Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy, is a glacial lake that is fifty-six square miles and 1,300 feet deep. The bottom of the lake reaches below sea level and makes it the deepest lake in Europe outside of Norway. The lake is a popular place for a weekend, holiday, and summer retreats for aristocrats and wealthy people all over the world. There are also many attractions and cultural sites around the lake that attracts all sorts of people, however, making the area one of the great places for tourism in Italy and is most known for its spas, outdoor recreation, and local farms. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Autodromo Nazionale Monza
The Autodrome is known worldwide as the Temple of Speed and has been a historic motor racing track for international racing since 1922. The track is managed by the Motor Increment and Sports Company, which is affiliated with the Automobile Club of Italy and is found in Monza Park, which is owned by Milan and Monza municipalities.
Visitors to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza can take guided tours, take a ride with a professional driver on the track, take simulated rides, attend workshops, and get information on upcoming races and events. Three-day passes are available, and children under eleven are free on the circular lawn and reduced in the stands.
Visitors to Bergamo can explore a masterpiece of art, culture, history, and music in a city known for medieval architecture and surrounded by beautiful hills. The city is also known for being the birthplace of Donizetti, one of the best composers of opera in the world, and his house can still be seen in Upper Bergamo, where his belongings are displayed at Museo Donizettiano. A city theater was also named after the composer who is buried at Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica.
Other great attractions in Bergamo include the walkways of Hills Park, which helps visitors traverse the lush landscapes and offer amazing views of the mountains and flatlands. Some of the most outstanding art in the world is displayed at Accademia Carrara Picture Gallery. There are also historic cathedrals, 18th-century palaces, and several other galleries and museums to explore.
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Lake Maggiore is home to the Borromean Islands, which were used for inspiration by Ernest Hemingway, famous royals, and visitors from all over the world who venture there for beautiful sites and culture. The islands are named after the Borromean family of Florentine, who owned the islands in the 1300s and built grand homes and elaborate gardens on the plots of land.
One of the major attractions of the Borromean Islands is the Isola Bella, which features a 17th-century palazzo and the botanical gardens on Isola Madre, which features many rare floral species. There are also many architectural wonders such as the Rock of Marghera and the villas constructed by the 18th century noble families.
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4.Castles of Bellinzona
Three castles make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Castles of Bellinzona. The castle, which was constructed in the 1200s to ward off the invading Swiss armies to the North; however, in 1513 the current canto of Ticino joined the confederation, and the castles were then used to defend against the Venetians. The largest castle is called Castelgrande and features an iconic black and white tower, a restaurant on-site and museum. Montebello also has a museum, and most visitors enjoy taking in the views from the walkable castle walls. Sasso Corbaro was built in the late 1400s to improve defense of the other two castles and sits at the highest elevation, offering the best views of the area.
In addition to the three Castles of Bellinzona, the Villa dei Cedri Museum is an art museum inside a 19th-century villa in a park nearby the castles. Visitors can see paintings, sculptures, and rotating temporary art exhibitions at the museum.
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Crespi d’Adda is “The Workers’ Village” in Lombardy, and stands as a unique testament of industrial architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed from the late 1800s through the 1920s by the Crespi Family, who were industrialists in the area. The family built an entire town for their factor employee and their whole families who were given homes, space for gardens and provided all the available amenities of the time. Employees of the Crespi family were completely taken care of by their employers, and the village includes a cotton mill, the Crespi family castle, church, cemetery, and washhouse.
Spending a day in Crespi d’Adda is like spending a day back in time more than one hundred years ago. The site as it was built is still almost completely intact and is still used for some industrial purposes.
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The largest lake in Italy is Lake Garda, also known as Benaco. The picturesque lake is surrounded by morainic hills to the south and mountains to the north. The climate at the lake is mild Mediterranean and temperate. Many lemon and olive groves are around Lake Garda, as well an orange trees, oleander flowers, and majestic cypress trees. The lake is also known for its beautiful turquoise waters that are nearly transparent.
Some of the historic attractions around Lake Garda include Arco Castle, Bettoni Palace, Casa del Podesta, Callas Palace, along with many others. Civic Tower, several medieval villages, Comboni Missionary Center, botanical gardens, observatories, and several public parks.
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Lake Lugano is the main city of the Swiss canton of Ticino, which is described as Switzerland with an Italian accent. The large town has a population of 140,000 when the metropolitan area is included and makes for a perfect day trip from almost anywhere in the Mediterranean since it sits on the border between Northern Italy and Switzerland.
Most travelers journey to Lake Lugano for the high-end boutique shopping as well as outdoor recreation such as boating and hiking. The waterfront community features an old town that is surrounded by promenades and public parks. The southern shores of the lake are rich in fossils, especially Monte San Giorgio, where fossils from the mid-Triassic, or 220 million years ago, have been unearthed in large fossil deposits.
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The Lake Maggiore area is made up of four towns—Cannobio, Ghiffa, Cannero, and Oggebbio that each offer amazing views of the lakeshores on the Swiss and Lombard sides of the lake. Each of the cities has a unique history and offers attractions such as a Hat Museum in Ghiffa or the complex of the Baroque chapels on the hill overlooking the lake.
Visitors can also see the Castles of Cannero ruins on the islands just offshore or drive down the lakeside road to see large mansion homes with elaborate gardens. The villages in the hills have retained their centuries-old ambiance while the Borromean Islands are a mecca of art and nature where visitors can explore art galleries and museums as well as participate in water sports and outdoor recreation.
Nestled into the Piedmont region of the southern Swiss Alps is the small and picturesque Lake Orta. The lake is less commercialized than the larger lakes nearby and is quiet and peaceful. Most visitors spend their time on Lake Orta at the Orta San Giulio village or on the Isola San Giulio. Easy hiking is available in the hill surrounding the lake and visitors can soak up the Mediterranean sun on Miami Beach.
At Orta San Giulio, visitors can walk cobblestone streets, grab a latte, or ice-cream at one of many shops in town. There is also a harbor in the main town square that offers boat rentals to Isola San Giulio. The island features a basilica from the 12th century where 15th-century frescoes still adorn the walls. There are also waterfront homes and paths that have easy walks through the lush vegetation on the island.
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The Lake Trasimeno area is found in central Italy near Florence, Rome, Siena, Arezzo, and Assisi, which are some of the greatest cultural locations in the country. However, there are eight towns that are settled around the lakeshores and hilltops.
The La Valle Oasis is open all year round and one of the most interesting natural attractions at Lake Trasimeno. Audio-guided hikes are available that take visitors over the wooden bridge to the observatory and bird ringing facility. Most visitors spend their day at Lake Trasimeno checking out the towns or surrounding islands that are home to ancient castles, cathedrals, and monasteries.
The site where the Virgin Mary appeared in Switzerland also gets 2,300 hours of sunlight each year and is found in Locarno, on the Northern part of Lake Maggiore. Locarno is known for its festivals, including the International Moon and Stars Festival, which celebrates international film but is most known for the Church of Madonna del Sasso, which Christians take pilgrimage to throughout the year. Locarno castle is also speculated to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Other fun things to do in Locarno include bungee jumping at Verzasca Dam, walking or hiking at Lake Maggiore, or exploring the natural reserves. There is also outdoor recreation such as paragliding, rafting, canyoning, diving, sailing, and other watersports. During the winter, the hillside is covered in snow and a great place for skiing, snowboarding, and more.
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The Matterhorn Mountain stands all alone on the Swiss horizon, where outdoor enthusiasts can spend the day hiking, climbing, and camping. The most popular trek is along the 3,000-meter ridge called Gornergrat where a viewing platform offers amazing views of Matterhorn and the hills.
The biggest attraction is the Matterhorn Mountain area, which includes the Matterhorn glacier paradise ski resort, Rothorn, which is open all year round. The Matterhorn Museum details the history of Zermatt and its evolution into a holiday resort in the Alpines. Tours of the Zermatt village are also available as well as hiking around the lakes at the base of the mountains.
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Overlooking Lake Como is a village with ancient origins called Menaggio that is within a 15-30 minute ferry ride from Bellagio, Varenna, and Tremezzina. The village is full of artisan shops, local food vendors, restaurants, and clothing stores, as well as historic sites such as the Church of Santa Marta, which houses ancient Italian artworks from the 17th century.
One of the most popular attractions at Menaggio is the Lake Promenade, which is lined with brightly colored homes, flower gardens, and paths around Lake Como. Visitors can also rent boats from the promenade and visit the surrounding towns. The upper part of Menaggio called Old Town, features architecture from medieval Italy that still stands today. There are also beautiful villas and beaches to be explored.
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Milan is the capital city of Lombardy and the second most populated city in Italy, with more than three million people living in the Milan metro area. Milan is a fantastic place to visit because it brings art, education, fashion, design, healthcare, media, research, and entertainment together as a global city. However, it is most well known as being one of the four capitals of fashion and is home to the Milan Fashion Week, an annual fashion show.
More than eight million tourists visit Milan annually, with some of the biggest attractions being the many art galleries and museums that house the works of some of the most famous artists in the world like Leonardo da Vinci. There are also many luxury hotels, home to some of Italy’s sports teams, and will host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Mount Baldo is part of the Italian Alps and stretches through Verona and Trento. The mountain ridge offers outdoor recreation for every season and is known for the Malcesine Monte Baldo Cable Car and paragliding that is popular over Lake Garda, which the peak overlooks. The mountain has also been referred to as Europe’s Botanical Garden since the 16th century and features sprawling olive and orange groves, pine, oak, and pine trees that makeup four different climatic zones on the mountain range.
During the summer months, Mount Baldo is busy with water sports, hiking, horseback riding, and camping. In the wintertime the mountain transforms into a ski resort area that is very busy over the holidays.
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16.Monte Generoso Railway
Stretching through nine kilometers of mountains, the Monte Generoso Railway has been operating from Capolago to Monte Generoso. The 1890 steam engine is the oldest working railroad engine in Switzerland, and the individual train cars date back to the mid-20th century. Monte Generoso is part of a natural park found along the Swiss/Italian border and features several attractions in addition to the railroad.
Some of the attractions in Monte Generoso include the Fiore di Pietra restaurant, 27 kilometers of mountain biking trails, and 51 kilometers of nature trails that visitors can walk. Guided tours can be reserved, and paragliding schools and flights can also be arranged through various tour companies. The bear cave is famous landmark in Monte Generoso where more than 800 bear remains have been found, as well as the Astronomical Observatory.
As the winner of the “nicest village of Switzerland” in 2016, Morcote is known for its historic chapels and cathedrals, parks, and Lake Lugano. The village began as a fishing village, and most of the homes still have porticos onto the water where they can dock boats. The village has also been home to artists, artisans, and writers.
Some of the great attractions in Morcote include the Paleari Palace, Tower of the Captain, Ticino Poster Museum, and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria de Sasso, where people from all over the world make pilgrimage to throughout the year. Scherrer Park is a great attraction to visit to stroll through botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, and monuments.
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18.San Pellegrino Terme
Known as the “gem of Brembana Valley,” San Pellegrino is full of historical spas, palaces, thermal baths, and the San Pellegrino plant that produces mineral water and beverages for the world. The thermal baths dated back to the mid-19th century and transformed the small village into a tourist destination for the wealthy and midclass families of Europe. The artistic design of the thermal spas captivated the people of the village, and soon other structures were built in the Liberty style, including the Casino, Grand Hotel, and the water factory.
Today San Pellegrino is still visited mostly for the thermal spas and mineral water. There are also outdoor areas to hike or bike, shop, and visit dairy farms that produce goat cheese and formaggelle.
Alpine winter tourism originated in St. Moritz, the holiday resort town that has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. The town first became known for its more than 3,000year-old mineral springs and was established as a summer resort town more than 150 years ago. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy St Moritz for its steep mountain ski slopes, toboggan runs, and cross-country skiing track that is around 200 kilometers. A snowboard fun park also exists that has curling, and other winter sports included with their facilities. Mountain biking, hiking, sailing, rowing, horseback riding, and tennis are popular summertime activities for visitors.
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This miniature theme park in Melide allows visitors to see some of the most iconic attractions in Switzerland all within walking distance. The miniature versions of historical and modern Swiss places are all accurate and to scale and includes cable car stations, city halls, churches, and train stations in addition to the most well-known exhibits. A train is available to guide visitors through the park, and a restaurant is on-site as well.
Some of the highlights of the Swissminiatur include the Basel Cathedral, Bellinzona Castle, Thun Castle, Stockalper Palace, Neuchatel Castle and Cathedral, and the Milan Cathedral, although it is located in Italy, not Switzerland. The park is only open seasonally, so visitors should check the website for information before going.
Switzerland borders Italy on the Northern side and is a very diverse country with four languages—German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch, which is a language with roots in Latin. The most common language spoken in Switzerland however is German. The economy is mostly based in banking, microtechnology, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals, while the country has also been awarded for its sustainability and dedication to environmental matters.
Switzerland is home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, famous landmarks, mountains, glacier lakes, spas and wellness centers, and dozens of cultural attractions that will keep visitors to the country busy for multiple days. The Rhine Falls, Matterhorn Mountain, and the historic castles, including Jungfraujoch which was built on one of the highest points in Europe.
Val Camonica is a valley that runs between Lake Iseo and Stelvio National Park along the Oglio River, cutting through the mountains for nearly 100 kilometers. The area is known for Neolithic carvings, more than 200,000 total, around Capo di Ponte, that were carved over a series of thousands of years. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the most extensive and preserved body of petroglyphs in Europe.
Visitors to Val Camonica can also spend time in Lovere or Bienno, two medieval villages that are part of the UNESCO protected zone and considered two of the most beautiful villages in the country. Other historic attractions include the Roman Amphitheatre, Sanctuary of Minerva, and the ruins of the temple and medieval castle at Breno.
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23.Val di Mello Natural Reserve
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The Val di Mello Natural Reserve was founded in 2009 and is the largest natural reserve in Lombardy and also accessible to almost everyone due to its mostly flat valley floor. Qualido Lake is the gateway into the reserve and boasts crystal clear waters with waterfalls and picturesque mountain villages and homes. Mount Disgrazia overlooks the park and often referred to as “Little Yosemite” because of its ecological similarities to the American National Park.
Bus transportation to Val di Mello is available from S. Martino and Cataeggio. The area is known for its thermal mineral baths, mountaineering, and rock climbing in the alps. An annual ski race and the international bouldering meeting are also held in Val di Mello.
Time stands still in the Italian village of Varenna on Lake Como. Varenna is best known for its historic buildings, including the 14th-century Gothic Romanesque Church of San Giorgio in the Piazza San Giorgio. The church is home to many of the most famous 15th and 16th religious paintings in Italy and is also made from local marble.
There are also a boutique and artisan shops to visit along the cobblestoned streets, a lake promenade that leads to the boat landing and ferry station. The Villa Monastero Botanical Garden and Museum are also popular with tourists along with the Village Cipressi, which is surrounded by gardens all the way to the shores of Lake Como.
24 Best Lake Como (Italy) Day Trips
- Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Photo: Luca/stock.adobe.com
- Bergamo, Photo: jovannig/stock.adobe.com
- Borromean Islands, Photo: EleSi/stock.adobe.com
- Castles of Bellinzona, Photo: EKH-Pictures/stock.adobe.com
- Crespi d'Adda, Photo: J. Ossorio Castillo/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Garda, Photo: Rene Hartmann/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Lugano, Photo: EleSi/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Maggiore, Photo: AleMasche72/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Orta, Photo: e55evu/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Trasimeno, Photo: travelbook/stock.adobe.com
- Locarno, Photo: elitravo/stock.adobe.com
- Matterhorn, Photo: Simon Dannhauer/stock.adobe.com
- Menaggio, Photo: David Brown/stock.adobe.com
- Milan, Photo: Ignatius Tan/stock.adobe.com
- Monte Baldo, Photo: Mathias/stock.adobe.com
- Monte Generoso Railway, Photo: fotoember/stock.adobe.com
- Morcote, Photo: siempreverde22/stock.adobe.com
- San Pellegrino Terme, Photo: michelangeloop/stock.adobe.com
- St. Moritz, Photo: andrifoto/stock.adobe.com
- Swissminiatur, Photo: massininja/stock.adobe.com
- Switzerland, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Val Camonica, Photo: Roberto/stock.adobe.com
- Val di Mello Natural Reserve, Photo: Jan Cattaneo/stock.adobe.com
- Varenna, Photo: Composer/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Luca Lorenzelli/stock.adobe.com
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