Bellagio: Jewel on Lake Como's Shore

Rooftops in Bellagio, Lake Como

Nestled in the heart of Lake Como, there exists a little slice of heaven. It’s Bellagio, "The Pearl of Lake Como," a town that leaves even the most seasoned travelers wiping their moistened eyes.

Bellagio is a show-stopper, yet subtly so. It's a place where Italian romance blows in the breeze, and every picturesque corner radiates a beauty that speaks to the heart.

Now pour yourself a glass of fine Italian wine, put your feet up, and join me on a journey through Bellagio.

View of Lake Como from Bellagio

Unveiling Bellagio: The Pearl of Lake Como

Bellagio is a melting pot of Italian culture, historic architecture, and, of course, breathtaking lakeside views. "The striking harmony of natural beauty and human construction blend effortlessly here," says local café owner Luca as he pours my first espresso on what promises to be another gorgeous summer's day.

I completely agree with him. In Bellagio, it looks as if the buildings were made by God's hand, or he at least guided the hand of the architects. Nature and town exist in a gorgeous harmony; individually, the buildings or landscapes are lovely, but together, they are exquisite; a delightful mix of stunning natural scenery, historical enrichment, and quaint cobblestone lanes adorned with vibrant flowers.

Renowned as the crossroads between the three branches of Lake Como, Bellagio is "a view of heaven!" according to Signorina Bianchi, my favorite gelato vendor on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi.  I reply that her gelato is a taste of heaven. Visit Gelateria del Borgo when you are in Bellagio and I am sure you will agree.

How much time do you need in Bellagio Italy?

To fully immerse yourself in Bellagio's charm, plan a stay of 3 days. But here's the insider scoop: if you have the luxury of time, staying a week will let you savor the slow, relaxed rhythm of Italian lake life.

"Oh, just a day in Bellagio won't do!" warns Adriano, a charismatic local guide. He recommends three days to soak in its eternal charm. There's too much to explore: local shops, historical buildings, the vibrant marina, and, not to mention, the cuisine.

The question is, how many days of La Dolce Vita do you require? Personally, I could handle an entire lifetime of the Bellagio dolce vita and, anything less than three days definitely will not cut it.

Where to Stay in Bellagio

If you are looking for an affordable choice, then I really recommend the Hotel Centrale. I fell in love with it the moment I approached the entrance—flowers, vines, bougainvillea, yellow ochre walls, and olive green shutters. Like a painting. It's the Italian dream we all have come true.

For the ultimate experience, though, you have to try the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, an affluence of history, grandeur, and breathtaking views of Lake Como. Yes, it is expensive, but the experience of staying here is something you will forever treasure. You may never return to Bellagio again, so just maybe spend that little bit extra and make the experience the best it possibly can be. The choice is yours.

11 Things to Do in Bellagio:

this is why it is worth visiting Bellagio

Villa Melzi Gardens in Bellagio
  1. The grandeur and romantic beauty of Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi. Of all the things to do in Bellagio, this is top of my list. These historic mansions, with their immaculate gardens, offer panoramic views of Lake Como that will take your breath away. 
  2. The Basilica of San Giacomo, boasting old-world charm combined with architectural beauty, is another must-see.
  3. Shopping Heaven: Local handicrafts, art, ceramics, silk, souvenirs (lots of Pinocchios for some reason), and much more await in the many small stores and boutiques that are sure to catch your eye as you stroll the lanes. I love shopping, and although the prices are high here, I always manage to pick up a few items that are bargains and treasures, and they'll always bring back memories of my time here.
  4. The pleasure of strolling leisurely along Salita Serbelloni, grabbing a gelato, and witnessing the spectacle of lake life unfold before your eyes.
  5. For adventurous souls, Bellagio offers a palette of water sports. Rent a boat, kayak, or paddleboard, and bask in the opportunities this lake town offers. Or, for a more relaxed experience, take a ferry ride around the lake.
  6. Traditional Dishes: Bellagio is a gastronomic paradise, offering everything from mouth-watering pizzas to lake fish specialties. Risotto with perch—'risotto al persico' is a local favorite, as is Polenta Uncia, a rich combination of polenta, butter, garlic, and cheese. Here, food is a celebration, so slow down and savor. 
  7. Restaurants: A restaurant I recommend you try, both for the food and the views, is Trattoria La Busciona. Another good option is the Trattoria Baita Belvedere. Both the Trattoria La Busciona and the Baita Belvedere are a little outside of town and are best reached by car. In town, the Ristorante Bilacus is my choice.
  8. Need a good base for exploring Lake Como? Bellagio is perfect; located midway between the two southern arms of the lake, the town offers easy access to Varenna, Menaggio, and Cadenabbia. It also has numerous ferry and bus routes, making it a splendid base for exploring Lake Como.
  9. Bellagio boasts numerous hiking trails; the hike from Bellagio to Madonna del Ghisallo takes you through mesmerizing valleys and offers a stunning panorama of the lake. Ascend the La Punta Spartivento for more panoramic views of the lake. For experienced hikers, there's the San Primo Mountain Trail, a hiker's paradise leading to an elevation of 1,700 meters above sea level. The starting point is at the Monte San Primo Park, where you can park your car. You will need a car to get to the starting point, as the buses from Bellagio are few and far between, which can mean a long wait for a bus on your return from the walk, or, even worse, you might return to find you've missed the last bus.
  10. Swim in fresh alpine water:  Lake Como's waters are a little chilly as the lake is fed by mountain streams, however, the chilly water is actually a joy on a swelteringly hot summer's day.
  11. Visit Pescallo, a tiny fishing village of postcard-perfect charm. The maze-like streets reveal surprises at every turn, and colorful waterfront houses and traditional fishing boats paint a picturesque scene.

More wonderful things to do in Bellagio...

Swan in Lake Como

The Best Time to Visit Bellagio

April/May and September/October are considered the best months to visit when temperatures average 20–27 °C (68–80.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and there are fewer crowds. The weather is pleasant, and the tourist frenzy is notably toned down. The way the evening sun paints the waters in spring and fall is like a dream.

June, July, and August: be ready for a busy lakeside life during the summer with lots of tourists and crushing heat, particularly during July and August.

Bellagio in winter is far more tranquil but can be chilly. The number of tourists dwindles, and the crisp winter air adds a refreshing touch to Bellagio's charm. The surrounding snow-capped mountains create a stunning backdrop against the calm waters of Lake Como.

While there are fewer things to do in Bellagio in the winter, you can enjoy the peacefulness of lakeside walks while admiring the beauty of the historic villas and gardens. The local cuisine takes on a comforting twist during the colder months, with many restaurants serving hearty dishes that warm the soul.

Is Bellagio expensive?

Stairway in Bellagio

Visiting Bellagio is like donning an Armani suit; it's sophisticated and stylish but may require a few extra euros. Upscale dining and luxurious accommodations are pricey. and lakefront hotels offering stunning views naturally come with a higher price tag.

You can do Bellagio on a tighter budget, though, by staying in more affordable hotels like the Hotel Centrale , however, dining out tends to be expensive, and many of the restaurants are focused on tourists and have prices that reflect that and quality that is often not the greatest. I had a terrible experience at the Restaurant La Terrazza and there are many restaurants like that; however, none of the restaurants under the Things to Do section above have ever disappointed me or my family.

Tours in and around Bellagio

How do you get from Milan to Bellagio?

cars in Italy

Getting to Bellagio from Milan is straightforward. Board a train from Milan to Varenna (usually running hourly) and then hop on a ferry to Bellagio (also hourly). The ferry ride rewards you with magnificent views of the lake as it meanders gracefully towards the shoreline of Bellagio. The whole journey takes about two and a half hours—a small toll to pay for the awe-inspiring views awaiting.

If you have a rental car, then the drive from Malpensa takes around 90 minutes.

| Tip

🚆 You can find and buy cheap train tickets for your trip in advance here

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