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Varenna, Menaggio, or Bellagio?

Which Lake Como town would you most recommend for a 3 day stay for a 50's couple? Why?

Posted by
22569 posts

Before I say - because everybody is different - what attracted you to Lake Como? What sort of things do you hope to do? Where will you be before, where will you be after? Will you have a car or are you on bus, boat and train?

Are you looking for an apartment, a small hotel or a large hotel? Do you have any physical restrictions? How are you on lots of stairs?

Unfortunately my crystal ball is a bit cloudy at the moment - British weather don't you know?

More information will yield considerably better answers.

Posted by
2845 posts

We've only stayed in Varenna but visited Menaggio and Bellagio from there via the ferry. I think that Varenna is a good choice because of transportation connections. The train station is there and you can walk to the city center from the train station. There are good restaurants and hotels in Varenna.

The location was also good for us as we enjoyed the Ristorante Il Caminetto Cooking classes.

Posted by
11718 posts

It depends where you are coming from and where you are going afterwards and Also if you are relying on a car or public transport.
Menaggio is the most easily accessible if you come from Lugano (via bus or car). Varenna is the most easily accessible if you come by train from Milan.
Bellagio is in the middle, across either by ferry. If you have a car it can be easily accessed by either Como (along the Como branch of the lake) or from Lecco (along the Lecco branch).
All three are pretty and can be visited by boat, since they are across the lake from one another.

Posted by
20 posts

We are just going to see the beauty of the lake and do some site seeing. There is no particular agenda. I went ahead and booked Varenna. Now my biggest concern is trying to figure out how to get from the Milan airport to Varenna. Thank you for your help!

Posted by
20 posts

Hi Nigel,

I guess I was just looking for opinions on what areas people enjoyed the most, without any particular plan in mind. We love to just see the sights, the beauty, the people, the geography, of an area. We are up for anything, so I just wanted to see what town others thought would make the best home base.

Posted by
2845 posts

Rick's Italy guide has specific directions for how to get to Varenna from Malpensa Airport. You'll have to take the airport shuttle bus (Malpensa Express, for example) from the airport to the Central Train Station. Then purchase tickets to Varenna Esino. It's a short stop so be prepared to exit the train when it arrives at the station.

You might also be able to take a train from the airport to the central train station but I've not tried this option so I can't comment on how it would work.

Enjoy Varenna! A good choice for Lake Como!

Posted by
1052 posts

First trip to Varenna in September and fell in love with the town. I've stayed in the town of Lake Como at the south end of the lake before. I enjoyed quiet Varenna at night wandering around the city. I stayed thre since I was traveling by train and it was easier then Bellagio for the train.

Posted by
30436 posts

Carla,

It's great to hear that you've booked a room in Varenna - great choice! It's easy to visit the other areas you mentioned, so Varenna makes a great home base for that area and has easy transportation connections.

On the question of getting from the airport in Milan to Varenna, it's VERY easy. I'm assuming you're arriving at MXP Terminal 1 after a flight from the U.S.? Here are the options....

  • OPTION 1 - TRAIN: Once you've collected your luggage, go to the train station at MXP and buy tickets from there to Varenna. You'll probably receive two tickets. Note that the destination station will be Varenna-Esino. Your trip will be in two segments - Malpensa Express to Milano Centrale and then Regionale from there to Varenna (DON'T forget to validate both tickets prior to boarding the trains!). As I recall, both services are operated by TreNord, rather than Trenitalia. One important point to mention is that there's also a Malpensa Express to Milano Cadorna, so BE SURE that you board the train to Centrale!
  • OPTION 2 - BUS: Once you've collected your luggage, find the stop for the Malpensa Shuttle. As I recall, there are two different companies operating on that route, and it doesn't matter which one you use. After leaving Terminal 1, the Bus will stop briefly at Terminal 2 and will then continue to Milano Centrale. Travel time will be about the same as the train for that first segment, about 50 minutes (but of course with the Bus, that will depend on traffic - in my experience, it's never been more than an hour). When you arrive at Milano Centrale, walk through the (side) entrance and up two flights of stairs to track level. Buy your ticket to Varenna using one of the Kiosks, which have an English-language option and are easy to use. If you check the large paper charts, the train that you'll be using will probably show an end-destination of Sondrio or Tirano (Varenna is an intermediate stop). As I recall, there are departures about every two hours, so you shouldn't have a long wait. You can research the train departure times on the Trenitalia website.

If you're arriving at Terminal 1, the easiest option would probably be to use the train. You'll be able to buy your tickets for both trips at the airport, so you won't have to deal with that when you arrive at Milano Centrale.

The trip to Varenna is 1H:03M, which is very easy. At about the one hour mark, you'll go through a tunnel. Be prepared to disembark promptly when the train stops, as it will only stop for about a minute. Depending on which hotel you're staying at, you should be able to walk from the station (it's mostly downhill). Taxi's seem to be a "hit & miss" proposition in Varenna, so there may or may not be one there when the train arrives.

For trips to Bellagio or wherever, the Ferry dock is directly in front of Albergo Olivedo (bright yellow building, you can't miss it). There is a ticket office there.

Happy travels!

Posted by
20 posts

WOW! Thank you for all of your comments and help. This is such a great site for sharing ideas.

Posted by
2724 posts

Why people keep giving the inferior bus shuttle option between the main terminal in Malpensa and Milano Centrale instead of the bus is one of the few things that really puzzle me on the Helpline. Maybe it is reminiscent of a time up to 2010 when no direct train between Malpensa and Milano Centrale ran, requiring a rather bothersome subway transfer.

But since there is and has been for 4 years a train that connects Milano Centrale and the airport, with no changes, there is no reason to take a bus which is subject to traffic delays instead of the train.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for letting me know that, Andre. Good tip!