Everyone needs a holiday now and then, don’t we? When the people of Milan get tired of the elegance, fashion and sophistication of their hometown, they head straight for Milano Centrale train station and Lake Como.
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One of the most beautiful (and most accessible) great lakes of northern Italy, Lake Como has become a long-standing holiday destination for the wealthy Milanese. Here’s how the locals get there – especially those who can’t be bothered driving all that way!
How to get to Lake Como from Milan by train
There are two ways to get to Lake Como, depending on which part you wish to visit.
If you imagine the shape of Como as a giant pair of trousers, the town of Como is on the cuff of the left leg. If you want to get to Varenna, that’s on the right side where the lake’s belt loop would be. Varenna is the easiest way to get to the breathtaking town of Bellagio, in the crotch of the trousers!
To visit Varenna & Bellagio and the northern part of the lake:
Our tip is to head directly to the pearl of Lake Como – Varenna and Bellagio.
Take the train from Milano Centrale to Varenna-Esino.
It’s only an hour by train and costs around €13 for a return trip but you find yourself at the middle of the lake. From here, take the ferry to Bellagio (at the tip separating the two southern points of Lake Como).
You can buy tickets at Milan Centrale via the touchscreen machines or at the ticket office. You can buy return day tickets here. For the ferry, there’s a ticket office near the wharf – there’s no machine, but the people working there are friendly. Smile, say ciao and go from there!
The Varenna ferry to Bellagio costs around €9 per person return and takes around 15 minutes.
[Please check the comments at the bottom of this post – updated prices and details courtesy of John Heath – thanks John! Ed.]
If you have happened to drive to Varenna, no problems. You can still get to Bellagio. The bottom deck of the ferry is a drive-on platform. Even the emergency services use the ferry!
To visit Como town, and the southern part of the lake:
Take the train from Milano Nord Cadorna direct to Como Nord Lago. The trip takes an hour and is around €13 return. Cadorna is a city metro station so you must buy your tickets at the station just before you travel. From here you can take the ferry to visit other towns on the lake.
We headed straight for Varenna and Bellagio as we heard that Como town wasn’t as nice. We weren’t disappointed! You hop off the train at Varenna, cross the tracks and head down towards the lake shore.
The train and ferry schedules change depending on the season and the day of the week so please check before you leave. You can find the ferry timetables here.
You can pre-purchase train tickets to Varenna here up to 7 days before you go. Head to www.trenitalia.com.
Note: As commenters have said, there are some good deals to be found here.
Extra tip for Italian train travel!
Validate your train tickets before you get to the platform! There should be a little green box (usually with no sign) that you put your ticket in.
[Check comment below for updated details on this courtesy of John Heath – thanks John! Ed.]
If you don’t do this, the conductor (and there always is one) will be very grumpy with you and you’ll feel the stares of your fellow passengers boring into you!
Here are more things we’ve written about Lake Como and Milan that I bet you’ll find handy!
- Our quick guide to Varenna and Bellagio on Lake Como.
- The top 10 things to do in Milan.
- A selection of our best posts about Milan.
Have you been to Lake Como? Let us know what you thought of it. And if you have any questions, pop them in the comments and we’ll do our best to help. 🙂