Lake Como is the ideal Italian spot to relax and escape to all year round. With gorgeous scenery, delicious local cuisine and picture-perfect spots to explore, our founder Susie Marquis gives her top tips for visiting this stunning destination, including some of the finest luxury villas to rent…
Situated just an hour’s drive north of Milan airport is beautiful Lake Como, with its stunning backdrop of mountains and forests. As well as a tantalizing collection of villas to rent here, there are also many outdoor activities available for guests, including hiking, boat excursions, and visits to historic villas and gardens. Although a beautiful destination at any time of year, the months from April to June are known as a particularly good time to visit Lake Como, with the trees and flowers starting to bloom after the winter months. Moreover, being less crowded at this time of year, it is ideal for visiting the well known historic villas open to the public.
These include Villa Monastero in Varenna, which has both a House Museum (from Tuesday to Sunday (and holidays) from 9.30 to 19.30), and a beautiful botanical garden open every day from 9.30 – 19.30. Another botanical garden worth a visit is Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, closed only between 21st and 23rd September. The villa itself is a museum, with a collection of works by sculptors and painters. The gardens at Villa Melzi (I Giardini di Villa Melzi) in Bellagio will re-open to the public on Saturday 25th March 2023 at 10 a.m. and open every day from 10:00am to 7:00 pm. Villa del Balbianello in Tremezzina, the villa and its park will be open to the public from 11 March 2023 until 7 January 2024, every day except Mondays and Wednesdays.
Visitors will enjoy sunset cruises, and some great restaurants offering both excellent cuisine and sensational mountain views. The months of June to September are also popular for the lake’s annual festival, with its musical performances. This year, from June 23rd to August 26th some small towns around the lake host the Bellagio and Lake Como Festival, with concerts of Italian and international orchestras, and solo artists.  Lake Como also offers many open-air swimming pools, as well as the beaches of Bellagio, Menaggio, Lecco, Varenna and Tremezzina, and two beaches in Como town. For the more energetic, water sports very much available on Lake Como, and lovers of hiking will enjoy the walks along scenic routes, including the foothills of Italian Alps. For boat tours, we can recommend a variety of these with La Dolce Vita, and the owner and captain, Frank. It is a wonderful way to visit the lesser known beautiful places around the lake, from stunning villas to tiny fisherman villages. Visitors can enjoy a private boat ride from 1 to 4 hours, and also include a sunset apéritif, or dinner – or, for those who love sailing, sailing and/or windsurfing, these can be arranged. The tour normally starts in Como town, but departures from neighbouring villages are also possible. Comacina Island, the only island on Lake Como can be visited, as well as the beautiful village of Bellagio with its cobbled lanes, and Villa Serbelloni Park, an 18th-century terraced garden with lake views.
Recommended Restaurants: Lake Como offers a huge number of tantalising restaurants around the lake, and also in the city of Como – here are a few recommendations:Ristorante BilacusManaged by Aurelio Gandola since 2014, Bilacus offers Italian products, including fresh pasta and fresh fish. The latter comes from the open sea, and the waiter will recommend the catch of the day. There are also pasta and meat dishes, and excellent cheese. Visitors can sit inside or on the cosy terrace under the grapevines outside.Address: Salita Serbelloni, 32, Bellagio. Tel. +39 031 950480Terrazza BarchettaAnother beautiful find in Bellagio is Terrazza Barchetta, located in Bellagio old town centre near the main hotels and shops. The restaurant also has a small terrace with wonderful views, where visitors can enjoy lunch or dinner, and enjoy traditional Bellagio dishes. Address: Salita Antonio Mella 15, Bellagio. Tel. +39 Tel. 031 951389
Locanda CapolagoFor a different view of Lake Como, try Locanda Capolago, which is near the north of the lake above Bellagio. The garden here supplies many of the vegetables and herbs, and will offer vegetarian options on request. The chef, Maurizio Lazzarin, serves dishes which combine both tradition and modern innovation.Address: Via Municipio, 36, Colico. Tel. +39 0341 1590132Figli dei Fiori BistrotSituated in the city of Como at the southern point of the lake, this bistro has an elegant décor with beautiful flowers and plants. The restaurant is known for its innovative cooking techniques and attention to detail. Special dishes include homemade ravioli with pumpkin on parmesan cheese cream.Address: Via Borgo Vico, 34, Como. Tel. +39 031 571077
Beautiful Villas to rent, still with some availability:Villa Sala Comacina, sleeps 6Set in a stunning location, just outside the charming village of Sala Comacina, the villa also offers outstanding views over the lake, mountains, and the island of Comacina, as well as an 18m infinity swimming pool.
Civenna View, sleeps 14Situated above Bellagio and nestled in 3 acres of private grounds, the villa offers stunning views over the lake and the surrounding mountains. It is Just 500m from the charming village of Civenna and 15 minutes from Bellagio village.
Villa Serbelloni, sleeps 14With its grand steps leading up from the water’s edge and views across Lake Como, this stunning neo-classical villa has an array of beautiful rooms adorned with painting and historic artefacts, while the perfectly manicured gardens and outside pool area is the perfect spot to relax.
Villa dei Sogni, sleeps 8 This 4-bedroom villa sits on a hillside overlooking the charming lakeside town of Bellagio. There is a covered terrace furnished for dining outdoors, as well as a sauna and gym, and a well stocked wine cellar. 
Lakeside View, sleeps 8Situated right on the edge of the lake at Lezzeno, around 10 kms from Bellagio, the villa has a private pool and garden as well as access to the lake and a public beach.
Villa Pigra, sleeps 14 As well as breathtaking views of the lake, mountains and sunsets, this unique villa offers a huge living space and is surrounded by 4.5 acres of private gardens. The pretty mountain village of Pigra with a couple of restaurants is just 300m away, and the popular lakeside village of Argegno can be reached by taking the cable car, 500 m from the villa gates. This unique villa also has its own luxury boat moored at the bottom of the funicular in Argegno, which is ideal for visiting some of the lovely lakeside restaurants.