A slice of paradise: walking trails of Lake Como

In May 2022, Emily from the KE office enjoyed 5 days exploring the scenic walking trails and charming towns of Italy’s beautiful Lake Como on our ... Read more
A slice of paradise: walking trails of Lake Como

In May 2022, Emily from the KE office enjoyed 5 days exploring the scenic walking trails and charming towns of Italy’s beautiful Lake Como on our Self-Guided Walking on Lake Como Holiday. Having just got married a few days before this trip, Emily and her husband were looking for a short break away which would include a few of life’s luxuries at a great price. Read on for an account of their little adventure.


Day 1

After all the build-up and the fantastic busyness of our big day, we were eager to escape on a quick trip to Italy’s prettiest lake. Starting with an early arrival into Milan’s Malpensa airport, we caught the train to the town of Como, enjoyed lunch here and then chose to take the open top ferry to Lenno, our idyllic base for this holiday, half way up the lake’s west shore.

The journey was really simple and we took everything at our own pace, having had an early start to the day. The town of Como is naturally busy as it is the main transport hub for the lake but we were happy to enjoy an ice cream and watch life pass us by waiting for the ferry, with the backdrop of towering mountains and the glistening lake beyond. Waiting for the ferry was also a good opportunity to familiarise ourselves with ferry timetables and plan when to use our pre-arranged ferry vouchers for the days ahead.


Day 2

Refreshed and ready to start exploring, we started our day with a short walk right from our hotel front door to the stunningly beautiful Villa Balbianello. The itinerary suggests you visit on day 1 but as it’s closed on Mondays (our day 1) it was easy to visit the villa in the morning and still complete our planned walk in the afternoon; that’s the beauty of being based in Lenno.

Villa Balbianello was simply stunning – beyond expectations of what you would want from a villa perched on an outcrop surrounded by Lake Como. The villa was built in the 17th century, over the ruins of a Franciscan monastery, for Cardinal Durini.  Over the years this property has been owned by numerous people, including the Count Guido Monzino – famous for his many expeditions including the first Italian ascent of Everest in 1973. When he died, he left the Villa to the F.A.I – the Italian equivalent of The National Trust. Inside the villa you can browse memorabilia brought back from expeditions to Kilimanjaro, the North Pole and Nepal.

We enjoyed walking through the exquisite gardens and then caught a little boat a kilometre back to Lenno rather then re-trace our steps, because, why not!

Next, after another gelato, we downloaded our GPX tracks and studied our map and route notes for the 1hr/1hr30 walk ahead to Tremezzo. This was a lovely route that started on the ‘Green Way’ walkway. After 10 minutes we were walking up and away from the lake (and other tourists) through winding streets. We followed a short detour to the house where Mussolini and Claretta Petucci were found dead in April 1945. There is a plaque and short description of their last days on the gate here.

Continuing to climb to the baroque church Sant’Abbondio we stopped to admire great views from Bellagio to Balbianello and the huge 2,409m Mount Grigna. Next we followed a mule track through fields, olive groves and fig trees and felt like we were really discovering the real day-to-day local life of this region. This was a route we would have never thought to follow without our route notes.

When we arrived in Tremezzo we paid to explore the extensive grounds of Villa Carlotta. The gardens are split into many sections such as the bamboo garden, citrus grove and ferns valley, and you can spend hours exploring the botanical delights. The heavens opened up whilst we walked around but that didn’t matter, there were plenty of enormous trees to shelter under and once the quick downpour had passed, the air was beautifully clear. We than caught our pre-paid ferry back to Lenno and enjoyed dinner at one of the many restaurants in the town. 

Total: 10km, 300m elevation gain


Day 3

Starting with a continental breakfast which is included every day at the hotel, we then wandered to Lenno’s pier to catch the ferry over to the Bellagio peninsula and town nicknamed “the pearl of the Lake”, famous for its position at the centre-point of the three parts of Lake Como.

Our 4 hour walk today took us first along the east side of the peninsular, giving us new views along the right ‘leg’ of the lake. We followed our route notes and GPX track 250m up and out of the town to be rewarded with fantastic views of the peninsular. Looking north we could see the highest lakeside summit; Mount Legnone, at 2,610m. We stopped for our well earnt lunch here at the Perlo Panorama hotel which also doubles at a road cycling café hub. We made a mental note to return to Como with our road bikes at some point in the future as the road climbs, descents and scenery are all fantastic.

Next we descended westward with views across to Tremezzo and yesterday’s walk. As we reached the lake shore we turned right back towards to the town of Belagio, first stopping at the Jardins de la Villa Melzi. This is another pretty gardens and villa built between 1808 – 1812 by Francesco Melzi d’Eril, vice-president of the Cisalpine Republic founded by Napoleon who was the Chancellor and collaborator of this sister republic.

In the villa gardens take a look inside the Orangery adjacent to the villa, in here there is a small museum, which exhibits Napoleonic memorabilia and evidence of Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril’s loyalty to Napoleon. Walking out of the gardens we were soon back in the colourful town of Bellagio. Each street is picture perfect and it’s full of high end art, designer clothing and jewellery shops. We enjoyed a glass of wine before catching our 16:40 ferry back to Lenno.

Total: 10km, 316m elevation gain


Day 4

This was our final day of walking and, looking back, it was our favourite day. We caught the ferry over to the eastern leg of the lake to walk on one of the most ancient paths on the lakeside. This path was originally created by the Roman legionnaires and then improved by pilgrims seeking the isolated abbeys of the area. This section of the “Sentiero-del-viandante” (path of the wayfarer) trail is waymarked with sighs of red and white stripes and orange arrows.

After following our route notes out of the town of Bellano, we reached the Orrido di Bellano gorge. This was a total surprise – a huge deep natural gorge with a hydroelectric power plant inside. For a couple of euros we could follow a man-made route on suspended paths and bridge inside the gorge. We would definitely recommend popping in for a visit.

Back on our route looking out for the orange marking and signs with Sentiero del Viandante we reached our first muleteers’ path to some welcome shade underneath olive groves and small vines. Passing the isolated Addolorata chapel we then took a break at a well located picnic bench to enjoy the view. In the town of Gittana we could stop at one of the many free local clean water drinking fountains and re-fill our bottles.

The highlight was arriving at Vezio castle where we could explore the dungeons, wall and old keep. At the top of the keep we were rewarded with the best views so far of the west and east legs of the lake.

We next descended down a dramatic path to the town of Varenna and walked along the popular suspended walkway perched over the lake. Time for another pizza, glass of wine and gelato. After catching the ferry back to Lenno we enjoyed a swim in the deceptively chilly waters (it was only May) for the perfect end of the day.

Total: 11km 446m elevation gain

Day 5

The unfortunate day where we had to leave stunning Lake Como. We opted for the cheaper public bus back to Como – it was very busy and windy and in retrospect I would recommend the ferry back if the times work out. It was easy and cheap to catch the train back to Milan and we jetted home feeling like we’d only just scratched the surface of this fantastic area. 


If you would you like to know more about any of KE's holidays, then give us a call on +01768 773966 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415. You can email; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can also organise a face-to-face zoom meeting on request. We offer trusted holidays with financial protection and flexible booking conditions.
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