Where to stay in Lake Como first time: 8 Best areas & Towns

Wondering Where to stay in Lake Como first time? In this post, I will help you to find the best areas to stay in Lake Como for first-time visitors and the best hotels to stay in each town.

Lake Como is a beautiful lake located in northern Italy, in the Lombardy region. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, known for its stunning scenery, charming towns, and luxurious villas.

The most famous towns and villages on the shores of Lake Como include Como, Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio. These towns are known for their colorful houses, cobblestone streets, waterfront promenades, and historic churches.

The nearest international airport to Lake Como is Milan Malpensa Airport. From there, you can take a train or hire a car to reach the lake. The towns around the lake are well-connected by train and ferry services, making it easy to explore the area.

Where to stay in Lake Como for the first time?

The best areas to stay in Lake Como for first-time visitors are Como, Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio, but you can also look at Tremezzo, Lecco, Cernobbio, and Bellano. Each area has its own unique charm, so consider your preferences and interests to choose your right base.

I recommend spending at least 3-4 days if you want to explore the main towns around the lake, such as Como, Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio. This will give you enough time to take boat rides, stroll along the lakefront promenades, visit gardens and villas, and enjoy the local cuisine.

If you simply want to relax and enjoy the serene beauty of the lake, you could spend a weekend or 2 to 3 days. If you plan to participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, and water sports, you might need more time to make the most of your visit.

Overviews of the best towns to stay in Lake Como for tourists

Comois the largest town and the transportation hub on Lake Como, home to the lake’s main train stations, bus station, and ferry dock. It also has great nightlife, and shopping, ideal base for first-timers who prefer a city atmosphere with more amenities, and easy access to other parts of the lake.
Bellagiois a picturesque village located at the intersection of the lake’s three branches. Known as the Pearl of Lake Como, it offers central location, luxury hotels, chic boutiques, and high-end restaurants, making it a great base for luxury vacation, and easy access to other towns by ferries and buses.
Varennais a charming fishing village on the eastern shore of Lake Como. It has a romantic atmosphere, colorful houses, and a lovely waterfront promenade. It has a train station with direct link from MIlan, as well as a ferry dock, with connection to nearby towns. Great base for quiet and laid-back experience.
MenaggioSituated on the western shore of the lake, Menaggio is a delightful town with a lovely lakeside promenade and a historic center. It offers a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Menaggio is ideal for families and those seeking outdoor activities, as it has easy access to hiking trails and water sports.
Tremezzois known for its grand villas and beautiful gardens, such as Villa Carlotta. It has a convenient location for exploring other areas. Tremezzo is well-suited for visitors who appreciate architecture, gardens, and a more upscale atmosphere.
LeccoLocated at the southeastern end of the lake, Lecco is a vibrant city with a lively waterfront promenade, historic buildings, and excellent dining options. It’s a great choice for visitors interested in water sports, hiking in the nearby mountains, or exploring a less touristy area.
CernobbioSituated close to Como, Cernobbio is a charming village known for its luxurious villas and elegant atmosphere. It offers scenic views, waterfront cafes, and upscale shopping. Great base for an exclusive and upscale experience.
Bellanois a lesser-known town located on the eastern shore of the lake. It has a charming historic center, narrow streets, and a lakeside promenade. Bellano is suitable for visitors looking for a quieter and more authentic experience away from the crowds.
map best areas to stay in Lake Como
map best areas to stay in Lake Como

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Lake Como, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Lake Como have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

8 Best areas to stay in Lake Como for first-time visitors

1. Como

Como Town, also known as the city of Como, is a popular and convenient area to stay for first-timers visiting Lake Como. It is the largest city located on the southwestern tip of the lake and offers a wide range of tourist attractions and amenities, including restaurants, shops, and markets.

Como Town is also the transport hub of Lake Como, home to the lake’s main train station, which offers easy access to Milan and other major towns around the lake. It is only around an hour by train from Milano Centrale station to Como San Giovanni Station or from Milan Cadorna Station to Como Nord Lago station.

Additionally, Como is also home to a bus station and ferry dock, which allow you to easily visit other charming towns and villages around the lake like Bellagio or Varenna.

Como itself is a charming and picturesque town with a rich history. It offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains, and its historic center has narrow streets, lovely squares, and interesting architecture to explore.

The highlight is the Como Cathedral (Duomo), a magnificent Gothic-style cathedral dating back to the 14th century. Other attractions include the Broletto, a medieval town hall, and the Basilica di San Fedele, dating back to the 10th century.

There are also several museums and art galleries to explore, such as the Museo Archeologico Giovio, Museo Storico Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Tempio Voltiano, which is a museum dedicated to the inventor Alessandro Volta.

Como Town has a bustling and vibrant atmosphere, especially around its main square, Piazza Cavour. Here, you’ll find a range of shops, cafes, restaurants, and gelaterias, offering a taste of local cuisine and a chance to soak in the Italian lifestyle.

If you’re interested in shopping, Como Town won’t disappoint. The city is renowned for its high-quality silk production, and you’ll find numerous silk shops and boutiques where you can purchase luxurious silk products, including scarves and ties.

Como Town offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the lake itself. You can take a leisurely stroll along the lake promenade, visit the gardens of Villa Olmo, or take  the funicular railway to Brunate to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

As a transportation hub and the biggest city on the Lake, Como Town offers a wide range of accommodation options ranging from luxury to budget hotels. Many of those offer stunning lake views.

Overall, Como Town is an excellent choice for first-timers seeking city atmosphere with vibrant nightlife, shopping, dining, and easy access to other villages around the lake without a car.

Best places to stay in Como Town for first-timers:

  • Luxury: Vista Palazzo – Small Luxury Hotels of the World, 5-star hotel, located within easy access to  the bus and train stations, as well as close to the shores of Lake Como, the Ferry Terminal, and Cable Car Como-Brunate.
  • Mid-range: Como City Home, great apartment located close to Como San Giovanni Train Station, with train links from Milan.
  • Budget: Albergo del Duca, 3-star hotel, located within walking distance from Piazza Cavour square,  and Como Nord Lago Train Station with connections to Milan.

2. Bellagio

Bellagio is a beautiful town, situated on the central location, at the tip of the peninsula that divides Lake Como into two branches. Known as the Pearl of Lake Como, Bellagio is known for its picturesque streets, charming buildings, and vibrant atmosphere. 

Bellagio has a rich history that dates back to Roman times. It has a historic center with narrow cobbled streets, beautiful villas, and colorful gardens, creating a romantic and idyllic ambiance. 

Staying in Bellagio provides several advantages for first-time visitors to Lake Como who seek for central location, luxury atmosphere, and sightseeing

Firstly, its central location allows for easy exploration of the lake’s various attractions. You can easily take ferries or boat tours to visit Varenna, Menaggio, Cadenabbia, and Tremezzo. It also has good transport connections to nearby cities like Como and Lecco.

Secondly, Bellagio has a reputation for luxury and elegance. The town is known for its upscale hotels, high-end boutiques, and fine dining establishments. Many celebrities, aristocrats, and wealthy individuals have chosen Bellagio as a holiday destination or a place to own a vacation home. 

Additionally, Bellagio is also famous for its magnificent villas and gardens. Villa Melzi, with its neoclassical architecture and beautiful English-style gardens, is a popular tourist destination, as well as Villa Serbelloni, an opulent 19th-century villa surrounded by extensive parkland.

Finally, Bellagio is not only more of an upscale town but also has more nightlife compared to its neighboring towns of Menaggio and Varenna. There are a wide range of bars, pubs, nightclubs to enjoy a night out.

Compared to Como Town, Bellagio is the better base if you prefer a more tranquil and picturesque setting, with easy access to the lake and a romantic atmosphere. But, if you prefer a larger town with more amenities and a vibrant city feel, Como Town may be more suitable.

Also, take a note tha Bellagio is situated on a hill, so navigating the town may involve walking up and down slopes. This might be challenging for families with young children or individuals with mobility issues.

While Bellagio is a fantastic choice for most visitors, it’s important to note that the town can be relatively busy during the peak tourist season. If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, you might consider other charming towns around Lake Como, such as Varenna or Tremezzo. 

Overall, Bellagio’s combination of natural beauty, convenient location, and luxury atmosphere make it a popular choice for first-time visitors to Lake Como. However, it’s worth considering the crowds and higher prices during peak tourist seasons.

Best places to stay in Bellagio for first-timers:

  • Luxury: Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, 5-star hotel, located at the end of the Bellagio promontory, offering stunning views of Lake Como and the Alps.
  • Mid-range: Villa La Rosa B&B, great bed and breakfast with rooftop pool and free private car parking.
  • Budget: Hotel Florence, located in the heart of Bellagio, within easy walk from the shores of Lake Como shores and ferry port, with connections to Menaggio and Varenna. 

3. Varenna

Varenna is a picturesque town located on the eastern shore of Lake Como. The village offers breathtaking views of the lake, mountains, and charming streets, creating a romantic and idyllic setting.

Varenna is a small and relatively less crowded village compared to other popular areas on Lake Como, such as Bellagio. It has a more laid-back and authentic Italian atmosphere, making it perfect for those seeking a peaceful and relaxing stay.

Varenna is strategically located and has well-connected public transportation, making it a great base to explore Lake Como without a car.

Similar to Como Town, Varenna has excellent train connections from Milan as it is home to the Varenna-Esino train station.

Additionally, Varenna hosts a ferry terminal from where you can take boat trips to other towns and villages on the lake, such as Bellagio, Menaggio, and Tremezzo. The ferries provide a scenic way to explore the region.

Varenna itself has several attractions worth exploring, such as the beautiful Villa Monastero, a historic villa with stunning gardens, and the medieval Vezio Castle, which offers panoramic views of the lake. 

You can also enjoy leisurely walks along the lakeside promenade or visit the charming town center with its narrow streets and colorful houses.

Varenna is a relatively quiet village, and it doesn’t offer a vibrant nightlife scene compared to larger towns like Como or Bellagio. If you’re looking for a lively nightlife with bars, clubs, and restaurants, you may find more options in other areas.

While Varenna has some local shops and boutiques, it may not have as many shopping options as larger towns. However, this can be seen as an advantage for those seeking a more peaceful and authentic experience.

Varenna’s romantic setting and tranquil atmosphere make it a great choice for couples looking for a romantic getaway or honeymoon destination. 

Overall, Varenna offers a beautiful and authentic Lake Como experience, as well as great transport connections, making it an excellent choice for first-timers. If you prefer a quieter and more laid-back vacation, Varenna’s serene atmosphere and slower pace of life will suit you well.

Best places to stay in Varenna for first-timers:

  • Luxury:  Hotel du Lac Varenna, a 4-star hotel, located in a fantastic location, close to Il Giardino Botanico and the waterfront area.
  • Mid-range: Hotel Olivedo, a beautiful lakefront hotel, located within easy walking distance from the pier and the Varenna-Esino Train Station.
  • Budget: Varenna Guest House, great apartment, situated close to the railway station and the ferry stop to take boat tours around the lake. 

4. Menaggio

Menaggio is a picturesque town, centrally located on the western shore of Lake Como, close to Lake Lugano in Switzerland. It’s well-connected by ferry and bus services to places like Bellagio, Varenna, and Tremezzo, making it a great base to explore other towns around the lake.

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will find Menaggio to be an ideal location. The town is surrounded by hiking trails, offering opportunities for scenic walks and exploration of the nearby mountains. 

Additionally, you can engage in water activities like swimming, boating, and kayaking on Lake Como.

The town itself boasts breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Visitors can enjoy lovely lakeside promenades, beautiful parks, and gardens.

Menaggio has its fair share of historical and cultural attractions. The town’s old center features charming narrow streets, historic buildings, and a beautiful main square. 

You can visit the 16th-century Church of Santa Marta, explore the ruins of the nearby Loveno Castle, or take a trip to Villa Carlotta in nearby Tremezzo, which houses a renowned art collection and stunning botanical gardens.

Menaggio is a charming town with a good range of amenities, including restaurants, cafes, shops, and accommodations to suit various budgets.

While Lake Como attracts many tourists, Menaggio tends to be less crowded and has cheaper accommodations and dining options than some of the more famous towns like Bellagio, offering a more tranquil and relaxed atmosphere.

There are also a few bars and restaurants that offer evening entertainment, but it’s not known for its vibrant nightlife. If you’re looking for a more energetic and bustling nightlife scene, other towns like Bellagio or Como might be a better fit.

Overall, Menaggio is well-suited for couples and families looking for a relaxing vacation. If you enjoy hiking, outdoor activities, and exploring nature, Menaggio’s proximity to the mountains and access to numerous trails will appeal to you.

Best places to stay in Menaggio for first-timers:


5. Tremezzo

Tremezzo is a beautiful village located on the western shore of Lake Como, just south of Menaggio. It is known for its stunning views, historic villas, and charming atmosphere. 

One of the main attractions in Tremezzo is Villa Carlotta, a magnificent villa and botanical garden. The villa was built in the late 17th century and is surrounded by a beautiful park with over 500 species of plants, including azaleas, rhododendrons, and centuries-old trees. 

Tremezzo offers a lovely promenade along the shore of Lake Como. Stroll along the waterfront and enjoy breathtaking views of the lake, the surrounding mountains, and the nearby villages. 

You can also find several cafes and restaurants along the promenade, where you can relax and savor local cuisine while taking in the scenic beauty.

While not located directly in Tremezzo, Villa Balbianello is a must-visit attraction nearby. Situated on a wooded promontory overlooking the lake, this stunning villa has been featured in several movies, including Star Wars and James Bond films. 

The Church of Santa Maria in Tremezzo is a charming 18th-century church located near the lake. It features beautiful architecture, including a white marble façade and an elegant bell tower. Inside the church, you can admire intricate frescoes and religious artwork.

Lake Como is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. In Tremezzo, you can rent boats, kayaks, or paddleboards to explore the lake at your own pace. 

Alternatively, you can take a boat tour and enjoy a leisurely cruise on the lake, taking in the picturesque scenery and visiting other towns and villages around Lake Como.

Tremezzo offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and relaxation. Whether you’re interested in history, art, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the idyllic lakeside atmosphere, Tremezzo and its surroundings have a lot to offer.

Best places to stay in Tremezzo for first-timers:

  • Luxury: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, 5-star hotel, centrally located close to Villa Carlotta and its botanic garden, and a short walk from Cadenabbia harbor for boat trips across the lake.
  • Mid-range: La Darsena, 3-star hotel that has a private docking and mooring for boats.
  • Budget: Casa Aquadulza, great guest house with air conditioning and soundproofing rooms.

6. Lecco

Lecco is a city located on the southeastern tip of Lake Como. It is one of the main towns situated along the shores of Lake Como and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the lake itself. 

Lecco is situated about 50 kilometers northeast of Milan and is easily accessible by car or public transportation. It serves as a gateway to the eastern branch of Lake Como, known as the Lecco branch.

Lecco is renowned for its picturesque setting, nestled between the towering Alps and the tranquil waters of Lake Como. The city offers panoramic views, with the stunning Resegone mountain as a backdrop. 

The surrounding area is rich in natural beauty, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Lecco offers a wide range of activities such as sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking. Hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts can explore the numerous trails in the nearby mountains. There are also paragliding, rock climbing, and fishing. The area is a haven for outdoor adventure.

Lecco itself  boasts several cultural and historical attractions. The Piazza Cermenati is the main square, where you can find the town hall and the Basilica of San Nicolò. The Palace of Fears, a neoclassical building, is another notable landmark.

Lecco is famous for its connection to the renowned Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni. Fans of literature can visit Manzoni’s house, Casa Manzoni, which is now a museum dedicated to the writer.

Lecco serves as a great base for exploring other towns and villages around Lake Como. Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio are among the most popular destinations on the lake and can be reached by ferry or boat from Lecco.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply to relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery, Lecco has much to offer. It’s a destination that combines natural beauty with a rich historical and cultural heritage.

Best places to stay in Lecco for first-timers:

  • Luxury: NH Lecco Pontevecchio, 4-star hotel, located within walking distance from  Lecco’s historic center and the train station.
  • Mid-range: Hotel Alberi, 3-star hotel in the center of Lecco.
  • Budget: Lake Como Apartments, clean apartment in center of Lecco, easy walk from  Lecco train station.

7. Cernobbio

Cernobbio is a charming and picturesque town located on the western shore of Lake Como, just a short distance from the city of Como.

Cernobbio offers several advantages for visitors. Firstly, it has a convenient location with easy access to other popular destinations around Lake Como such as Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio by ferry and road.

Secondly, Cernobbio itself is a beautiful town with a relaxed atmosphere. It features elegant villas, scenic waterfront promenades, and stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. 

The town has a range of amenities, including hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a convenient base for your stay.

Additionally, Cernobbio is known for its luxurious accommodations, including some high-end hotels and resorts. If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, this area can offer you a range of options.

Lastly, Cernobbio is home to Villa d’Este, a historic luxury hotel and a major attraction in its own right. Even if you don’t stay at Villa d’Este, it’s worth visiting the property to explore its grounds and enjoy a meal or drink with a stunning lake view.

Overall, Cernobbio combines convenience, beauty, and luxury, making it a popular choice for first-time visitors to Lake Como.

Best places to stay in Cernobbio for first-timers:

  • Luxury: Hotel Miralago, 4-star hotel, offers panoramic views of Lake Como, located close to many bus stops, with links to Como’s city center. 
  • Mid-range: Hotel Centrale, located in the center of Cernobbio, offering en suite and soundproof rooms.
  • Budget: Trattoria Laghee con alloggio, great bed and breakfast offering free private parking if you bring a car.

8. Bellano

Located on the eastern shore of the lake, Bellano offers a charming and authentic Italian experience with its picturesque setting and serene atmosphere.

Bellano is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, with the lake on one side and mountains on the other. The town itself features narrow streets, colorful houses, and beautiful gardens, providing a postcard-worthy backdrop for your stay.

Compared to some of the more popular towns like Como or Bellagio, Bellano is relatively less crowded, allowing you to enjoy a more peaceful and relaxing vacation. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the area without feeling overwhelmed by tourists.

Bellano has managed to retain its authentic Italian character and charm, offering a more local experience. You can interact with friendly locals, visit family-owned shops and restaurants, and get a taste of traditional Italian cuisine.

Bellano is well-connected by public transportation, making it easy to explore other towns and attractions around Lake Como like Varenna, Menaggio, or even venture further to the city of Como itself.

Bellano is a great base for outdoor enthusiasts. You can enjoy activities like hiking in the surrounding mountains, swimming in the lake, or even trying watersports such as kayaking or windsurfing.

It’s worth noting that Lake Como is a diverse region with several other beautiful towns to consider, each with its own unique character. The choice of where to stay depends on your personal preferences and what you’re looking to experience during your visit.

Best places to stay in Bellano for first-timers:


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In conclusion, Como, Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio, but you can also look at Tremezzo, Lecco, Cernobbio, and Bellano are the best places to stay in Lake Como for first-time visitors.

Como is perfect for those seeking a lively city vibe with vibrant nightlife and shopping. Bellagio appeals to those in search of picturesque landscapes. Varenna offers tranquility, Menaggio provides outdoor activities, and Tremezzo caters to luxury seekers. 

Cernobbio is great for upscale experience, and Bellano offers a more authentic Italian experience. Whatever your preferences, Lake Como has something for everyone.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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