Oozing with elegance, endorphin-releasing cooking, and scenery that would make you blink twice. That's right, we can only be talking about the magnificent Lake Como.
While the whole of Italy is high up on our list of favourite destinations - this northern lake district has got us head over heels. Here are 12 reasons why we'll never stop being obsessed with Lake Como...
The breathtaking views
It’s not hard to be dazzled by Lake Como’s scenery; adjacent to the shimmering blue lake, quaint rustic buildings perch in the foreground of luscious green landscapes. The entire lake feels alive with energy, and every direction you look in will take your breath away.
Okay, I know we said we wouldn’t name drop George, but can you blame him for settling down in this coastal paradise? And he’s not the only one: Richard Branson, Madonna and Brad Pitt have all bought enviable villas on Lake Como’s idyllic shores, with many more celebs regularly choosing this region as their holiday destination year on year. Plan your trip at the right time and you might just bag yourself a Hollywood moment.
All the activities
Lake Como has no shortage of fun things to do, if you don’t already count eating all day every day as an activity. The lake itself is just one giant watery playground; you can waterski, canoe, kitesurf – or just work on your mermaid poses. If you’re more of a land baby, hire out some bikes and cycle around the city with your crew. It’s a great way to see all the sites, and it will work up an appetite that can only be satisfied with fresh seafood.
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The classical Villas
The villas of Lake Como are nothing short of palatial: think glamorous and immaculate, with some even worthy of royalty. Between the views of the surrounding landscape and the alluring villas, it’s hard to say which is more beautiful. There are definitely worse ways to spend a day than meandering down cobbled streets through medieval-style architecture, feeling lost in your own fairytale.
The buoyant nightlife
Admit it, when you think ‘lakeside town’ you don’t exactly think ‘lit nightlife’ – but prepare to be surprised! Lake Como has no shortage of glamorous after-dark excitement.
There’s always the option of a chilled lake-side cocktail to soak up the warm evening ambience, but if you opt for a late dinner, you’ll see the restaurants transform into a lively and buzzing nighttime atmosphere. Of course, there are bars and clubs where the party spills out onto the streets, and you can party to the early hours of the morning.
The market game is strong
If you’re in the mood for flexing your haggling skills, you won’t be let down by the towns weekly markets. From antiques to seaside delights, the towns surrounding the lake have just about got it all. For all your Italian foodie desires, head to the artisanal markets of Sant’Abbonio and stock up on traditional local treats. Alternatively, hit up one of the regions many arts & craft and antique markets such as San Fedele, and nab a few souvenirs for friends and family (or, you know..gifts for yourself).
The friggin' ancient churches
Religious or not, no one can visit Lake Como without being blown away by the beauty of the gothic/baroque churches. The stunning cathedral Duomo of Como is a must-see, and if you’re a fan of beautiful architecture, settle down in the square and have your lunch opposite the Duomo so you can admire it properly with a glass of wine.
For ornate Romanesque style, make room in your itinerary for the delights of the ancient Basilica of Sant’Abbondio. Oh, and you’re gonna want to bring a camera for that one.
The hiking potential
Lake Como isn’t all glitz and glamor; if you seek a moment of mindfulness, the surrounding foothills make for perfect hiking expeditions. The landscape of Lake Como is teeming with life, and you’d do well to capture the natural beauty, flowers and lush greenery on your way up to a view of the lake from above.
The cool breezy temperature of the mountains is also a great way to cool off in the heat of summer, not to mention the perfect opportunity to burn off all those (not so) sneaky Italian carbies. If you’re not a seasoned hiker, hire a guide and you’ll learn about the booming history of the area along the way.
Lake Como literally oozes sophistication; from the well-dressed locals who peruse the streets, to the traditional Italian wine culture. Just looking out onto the lake itself evokes a feeling of luxury. If you fancy a little cultural refinement, the area has it in spades. Why else would so many famous people flock all year round?
The Food is to die for
A beautiful lake-side town should have beautiful cuisine to match – and Lake Como does not disappoint. Eating here will prove to you that not all Italian food tastes the same, both the city of Como and Bellagio incorporate fine wine and regional produce, including fresh fish from its own waters, lakeshore figs, chestnuts and olives fresh from the vine.
You’ll be spoilt for choice, plus with other towns and villages with their own unique cuisine just a boat ride away, the options are literally endless. Desert fans you’re also in luck – the regions hot chocolate is basically life changing. Among flowing dresses and boat hats, we’d advise you to pack some stretchy pants as well.
It's timeless - literally
If you’re a history buff, or simply enjoy imagining yourself as an ancient roman god/goddess, Lake Como should be top of your list. The history of the area dates back over 2,000 years, meaning the sophisticated ancient Romans themselves enjoyed the sights and sounds of the area with remnants of medieval life and architecture found on most streets.
Don some roman sandals for extra effect, and as you bask in the glow of the lanterns, looking out onto the quintessentially rustic Italian scenery – we guarantee you’ll feel part of the ancient empire.
The whole lake is #boatgoals
If you want to experience the real Lake Como, you’d be a fool not to do a signature town-hop by boat.
There is no better way get a glimpse of alluring villas and ancient delights that the Rivera has to offer, whilst living the boat dream all the way. Hop on and off the public boats or boat taxis for a quick gelato stop, you won’t regret it – and you’ll certainly feel like you’re in a hollywood movie while you cruise on crystal blue waters under the warm Italian sun!
Lake Como is a destination visited on Contiki’s new Independent Insider travel style. What Is Independent Insider? Oh you know, just the most revolutionary thing to happen to group travel since Contiki was born back in 1962, no biggie…