa Melzi (Stunning and famous hotels & gardens)
Punta Spartivento & Pescallo (Great places to chill by the lake).
If you want to head to the beach then: Lido di Bellagio or San Giovanni
Basilica of San Giacomo (11th Century Church)
Other Towns To Visit Around Lake Como, Bellagio and Varenna
With more time we would love to visit the towns of Menaggio, Lenno, Cernobbio, Tremezzo and Como itself next time as well as driving or riding around the lake and stopping at many of the tiny villages. We would also love to do more of the ferries and some water sports here too!
There are a few other towns served by the Milan to Lake Como by train line including the small city of Como and Lecco further south on the East side of the lake as well as several towns north of Varenna such as Bellano. This means that these are also great spots to head to if you’re using public transport and doing a day trip.
From Varenna and Bellagio there are also other ferry lines running the other side of the lake to Menaggio and Cadenabbia which again makes this section of the lake a perfect place to explore several areas in a short amount of time or as an idea spot to cut out a lot of extra driving. One reason Varenna is the most ideal of the day trips from Milan is how connected it is to many other areas of the lake as well as the trains from Milan to Lake Como.
Have you ever done the Lake Como day trip from Milan or gone from Milan to Bellagio?
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