The southern shore of Lake Como is just 32 miles (51 km) from Milan. This iconic Italian lake draws visitors from around the world, and with good reason. Lake Como is lovely at any time of year, and its shores are sprinkled with picturesque towns, gorgeous villas, and quiet places where urban life seems far away.
It's easy to travel from Milan to Lake Como. Taking the train is affordable and efficient. Driving to Lake Como is straightforward, too. Navigazione Laghi ferries connect lakeshore towns, allowing you to explore with or without a car. Because Milan and Lake Como are not far apart, taking a taxi or hiring a private driver can be a good option. Bus service is available, but it is less practical than other transportation options.
Lake Como's shape resembles an inverted Y, so travel times from Milan to lakeshore communities vary. Many visitors focus on one or more of the three most popular Lake Como destinations, Como, Bellagio, and Varenna. Others want to circumnavigate the lake by car, a drive that takes about four hours without stops or traffic.
If time permits, consider spending a week or more in Milan and Italy's Lakes Region.
Duration: 40 minutes or more, depending on the destination
Taking a Trenitalia or Trenord train from Milan to the Lake Como region is a fairly straightforward process. If you are heading to Como, the journey should last no longer than one hour and ten minutes, depending on which type of train you select. Regionale (regional) trains take longer but cost less. The train from Milan to Varenna-Esino gets you to Varenna in one hour. From there, you can visit Varenna or take a Navigazione Laghi ferry to Bellagio, a 15-minute trip.
By Car, Taxi, or Private Transfer
Duration: 40 minutes - 1.25 hours, depending on the destination
Milan is 32 miles from Como, 46 miles from Bellagio, and 49 miles from Varenna. The easiest way to drive from Milan to Como is via the A8 and A9/E35 toll highways. Remember that both Milan and Como have a Zona a Traffico Limitato (ZTL). If you drive in the ZTL without official permission, you will be ticketed.
The drive from Milan to Como takes less than an hour via the A9/E35. If you love nature and history, stop at Spina Verde Regional Park near San Fermo della Battaglia, just outside of Como. Here you'll find hiking trails, Barardello Castle, Bronze Age rock carvings, World War I trenches, and, as you might imagine, stunning views of Lake Como from the hillsides.
If you are driving to Varenna or Bellagio via Strada Statale 36 (SS36), consider stopping at Monza, just outside Milan, to see the world-famous Autodromo Nazionale Monza Formula 1 race track. Take a tour of the track; if money is no object, you can even learn to drive a race car (reservations required). The ornate Royal Palace of Monza is a short distance away.
Parco Monte Barro, near Galbiate, is another pleasant stop along SS36. This regional park is perfect for hikers, walkers, and birdwatchers; Parco Monte Barro has a bird migration study station because of the diversity of migratory birds that pass through the park. Free climbers of all levels will enjoy the challenge of climbing Falesia di Camporeso. If you hike to the top of Monte Barro, you will see lovely views of Lake Annone and Lake Como.
The best way to get from Milan to Bellagio is via SS36 and SS583. The entire trip will take about one and one-quarter hours.
By Car or Train & Ferry
Duration: Varies by destination
If you don't want to drive around the entire lake, taking a ferry is a fun and practical way to get to Como's many lakeside towns. Navigazione Laghi ferries, including car ferries, stop at many Lake Como communities, and they run year-round. Make your way from Milan to Lake Como by car or train, then board a ferry and enjoy the view.