Why I Didn’t Love Lake Como

Filed Under: Travel

Earlier I wrote a review of the Sheraton Lake Como, which is a decent enough conference hotel, though doesn’t really do justice to the beauty of Lake Como. The next installment in this series will be about Il Sereno, the next hotel we stayed at, which was stunning. Seriously, how beautiful is that?

The focus of this blog is airlines and hotels, so I don’t typically talk much about destinations as such. But in this post I wanted to briefly talk about why I don’t need to return to Lake Como anytime soon. Let me start by saying that Lake Como and the area surrounding it is gorgeous. Italy as a whole is an incredible country, with varied landscape, great food, amazing architecture, etc.

Maybe the issue partly is the expectations I had coming in. So many people said “Lake Como is the most beautiful place on earth, you’ll love it.” I think there’s something to be said for a place being so hyped that you’re almost set up for disappointment. Most of the destinations that I’ve fallen in love with lately are places that I had no expectations of coming in. But when you come in with high expectations, I think it’s tough to be “wowed.”

We didn’t rent a car, which at first I thought was a smart decision. In general I prefer using other transportation methods whenever possible (Uber, walking, public transportation, etc.), and based on my experiences in Italy in the past, it’s not a country where I feel especially comfortable driving. I think this was a mistake, because getting around Lake Coma was a total PITA. There’s no Uber, and the towns aren’t closed so that you can walk (and there was also a real lack of sidewalk between towns). So the only option is taxis.

The problem is that there aren’t actually any taxi stands, so they’re not readily available. There’s no easy way to walk between towns, so you always have to ask someone to call a taxi, and then the taxi actually starts the meter when they start the journey to you. So by the time you get in a taxi the meter is already up to 10-15EUR, and a short drive will cost you 20EUR+.

I know this is minor in the grand scheme of things, though given the lack of other transportation options, I found this to be really frustrating, since even a trip from the Sheraton to the nearby town of Como cost 40EUR+ roundtrip, and for a roundtrip journey you’d typically have to wait 20+ minutes. Whatever, it is what it is, but as someone who appreciates easy access to transportation, this was frustrating. I guess we should have rented a car (though at the same time, parking in many areas seems like it would have been a challenge).

Probably the place we heard most about in the area was Bellagio, which is located near the top of the lake. I can’t even say how many people I’ve overheard talking about Bellagio, which many say is the one “must see” place there.

Visiting Bellagio was my least favorite part of our time in Lake Como. Impressions of places are largely formed by individual experiences, and our experience just wasn’t good… maybe we were unlucky. It was a two hour ferry ride, and the ferry was so full that the only way we could sit was to eat in the crappy restaurant on the boat, since all the other seating was taken.

When we arrived in Bellagio it was so overcrowded that you could barely walk around. To me there’s absolutely no charm in going somewhere that’s filled to the brim with tourists. It almost felt like an amusement park.

There were lines everywhere, those working in restaurants almost seemed to have a disdain for tourists (which I sort of get, in a way), it was a 20 minute wait to be able to talk to someone at the ferry ticket counter, etc. By the time we got back to the hotel we were so sweaty and tired that we just ordered room service at the Sheraton, which is saying a lot.

Look, don’t get me wrong, Lake Como is beautiful. There’s a reason it’s a popular tourist destination. The food is great, as you’d expect in Italy. One day we rented a private boat and just drove it around Lake Como for a couple of hours, and that was magical. Absolutely magical. And we enjoyed the time we spent walking through the small towns without tourists. The problem was that there’s only so much you can do in these small towns, since many of them don’t have shops, and you can’t eat every hour, even in Italy. 😉

But personally this isn’t a place I need to return to anytime soon. I can’t say “damn the tourists for overcrowding this place,” because I was one of those people. But personally I’d rather visit destinations that aren’t as overrun with tourists. Add in the general transportation logistics, and the fact that I found most people in the service industry to have a bad attitude towards tourists, and I don’t need to return anytime soon.

I’m not suggesting one shouldn’t visit Lake Como, but rather to maybe come in with more modest expectations. That way there’s a chance you’ll actually be pleasantly surprised.

I know this region is full of incredible landscape, including lakes, mountains, etc. Maybe there’s a less overrun area I should visit next time, where I’d no doubt have a much better time?

If you’ve visited Lake Como, what was your experience like?

  1. Sounds like you might like it, if you went during a slower season, perhaps September or October.

  2. My wife and I visited in late Sept, so we had tourists, but probably not as many as you, it seems.
    Our lunch at a Bellagio restaurant was great, the second best pasta I had in Italy (the best was actually in the town of Ferrari, would you believe it!).
    But you are right, I didn’t get the hype. It was a bit too much. Overall, enjoyable place but definitely not the ‘most beautiful place in the world’.

    BTW, did you walk up to the lighthouse via the Como–Brunate funicular? The landscapes are definitely gorgeous from that height, and you can see the Swiss mountains as well.
    Give it a go next time, if you happen to visit it again 😉

  3. Totally agree with your point of view. While I have never been to Lake Como, when visiting Füssen, Germany it was normally packed with tourists and tour buses, taking away a bit of the charm of the beautiful scenery, town and nearby mountains. While I enjoyed visiting the world famous castles, driving around to some other not-so famous towns in Bavaria was my favorite part of my trip as I was one of the few tourists there. In these towns I really felt the charm and beauty of southern Bavaria.

  4. Yeah, lake Como in July. As a super-seasoned traveler surely you knew better? Mid fall seems far better.

  5. Totally agree with you. I went to Bellagio in early December one year. The place was deader than dead. Only one restaurant open so going too late in the season is a bummer as well. Lugano is much better in my opinion and I’ve totally enjoyed every stay there.

  6. @ Geoff — Well, this was an anniversary trip, so sort of tough to move those dates around. If you know of a quiet place with nice weather to visit in late June, please let me know. 😉

  7. Try Lago di Garda. Very close, simliar scenery but George Clooney does not have house there so its not so poular yet 😉

  8. You fucked up that trip so you had a not so good time. You should have done some research prior. Your blog is getting worse and worse. If you would have asked some people whom had gone there, there are many things to do, and they would have told you to drive there. What kind of travel blogger can’t drive in forign countries? Poorly done. I’ve been to Como many times, and it was awesome every single time.

  9. I recommend staying in Varenna, which has its own train station in the line to Milan. It has hotels and restaurants and is only a short ferry to Bellagio and other towns in the mid-lake. I agree that Bellagio is over-rated. The views were incredible, but the town itself didn’t have that much to offer.

  10. Maybe you should try Turin Airport and head to the Langhe region in Autumn and see the White Truffle Festival in Alba. Driving is a must there, but traffic is pretty much non existent compared with Milan.

  11. I’m with MilesMath. We stayed in Varenna a couple summer’s ago in late June/early July and had a wonderful time. Took the ferry early one morning to Bellagio before it was inundated and enjoyed it, though Varenna was much nicer. Had a great, great cooking class in the small village above Varenna. Loved also how easy it was to get there from Milan. Love your blog, but in places like this, even with points options available to stay, spending time in a small bed and breakfast or family hotel would have let you have a much more enjoyable experience.

  12. I experienced the same when we visited Lake Como last year. Bellagio was very overrated, crowded and just “meh”. We stayed in Varenna and it was beautiful. Less crowded, nice food and very scenic.

  13. Varenna is a great base location with easy ferry access. Also continue on train past Varenna and you can link up with the Bernini express in Switzerland where you can eat and drink on the top of Alp Grum with a glacier backdrop (amazing day trip..we skipped Bellagio and did this instead).

  14. I too had heard wonders of Como — and the first 3 times I went was in winter. My experiences were less-than-thrilled but for different reasons (cold, everything shut, dark, couldn’t really experience the water, etc.)

    I then went a 4th time in May and it was totally different. Stayed in Menaggio mid-lake and it was a dream. Small, walkable, plenty of things to do and zero crowds at all during that month. Didn’t need a car as we just based ourselves there and took the ferry to Varenna and around — again, prefer that to Como proper or Bellagio.

    for your next June anniversary — try booking a gulet and taking a tour along the turkish coast. One of my favorite vacations ever!

  15. For someone who has the entire year open for travel — as you do — simple research would have told you where NOT to go during the time you wanted to travel for your anniversary.

    Amateur mistake.

  16. @Tim you write so elegantly perhaps you should start your own blog. Maybe you could call it Traveling: Do Your Fucking Research Bro

    And also Lake Como is a crappy tourist trap

  17. While I understand your personal irritation (if you can even call it that) with a short ride being 20EUR, I’m glad they do that. All this crying from half your readers about Uber tipping, this system of charging for the trip to pick you up should be in place worldwide.

    Tim, you have a stick you should get rid of.

    Lucky says approximately “I didn’t enjoy it”
    You say approximately “I did enjoy it so your blog is getting worse”

  18. The gorgeous places that are not overcrowded by tourists yet are the ones that are hard to get to by points and miles 😉 For example: Aitutaki – Cook Islands, Procida – Italy, Colmar and Eguisheim – France that I have been to recently! Check out the photos in my blog: https://missvacation.wordpress.com/
    Your blog is focused on flights & hotels and not the destinations whiles mines is focused on the destinations, perhaps some collaboration? 😀

  19. I wonder whether you sometimes think that any place on earth is not only about the most touristic sight and the most expensive hotel? Lake Como sure is touristic.. but then again, it’s touristic in villages like Bellaggio, and in high season.
    Same is true for any more or less popular destination. Paris is not about Eiffel Tower and Ritz; anyone who is judging just based on that, is probably making a mistake 🙂
    I certainly do hate Bellaggio and all these glitzy villas, but there is so much more about Lake Como. To see how beautiful it is one has to stay in agriturismos far away from the crowds, hike in the mountains etc.

  20. We were just at Lake Como in May. Perfect time of year…less crowds, beautiful weather…yes we did have a car…it’s required.. We stayed in Verenna at a lovely VRBO, and took the ferry to neighboring towns…I don’t quite get the Bellagio hype either. Looking for a beautiful alpine lake experience that is less crowded , less expensive and just as beautiful??? Lake Garda…Italy’s largest lake….loved Sirmione with its castle and ancient Roman ruins….will return for sure!!!!

  21. Late October or early November is an absolutely lovely time to go to Lake Como: I’ve done it for the past three years, stayed at the Villa D’Este, and enjoyed lovely weather, beautiful scenery, excellent food, and no tourists. Bellagio was deserted. We ate at one of Clooney’s favorite restaurants and were one of three tables there that evening. It’s much like being a Stefan Zweig novel, minus the Nazis. Also, after a brief afternoon in Como, we decided there was no reason to bother going back. Quite a lot of places close down for the season starting in early November, so the key is to go just before everything closes.

  22. Ben,
    This just men’s you need to join us in Villefranche sur Mer in Jan or Feb! Not as much traffic, good weather and you can get into restaurants!!

  23. for someone so into travels I’m very surprised you didn’t do your homework before this trip, first of all Como isn’t for everyone but yet everyone’s free to come, to avoid that you must travel before peak season let’s say in May, and you have to make your Como trip as individual as you can, rent a house, rent a car and rent a boat, if you skip to do any of that be prepared to be a part of the crowd.

  24. Next time you are in Italy I recommend taking the train from Milan to Bergamo. It is a nice medieval town full of architecture and history, plus it offers beautiful views of the Italian alps. I went in March once and hardly saw any tourists.

  25. If you are willing to adjust the time to the first of June I recommend my home state of Wyoming. Fly into Jackson (Hole to many). Drive by the Tetons, enter the park, stay a night at the old faithful lodge or the hotel on the lake. Both are “rustic”. Exit the park to the NE and travel to Red lodge, MT. Considered one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. After that just go to Billings and leave.

  26. Ben –

    I must question your response to @Geoff:

    “If you know of a quiet place with nice weather to visit in late June, please let me know.”

    Surely you knew in advance that, in summer, Lake Como was going to have all the charm of a Disney World exhibit. But there are many destinations in Europe that are quite wonderful, even at the height of the tourist onslaught. I personally love the wildness of Scotland’s Northern Isles for a mid-summer escape. Have you ever considered staying at Ballyfin in central Ireland? You & Ford would have a massive estate pretty much all to yourselves; just imagine horseback riding through the peaceful Irish hinterland on a warm summer night. Magical!

    Or Dartmoor in England; the Hotel Endsleigh is quite enchanting and the scenery is, imo, some of the most spectacular in Europe. Others may disagree; but, I find Dartmoor to be quiet and seemingly desolate even at the height of the season.

    Or how about going on a great avgeek adventure, such as traveling to Nizhny Novgorod to fly in a MiG 29 literally to the edge of space? Though obviously this type of trip would not meet your “quiet” parameter.

    So I’m saying that with a little bit of creative thought and research, a person can create a romantic, memorable anniversary trip to Europe in summer that avoids the touristic hordes and service industry’s bad attitudes.

  27. You are a wise man. I could not agree more with your assessment. Lake Garda by car is amazing. There is real Italian life and amazing hotels and restaurants outside the main tourist destinations. Try that next time.

  28. We opted to visit Lago Maggiore instead of Como on a trip a few years ago in late May. We stayed in Stresa, which is actually really close to Malpensa. Unfortunately if you want to take the train you have to go into the city of Milan first, but there might be a bus or other option direct from the airport. It was not crowed in late May, but not sure what a month later would look like. There are three islands in the lake that were once owned by the Boromeo family of Milan that are really easy to explore by ferry (10-15 min ride max). It’s really a lovely place with mountains all around – even a view of the Matterhorn.

  29. @ Lucky – Isle of Skye, though it wouldn’t help OMAAT much due to zero places to use points for staying on the island. Lots of romantic scenery for an anniversary though, and it never get truly crowded because of its remoteness, but you would need a rental car to get around easily.

  30. We spent a week in Varenna last May and it was magical. We took the ferry over to Bellagio in the late afternoon a couple times as the day trippers started to leave. Bellagio was charming with light crowds on a Spring evening–visiting during the day in the Summer sounds like a nightmare, as does basing the trip in the town of Como.

  31. I stay in Varenna which has very few tourists and a few nice hotels, stunning views and some good restaurants. I take boats around the lake and I never go in the summertime.
    Bellagio is overrun with tourists midday even in the Spring and Fall. If you go early or late the day trippers are gone and it’s pleasant.

  32. We just got back mid-July from Lago Maggiore after deciding that the “Clooney Effect” was going to make Como less than ideal. (I had spent a few days in Bellagio several years ago and it was terrific. I thought about returning but I just had the feeling that this was not the year for our Midwestern family of five to visit.) In Stresa – on Lago Maggiore – we had zero lines for the ferries to the islands (Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori), our choice of restaurants, affordable lakeside accommodations and plenty of gelato options. Don’t get me wrong, Como is great, but you’re going to get more tourists there than on the other lakes. And the Lago Maggiore scenery – well take a look: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1r6McU

  33. I might have gotten lucky, but I found Bellagio to be absolutely charming even at the beginning of July. The best base in Como is Varenna, which has a direct rail link to Milan or Menaggio, which is the quiet neighbor of both those towns. I find the streets of Bellaggio absolutely picturesque, and it gets a lot less crowded as you make your way up the hill (many people just stroll around the restaurants near the ferry terminal). We may have just hit the two extremes, but there’s no denying the charm of those towns. (Varenna is my favorite btw)

    Here are a few pictures from my stay there:

  34. You go to Lake Como in the busiest time of the year, you don’t rent a car, you decide to stay in a US chain hotel in Italy and you didn’t like the place. Oh well…..

  35. I think your main mistake here is going to Italy in summer. It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be crowded, and if those aren’t your things, you’re going to be disappointed. I’d have picked a different destination for your anniversary and planned a trip to Italy in the fall. We went to Como in early November, and it was a MUCH different experience. It’s a tad chilly but I’ll take that over the overcrowding any day.

  36. Its a horrible, putrid place for the simpletons of the world whichbis why you didn’t like it. It really is just like The Poconos or The Catskills. Its just wrong.

  37. Sipping a cappuccino at Cremeria Bolla while watching the city awaken with morning activity. Admire the artwork at Duomo di Como. Get breathtaking pics at the gardens of Villa Carlotta. Trust chef Davide Maci prepare a memorable romantic dinner for you two at The Market Place. I’m sure you had all these recommendations given to you by loving friends.

  38. It isn’t a good accurate impression of Como. It reads like someone who hasn’t done their research and traveling with a rush – no time to let your feet touch the ground or expecting that what find needs to be compared back to something in the US.

    You’re in a regional part of Italy, you’re of course not going to have transportation options and just expect Uber to be running about. It’s a part of the country made up of small villages and a region dotted with lakes. It’s old too, Como wasn’t built 50 years ago with 2017 in mind.

    Best approach for Como, go there to relax. Find somewhere nice to stay, have a car even if it means you can do some exploring.

    Service I found fine and came across some amazing food & wine, often seems to be dependent on your attitude or effort with them (make an effort with some Italian, etc etc). They are more about the food, less about the soft fluffy stuff you get back in the US perhaps. Coffee perfect and Italians doing their Italian thing is just great to be around.

    I certainly wouldn’t pick the Sheraton, an American hotel in a regional part of Italy, no way. The Filario Hotel was superb and wish I could’ve stayed longer.

    We had rented a car from Munich, made the drive down through Switzerland. Discovered different towns and lakes around Como. Definitely took time to be out on the lake and boating around.

    I can’t wait to go back was some chilled relax time.

  39. Americans in Europe – it just never gets old (and you’ll never get it, guys). 😉

  40. We had a great time in Como in July. We stayed in a private home (not U.S. chain hotel), we rented a car (so we could drive from town to town, and also to St. Moritz), and we had a great time. Seems like poor planning led to a bad experience, but that’s not really Como/Bellagio’s fault.

  41. I was there 6 years ago in July and I don’t really remember it being crowded at all, and it was a cooler rainy week. I have some friends that live a couple of towns over from Como and had a great visit. That said, it would not have been nearly as much fun with the crowds you had.

  42. “If you know of a quiet place with nice weather to visit in late June, please let me know. ”
    Ben, assuming this is a serious question:
    1. Santa Barbara
    2. Jackson Hole
    3. Mallorca. As a German passport holder and one of German descent surely you’ve been there?
    The weather in late June/early July is fabulous. There’s even a Park Hyatt at 20,000 UR’s(as a Globalist you can have their awesome, albeit overpriced, breakfast for free!) only an hour from Palma(PMI) in the NE part of the island. Be sure to rent a car and visit the towns near the hotel for great, affordable food.

  43. I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed, but I have to say that my wife and I are fully invested in the notion that it’s the best place we are fortunate to visit.
    We typically do the shoulder seasons and have no worries about crowds…you reinforce our timing choice.
    I think I saw a photo of you at Villa d’Este, and I suggest that if you had stayed there, your opinion would have been entirely different. Once you arrive, there is little reason to go anywhere else on the lake, although a delightful ferry ride from Cernobbio to Bellagio is an easy walk from the hotel.
    Sadly, I think you could have chosen a better itinerary. Try again and I think you’ll feel differently!

  44. Doesn’t surprise me that you hated the high season. My wife and I were there early May and I remember remarking what a nightmare the place would be at peak with those narrow roads and inadequate infrastructure.
    Early May was perfect. Not too overrun but everywhere was open. The scenery still special and the climate was lovely. We had a rental car and think it’s absolutely required.
    Agree about Bellagio, although I would gladly return to Lake Como, Bellagio is take it or leave it.

  45. Cool places to visit in late June that are beautiful, not crowded and not hot
    1- Iceland
    2- any of the Norwegian fjords
    3- lofoten island above the arctic circle in Norway. 24 hour daylight and not cold. My wife and I loved staying in a fishing cabin on stilts.
    4- Newfoundland in Canada which you know since you visited Fogo island.
    5- Alaska (can get crowded in tourist areas).
    6- County Donegal in Ireland ( honeymooned there 35 years ago)

  46. You must get past the notion that your anniversary must be celebrated on the exact date. Give yourself some leeway a month on each side. That will open up many more possibilities. I’m sure you know that shoulder season is best for Europe. My wife and I visited Lake Orta in May. Lovely area, not crowded, nice area.

  47. Absolutely reflects my thoughts exactly having just visited lake Como 2 weeks ago . Well written piece

  48. @evan. Haha yeah it sure was an eloquently written comment. How did you know the name of my new blog? I get it, I came off slightly harsh.

  49. Lucky, I LOVE all of your posts but have to disagree with you on your comments about Lake Como. First, the Sheraton? Really? Why? Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to, and I travel a lot. I’ve visited over half a dozen times, not only to see Lake Como but to stay at the Villa D’Este. To really appreciate the beauty of the lake you have to stay in an equally beautiful hotel. I agree, once in Bellagio is enough for anyone. Sure the Villa D’Este is not inexpensive but it’s worth every dime for the fabulous experience it provides. You should take Ford sometime, stay in a lakefront balcony room, have breakfast and lunch outside on the lake and a five star dinner in the restaurant, then tell us you don’t need to go back to Lake Como. I think your opinion will change. And a little hint…May and October are the best times to go.
    Continue writing your amazing posts and I’ll continue to look forward to reading them.

  50. I have read this blog for 2 years now. Waking up every day and reading it relentlessly. I have loved everything about it. Lately I find myself “skipping” my OMAAT readings. I realize after reading this, it’s due to articles like this one. A combination of whining and you being seemingly miserable. I hate to be negative, but your content has become overwhelmingly you just bitching at everything. Unless it’s an airline that has their head so far up your butt they give you a signed picture of someone no one cares about, you just complain. It’s exhausting and no longer entertaining. Hope you can find peace. You clearly are not at it.

  51. Yep, Como is over hyped. Too many American tourists!

    Lake Garda is much nicer, and both are best off peak season.

  52. @Lucky —> You wrote, “Well, this was an anniversary trip, so sort of tough to move those dates around. If you know of a quiet place with nice weather to visit in late June, please let me know.”

    No offense, Lucky, but my wife and I *often* “push” our celebrations this way or that when travel is called for. For example, June in my wife’s birthday month, and in 2016 she celebrated a significant birthday (one that ended in a “0”). But we visited Italy¹ from May 14th through the 29th — and Lake Como was UNCROWDED. Driving in Italy was the proverbial piece of cake (“pezzo di torta”?), and one of the finest meals we had in all Italy was in the town of Como². Our birthday celebration was no less festive by moving it forward by a couple of weeks, and it got us *out* of the “tourist season” to a great extent.


    @Lucky, you also asked, “If you’ve visited Lake Como, what was your experience like?”

    Been there, done that, and unlike virtually the rest of Italy, I don’t need to go back.

    ¹ FYI, we flew SFO-LHR-LIN, then LIN-LHR-SFO. We stayed in Milan, Venice, and Florence; then rented a car, drove through the Chianti region for several days, and then up to Lake Como for a few, before returning the car at Linate airport.

    ² Ristorante i Tigli in Theoria, a Michelin 1-star, Via Aurelio Bianchi Giovini 41, 22100 Como.

  53. yeah, george clooney for sure. and all of france(most of europe) takes off then. i’ve been to europe 17 times, never in june, july or august!

  54. Sounds like a) the wrong time and b) bad idea with the car. You def. need one in that area. I wrote you on the other blog post as well. You def. need to give this place another chance, come late summer, when it’s not this crowded. I’ve been there in early August and had no issues with masses of tourists. And it was overall – like you said- magical!

  55. Sorry to say but you don’t quite understand Italy. Milan is only 30 mins away and has probably the best shopping in the world. Meanwhile Villa d’Este and many hotels have amazing restaurants where a four hour meal is the norm. The Italians also say the mountain and lake air is good for the health. Not to mention a bottle of wine on the lakeside terrace at Villa d’Este. Yes there’s no metro or underground rail but with Milan so close what’s the need, and if 30 mins is too far to go for shopping then you are really not that stick, Foxtown over the Swiss border is no more than 15 mins from most of Como.

  56. Italy in mid-summer — what were you thinking? I stayed in Varenna in early May and it was ideal. Wonderful weather and no crowds, even in Bellagio. Took the ferry wherever we wanted to go. Give it another try. Stay somewhere wonderful and slow down. This is a place to savor.

  57. @Tim glad you can take a joke. I was just in a feisty mood. Kind of funny that Lucky has nearly started WW3 over a tourist destination.

  58. I took the train from Monaco to Milan and changed for the train to Varenna-Esino. Walked down the steep hill with my suitcase and jumped on the ferry to Bellagio. I spent three nights at Residence La Limonera on Bellagio which was fine. I was there on Friday/Saturday/Sunday night (starting 23 August 2013) and it wasn’t very crowded then.
    I had a very nice time with my two friends. We also took a ferry across the lake and did a hike up to an abandoned church on the other side. I also arranged (for in advance) a tour of the Rockefeller estate on Bellagio along with a lunch which was really cool.

  59. Really surprised that Lucky would make 2 very basic beginner mistake on this trip.

    1) NEVER go to Europe in the middle of Summer!

    2) You should do a bit of research about local transportation options before you go – Uber has not conquer the world yet and probably never will.

    If you have rented a car your opinion may be very different.

    One of the best way to enjoy the lake is just to take a SLOW ferry from the top of the lake down to the bottom of the lake – take the SLOWEST (and it is also the cheapest too), and enjoy the scenery – because it is the slow ferry those who are rush from one place to another (like you) would avoid it – this makes the ferry not crowded at all.

    All your unpleasant experiences would have been TOTALLY AVOIDED should you even just read a few pages of Rick Steves guide – Yes, he is the so-called “Guru” of yesteryear and is of a completely different type of traveler – but if you are going to enjoy a destination for once, you need to read it up the destination first.

    As for the timing to celebrate an anniversary – if it is in July, then choose a different location than Europe, especially the famous tourist towns of Europe. Such a common sense…

  60. “If you know of a quiet place with nice weather to visit in late June, please let me know.”
    Where folks normally go during the winter.
    If Europe: Azores , Canary Islands (Spain), Cape Verde Islands, Madeira (Portugal).
    Or Caribbean. Northern South America. South Africa is great. Etc.

  61. @K4 — Agreed! 100%.

    @ABC — Excellent suggestions! I’d add Sweden, Norway, Iceland for the “white nights” (though personally I’d pass on Russia at the moment).

  62. My mom is from the region of Lake Como and is always surprised when she hears that foreigners go to Como and surroundings. We consider Como to be one of the ugliest cities in Italy (an industrial border town). Moreover, it lies on the northern branch of the lake (North of Bellagio), which is the least scenic. The most beautiful parts of the lake are the two southern branches (South of Bellagio); Lecco is the most important city in that area. It is a pleasant town with stunning scenery and is surrounded by many beautiful fishermen villages with virtually no visitors. Moreover, most villages are linked to each other by local train or ferry.
    I have never heard of Italians traveling to Como and take a ferry from there to Bellagio. But apparently this is what all foreigners do… Maybe because the lake is named after Como? We generally travel from Lecco to Varenna by train (the train will stop in some villages which are definitely worth visiting – especially Lierna and Mandello), then take a ferry to Bellagio, Maneggio and Cernobbio, and then go back by ferry from Varenna to Lecco. Btw Lake Como can be visited on a day trip from Milan (or Bergamo – one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Italy) if you know where to go and how to get around (using public transportation)

  63. We stayed in Lenno (middle lake) at a Villa for 8 days, it’s was sublime. We stayed 4/6-12/6. We used the ferrys every day. No car required for what we wanted to do as a group. We didn’t strike any overcrowding at all. Given we were away for 50 days, mostly in Italy, I can only recommend , May/June or late Aug/September for travel. We also combined fantastic Villas with Airbnb. Train was our primary transit mode.

  64. Any first time visit to a popular Italian destination should not occur in July of August except maybe a beach town. It will ruin it for you. Florence basically turns into Disney with massive lines and crowds for example, but in May it’s wonderous. I’m sorry about your visit. It sounds like making assumptions about transportation made things even worse.

  65. Too bad with the car decision, I only spent a day but had an amazing trip east to Valtellina, where they make amazing wines! Totally understand the transportation issue, once you leave “the regular path” it was very hard to find English speakers as well, which didn’t help even with a car 😉

  66. Nice to see this post and hear your reasoning. I really like when you talk about the cities, not just how you get there!

    Dad and I went just before Memorial Day, so we might not have had the crowds as you. And, we took the public water taxis everywhere, which was just a few minutes walk from the Sheraton. Loved getting to explore that way. Only had two full days (and, jetlagged, too), so I wish I had had more time there. I found Lake Como (not Como itself per se, but the lake and other cities) to be just so tranquil.

  67. “If you know of a quiet place with nice weather to visit in late June, please let me know.” How about Quebec City? Or one of the nearby resort towns? I know the comments section of this particular post has become “bash Lucky time”, but I do think it’s fair to say you don’t really explore the US and Canada as much as you should.

    That said, the overall tone of this is exactly the way I felt about Portofino, especially the the anti-tourist vibe from just about every shopkeeper and restaurant server in the whole damn town. Beautiful place, miserable people, was glad to see the back of it.

  68. I enjoy researching my trips almost as much as the travel itself. While I don’t suggest that you adopt that approach, a certain amount of trip planning only seems prudent.

    I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Lake Como area in the Spring. The area wasn’t deserted but not overrun with tourists. I traveled easily between towns by regional train and local bus. The lake ferries were not overcrowded. There was life and travel before Lyft and Uber…

    Your approach to travel is much different than mine. I’m not at all interested in luxe travel and try to immerse myself in local environs. I shy away from hotels and restaurants with lots of American tourists, opting for a more foreign feel for my foreign travels. I seek places where I’ll be among locals.

    Yet, I can understand your comments, re: expectations. It’s hard not to be disappointed whenever your expectations of an area, product, or service are unrealistically high to begin with. Whenever that occurs with me, I remind myself that that is MY problem, and not that of the locale.

  69. It seems that you picked a tourist hotspot in the height of summer tourist season and were surprised it was crowded with tourists, I’m afraid. Not your finest moment. The Sheraton didn’t help.

    Lake Como is best to be enjoyed from a luxury hotel with excellent transport options, most often by private water transport if you’re there in the summer. If you’re there at less crowded times, the public ferries are a fine means of transport, as well. During less crowded times, a wider range of hotels can also afford one a very pleasant experience.

    Being surprised by expensive taxi rides is rather unfortunate…and fairly sad, I have to admit. You’re at tourist high season, so the taxis are fewer and farther between and more expensive. Bad call.

    Poor planning and going at the height of tourist season doesn’t mean Como is overrated. It just means you weren’t smart enough to go when you could judge it properly.

    But don’t go back. Problem solved.

  70. Como is so over — and has been for years. There are plenty of picturesque alpine towns and villages within 100km that are more enjoyable to visit. But people want a paparazzi-filled experience so that’s what they get. Sure, Bellagio is lovely off-season. And having a car to get around places in northernmost Italy *IS* important; you’re limited in where you can go without a car. Especially in Sondrio, where you could wait hours for the shiny blue STPS bus. (It’s much easier on the Swiss side with the postal buses — they even have a recently-redesigned app!)

    But the crowds and the traffic jams? Forget it! A few weeks ago I did a five-day tour with a friend from Bern to a bunch of places he’d never seen. Though in the general area we assiduously avoided Como and were much happier as a result.

  71. You need to go to the Southern Hemisphere in July, since it’s their winter. New Zealand is spectacular, as you know. Go to the North Island, North of Auckland….like the Bay of Islands area. Stunning.

  72. @lucky some random logic here. First you choose to go at peak travel times. You then choose to stay at a crap hotel. After making those choices you choose NOT to rent a car and then claim the place is not worth it.
    Ps. If you want quiet at the end of June, visit India. Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa all normally have the monsoon at this time and it doesn’t get quieter.

  73. Just came back from the Brando at Tetiaroa. If you want beautiful beaches with minimal crowd, this is your place in June. They only have 35 villas for the whole atoll so you will rarely bump into people except during dinner time at one of their restaurants. Nope, you can’t pay with points but what you get is an amazing experience that you and Ford will talk about for many years to come.

  74. Wrapping up a 1 week family vacation in Sicily. It is summer, it is Europe, it was simply amazing!!!! No, I did not look for US hotel chains to book with points, I did not expect to use Uber, I did not use Open Table to book restaurants, etc…. Europe is the Old Continent so things work in a different way here. We stayed at the best B&B I ever stayed for a very cheap rate considered the location and time of the year. We rented a car. Yes, if you want to explore Italy you need a car and have to embrace crazy driving and parking in Italy. We never booked a single restaurant but always had a table at the most amazing small restaurants where locals eat. That is how I enjoy Europe. For those who say you should not come to Europe in the summer it all depends on where you go. Would I take my wife and 2 kids to Venice? No way. Beaches in Sicily? Oh yes!!!!! If you plan in advance and embrace the local culture you will have an amazing time.

  75. Like a few others, I would recommend staying in a different town and visiting in a different month. I stayed in Varenna in late April a few years ago. It was perfect weather and very peaceful – not crowded like Bellagio. We didn’t take taxis, just boats between the different towns. It was a wonderful experience.

  76. Italy is a terrible country to visit in July and August. Why? Very hot and humid, poor AC (if any), too many tourists, overpriced hotel rooms, terrible staff who find tourists a burden. Full Stop!

  77. Lucky – read up on the raw sewage and pollution levels in the lake and tell your readers
    to visit Lake Chelan in your own Washington State.

  78. Not all of Italy is overcrowded in August. Italians usually go on vacation in August. So we went last year to Milan. The city was mostly deserted, no wait any where. It was shocking how few people stay in the cities

    PS: North Italy, ie Milan and Como are at the moment transit points for north african migrants. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was also an unlisted reason the destination wasnt so “special”

  79. Ah, Bellagio. It is much better if you are invited to stay at the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre. It’s a conference hotspot for international development types, you also see rockstar economists or ex politicians writing their memoirs there. I must say the food is crap and the service terrible, but it’s ultra exclusive , the prosecco flows, you pretty much have the lake to yourself to swim in, and the view from the villa on the hilltop is rather fine.

  80. Most visitors to New Zealand are blown away by its scenery and nice people. Well us locals keep our most very special places a secret and we don’t blog about them. Lake Como has about 750 million other European Union people living within a few hours distance in 27 different countries. The summer months will always be crowded !

  81. Lake Como is surely a nice place, but it is overrated if compared to the other beauties of norhtern Italy. Frankly speaking, if you want to see landscapes, there are valleys in the Dolomites which feel empty even in peak season.

    But yes, overall experiencing Italy requires to rent a car, otherwise you are channeled into tourist corridors. So you can’t quite complain about it. Uber is not so popular in a country where a good part of the tourist experience is in the drive itself.

  82. I just went to Marseille and stayed in a fabulous AirBnB on the Vieux Port … I figured out the app for taxi service and got a taxi within 5 minutes whenever I needed one. The rest of the time I walked. I did a bike tour that was fantastic, and a wonderful snorkeling trip. I didn’t bother with points, or American hotel chains ….

    My point … I think you whined a lot about how much it sucked after trying to be an American points traveler in a location where that just doesn’t work.

    Truth is, I think you are a bit spoiled Ben … okay, I think you are a lot spoiled. I’m pretty sure you would have hated my 5 story walk up, with no AC, AirBnB, and you would not have appreciated the lack of Uber in Marseille.

    I am also pretty sure you chose the wrong location if you want to be able to walk and Uber and not experience other tourists being there.

    Yet one more post convincing me to stop reading this blog.

    Grow up.

  83. Oh, and to add to that …. I picked up enough French that I wasn’t just another tourist. I bet you didn’t even try to say hello in Italian.

  84. We are visiting next week!!!! Thanks for this ;). But to be honest – I get what you mean. Capri was the same for me – overcrowded and generally not that great(overrated).

  85. @Eric: spot on. The US travel blogger game to stay at US hotel chains on points, using Uber to get around and eating at fast food places does not work everywhere.

  86. Hi guys, Im Aussie from a small town living at the far end of lake Como. I agree middle of summer is a extremely busy time of year for travel. Although if you have a car and some adventure about you there are some amazing areas and towns that are around the lake and in the valley that Como runs. It makes a huge difference between staying at a hotel to a b&b where your hosts can point you in the right direction to some of the highlights and some Italian hospitality. Guys don’t get turn off this beautiful area, drop me an email and I can help you with some great ideas. [email protected]

  87. “If you know of a quiet place with nice weather to visit in late June, please let me know.”
    You can go to Slovenia and visit Lake Bled.

  88. Since I am currently working out of Italy, I agree with your frustrations. Italy is stuck in the 1950s in many areas, especially transportation. Overall its useless to complain because the people don’t give a shit. They are about LIFE and not WORK!!…hah.

    I can’t help but notice when you complain about destinations it always sounds like you do not research or prepare. Also you are in Italy at the height of peak season…what exactly did you expect? Empty towns with no tourists? 🙂

    I limit my frustrations in new areas by doing some basic research on transportation/weather etc.

  89. Some of my experiences, having spent a significant portion of my life in Europe:

    It is best to avoid traveling to Europe during the peak season (May-Aug). Of course I realize this is not practical for most with families, since vacations and school holidays align.

    Also, having a small (maybe a cheap convertible) can make touring around Europe wonderful since the country sides and villages are wonderful to drive through. Public transportation between cities are generally very good. However, transportation in the more out of the way places is lacking.

    Lastly, anyplace touted as the “most beautiful place on earth” is to be taken at face value. There are too many places to list which qualify for the “most beautiful place on earth” award and that’s what makes traveling so wonderful 🙂

  90. You can mark down another vote for Varenna. Spent a few days there a couple of years ago in early-mid June at the Villa Cipressi which was, for whatever reason, quite reasonably priced at the time. Did not notice any particular crowding problems even on our trip over to Bellagio (which was made later in the day, returning on the last ferry of the night). We did have a car and took a trip to the Valtellina for the day — highly recommend the Torre Della Sasella restaurant. I do think, in the mid-lake region around Bellagio / Mennagio / Varenna that, without a car, you might not find that much to do for more than two days.

  91. Seems to me that your transportation problems were mostly due to your decision to stay at an American brand hotel (Sheraton) located outside of town. When I go to the Italian lakes, I always make sure to stay in town and near the lake. I never need a taxi except for the trip to and from the airport. I realize that you wanted to use your hotel points, but here’s a good example of where it would have been better to pay cash and stay in town. (As a general rule, I avoid American brand hotels when I am in Europe, and I go often.)

    The crowds on the boat were directly related to your decision to visit Lake Cuomo at the peak of the tourist season. If you had gone in May or September, you would have ridden in half-empy boats.

    Sorry you don’t want to return. I love Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, and Lake Cuomo, and I hope you return some day, perhaps to Stresa on Lake Maggiore in May or September, and that you stay in town and close to the lake.

  92. I wouldn’t be too harsh regarding travelling to Italy and pretending that everything works more less like in New York. There are many travel blogs out there, this is one about things you can do with points, and things that will get you more points. So, you can’t expect him to say “ok, for this trip I will stay in a local farmhouse hotel and eat at small trattorias”: he’s doing his job, though to us it looks like our vacations.

    Italy is not a good place for this kind of things. We have only a handful of credit cards with no signup bonuses and only a bankrupt airline to redeem points on. We just don’t have this culture, and of course the country doesn’t cater to those who have it.

    As a side note, it is not true that Italy must be avoided in July and August. You just need to stay away from tourist hubs. It’s about choosing Calabria instead of Capri, a hidden Alps valley instead of Cortina, Lake Orta instead of Lake Como, Mantova or Padova instead of Florence or Rome. Or if food is the theme of the journey, just go random. They are not completely off the beaten track, but just enough to avoid the Disneyland feeling. And to visit Venice or Florence, which is still sort of duty to fulfill in a lifetime, you come back in October.

  93. Come on Ben!!! you didn’t do any research? why did you take a 2hrs ferry when there is a couple of 1hr fast ferry for just an extra $? why did you go on June/July when there is high season? I was there in May this year and September last year and it was great.

    Even in May Florence was packed but since we stayed for a couple of days, in the Morning was always empty.

    On some places you have to wake up early and avoid 9~10am when the tourist buses start arriving.

  94. @Eric —> You wrote (in part), “I think you whined a lot about how much it sucked after trying to be an American points traveler in a location where that just doesn’t work. Truth is, I think you are a bit spoiled Ben … okay, I think you are a lot spoiled. I’m pretty sure you would have hated my 5 story walk up, with no AC, AirBnB, and you would not have appreciated the lack of Uber in Marseille. I am also pretty sure you chose the wrong location if you want to be able to walk and Uber and not experience other tourists being there. Yet one more post convincing me to stop reading this blog. Grow up.”

    SADLY, Eric, I agree with you. Or rather, I agree with you, and that’s what’s sad —>

    @LUCKY, you have recently had two posts in which you have been SO — I want to say “wrong,” but that’s a poor choice of words — “out of touch” with the reality of what is going on that I am at a loss to understand it. Yes, absolutely, this is YOUR blog, and you are free to post on it whatever you want, be it useful tips on how to gain a tom of points and how to spend them, to totally asinine posts about how great it is to save Champagne by refilling the bottle (it’s not!), to totally whiny posts about how you had a miserable time in Italy because — although you certainly know how to fly — you (apparently) don’t know how to travel.


  95. Lake como- cernobbio and tremezzo are very nice. Visit villa carlotta (free if you are staying at grand hotel tremezzo) and villa Melzi… didn’t like como and bellagio at all… season is short everything is closed around late September, best go in May…

    Late June- try lake bled in Slovenia! Beautiful, relaxed and civilised… book early and stay at Vila Bled.. lake view room or suite (inexpensive) and a view to die for… Lausanne would be nice and quiet too! Explore and enjoy the next anniversary trip!

  96. You just did it wrong. You don’t go to a place like Lake Como and stay at the Sheraton. You go there and spend as much as you can to stay at a beautiful hotel or villa. Spend your time at the property, boating, and at dinners.

    It reminds me of Capri, which is my favorite place in the world, but you need to know what you are doing or it is horrible. I NEVER recommend that people take a day trip there. It is just doing it wrong. You need to stay overnight and stay away from the crowds during the day (hiking, staying at the pool, a beach club, etc). At night the town shifts gears into something magical, but you could never experience it this way if you are just one of the throngs of day trippers.

  97. I’ve spent several of my many anniversaries with TH with her father visiting, with one of us in the middle of the Bering Sea and this year, I’ll be in Cornwall and she’ll be home taking care of the dog. The actual anniversary day is not important, it is the fact you made it to some milestone – one year, one decade, two decades.

  98. Lucky – I really enjoyed reading this piece. I have been to Italy twice now and have been to most parts of the country except for the Lake Como area. It’s been an area that I have very much wanted to visit – but, for whatever reason, in the back of my mind I’ve had some of the exact same concerns that you have pointed out (i.e. lack of transportation, overcrowded, etc., etc.). You have confirmed some of my concerns. I still want to visit at some point in my life but as a result of this piece, a visit to Lake Como has moved further down the list. That’s alright as there are many other great places/countries to visit. Thanks again for the honest review!

  99. LOL, my Grandparents immigrated from that area in Italy and I’ve never visited. But even a novice traveler like me understands to avoid that area in the summer…

  100. You made three bad choices: not renting a car, going at the wrong time of year, and staying in the wrong hotel (Sheraton.” Going in May is by far the best time when it isn’t very crowded in Bellagio or any other of the lovely villages, especially on the west side of the lake. Staying at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo would have made your experience so much better, from the rooms to the dining (breakfast is phenomenal), and the spa which is probably the best I’ve ever experienced anywhere in the world. In May the Jasmine is in full bloom and the entire property just pops. If you were to stay in Bellagio, the Hotel Belvedere is your best bet and easily walkable to the central area, but far enough outside of it for real peace and quiet. My husband and I stayed in Tremezzo in May 2015 and the Hotel Belvedere in May 2012 and both loved it.

    Driving on the west side of the lake is also much less treacherous than on the East and the central peninsula that juts into the lake. Both hotels have valet and it was either a short walk or a ten minute ferry ride to Bellagio. Some of the little villages like Menaggio and Lenno are also worth the visit. So go back in May and enjoy the most magical lake on the planet.

  101. While I can relate to your annoyance being crowded, you should have realized hyped places would be crowded because of their hype. An experienced traveler would have either researched the locale to find when the off seasons were, or, if going there during peak because of anniversary, would accepted that it was crowded and made the best of it. Certainly wouldn’t lament how horrible it is.
    Personally I prefer to stay at locally owned hotels, I just find the experience better. I suppose I need not bother applying for a hotel loyalty program lol.

  102. It’s all about where you stay. Como itself is not the place to locate. I go almost every year. We stay at Villa D’Este from there you can arrange a water taxi anywhere on the lake including Bellagio. Last time we were there Robert DiNiro was there with his family. No points here except FHS AMEX PLT perks. I think Lake Como is spectacular any time of year. Shame you opted for the Sheraton, so many other nicer places with better amenities. As you get older you’ll realize that the points game has its limits and that splurging on special events such as an anniversary makes all the difference.

  103. I think you should overthink your blog content Ben! You just can’t ignore the amount of negative posts here. So mix Miles and Points with some non-points hotels for example. If I were you, I would now focus more on the destinations itself.
    And as half german you should know that whole Italy is a total rip-off if you are limited without a car.

  104. I know it’s kind of unrelated and isn’t so points friendly, but there are a lot of gorgeous places you can visit in Southern Africa (not the country South Africa), like Namibia and it’s sand dunes, Victoria Falls, Botswana etc, but once again, I guess it’s not very realistic for a miles and points blogger like you.

  105. Como was crowded last April when I went for a day. Those not bound to school and August factory shutdown holidays start going then. I was driving a VW Up and even that tiddler felt too big on some of the roads.

    Europeans often give the impression they really don’t like tourists and you often get lousy service and food for very high prices. We hear all sorts of horror stories about nightmare taxi rides, passport and valuables thefts every year. Some officials of Barcelona are on record as saying effectively ‘too many tourists, don’t come’. And their city is a hotspot for petty theft; don’t trust the hotel room safes.

    Sponsored travel writers hosted 5-star everywhere plug many destinations aided by professionally shot and retouched photos; the reality sometimes can be a damp, grey dump that stinks of sewage. Coming first time 30 years ago, from a country with stunningly diverse scenery of its own, I was often underwhelmed by some overhyped places I went to though, of course, it’s something different. And when they say old, they really mean this building is old.

    Read widely, plan carefully, visit out of peak season (but not too out as lots of restaurants and shops in places like the Spanish and Greek islands start closing mid-September as they’ve made their annual pile and headed off for their own break).

    Europe does have its charms. Take plenty of money and keep a very close eye on your passport, cards and wallet.

  106. @Philip —> You wrote, “You [Lucky] just can’t ignore the amount of negative posts here.”

    Apparently, he can.

  107. @jason Brandt Lewis

    He chose to ignore the ignorance he has demonstrated – outside the points and miles game, redemption for the first class flights and top tier chain hotels, Lucky does not have much knowledge on other aspects of travel – the Actual, Real Travel, not just spending time in a tube even it is first class all the way.

    Now the banks have tightened up signing bonuses and hardly any new cards to be touted, he has to find some other topics to write – then this piece and the one about a hotel arranged guided tour, etc, show how ignorant he is in many aspects of travel. Yet, he would NEVER admit such. So the best to do? Bury your head in the sand despite the comments are overwhelmingly negative. He just ignores it. It is his blog after all.

  108. As with anywhere in southern Europe, going in July/August is a huge mistake. Europeans are religious in their summer holiday calendars, and they don’t mind the crowds, as they’re used to a total lack of personal space.

    I made the mistake of visiting Croatia in August and regretted it immediately. That being said, you still get great temperatures in May/June and September/October, and you have the destinations to yourself. I visited Como in the early Fall – it was plenty warm, and we practically had the place to ourselves.

    Staying in Belaggio was also a big mistake, as it’s drastically overhyped. Any of the other lake towns would’ve been much less crowded – Varenna is my favourite, as it’s an easy ferry trip to the other towns, and it’s not bursting at the seems with fat, pizza-eating Americans yelling at each other.

  109. My very 1st trip to Europe in the 1980s was a bus tour, 8 countries in 5 days or something awful like that ….. in August! Venice in August with crowds and heat….I just cannot bring my self to ever visit Venice again. So I get how Lucky feels despite all the comments

  110. We had a great experience in Lake Como. It’s one of the few places we’ve visited where we will actually consider going back in the future. It’s magically beautiful. We went in June a few years ago. It wasn’t terribly crowded but it was very hot. We stayed at the Sheraton too. It was a fine hotel, but you’re right about it being away from the action. If we ever go back, we’ll probably stay in Varenna or Bellagio.

  111. While I agree with much of what has been written, for all you Kardashians floating bs like “you must stay at the Villa D’Este” and “spend as much as you can” — f off! Do you not get the point of this blog? And frankly some of the worst decisions I have ever made have have been spending too much money on ephemeral crap like hotel rooms that are so expensive, the pain of it ends up contaminating the experience.

    I read this post because its about doing the best you can for as close to $0 as possible. So its useful, just to point out as someone else mentioned, this ain’t a points destination.

  112. Well if this post can deter a few hundred or thousand people/tourists from going to Como then good, because I love it and have enjoyed it the three times I’ve been. I’ve stayed in or near Bellagio, twice in October and once in June (that was 10 years ago so maybe before the Clooney effect?). It’s fabulous. Each time I’ve hired a car at Linate airport and driven there along the beautiful lakeside route. There are some great places for apéritivo and passagiata (Bar Rossí for one) and a fantastic restaurant tucked away behind Villa Melzi (with its beautiful gardens to visit, much like Villa Carlotta, a short boat ride away). I’ll gladly have Como if you and many others don’t want it!

  113. Just went through Lake Como a few weeks ago and were not as impressed as the “lake como hype”…Continue north to Lucerne – even more beautiful and a little cooler weather. More info on my blog Flawless Chaos…see Roadtripping Europe 2017 – Italy.

  114. @Steve – remember FORD for and ultimately get fams or substantial discounts for promoting
    Virtuoso affiliated hotels.

  115. I gotta assume this is clickbait because this is one of our favorite places in the world, and we visited in February, dead of winter. Of course you made a huge mistake not driving around the lake to Bellagio, and another huge mistake eating in your room.
    Then again it is different strokes for different folks, you could not pay me to visit the Maldives. Though obviously you’re in the minority here judging from the comments.

  116. @lucky: about a place not to crowded to visit end of june: Try Ile de Re, west of La Rochelle in France.
    End of June is before French people start vacationing, it’s not too hot, you can get there with a bus or taxi, and then just rent a bike on the island (it’s a fairly big island, and you can nearly go around biking in one day while stopping to admire the views and enjoy oysters, but i would recommend an electric assist bike for that!)
    One of my favorite late spring / early summer vacation memories!

  117. To be fair, Lucky, I don’t think you really travel much. You seem to fly from point to point, maybe leave the airport for 20 hours to an inclusive hotel where your experience of the destination is the drive between the airport and the hotel. I know you’ve addressed this, I know you spend time working on your site and that life is not one giant vacation. But that’s not really traveling. So despite all the flights and hotel nights, when you do travel, it seems you’re somewhat of a novice once you leave the confines of the airport or hotel.

    To go to Italy in general and Lake Como…in June…then complain about crowds and your transportation difficulties evidences a lack of preparation IMO. I was in itally for over a week in May and I had a great trip because I prepared and knew what to expect. I spent a couple of months pouring over the Rick Steves Italy guidebook and I was prepped to minimize waits, I knew the transportation landscape, etc

    To each his own, but it doesn’t seem you went into your Lake Como visit with exceedingly high expectations but rather you seemed to have unrealistic expectations. I like what Rick Steves says about how travelers handle Italy: if one finds it to be too much, maybe Denmark is more your speed. 😉 “Happy travels!”

  118. Lucky, sorry to hear about your experience, but you went at literally the worst time you can go, which is during the peak summer months. I went there a couple years ago in mid May and it was perfect. Not too crowded and the weather was exceptional. I’d suggest going in May or September next time, when the mobs of tourists aren’t as prominent.
    Or, you can try visiting one of the other lakes in the area: Lugano, Maggiore, Garda. They are all beautiful places but bc none of them are as well known as Como, they’re less frequented by tourists.

  119. Being a European myself and having visited Italy many times before, I do agree with this blog.

    Sure the writer stresses his experiences with attitude staff and towns being overcrowded. The fact is that even none of this is a mayor issue if you don’t “feel” the atmosphere of the destination.

    This is where the whole of Lake Como has gone wrong: it has no soul or own identity at all.

    Many first timers to Europe will love it I’ll bet, however it really cannot compare to other Italian regions. I’d visit almost any Lake Garda town over Como (or any Ligurian coastal city).

    Everywhere on the net, you read that Como is one of the most beautiful places on earth. No clue which English native ever marketed it that way. I bet even the locals would declare you insane when overhyping their nice but def not so special area.

  120. Loved lake Como, found the towns charming the scenery breathtaking, the hospitality memorable and would return in a heartbeat. It definitely gets a recommendation.

  121. I am Italian, born and raised in Roma and I know very well that sensation of going around in an amusement park.

    It feels fake to me, I have that feeling in the historical center of my hometown and I had that same feeling when I visited Lake Como for a job meeting. Luckily, there are so many more nice and less touristy locations in Italy, honestly not less beautiful: as a local, I find the place nice but nothing you can’t find somewhere else in the country. Maybe owning a Villa there is someway different, I don’t know…

    Talking about lakes I think for example the Lake Garda or Lake Iseo areas. Salò or Gardone Riviera are beautiful! The Piedmont region, which is not touristy at all has some very nice Villas, same in the Rome area (think Villa D’Este at Tivoli or many more http://dimorestoricheitaliane.it/ville-palazzi-castelli-lazio/ ) or the Vicenza area, with all the Palladian Villas.

    Also I strongly advice foreigners to visit southern Italy: maybe not so organized for tourists (except a coupla areas that are more popular like Gargano or Gallipoli in Puglia) but absolutely charming, authentic and cheap.

    We Italians prefer to spend our summer in Puglia or Sicily or Sardinia…not in Lake Como!

  122. Terrible planning. There are plenty of nice and quiet places around Lake Como even in July. Follow the Sentiero del Viadante and fall in love with the place.

  123. I totally agree with your view of Bellagio and Lake Como. Of course it’s gorgeous, nobody could possibly deny that. But Bellagio is clogged with tourists from spring through fall, mostly English speaking. The only reason we go there is for a particular art gallery. Otherwise, no. However, we do love the lakes area! We prefer Lake Lugano, just over the border in Switzerland. It’s as beautiful as Lake Como but Lugano is not a tourism mecca, it’s a thriving small city in its own right. Has plenty of lovely vistas, restaurants, etc. Ascona over near Locarno is also an excellent alternative to Bellagio/Lake Como.

  124. I enjoyed reading the article- and then even more, all of the positive and negative comments thereafter. I received many great tips as a result, not only about the area of Lake Como but advice of where to go further afield. One thing this article did was stir up a bit of controversy – so thanks to those that agreed with their reasons and to those that disagreed with their alternative opinions and suggestions.

  125. Why didn’t you use public transport? There are ferries and buses, both cheap and readily available in all the main villages and towns. Plus from a ferry you can see the lake from the best point of view!

  126. This is the first time I have read one of your posts..and it will be the last. By the comments, you are a “travel blogger?” I am finding that hard to believe. Sorry to say, you are no better than the tourists you complain about…and you actually were the tourists you complain about. Lake Como is NOT Bellagio or Como..and for those of us who go there on holiday..we do just that “take a holiday.” Relax, wander, rent a boat, sleep in the sun…eat good food..maybe shop. I am literally stunned that you have such an instant gratification mentality that the world is apparently your insta-oyster. We have been in peak summer..and stayed in a village on the northwestern side of lake. It was peaceful and dreamy..and plan to go back. Your welcome for the click..but I will not be back. Hope for you this was a glitch in your content…and not your usual type of post. Lastly- why in the hell would you not drive in Italy? It’s not hard.

  127. I don’t understand your vitriol. Ben does a wonderful job and informs us all with so much useful knowledge. Perhaps he does not explore an area as you and also we do, but he delivers so much helpful information on so many other travel issues. I take exception with your ugly comments, because I have followed and e-mailed Ben for years….and he is the nicest person ever!!

  128. You couldn’t have picked a worse place to stay on the lake, had you done research before hand you would have known that the epicentre of the lake is ironically actually in the centre of the lake. You were barely on the lake that far down and its no wonder it took you 2 hours to get to Bellagio. You also mentioned Bellagio being at the top of the lake, it may have felt like the top to you being so low on the lake but it’s nowhere near the top, which just makes the review sounds even more misinformed and hastily written.
    I’m really sad you didn’t have a good experience, but I really think you went at the wrong time, to the wrong location in the lake.
    I stayed in Menaggio which was stunning, and within close distance of the most desirable places. Yes it was very busy, but it’s one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, what do you expect?

  129. I’ve heard from too many ppl that’s it way hyped up and not worth the hype. Come visit Lake Ohrid in Macedonia! It’s a Unesco heritage sight and the oldest lake in Europe breathtakingly beautiful, i think you would be pleasantly surprised.

  130. Come visit Lake Ohrid in Macedonia! It’s a Unesco heritage sight and the oldest lake in Europe and breathtakingly beautiful, surrounded by mountains and old town Ohrid i think you would be pleasantly surprised.

  131. Unike you, I loved Lake Como. We’ve been twice, both in mid-July, and would love to go back. I guess the difference would be your choice of hotel, location on the lake, and taking a private boat vs the ferry. I was not crazy about the food, because it is definitely much better in Tuscany and the Amalfi coast; Lake Como is not known for its food, even at the 5-star hotel restaurants. I guess I was curious before I read your blog, because I don’t know anyone who didn’t like Lake Como. Maybe try the Grand Hotel Tremezzo if you ever go again. A real escape.

  132. I agree with the sentiment here if you go away from the touristy areas, there is some wonderful hiking in the mountains. I went to Mandello del Lario – obviously not touristy – and climbed the mountain nearby. The people I met there were among the most friendly and helpful I’ve met anywhere. I found transport by train around the lake and into Milan perfectly convenient but watch out about the ticket validation.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.