How Long to Stay in the Lake Como Region

We are three 60 somethings (good health and good travelers!) planning a four week trip to Italy and France summer 2015. We are spending a week in a small town in Provence, a week in Antibes, a week in Bellagio and a week in Florence. We have rented apartments in all locations. We were in the first two places a year ago so I know we are ok on the France side. My friends have not been to the Como region (I was there many years ago). I am wondering if seven days is too long to spend there. We will have had a pretty relaxing itinerary the two weeks before. I am thinking it might be better to only stay four nights. My friend's husband has said he has no interest in Venice, however, at the moment we have convinced him to do a day trip from Florence (ugly, I know!). I would appreciate opinions about how long to stay in Bellagio and if we should go from there to Venice for 3 nights (I have good powers of persuasion) and then on to Florence. Should we just add any extra time to the Florence stay and be satisfied with a day trip to Venice? I have spent a lot of time in Florence and Venice, but this is a first time for my friends. We will be traveling the end of May until mid-June. Any opinions on the Bernina Express?

Posted by Angela
Vancouver, Wa, USA
591 posts

My opinion (for what it's worth) would be 3 nights at lake Como and 4 in Venice. I can relax at home, and would prefer to be out DOING something when I travel. Yes, one could do Venice as a day trip, but it is a magical place at night and in the early morning when the place isn't overrun by the day trippers and cruise passengers.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5722 posts

I agree with Rick's assessment of Lake Como:

  1. There are only a few "turnstile" attractions.
  2. The whole point of going is to "see how slow you can get your pulse."
  3. "If relaxation's not on your agenda, the lakes shouldn't be either."

So, base the length of your stay on how much more relaxing you will want after your first two weeks. While I loved staying in Varenna, more than 3-4 days would be pushing it (and I hadn't had two relaxing weeks first).

If your friend has no interest in Venice, what about Padova? It's a great small city and is hardly touristed; you can get back and forth between Venice and Padova easily. Also, a great day trip from Padova is Ferrara (another wonderful, under-visited city).

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
9896 posts

I also would prefer to see more of Italy's wonderful destinations beyond the lake. If the person with no interest in Venice has not been there before, then exert your influence! Your daytrip options from Lake Como are not as varied as they are in your other homebases. To see the Alps, you can go straight north by train from Varenna to Tirano (2 hours) and connect there to St. Moritz (another 2.5 hours). See for the Milan-Varenna-Tirano trains and DB for other schedules.

Posted by April
Portland, OR
380 posts

I completely agree with Laura.

We were in Bellagio last year for five days and we could have stayed for another 3 at least. That was the first stop on our trip though and was a perfect location for jet lag recovery and relaxation. If you will have already had two weeks of relaxation then I encourage you to take 3 nights for Venice. I avoided Venice for the first three times I went to Italy and then my then boyfriend and now husband convinced me to go for two nights. Absolutely loved it! We're going back in September.

What a great trip! Enjoy!

Thank you all so much! I am in negotiations now for 3 nights in Venice!!!! If it doesn't work, I am sure we will find many lovely things to do in the Lakes Region. So glad to have my thoughts about a week in Bellagio confirmed by other travelers.