Lake Como is a luxury Italian vacation hotspot studded with the upscale villas of Bellagio and the historical Renaissance architecture of Como. Set against the foothills of the Rhaetian Alps, Italy’s third-largest lake has no shortage of dramatic Instagrammable backdrops. We’ve rounded up 10 of the most Instagrammable things to see in Lake Como – from the exotic gardens of Villa Melzi to the colorful terraces of Varenna.
Take in Lake Como from the Volta Lighthouse via the Brunate Funicular
Credit: @Gabe Quiles
If your Lake Como vacation lands you in the city of Como at the southern tip of the lake, then make sure you don’t miss this instagrammable destination. Ascend above the coastline in a funicular – a.k.a. a cable car on a steep incline – to the village of Brunate (known as “the balcony of the alps”) for panoramic views of rural Como 500 meters below. Snap a shot on the seven-minute ride up to town, or continue another 30 minutes on-foot to climb to the top of the Volta Lighthouse for dramatic views of the Alpine arch.
Experience Villa Melzi Gardens in Bellagio
Credit: @LiveLoveTravel Italy
If your trip includes a visit to the city of Bellagio located in the center of the Y-shaped Lake Como, then be sure to wander the grounds around Villa Melzi, an early-19th century, neo-classical villa built by Count Francesco Melzi d’Eril, the Vice President of the First Italian Republic in Napoleon’s time. Multiple winding paths intersect through exotic trees and bright rhododendrons and azaleas, extending up a slope from the villa. Perhaps the most Instagrammable spot of the Villa Melzi Gardens (a close tie with the waterlily-dotted Japanese pond) is the blue-domed gazebo, set waterside on Lake Como.
Walk the Beauty of the Wayfarer’s Trail
Credit: @Martina Sheehan
Located along the eastern shoreline of Lake Como, the city of Varenna is full of stunning scenery. Trek a stretch of the ancient path that meanders through meadows, chestnut forests and olive trees, beginning in Varenna and connecting small and large villages along the way. As “Il Sentiero del Viandante” meets ancient chapels, footbridges across quiet streams and patches of wildflowers, you’ll find plenty of Instagrammable spots along the 40-km. trail that stretches to other countries beyond the Alps.
Take in the Colors of Varenna
Credit: @The Inspired Traveller.
Just like the Wayfarer’s Trail, Varenna’s many vibrant, romantic backdrops will compete for the attention of your lens. A short 15-min. ferry ride from Bellagio, Varenna’s picturesque shoreline is enough to upgrade your Instagram feed with travel blogger-worthy shots, but make sure to hop off the ferry to explore the village’s historical and natural attractions. The town center’s Romanesque and Gothic-style buildings stand atop a floor made entirely of local marble.
Check out the Views from Villa Cipressi
While you’re in Varenna, be sure to visit Villa Cipressi, which encompasses a collection of beautiful botanical gardens and historic structures dating from 1400-1800. Once occupied by noble families, it’s now home to Varenna’s most Instagrammable hotel, offering magical views of Lake Como via its lush botanical gardens and guest room windows.
Relax by Italy’s Shortest River
You wouldn’t think “Italy’s shortest river” would be much of a sight to see, but this little river located just south of Varenna is a must-see during your Instagrammable adventures through Lake Como. At a mere 250 meters from its source to its end in Lake Como, Fiumelatte (a name derived from “fiume”, Italian for “river” – and “latte”, Italian for “milk”) is Italy’s shortest river and has held the interest of several historic figures over the years – it was even mentioned in the writings of Leonardo da Vinci.
Fiumelatte’s milky-white waters roar down from caverns in the mountains above, giving it a waterfall-like appearance, which just demands to be Instagrammed – along with the spot known as “Baluardo”, which offers panoramic views of Lecco’s shores. Just don’t go hunting this river down between October and March, as the river dries up in mid-October and suddenly reappears during the second half of March.
Take in a Sunset from Isola Comacina
Credit: @Paola Martini
Located just off the western shore near Tremmezzina, the sole island of Lake Como is the prime spot for capturing the sunset amidst lush Mediterranean vegetation set in a nearly-deserted landscape. Here, you can take a self-guided tour of the island’s ancient Roman ruins, like the Roman Basilica dedicated to Saint Eufemia. Or go on the feast of St. Giovanni for a firework display that’s worth posting to your Instagram stories.
Check Out the Caves and Falls of Orrido di Bellano
Credit: @Sì… Viaggiare | LOMBARDIA ??
Situated in the small town of Bellano on the eastern shore of the lake you’ll find Orrido di Bellano, a natural gorge carved out over 15 million years ago by the glacial waters of the Pioverna Streams, via a concrete footbridge. Here, you’ll find “The Devil’s House”, which is an unusual four-story tower of unknown origin. The main centerpiece of the gorge, though, is the foamy white waterfalls that pool into magnificent blue crevasses, so there’s no need to up your saturation settings for your Instagram feed.
Get Lost in the Forest of Spina Verde Park
Credit: @Gisella Lo Monaco
Spreading across nearly four miles along the hillcrests northwest of Como, Spina Verde Park offers stunning views from the forested hills that overlook Lake Como on its 12 hiking and biking trails. Along the trails, you’ll come across several historical sights, including Castel Baradello, a 6th century military fortification, Croce di Saint’Eutichio, a gigantic cross that lights up at night and is always visible from the city of Como, and the trenches and tunnels of Monte Sasso, which were created to protect against German invasion during the first world war. Just a few minutes away from the trenches, you’ll find the springs of the Seveso River, which stretches across 32 miles until it reaches the city of Milan – another Instagrammable destination worth taking a day trip from Lake Como. Come to break a sweat on your vacation, but stay a little longer for panoramic views of Lake Como below.
Wander Through the Streets of Bellagio
We may have saved the best for last because the streets of Bellagio, the city known as “The Pearl of Lake Como”, appear as if they were originally crafted for your Instagram feed. Here, you’ll find dozens of restaurants and shops as you meander through the terraced, cobblestone streets featuring views of Lake Como and the Alps peeking through the ancient villas and churches.
Full of natural beauty, Italian history and world-renowned luxury, Lake Como provides endless Instagrammable moments for those wanting to capture enviable #wanderlust moments.