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Lake Como 1-2 Day Stop-Off?

Experiencing extreme pleasure being able to plan again, even if the trip's not until April 2022!

This portends to be a 16-18 night train journey, starting in Zurich, ending in Rome. After arriving at Flughafen Zurich, we'll take a 2+ hour ride to Chur (apparently the oldest town in Switzerland) to regroup for 3 nights. From there we want to take a morning ride on the famed Bernina Express to Tirano, 4+ hours of magnificent scenery from all accounts. Our next destination is Verona, but that's another 5-6 hours. We'd like to split that leg up, which is my dilemma.

We're thinking of making one of the train stops on the eastern side of Lake Como a interim pause, a 1 or 2 night look-see depending on interest. But which one? Towns along the way are Tresendo, Sondrio, Morbegno, Colico, Bellano, Varenna, Lecco & Monza. Never having stayed in the area, I know nothing. Anybody been? From initial research, Lecco looks enticing, apparently costing a mite less than some of the high-rent Como villages.

Looking for one of those towns with a hotel within walking distance of the train station, so even if it's only an overnight stay, it's a simple respite. FYI, from there it's 3 nights Verona (or Sirmione on Lago de Garda, they've got the Thermal Aquaria Spa I might not be able to pass up!), 4 nights Florence, 6 nights to cap it off in Roma. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
6971 posts

If you choose to spend 3 nights at Sirmione, I do not see the need to stop at Lake Como, especially if for only one night.

There is a large selection of hotels within a mile of the Varenna train station, (which I consider walking distance)

Posted by
3386 posts

You didn't mention your budget, but for Varenna consider Hotel Villa Cipressi. Stayed there several nights and would do so again in a heartbeat. Easy walk from train station, and easy walk to ferry dock to explore other locations on the lake.

Posted by
782 posts

IF you're going to stop 1 or 2 nights and I'm assuming the train route is accommodating … I'd chose Varenna over Lecco simply because Lecco doesn't real feel like a place tourist would stay for 1 or 2 nights. It's not set up for tourists IMHO. Which is why it's cheaper. But I'm not sure why you feel the need to stop between Tirano and Verona. I might stop if I were driving since the roads are crazy but taking the train why stop if you don't have a reason to visit Lake Como. That said …. I love Lake Como and go out of my way to make it a stop for 2-3 nights whenever I'm in Italy.

Posted by
1805 posts

Donna--Tirano/Verona is 5 hours by train, and that would be after 4+ hours on the Bernina Express the same day, including a change at crazy-a** Milano Centrale station. I'm fairly experienced at European rail travel, and one thing I do know is that too much of a good thing turns out to be not a good thing anymore! Past trips, we've done max 4 hours on the train in one day, usually in the afternoon. Did it on a journey from Paris to Salerno, worked great.

Joe--Yes, if we stay in Sirmione, I understand that Lake Garda is similar in looks to Como but I've never been to either, and after this we'll be 10-11 days in landlocked Florence & Rome. And that spa is calling me...

TC--yes, Hotel Villa Cipressi in Varenna is $$$, at least 350 Euro/night for a decent room. Yikes, even if it's only one night. In Rome, I can get an apartment for 4 nights for that kinda money!

Posted by
782 posts

Sorry Jay, I guess I missed it was all the same day.... We have never stayed in Varenna . It's a little sleepy for us. We stay in Bellagio at Hotel Bellagio. It's not expensive. Although you do have to walk up many steps from the ferry to get there. Varenna would be easier since the train stops there. 2 nights would be good.

Posted by
489 posts

Varenna is a terrific stop between Tirano and Verona as long as you’re spending a night or two. If you do spend two nights, take a boat to Bellagio for the day.

Posted by
3604 posts

Jay, we stayed at Varenna during the RS Best of Italy tour. You can take a ferry over to Bellagio to enjoy that town, also. The train station is handy, and it would be nice to break up your long train rides.

We were there in September, so I don’t know about the typical April weather. If the yearly averages look like lots of rain, you might want to consider an alternate, also.

Posted by
1805 posts

Thanks, all. Varenna it is. And if I have to bite da bullet cost-wise for a couple nights, so be it, which is saying a lot for a budget-conscious (read: cheap-a**) guy like meself. Location, location. I remember on our aforementioned Paris to Salerno rail journey in 2015, we stayed two nights in Lucerne, Switzerland and I was appalled at the hotel rate directly across the street from the train station, around 250 Euro/night.

But those two days/nights were flat-out memorable--convenient, wonderful & stress-free, which why we're returning to Switzerland. You can't put a price on great memories!

Posted by
7947 posts

I’ve stayed twice in Varenna for 3 nights each trip. Once at a B & B and once at a hotel. Both were moderately priced and included breakfast. Not super fancy, but comfortable which is what I was looking for. I was at the hotel in May 2016. You don’t have to spend $$$ if you don’t want to. Obviously you will pay more for a lake view. There are plenty of places that are walkable from the train station.

http://albergo-del-sole.varenna.hotels-in-it.com/en/

Posted by
3386 posts

Hotel Villa Cipressi in Varenna is $$$, at least 350 Euro/night for a decent room.

Joe, The cost when we stayed there wasn't anywhere near that high. Sorry if we steered you in the wrong direction. Perhaps checking different sites will yield a better rate. At that price I don't think we'll be staying there again.