Lugano or Varenna/Lake Como - or both?

I am travelling the second week of October and will have two-three days to make my way by train from Venice (end point of Greece/Italy cruise) to Bern. I'm somewhat limited in mobility, so long walks with luggage are not easy, but I would like to see either one - or both - of these locations on my way to Bern. I realize it is Switzerland and Italy but want to know whether the two are otherwise similar enough that I should plan to visit only one or both. In the Lake Como area, I am considering Varenna. Is one location likely to be more expensive than the other? I would appreciate any suggestions fellow travelers might have. Thank you for your help.

Posted by Tom
Farmingville, New York, USA
340 posts

Verenna is a pretty town that lots of folks like on here. There are frequent ferries to towns close by like Bellagio which I really enjoyed. Lugano is about 1 1/2 hour drive. We drove it and enjoyed it very much. I found it very different from the towns in the Lake Cuomo area. Not sure about the train or bus routes there since we drove it. But understand that in all these areas there is a lot of walking to see things. That does explain why when I travel there I eat to my hearts content and still manage to lose a few pounds when I am there.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6234 posts

Varenna is a small village and Lugano is a small city. Varenna would be less expensive. With limited mobility, you would need to be careful in choosing lodging. Albergo Milano has lots of steps to reach the entrance. Hotel Olivedo, near the ferry dock, would be a better choice. It is a fairly level walk frommthe train station, or you could ask a taxi to take you. From Varenna into Switzerland you could take the Bernina Express route to Chur. This is reputed to be the most scenic of Switzerland's scenic trains.

Posted by Shelley
Trenton, Ontario, Canada
333 posts

Kathe We came from Heidelberg to Lugano by train last October and had contemplated of staying there on our way to a cruise out of Venice. We opted instead to take the bus from Lugano(one of the most fun rides on a bus you will ever have besides the Amalfi coast bus ride) to Menaggio then the ferry to Varenna. We did stay at Hotel Olivedo as well. There is not much happening in Varenna in October - most of the restaurants are closed(although the Hotel does have and old but very good restaurant). We did take the Ferry around the upper part of the lake on one of the days and found Bellagio is where more is happening at that time of year. Granted it is has a lot of uphill to the town. I did notice as well in my research that Lugano along the lake front is very beautiful.
Good luck and happy travels

Posted by Elizabeth
Lake Oswego, OR, United States
45 posts

If you decide to go to Lake Como, I would strongly vote for staying in Bellagio rather than in Varenna. We stayed there in April 2012 at the Hotel Florence, which is a very short flat walk from the ferry landing. I know that Rick S urges people to stay in Varenna, but we have friends who live on Lake Como in Cernobbio and they strongly urged us to stay in Bellagio instead- a choice we were very glad we had made when we ferried over to Varenna and saw just how small it is. Bellagio is not big but it has more going on than Varenna! We loved the Hotel Florence (opt for a balcony room with a view of the stunning lake) and look forward to a return in the hopefully not too distant future. A truly beautiful, restful part of the world.

Posted by HK
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
115 posts

I'll put in another vote for Bellagio, if you are mobile enough for it. We've stayed there on both our trips to Como and prefer it as our home base.