Lake Como is one of the most famous places to visit in Italy and yet one of the most challenging to reach. When visiting Italy, most people want to disconnect from home, avoid a rental car, and simply rely on the public transportation (generally Italian trains). Taxis are avoided when possible and Uber hardly exists (you can find black cars in parts of Milan, but not really elsewhere). The closest major city to Lake Como is the northern fashion capital of Milan. Many travelers visiting Milan plan a trip to Bellagio, Varenna, or one of the other beautiful towns on Lake Como only to realize that they have to figure out how to get to Lake Como. Most places in Italy can easily be reached by train. One may simply show up to the train station, search for a destination, buy a ticket, and go. Such is the case if you’re planning to visit the town of Como, however, if you plan to visit Bellagio or one of the other lake towns, you’ll have to use multiple forms of transportation. Below, we will describe how to get to Lake Como, how to get to Bellagio, and more specifically, how to get to these places both from Milan as well as Zurich.
Milan is actually the easiest point of origination for reaching Lake Como. There are a number of ways that one can get to Lake Como from Milan. For the sake of ease, let’s assume that you’re traveling from Milan to the town of Como. The fastest and easiest ways to arrive are:
This is likely the easiest and most affordable option for most travelers. The train from Milano Centrale to Como S. Giovanni takes only $37 minutes. As most trains in Italy, it is also incredibly affordable.
If you do choose to rent a car (or you live in Italy and own one), you can very easily drive from Milan to Como. Milan is only 53 KM from Como. With typical traffic, you can expect about an hour-long drive.
Now, many travelers (including us) did not plan to spend time in Como. Como is a beautiful town, and we had a fantastic panini there at a hole-in-the-wall paniniera we found, but our time in Lake Como was completely allocated to Bellagio. Yes, the same Bellagio where you might bump into George Clooney.
Regardless of where your travels began, if you trained into the Como San Giovanni railway station, you should take the ferry to Bellagio. The Como Ferry runs is efficient, affordable, and fast. From Como, the ferry will reach Bellagio in about 45 minutes – 1 hour. The Como ferry ticket costs only €15/person and is the best choice for travelers looking to reach any of the towns lining the coast of Lake Como. Whether you’re staying in Varenna, Menaggio, Lenno, Bellagio, or any number of other towns, the ferry is the way to go. You can also purchase a day-ticket so you can use the ferry to visit the other towns. Be sure to check timetables so you don’t get stuck in another town after the last ferry departs.
The drive from Milan to Bellagio should only take about 1 hour 30 minutes. The ferry company operates a number of ferry types. One is passenger only while another allows cars. Should you be traveling from the north, you’ll be able to easily take a car ferry from places like Menaggio or Varenna. This will allow you to mitigate driving around the entire lake.
Now, as you can see, getting to Bellagio from Milan and the northern Italian region is actually quite easy. However, it is a bit more challenging if you’re traveling from Switzerland. Prior to arriving in Bellagio, we had spent almost a week traveling between Zurich, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Lucerne, Switzerland. Before heading to Bellagio, it was a bit more imperative that we plan our journey.
The directions are not far off whether you’re traveling from Zurich or Lucerne. The two beautiful lake towns are separated by a mere 40-minute train. Our journey to Bellagio started in Lucerne, so we will provide a breakdown of the options you have to reach Lake Como.
When your @airbnb is better than a 5 ⭐ hotel 🇮🇹 Italian breakfast was something I had to get used to when I studied abroad in Florence 7 years ago. I wasn’t so fond of a cappuccino or a latte and a croissant as my only form of sustenance to start the day. I was an American college student so my breakfast typically included bacon and eggs, usually in the form of a breakfast burrito. But over the years, the Italian breakfast has become my breakfast of choice. I rarely crave scrambled eggs in the morning but would much rather have some pastries and fruit. It’s almost like dessert for breakfast. What do you prefer for breakfast? Coffee and pastries or bacon and eggs? #bellagio #italy #couplescoordinates
Driving from Lucerne to Lake Como is quite easy. If you’d like to use the car ferry, you can reach Menaggio in 2 hours and 30-40 minutes. There is a car ferry from Menaggio to Bellagio, so you can easily continue on with your car. You can also drive around the lake, just south of the town of Como, and up the peninsula to Bellagio. This route takes 3 hours and 20-30 minutes. If you’re staying in Como, the drive from Lucerne to Como is only 2 hours 30 minutes.
We say “public transportation” because you’ll need to take a number of forms of transit to reach Lake Como from Lucerne using public transportation.
The route that we took started at Lucerne railway station and finished in Bellagio. Our steps included:
Of course, if you’re staying in Como, you can cut out the ferry part and simply stay in Como when you arrive.
There are a number of other train routes that are possible, so please check Google Maps for the most readily available forms of transportation. Depending on the train timetables, it might be easier (and faster) to train through Arth-Goldau, Lugano, or a number of other towns). If you’re traveling to Bellagio, is also possible to take a bus from Chiasso to Menaggio and then ferry from Menaggio to Bellagio.
If you have questions or concerns, please comment below and we will do our best to accommodate your unique itinerary.