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Honeymoon: Como, Amalfi Coast, or Annecy?

Long time lurker, first time poster!

My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon for late September 2022. We are spending the first half of our trip in Santorini (at a hotel I've always wanted to stay at booked with points). From Greece, we are looking at flying to another European destination for three nights before flying home. We have narrowed it down to the following:

Lake Como (likely Varenna)
Amalfi Coast (Positano, Ravello, or possibly Sorrento)
Lake Annecy

Neither of us have been to any of these destinations. We are looking for somewhere relaxing above all. I would like somewhere extremely walkable to many restaurants, shops, etc. I've read that you have to take a taxi to many restaurants in Positano depending on where you stay?

We are not looking to sightsee much - maybe some light hiking or paddleboarding depending on the destination. We are pretty content just exploring at our own pace. I would love to book a hotel with a large balcony or terrace in our room, but we are trying to stay budget-conscious (max $350/night), so I'm not sure if that will be possible.

I've read so much about Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast, but I haven't found as much on Annecy. It seems to fit the relaxing atmosphere we are seeking and looks gorgeous, but I am wondering whether it would be underwhelming compared to Lake Como? I would appreciate any input from someone who has been to both.

I've looked into flights, and all three destinations would work equally well for our itinerary (flying into Milan, Naples, or Geneva). We would likely stay the night in our departing city prior to flying out, and Geneva is the most appealing to us of the three.

Posted by
1052 posts

Where is your flight out of Europe? Annecy and Lake Como weather can be iffy in late September. I would go to the Amalfi coast. You'll be able to stay way below $350 a night and have money for some taxi rides. Congrats and enjoy.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for your response! I thought the weather would be consistently good for all three locations, so I appreciate the input. We haven't booked our return flight yet (we booked our outgoing flight separately because we used points), so we are still pretty flexible.

Posted by
4348 posts

I like to pick contrasts for vacation locations, so I would choose Annecy from your list to be the biggest change from Santorini. Annecy is good for biking, general relaxing, renting a small boat to explore the lake together, etc. Also, Chamonix is nearby if you want to travel there to take a chairlift up for some French Alp views or hiking. We stayed at the Imperial Palace and loved the location right on the lake with the gorgeous view! It was a nice 5-minute stroll along the park that lined the lake. We didn’t eat at the hotel; there’s some great French bakeries in the area. That hotel would feel like a honeymoon location.

Lake Como & Amalfi Coast are both nice. No wrong choices in your options!

Posted by
8422 posts

As you have only 3 nights, I would suggest Lake Como as it appears to have the least logistical challenges as far as airport access.

Not been to Lake Annecy, but Lake Como is not '2nd place' to Amalfi Coast.

Milan may have better choices for air to US than Naples.

Posted by
7480 posts

Lake Como or Annecy would be best choices as the Amalfi Coast is on the sea like Greece. Plus Lake Como is very easy to get to from Milan MXP. I also love Lake Como and won’t return to Amalfi Coast so some personal prejudice here. I haven’t been to Annecy but have been in nearby areas.

Posted by
12943 posts

If you choose Varenna, I highly recommend the lakefront Albergo Milano, specifically the “attic room” in the Casa Rossa ( Red House) annex building. This is a large, bright and airy room with modern furnishings, a kitchen corner, and a spacious bathroom. And a large balcony overlooking the lake.

You can see the room itself and the view from the balcony by scrolling through the photos for the Red House Attic room (also described as a studio apartment).

https://www.varenna.net/ENG/Casarossa-mansarda.html

Price is 230 CHF per night (with breakfast in the main hotel) in September, so we’ll within your budget.

There is also a ground floor apartment in the Red House, with a large terrace overlooking the lake. But it is more expensive, and to me it lacks the charm and the more expansive view from the higher “attic” room. We have spent several stays in that room and I now feel like I am “coming home” when we stay there.

The one downside is that there are 4 flights of stairs to climb to get there. But Bettina or one of the staff will help you with your luggage. Or who knows—-maybe they have installed an elevator in that building since we were last there ( but I wouldn’t count on that).

If that is too many stairs, they have smaller lakefront rooms with small balconies in both the Casa Rosa and the main hotel. There is also an apartment ( 3 Archi), but it does not have a lakefront position.

The food in their dinner restaurant is excellent, and the terrace is a beautiful and romantic place to enjoy that meal, especially at sunset. Breakfast is s offered there as well. But if happens to rain the dining terrace will be closed and you will dine indoors.

Posted by
20831 posts

I wouldn't fly from Santorini to Italy or France for just three days. I don't think you're going to find any non-stop flights to Italy or Geneva (for Annecy), so you'll be cobbling together a routing that may involve a scary-tight or crazy-long layover. You may not be able to buy the two flights as an airline-recognized connection, which means if one of the flights is rescheduled or canceled you'll be the one holding the bag. If you had more time it would be different, but I fear you're going to spend a surprising part of your transfer day just getting to whatever Italian destination you choose, which isn't going to be relaxing. Then you'll have no more than two days at that destination--probably less since it's risky not to spend the night before a transatlantic flight reasonably near the departure airport.

Reading between the lines, it appears your trip is only about 6 days long. That's a single-country timeframe as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by
8422 posts

It is unclear to me how long you plan to be in Santorini, however a quick check on skyscanner found 3 non stop flights from Santorini to Milan on a random Sept 2022 date.

Do your research before you make your choice(s)

Posted by
281 posts

Can’t speak on Como as I’ve not yet been. However Amalfi Coast is wonderful, we stayed in Cetera a sleepy fishing town. The coast is probably similar ish to Greece, so if you want that this matches. Ferry can get you between all the little villages easily. Lots of shopping and exploring and eating available.

Annecy is wonderful, but you can pretty much explore it all in a day, how we as someone mentioned you can rent bikes, boats, etc.

So largely depends what you want to do. We lovedboth. Congrats!

Posted by
5382 posts

Many resort areas are starting to wind down by the end of September. I'd make sure the attractions you want to visit are still open for the expected dates. (Our main interest in the Italian lakes would be historic formal gardens, which do close for the season. Have NOT been there yet.) I suppose it will be easier to get a hotel room, Covid permitting. We went on an Islands of the Mediterranean in October, and found many places quite sleepy. The busiest place our small ship stopped was the Spanish Ballearics.

It is true that the AC is a year-round destination, but weather is not as good in the fall and winter. We were there near the end of May (pre-pandemic), and it seemed just as crowded as "high season." Some people prefer Capri to the AC, and there are other islands. Again, month of the year can make a big difference. I think Greece will be warmer.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everyone for your responses. Lola, I have looked at that hotel so I appreciate the glowing recommendation! Stairs might be a good thing after all the food we plan on enjoying! :)

To clarify, our trip is not 6 days long. We are spending 5 nights in Santorini, then planning to book a flight to a city close to our second destination (either Milan, Naples, or Geneva). There are nonstop flights to all of them (or we could fly through Athens and spend a night there if we prefer). Say we chose Lake Como - (1) Fly to Santorini (2) 5 nights in Santorini (3) Fly to Milan (4) One night in Milan (5) Train to Varenna (6) 3 nights in Varenna (7) Train to Milan (8) One night in Milan (9) Fly home. All three cities would work fine for our itinerary.

Based on responses, I am leaning towards a lake (Como or Annecy) since that will contrast more with the first half of our trip. However, should I be worried about the weather? I don't mind if it's a little chillier, but it would be unfortunate if it rained the whole time.

Posted by
10 posts

I honeymooned in Lake Como at the end of Sept 2018 and we had gorgeous weather! We were there from Sept 26th -29th an then went on to other locations in Italy. It was warm during the day, sunny and 70s and then chillier in the evening. I brought a light jacket and cardigan and was fine! We had no issues with rain but checking the weather a few days before you leave will help. The connection from Milan airport to Lake Como was very easy. We enjoyed the area more because it wasn't as crowded, but beware that ferry times will change to the different cities on the lake as it is the beginning of off season. Enjoy!

Posted by
1644 posts

If you go to Lake Como, I would not spend a night in Milan after arrival. We arrived from U.S. and many more hours of travel than you would have and spent the night at Lake Como. We did stop for a few hours in Milan to see the Duomo (checked our luggage at train station to do that). We then took a train to Lake Como to Bellano, where we were staying (I would recommend staying in Varenna if you).

We were at Lake Como for five nights and it is certainly lovely.

Posted by
10 posts

We did not stay in Varenna, we actually stayed in the town of Como. The hotel overlooked the water and was right across from the ferry that made it possible to see a lot of the different cities on the lake. The hotel we stayed at was Hotel Barchetta Excelsior. http://www.hotelbarchetta.it/en/pagina/home We had a comfortable room, perfect for two people that had a lake view. The breakfast included was very good and the staff was very friendly and helpful. It was not 5 star by any means, but we really enjoyed it and liked how close the Como Train station and ferry port were to get us around to other locations on the lake.

Posted by
8681 posts

I agree with BethFL about going directly to Lake Como when you arrive in Milan, if that is where you choose to go. It’s an easy train ride to Varenna, which is where I would recommend you base yourself. I’ve been there twice. It’s easy to take a ferry to other destinations on the lake. My husband and I first went during a 25th anniversary trip and we were in Varenna during the 3rd week of September. We had better weather then than my friend and I had around the 3rd week of May when I was there with her. I’ve been wanting to go to Sorrento for years and haven’t made it yet. Annecy is also on my list. Good luck with your choice and congratulations on your marriage!

Posted by
20831 posts

I apologize for the misinformation about flights. I did check skyscanner.com before posting, but I did something wrong and ended up looking at the wrong time of year.

Posted by
1577 posts

My two cents. I’ve been to all three. They are all lovely but I would choose Lake Como as it is different from Santorini. I found Lake Como to be beautiful and relaxing.

Posted by
966 posts

Another vote for Lake Como, especially given your itinerary. I have been to all three locations multiple times. Given the logistics of getting to each location in such a short time frame Lake Como makes the most sense. Agree with others also that I wouldn’t spend the night in Milan, unless you have an early morning flight coming back to the US. The train ride from Milan to Varenna is an hour, so I would go there immediately upon landing from Santorini. My favorite lake town in that area is Bellagio over Varenna. We always stay just above town at Le Terrazza and walk into town (10 minutes) or take the shuttle that runs every hour. The views are unbeatable from there.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you everyone! Based on replies I think we are leaning towards Como at Albergo Milano. I appreciate the advice to head straight to Varenna instead of spending a night in Milan - I agree that will be easier. Plus, we can do 4 nights in Varenna instead of 3!

We can't wait!

Posted by
1767 posts

hey hey Elizabeth
was gonna offer my 3 cents and say Annecy. we spent 5 nights in this cute and scenic town on the lake.
spent 2 nights in Geneva then took a taxi to annecy, about 90E, took about 30 minutes. train was about 2H30M with a stop.
walked the city center during farmers market, had fondue lunch at rotisserie du thou, was so good, sat outside next river/canal. another lunch with calzones at al vesuvio in center, sat near a fun group of germans, austrians and Italians. crepes at creperie T Mad on rue royale, booked a private taxi tour with taxiannecygeneva.net gazelle spoke great English, very good with answering emails and what we wanted.
drove around the small city, saw church the Pope said mass at, drove around lake past castle in menthon mr disney visited and planned a replica of snow white’s castle in Disneyland.
gorgeous lake views, “alps” looking houses, paragliders soaring right above us, cows with cowbells ringing in the green pastures. end of sept/first of oct an annual festival bringing the animals from the mountain all dress up for the parade “retour des alpages”
During tour we stopped for at “ferme de la charbonniere” for a cheese lunch 23E, was at a cow barn, sitting at table and they are grazing beneath us, cheese only from there, reblochon. like a small pizza oven at table to heat cheese and have potatoes bread wine greens and ice cream. So good, different and we enjoyed.
annecycitytour.fr. small bus/van meets at city village and takes you around. take a boat ride on the lake, or grab deli stuff in small shops and have a picnic on lake
ibis annecy centre vielle ville
hibiscus-appartment-annecy
hope this helps out with any ideas. too much to think and do, enjoy your honeymoon. glad you’re starting early, with way the world is and lots of people want outta their coops. things will be busy even in September. we were in Paris, Annecy and Geneva for 3 weeks sept/oct 2019, it was mass overload but we enjoyed and had fun.
aloha

Posted by
1767 posts

I have friends who honeymooned on Lake Como and were bored. I believe you have to hike to truly enjoy the area.

Posted by
20831 posts

I've really only passed through the Lake Como area, but I did a lot of research on it for a trip that didn't happen this year. It's my impression that there's lots of nice casual walking in pretty scenery. I'd think that would be a nice, romantic activity for a honeymoon.

In addition, there seem to be quite a few villas on the shore of Lake Como with impressive gardens open to the public (for a fee); they would keep me busy for multiple days. I know from experience that--though I enjoy boat rides on pretty lakes--the first two hours are a lot more interesting for me than the next two. I'd want my lake-boat trips to have something enticing at the destination.

Posted by
146 posts

You will NOT be bored in the Lake Como area unless you need outlet malls and amusement parks.

I love Varenna and Albergo Milano. Get a lake front terrace room for a stunning outdoor patio. The one we had was directly above the restaurant. The room is small but the terrace was incredible. The owners are wonderful as well.

You can hike if you like, but we enjoyed cruising on the ferry from town to town.

Sorrento and Amalfi in general was wonderful but it may seem more of the same in addition to Santorini. However, it is easy to see Pompeii fro Sorrento.

Ironically, my next trip will include a few days in Annency after doing the TMB. Looks wonderful to me.

As far as transportation to and from these three places, Annency would be easiest from Geneva followed by Lake Como from Milan. I seem to recall having difficulty finding reasonable flights from Naples and having to fly into Rome and then take a train down.

Posted by
211 posts

I have also been to all three destinations and if you had more time you would enjoy any of these places very much, however, I have to agree with one of the other posters and say that it appears that you are going to spend most of your honeymoon traveling. Greece is a long flight although I don’t know where you are coming from but so much time is involved with getting to airports and waiting for flights and the flight itself and then transferring to wherever you’re staying and then five days later to do it in reverse just seems like too much.

Posted by
12943 posts

The first time we went to Varenna we booked the cooking class with Chef Bruno at Il Caminetto:

http://www.ilcaminettoonline.com/lezioni_e.html

They pick you up in Varenna and drive you to the restaurant, which is high above the lake at Perledo, with nice views. He taught us to make gnocchi, 2 sauces, and something else I forgot, and then you sit down together and enjoy the lunch you made (with wine). Afterwards we asked to be driven to the old castle instead of back to Varenna. There was a falconry demo going on, which we watched before exploring the castle ruins and grounds. It was a nice walk down to Varenna on trails, not the road.

https://www.eccolecco.it/en/art-and-culture/castles-lombardy-en/castle-of-vezio-lake-como/

Posted by
6447 posts

You've had lots of responses but I'll just add my 2 cents. If it was me I would definitely go to Lake Como and book my return airfare out of Milan.

Posted by
56 posts

I have travelled to all your choices and you indicate something relaxing. I would suggest Lake Como too. I believe it was a quick train ride from Milan to the town of Como. The lake was just beautiful! I stayed in The town of Bellago which was very pretty. There are many lovely towns on the lake and someone mentioned a chair lift to the top of a mountain. I stayed at one of the airport hotels at Milan international. Easy flight back to the states.
Congrats!