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How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

So you’re visiting Milan, but want to flee the busy city streets, at least for a day. The mountains and fresh air are calling your name, and you just can’t resist. And we don’t blame you! If you leave Italy without taking a day trip to Lake Como from Milan, you’ll surely regret it.

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

A Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

While organized tours are available to take you to Lake Como and back to Milan in a day, taking a self-guided day trip will be much more rewarding! And it’s easy to do, too.

On a day trip to Lake Como from Milan, you’ll have time to explore a few of Lake Como’s villages. We recommend visiting Como, Bellagio, and Varenna. Each town is special and beautiful in its own way, and with only one day, they’re close enough to each other to visit all three.

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

The Route

Here’s the route you should take between Milan, Como, Bellagio, and Varenna:

Milano Centrale train station → Como San Giovanni station → Ferry to Bellagio → Ferry to Varenna → Varenna-Esino train station → Milano Centrale train station

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

Purchasing Tickets

Train tickets

You’ll need to purchase two sets of train tickets for your day trip to Lake Como from Milan.

  • Firstly, Milano Centrale train station → Como San Giovanni station.
  • Secondly, Varenna-Esino train station → Milano Centrale train station.

You should purchase your tickets online from TrenItalia. You can simply keep your tickets on your smartphone; no need to print them out. We recommend purchasing your tickets a few days ahead of your trip, just in case.

If possible, take one of the earliest trains into Como, and one of the last trains back to Milan. If you do that, you can easily spend three or more hours in each town!

For both train tickets, we paid a total of €11.50 per person.

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

Ferry tickets

You’ll also need to purchase two sets of ferry tickets.

  • Firstly, a ferry to Bellagio, from Como.
  • Secondly, a ferry to Varenna, from Bellagio.

You cannot purchase ferry tickets online. However, check the ferry time tables before you arrive, so you have a plan. Once you arrive in Como, head for the water and buy your ticket to Bellagio. As soon as you step off the ferry in Bellagio, purchase your ticket to Varenna.

For both ferry tickets, we paid a total of €12 per person.

Now, let’s talk about Como, Bellagio, and Varenna…

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan


Como is the largest of the three towns you’ll visit during your day trip.

Here, you should spend a few hours roaming the quaint streets, browsing the many shops, and possibly taking a dip in the lake. Also consider riding the 7-minute funicular up to the peaceful town of Brunate, for incredible views over all of Lake Como, and the chance to see another adorable town.

For lunch, we highly recommend La Cucina di Elsa. There, we sat outside and enjoyed incredible seafood dishes, such as paccheri with octopus, pistachio, and pesto, along with refreshing white wine!

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan


Tall mountains, cypress trees, grand villas, and adorable cafés make up the lakeside town of Bellagio; and it goes without saying, but Bellagio is absolutely stunning.

While in Bellagio, roam the streets and pay attention to the details: the pretty pink flowers, cobblestone alleyways, beautiful lanterns, bright shutters, and quaint little balconies. Visit a wine shop to taste and learn about some tasty local wines. And also consider renting a kayak or canoe to explore the lake on your own!

Lastly, don’t forget to savor some fruity gelato next to the lake, before catching the ferry to Varenna!

How to Take a Self-Guided Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan


Varenna absolutely stole our hearts. While Bellagio seems to be everyone’s favorite town on Lake Como, we have to disagree! When your ferry approaches Varenna, you’ll know why we feel this way; in that moment, you’ll believe that you’ve never seen anything so pretty in your life.

In Varenna, grab dinner along the lake somewhere and just enjoy the views. After, walk up and down the steep cobblestone alleyways and simply explore.

Before you leave, make sure to watch the sun dip behind the mountains as the sky turns pink. There’s no better way to wrap up your day trip to Lake Como — especially with a glass of wine in hand!

day trip to Lake Como from Milan

A Day Trip to Lake Como from Milan

Go for it, guys! Why not take a self-guided day trip to Lake Como?

We absolutely loved Lake Como, and we know you will, too.

Obviously, more time on Lake Como is always ideal. But if you only have one day, it’s surely better than nothing. Like we said before, if you leave Italy without seeing the tranquil shores of Lake Como, you’ll probably regret it for the rest of your life.

Save on Pinterest for later:

How to take a self-guided day trip to Lake Como from Milan!

Have you been to Lake Como before? Which town is your favorite? Did you stay over night, or take a day trip from Milan?

Maddy Cornelius

Maddy is the co-founder and editor of Travel Alphas. Mint tea, handmade pasta, gelato, and red wine are among her favorite treats. New York City, Budapest, Bali, and Florence are a few of her most-loved destinations.

  • Paige Duddy

    So awesome!

    August 21, 2016 at 11:11 pm Reply
  • LRN

    This post is so comprehensive and love the pics. Thank you for sharing it!

    January 8, 2017 at 10:31 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      We are glad you found this post helpful! Thanks for stopping by.

      January 9, 2017 at 4:42 pm Reply
  • Amy C

    This sounds fantastic! I’ll be in Italy in August and I’d love to stay in Lake Como but just don’t have enough time or budget. This sounds like a wonderful option so we don’t miss out entirely. Thank you very much for sharing :)

    January 28, 2017 at 9:13 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      We didn’t have enough time to stay more than a day either, but figured we couldn’t miss out! Enjoy! :)

      January 29, 2017 at 1:25 pm Reply
  • MW

    Really helpful post! I wasn’t sure whether to stay the night in Como or not, but looks like a day trip works great.

    February 10, 2017 at 6:16 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Of course, it’s ideal to stay the night because Como is so amazing! But if you have limited time like we did, you won’t regret doing a day trip! :)

      February 12, 2017 at 2:16 pm Reply
  • Zoe Rodriguez

    Wow! sounds like an awesome day trip…we will be in Milan in April, I am definitely adding this to our itinerary .Hopefully, it’ll go as smoothly for us. I will be printing this article out and referencing back to it. Thank you bunches!!

    February 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      It is pretty awesome, and it’s well worth all of the trouble of planning and navigating the public transportation! This post details everything we can think of to make sure your trip goes smoothly, so we hope it does too! ;)

      February 23, 2017 at 9:56 am Reply

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