How to..., Italy, Milan

How to…get from Milan to Lake Como

If stalking the Milan streets in search of the latest fashions gets too much for you then do as the Italians do and take a day trip to the Lakes. Milan is ideally positioned for a quick jaunt on the train to beautiful Lake Como and will leave you feeling like you’ve had a holiday from your city-break.

After doing some extensive research I found that Como on Lake Como is not actually the nicest place to visit so I decided we would concentrate our day trip on visiting the northern part of Lake Como and the lakeside villages of Varenna and Bellagio.

How to get there

Take the metro to Milan Centrale Station and buy your ticket to Varenna-Esino from the self-service ticket machines downstairs. Make sure you look at the boards to see where the train will depart from, if you check the timetables before-hand this should give you a relatively good idea and help you narrow it down to platforms and it should show the list of destinations that train is going via to. I used Trenitalia to check train times and ticket prices before leaving for the station. You can buy the tickets in advance or at the station, we travelled in the perfectly comfortable for an hour 2nd Class for €13.40 return each.

Make sure you validate your ticket before getting on to the train – the validation boxes are normally yellow but can also be green and found as you go on to the platforms. If you don’t do this a ticket inspector may assume you will attempt to use the ticket again and will therefore think you are fare dodging and may impose a fine.

The first part of the train journey is unremarkable but if you want the best views of the Lake as it starts to appear then make sure you sit on the left-hand side of the train (so left as if you are facing the direction of travel) and you will be rewarded with a glorious 25 minutes of lake, village and mountain views.

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Once you arrive at Varenna-Esino station it’s a short signposted walk to where the ferry departs for Bellagio.

Bellagio and Varenna

Make sure you check the timetables so that you can plan how to best use your time in both Varenna and Bellagio and note that during the different seasons times will change. A round trip cost just under €20 for us as a couple and we loved the 15 minute journey as it gave us ample time to take a huge amount of photos.

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Bellagio is the undisputed ‘pearl of Lake Como’ and on first appearances I could see why, equally charming but with a cosmopolitan feel it is easy to wind away hours here looking out across the lake to the alps. After a bit of a walk around the shops and up and down the steep cobbled paths we decided it was time for lunch, I looked at the top restaurants on Tripadvisor but none had the view that we came here for so we decided to eat at the Hotel Florence restaurant in prime position right on the lake. We had a long, leisurely lunch with melon and parma ham for starters, the other half had Chicken Milanese for main and I went with a simple tomato and basil pasta. With several drinks including alcohol and coffee the bill came in at just over €60 which I think was great considering the location and that the meal was actually pretty decent.

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After another stroll and some photos it was time for some gelato and a coffee whilst watching the comings and goings by the lake, it was so lovely to just relax in the sun and watch this small part of the world go by. After more photos on the promenade walkway it was almost time for us to get the ferry back to Varenna.

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Don’t just assume that the area around where the ferry goes from is all that Varenna has to offer, if you walk to the left of where the ferry departs (left as you are looking out toward the lake) you will find several more restaurants and bars in which you can enjoy a drink and feast your eyes upon one of the most amazing views in Italy. To just come here and do nothing but stroll around, eat and have a drink is really all you need to do to enjoy Lake Como as the location just does everything for you.

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We loved visiting Varenna and Bellagio, it was a content but sad walk back to the train station as we both felt like we had had such a lovely day but the city beckoned us back as we hadn’t quite finished with Milan itself yet.

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