Please sign in to post.

Lake Garda vs Lake Como?

We will be in Milan and Cremona in Sept. Which lake (or both) should we see and why? thanks.

Posted by
16434 posts

They are very different and I suggest you visit both. I assume you are thinking of day trips---Lago di Como from Milan, and Garda from Cremona?

We have visited each lake once, for three nights in each case. We went to Varenna from Cinque Terre in late June with our daughters. It was so hazy when we arrived one could not see across the lake. I was sorry we had left the CT to end up with no view! The next day was also hazy but we had scheduled a cooking class at Il Caminetto so we didn't mind being indoors. ( I highly recommend the cooking class, by the way; lots of fun and very informative). The next day it was clear and we really enjoyed a walk and then a ride across to Menaggio to swim and kayak (but could not kayak as none were available). We had a very nice room and truly enjoyed the dinners on the hotel's lakeside terrace. But if you would like to stay for dinner, make sure there will be a late train back to Milan.

Apparently haze is a fairly common occurrence on Lago di Como; I noticed afterwards that Rick refers to "lazy, hazy Lake Como". Many people enjoy visiting villas and gardens on the lake by boat but we did not have time for that.

We went to Garda in mid-April, as an add-on to a Venice trip. We stayed in Malcescine, near the northern end, and loved it. The weather was great (and the air very clear and clean). Malcescine is a base for active sports---wind surfing, hiking on Monte Baldo behind the town ( a gondola takes you up if you prefer hiking downhill), mountain biking, and more. Lake boats link many of the towns around the lake. Sirmione at the very southern end is supposed to be full of medieval charm but we did not make it there. The northern end of the lake is in the mountains; the southern end is flatter ( and more crowded with tourists due to Gardaland and other attractions).

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you and yes - Lake Como from MIlan, Lake Garda from Cremona. Someone else suggested Cinque Terre and Liguria.

Posted by
1091 posts

We stayed just above Bellagio for five days in June last year and it was spectacular. The views and the weather couldn't have been more beautiful. We did spend one day taking the ferries around the lake and really enjoyed each village.

This September we are going to Lake Garda and staying in Malcesine. Each lake is beautiful and I am not sure that you will go wrong with either, depending on your interests and goals for the trip.

Posted by
15285 posts

Both are beautiful.
Lake Como is best in the mid lake (e.g. Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio and other towns in the area)
Lake Garda is best in the narrower north side. My favorite village there is Limone, just across the lake from Malcesine. However all towns are nice and quaint. Sirmione in the south is worth a visit, however it's the most popular town on the lake, therefore it's overwhelmed by tourists, especially German and Dutch, who practically own the lake (I call lake Garda the German Sea).

Posted by
3134 posts

Cinque Terre as a daytrip from Milan? It is a minimum of three hours each way to Monterosso, where you change for a local train to the village of your choice. Makes for a very long day.

There must be nice towns along the train in northern Liguria that would be a shorter travel time. Maybe Roberto can suggest one.

Posted by
16894 posts

Lake Como makes more sense than Cinque Terre as a daytrip from Milan. Direct trains take only one hour each way between Milano Centrale station and Varenna; approximate schedules in that chapter of Rick's book, or see

Posted by
20 posts

So we are going to Lake Como from Milan; Lake Garda from Cremona. My husband has to work one day each in Milan and Cremona. Then on to vacation! Venice. If we can squeeze it in the question is CT or Tuscany? Seems like Tuscany is the only place that will be rolling hills not lake or canals.... but we only have 3 nights..... then back to an airport hotel in Milan..... is it enough time?