Is a private boat tour on Lake Como really worth it?

Everyone has their best angle. Lake Como looks incredible from wherever you stand but is at its most beautiful from the water. So is a private boat tour on Lake Como worth it and what do you see?

Lake Como private boat tour

Lake Como is synonymous with the romance and beauty of northern Italy. Its shorelines are scattered with warm-hearted yet glamorous towns and its waters reflecting the heart-melting scenery.

From the very first time Christina and I came to Lake Como – a lovely journey from Milan to Varenna by train – we fell in love with the place.

We were only there for a daytrip that first visit, but since then have spent more time at Lake Como. If it’s possible, we’re even more in love with the place than we were before.

Lake Como private boat tour - us

Is a private boat tour on Lake Como really worth it?

If you want to really see the best parts of Lake Como, a private boat tour is the way to do it.

But let’s look at the other options quickly first:

What’s the best way to see Lake Como?

Arriving by train to Varenna is easy and cost effective. However, you’re limited by how far you can walk to what you can see. Varenna is a beautiful town, but there’s more to Lake Como than that.

Driving around Lake Como is wonderful, but the roads can be very busy and narrow at times. You’re too busy looking where you’re going (hopefully) to really take in the beautiful views.

Plus you don’t get to see some of the best parts of the lake from the shore.

For a taste of what Lake Como looks like from the water, the public ferries that criss-cross the lake offer just that. And it’s a superb service if you want to see more towns around the lake.

Lake Como private boat tour - Villa Carlotta

Lake Como private boat tour - Ruy - Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Lake Como private boat tour

Private boat tours on Lake Como

We’ve wanted to go on a private boat tour on Lake Como ever since our first visit. During our stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, that travel dream came to life.

The Tremezzo has two beautiful boats – both period Venetian motor launches: Ruy, built in 1961, and Batt. These elegant wooden Riva style speedboats are exclusively available to guests of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

Reclining in the comfort of Ruy’s soft white leather seats with a glass of cold prosecco, we watched Lake Como’s beautiful secrets reveal themselves.

Click here to see footage from our private boat tour of Lake Como.

Lake Como private boat tour - Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Lake Como private boat tour - Christina

Lake Como private boat tour

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Christina so happy!

From the water, you get to see the incredible shoreline of Lake Como, its towns glinting in the sun and the dramatic mountains of the Italian Alps looming in the background.

Most prominent though are the many villas that line the lake’s waterfront. These grand old palaces, holiday homes to the gentry of Italy, are icons of the lake.

You should check out our video from our stay in the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which includes our footage of our time onboard Ruy.

Lake Como private boat tour - Villa Balbianello

Lake Como private boat tour

This is where the private boat tour comes into its own. The driver will be able to get very close to the villas and tell you their fascinating glamorous history.

If you’re not staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, there are some other private boat tour companies on Lake Como:

Il Medeghino Lake Como Boat Tours
Taxi Boats Barindelli
Taxi Boat Varenna
And this site shows you some price breakdowns too.

Lake Como private boat tour

Our private boat tour on Lake Como

We had a 1-hour private boat tour in the sublime Ruy. We went as far south as Isola Comancina, then back up along the western spur of the lake to Bellagio. From this point you can see down both southern spurs of Lake Como and right up to its northern end.

The views are breathtaking.

From there we motored across to the eastern bank to see the picturesque town of Varenna up close and then it was full speed all the way back across to the west, past Villa Carlotta to the Tremezzo.

Lake Como private boat tour

Lake Como private boat tour - Varenna

Lake Como private boat tour - Jim

Being able to explore Lake Como by boat is very special. From the stunning villas and their expansive gardens, to other important landmarks like the abandoned Faustino Monastery and the distant Swiss border and its magnificent alpine skyline.

It’s quite a lot to fit into an hour – 2 hours would have been better – but it’s something everyone should do. It’s just magnificent and is easily one of our all-time great travel highlights.

Lake Como private boat tour


  • Reply May 2, 2019

    Kristy Sheridan

    Thanks for this article and gorgeous video from a fellow ginger! Hubs and I will be staying at the GH Tremezzo as part of a 30th anniversary trip and I was looking for footage on their boats, so this was perfect! Glad to see y’all so happy and all the best to you both!

    • Reply May 3, 2019

      Mr Romance

      Hi Kristy. So glad you enjoyed our story and found it helpful. What a place to celebrate your 30th anniversary – congratulations by the way. I can only imagine what the rest of your trip will be like. The Tremezzo is a simply stunning place to stay on Lake Como. You’ll have the best time. And the boat ride is absolutely worth it. All the best to you and yours too. Have a lovely trip. Up the reds! 😉

  • Reply May 24, 2019

    Teresa Trueman-Madriaga

    Last year my husband and I stayed in Varenna and loved every moment of being on Lake Como. I was so sad to leave. We are going back this year so your suggestions were helpful. (I think I could go back every year – it is so enjoyable.)

    • Reply May 24, 2019

      Mr Romance

      Hi Teresa. It’s just incredible there, isn’t it? And you’re absolutely right – I think we could go there every year and never get bored of the place. So glad our tips have been helpful – have a wonderful time back on Lake Como. Jim

  • Reply June 17, 2019


    Loved the video! Everything looked amazing! We will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary in June, 2020 and have always wanted to visit Lake Como. We will be traveling with our best friends who are also celebrating their anniversary. First, are three nights enough to get a feel of the lake? We will be traveling to other cities as well. I especially loved the video of the boat ride. Was there a significant difference in the price from the hotel vs that of another private boat company? Did you eat in the hotel every night?

    • Reply June 19, 2019

      Mr Romance

      Hi Sherry. First of all, congratulations on your 45th anniversary. That’s amazing!
      Glad you enjoyed the video. It was a lot of fun to make! Lake Como is a perfect place to celebrate such an auspicious moment – and even better if you can share that with friends.
      Three nights would definitely give you a feel for the lake. We spent two there this trip and we saw more of the area than we have before. And if you link that in with a bigger trip, being able to unpack and relax for three full nights would be lovely.
      As for the boat ride, yes, there are cheaper options available around the lake, especially going from Varenna and Bellagio. The difference is the boats at the Tremezzo are the most beautiful; imported from Venice and restored original 1960s Riva speedboats. They’re reserved for Tremezzo guests, so you need to be staying there to ride in them.
      Tours in these boats are pricy, but if you can split the cost between you and your friends, it becomes more manageable.
      Otherwise, I’ve put some links into this post with info on other boat tours you can do. Here they are:
      Taxi Boat Varenna
      Taxi Boats Barindelli
      And this site shows you some price breakdowns too.
      There’s also a water plane tour you can do over the lake which caught our eye last time we were there. We didn’t have time to do it that trip, but it looks amazing and is surprisingly affordable too.
      Last of all, I thought you might like to look through our guide on Lake Como, which covers a lot of the questions other readers have asked us over the years. Might be of some help to you. 🙂
      But let me know if you have any other questions about your trip. We’d be happy to help.
      Cheers – Jim

  • Reply November 23, 2019


    Hi Guys,
    Looks incredible! You mentioned that the boat is for the exclusive use of hotel guests but I’m wondering its an additional cost for the tour or whether it’s included in what you’re already paying to stay at the hotel?

    • Reply November 25, 2019

      Mr Romance

      Hi Nicola. It’s an absolutely amazing way to see the lake. Truly beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s extra to go on these boats – not included in the cost of the hotel room. And it’s not cheap. There are other more affordable options with other private boat companies that would be great too, but these classic speedboats from Venice are pretty special. We always look at what we’re doing when it’s a media experience and ask ourselves if we would be happy spending our own money. With this experience, we’d definitely go on the Ruy on our own dime.
      Hope this helps – and there are some other options linked further down this post too if you want to shop around.
      Safe travels – Jim

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