Can you do a day trip from Milan to Lake Como? The short answer is, yes, you can.
The long answer is, it depends. If you have the time, spend more than a day in Lake Como. However, if you don’t have the luxury of time, you can still do a day trip from Milan to Lake Como. If this is your ONLY trip to Italy and you really want to visit Lake Como, do it! Please don’t worry about what someone else might have to say. We get that not everyone has the time or budget. 😊
There’s a couple of ways to get to Lake Como from Milan city centre. The easiest is by train and car. If you’re flying into Milan, it would be easiest if you took the bus/train to Milan Centrale, and then go from there. You don't need to book the tickets in advance.
Duration: 54 minutes
Duration: 50 minutes
Frequency: Every 20 minutes from 5.05am to 0.10am
Other buses include Malpensa Bus Express (Autostradale) and Malpensa Shuttle (Air Pullman) for similar prices.
Duration: 25 minutes
Frequency: Every 30 minutes from 6.30 am to 11.30 pm
Other buses include Airport Bus Express for a similar price. There are no direct trains to Milano Centrale.
Duration: 1 hour
Frequency: Every 20 minutes (early morning) and then every 30 minutes during the day: 4.05 am to 00.45 am.
Distance: 55km approximately
Duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes +
Milan Central (duration: 1 hour, €6.70)
Distance: 75km approximately
Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes to 2 hours 10 minutes +
For a day trip, we recommend taking the train. It’s inexpensive, reliable and quick. You don’t want to get stuck in traffic and lose precious time on a day trip. We once flew into Milan and did a day trip to Lake Como – it is certainly do-able.
There are multiple ways you could spend a day in Lake Como. Our guide is going to cover Varenna, Bellagio and Argegno. You’ll get to see panoramic views of the lake, cruise on the lake by yourself and visit some of the most beautiful villas in Lake Como.
The first train to Varenna-Esino from Milano Centrale arrives at 7.23 am. We recommend getting the earliest train to get the best out of your one day in Lake Como. If you’re flying into Milan and taking a trip to Lake Como on the same day, then obviously you’ll need to cut out some of the activities. We will recommend how long you need to spend in each place so that you can work out what to prioritise in the time that you do have!
And finally, we will also provide an estimate of the costs you should expect to incur on your day trip to Lake Como. Enjoy!
The charming and romantic promenade along the lakeside is a must when you visit Varenna. Uncover hidden alleyways and passages as you make your way through the picturesque lakeside to the town centre. Make a stop at one of the many cafés and restaurants along the way, to fuel up for the day ahead. This was definitely our favourite place in Varenna.
Opening hours: all-day
Duration: 30 minutes
Conveniently located in the town’s main square, this church is unique in that its floors are made entirely from black marble of Varenna.
Opening hours: 8.30 am to 7 pm
Duration: 10 – 15 minutes
Lake Como is known for its endless list of elegant and grand villas. Villa Monastero arguably sits on the top of the list, making it one of the most popular places to see in Lake Como. You can enjoy the infinite colours and scents as you take a stroll through its lakeside botanical gardens.
Opening hours: Varies depending on the time of year. Check their official website here before planning your trip. http://www.villamonastero.eu/index.php/en/opening-rates
Duration: 30 minutes to 2 hours
Cost: €8 for adults, €3.50 for young people aged 12 to 18, €0 children below 12 (the prices are slightly higher if you want to see the house museum)
If you want to skip this villa, there's another one in Bellagio you can visit (see section "Things to do in Bellagio").
A 20 to 40-minute hike from the town of Varenna, this lookout point is for the active and adventurous traveller. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the lake at the top. Plus, you’ll be able to burn off some of your pasta calories! Make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear, as the hike can get a bit slippery at certain areas.
Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm* on weekdays, March to November & 10 am to 6 pm* on weekends, March to November. From November to March open only on sunny Sundays
*closing time is extended in longer summer months (see the website here for further information: http://www.castellodivezio.it/EN/hours.html)
Duration: 2 – 3 hours
Cost: €4 for adults, €2 for children (7 – 12 years)
The 15-minute ferry from the port of Varenna to Bellagio costs €4.60 for adults, €2.30 for children (aged 4 – 11)
Spend as long or as little time you need walking through the cobbled streets of Bellagio, with a gelato in hand. Make your way to the town centre where you will find the Basilica of San Giacomo, a beautiful Romanesque church.
Opening hours: all-day
Duration: 30 minutes
A few minutes away from the ferry station, Melzi gardens is the perfect place to get a good dose of more Italian botanical gardens. You can find beautiful Egyptian sculptures and Roman statues as you make your way through the winding paths of the garden. If you’ve already been to Villa Monastero, perhaps you could skip this one.
Opening hours: 9.30 am to 6.30 pm, end of March to November.
Duration: 30 minutes – 2 hours
The 22-minute hydrofoil from the port of Bellagio to Argegno costs €10 for adults and €6.60 for children (aged 4 – 11).
This was by far, our favourite thing to do in Lake Como. Explore the lake by yourself by renting a boat! We highly recommend Centro Nautico Lario – they are very professional, responsive and super helpful. Their boats don’t require a boat license and are simple to drive. They give you a small demonstration at the beginning and then off you go.
Opening hours: 8 am to 8 pm, March to October
Duration: 1 – 2 hours
Cost: €80 - €110 + cost of fuel charged separately at the end of the rental. The fuel cost for 1 hour is approximately €20 – €30 depending upon velocity (fuel prices as provided in 2016, so expect some inflation).
Contact details: Info.firstname.lastname@example.org
Website information: http://www.rentaboatturati.com/
If you’re running short of time, you can skip coming to Argegno. There are other companies in Varenna where you can rent a speed boat. Check out Trip Advisor before you book.
35-minute hydrofoil will set you back €10 for adults or €6.60 for children (age 4 – 11)
The official website for ferry and hydrofoil: https://www.navigazionelaghi.it/risultati.aspx?lake=Como (check the section “timetable pdf”)
Allocate a budget of approximately €40 - €100, depending on your taste. We recommend Caffe Varenna (in Varenna) and Ristorante la Piazzetta (in Argegno).
Yes, you can. Just bear in mind that you won’t be able to visit and see all the places listed above. I would recommend spending the whole time at Varenna.
The possibilities are endless. But just to give you an idea, here are some I recommend:
Celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass with Pope Francis at ST. Peter's Basilica after enjoying a semi-private 2 - 3 hour tour (max 10 people) of the Vatican Museums including the Raphael Rooms and The Sistine Chapel ending with a privileged entrance to St.Peter's Basilica.