Recently, I had the chance to explore the enchanting Italian town of Bellagio, affectionately known as the “Pearl of Lake Como.”
Having already visited the town of Como on a prior occasion, this time around, as we crossed the region, we opted to park our car in Menaggio and embark on a ferry journey to discover the charms of Bellagio and Varenna (more details about the ferry adventure will follow).
I thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the narrow alleys and among the colourful buildings or walking along the promenade, admiring the beautiful scenery of the lake and mountains.
Bellagio’s strategic position at the intersection of the lake’s two branches provides breathtaking panoramic views in all directions. The blue waters of Lake Como stretch out before the town, creating a constantly changing backdrop depending on the time of day.
The city’s vibrant cultural scene was a pleasant surprise. From art galleries to local craft shops and a variety of restaurants, Bellagio seamlessly immersed me in authentic Italian life (despite the tourists everywhere).
Given its relatively small size, you can easily cover the town on foot in about 2 hours, bearing in mind that it has many steep slopes, so be prepared for some legwork!
Pro tip: Make sure not to skip a stroll along Lungolago Europa, a charming pedestrian walkway skirting the shores of Lake Como. Come summer, it’s adorned with flowering trees in all shades, providing a perfect canopy. We lucked out and even caught the sunset, chilling on the stools by the water.
A curiosity is that if you arrive by boat, you can observe a beautiful yet wholly abandoned building. The Hotel Grande Bretagne, with construction beginning in 1860 and opening in 1873, has remained closed for over forty years. Its immense structure stands out, reminiscent of the grandeur of a bygone era and the persistent anticipation of its restoration to magnificence.
Bellagio also offers the chance to explore historical villas, such as Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni, surrounded by impressive gardens. However, as mentioned earlier, I didn’t have time to visit these; I was on a lake tour and only had a day to enjoy the region.
Villa Melzi is a botanical garden, and in addition to flowers and tree-lined tunnels, it features various elements like statues, lakes, and gates. Remember that Villa Melzi closes in November and reopens at the end of March. For information on schedules and prices, visit here.
Ferries offer two types of tickets: the free circulation ticket (“biglietto di libera circolazione”) and the single-journey ticket (“ordinaria intera adulti”). We opted for the free circulation ticket for the freedom to embark and disembark multiple times.
Public boats traverse the 40 small towns around the lake, with ticket prices depending on the chosen route and the time of year.
The boat journey from Como to Varenna or Bellagio takes approximately 2 hours by slow boat and 1 hour by fast boat. From Varenna to Bellagio, the trip takes less than 20 minutes.
As destinations and tour durations vary, pay attention to the route and boat schedules. Tickets for the fast boat are more expensive, and prices and schedules may vary depending on the time of year. Find more information here (in English or Italian).
When to travel?
The best time to visit Lake Como is from late March to late October, covering spring, summer, and early autumn.
During this period, most tourist attractions, such as the Island of Comacina, Villa Carlotta, Villa Melzi, Villa Monastero, and Vezio Castle, remain open. However, note that some places close in early November and reopen only at the end of March.
Although this is the ideal time to explore Lake Como, it’s still worth it if you want to visit at other times!
How to get to Bellagio?
Malpensa (MXP) and Linate (LIN) airports in Milan are the closest ones. Additionally, Lugano-Agno Airport (LUG), located in Switzerland, is approximately 80-90 kilometres from Bellagio.
The city offers public parking, but it’s advisable to arrive early, especially during the high season, due to limited space. I suggest leaving the car in a smaller town and using ferries for trips between cities.
If you are thinking about renting a car, I suggest you have a look at Discover Cars. They offer you a platform to compare rental options from various providers and choose a vehicle that fits your preferences. They are very reliable and an excellent price. You can click here and have a look.
There are bus services connecting Bellagio to other nearby cities. This option can be convenient if you’re travelling from more distant places or prefer not to drive. See here for more information.
Although Bellagio doesn’t have a train station, you can reach Varenna-Esino station nearby and then take a ferry to it. Train connections typically come from Milan.
In summary, even with limited time, Bellagio left a lasting impression on me and certainly should be on your itinerary when visiting the area as well.
If you would like to know more about Varenna, so you can plan a trip to visit there as well, please read this article here.
Should you desire further information or have any inquiries, please feel free to contact me via e-mail or leave a comment bellow.