BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN BELLAGIO, ITALY + INFO & TIPS FOR YOUR BELLAGIO ITINERARY
Planning a trip to the town of Bellagio in Lake Como Italy and wondering what to see and do or what to expect? You are in the right place! This guide offers suggestions about the best things to do in Ballagio, Italy along with all the practical information you may need for your trip. Take a look.
Bellagio is hardly a secret! Popularly known as the “Pearl of Lake Como”, Bellagio is one of the most famous of Lake Como towns in the Lombardy region of Italy. This town’s strategic location at the junction where the lake splits into three branches boasts an unparalleled shoreline along with spectacular views of the Alps. Bellagio’s narrow and winding colourful cobbled alleys, elegant villas and striking lake views makes the town a much sought after holiday destination by the Italians as well as tourists from around the globe. Some of the best hotels in Bellagio are also the most popular accommodations in the Lake Como region.
I visited Bellagio recently and it was impossible not to be captivated by the waterfront of swaying boats, steep stone staircases and the red-roofed with green-shuttered buildings. This lovely town has so much to offer its visitors and is certainly a ‘must-visit’ destination in Lake Como.
While Bellagio is a delighful town to explore, it is a small town that does not require more than a few hours. Many people visit Bellagio as a day trip from Milan, especially with this popular tour that visits several of the best places along Lake Como in a day. At the same time, Bellagio makes a perfect base for a few days from where you can visit the prettiest towns in Lake Como, explore the hills or go on nature walks.
What to expect in this guide
This guide features all the best things to do in and near Bellagio with useful information to support your trip. With this article, you can find inspiration to do the top things in Bellagio, visit some of the stunning places nearby as well as hotel recommendations and practical tips for your visit. I hope it will give you some ideas on what to expect and how to spend your time in this charming town in Lake Como.
IN THIS ARTICLE: AN OVERVIEW
- About Bellagio, Italy;
- Getting to Bellagio, Italy;
- Places to Stay in Bellagio;
- What to expect in Bellagio;
- Best things to do in Bellagio;
- Where to eat in Bellagio;
- How much time do you need to visit Bellagio;
- Is Bellagio Italy worth visiting?
- Practical information and tips for your Bellagio itinerary;
ABOUT BELLAGIO, LAKE COMO, ITALY
The beautiful and glamorous pearl of Lake Como is a perfect mix of history, nature and traditions. Its rich and historic buildings exude simplicity and a strong heritage at the same time. The mesmeric streets, quaint shops, wonderful restaurants and places to explore all sit in perfect harmony together and it’s hard to imagine anything different.
Bellagio sits at the peak of the inverted ‘Y’ of Lake Como, the land mass that divides the lake into two. Its location in Lake Como offers stunning views of the lake, gorgeous villas overlooking the waters and unmatched shorelines.
Not far from Bellagio, are the charming towns of Varenna and Menaggio. These three towns form a “golden triangle” and are easily reached by ferry within 20 minutes.
Bellagio boasts some of the most striking shorelines in Lake Como alongside some of the famous villas and its spectacular gardens that stretch out to the lake. There are some beautiful beaches too, including the pebbled San Giovanni and the more developed Lido di Bellagio.
Best time to visit Bellagio
Famous for its natural beauty, Bellagio is one of the top places in Lake Como for tourists. The months of July and August are especially busy with holiday-makers from all around the world. May and June see the rhododendrons and azaleas bloom, making these months one of the prettiest times to visit this charming town.
As with most of my travels, I prefer off-seasonal adventures. March sees the beginning of spring and much of the lake activities spring into action while the months of October and November are much quieter, with many of the popular activities still available till mid-November. I visited Lake Como in November and had a great time exploring the region with plenty of things to do in Bellagio.
If you can, visit Bellagio and the Lake Como region in the off-season (March/April or October/November) for an authentic Italian experience.
Recommended read: The prettiest Lake Como towns to visit.
For a timeless experience
Would you like to experience the best of Lake Como as well as the best off-beat places including taking a dip in the clear waters of this famous lake?
If you do, you may want to take a private boat trip to explore Argegno. This is one of the best things to do in Lake Como if you want to use the most of your time when visiting this region. A private boat hire might be best for you so you could experience several places in a short time.
With some boat trips, you can curate your own itinerary and select the towns you want to visit in Lake Como. In some others, the itinerary is already planned and includes seeing the best of Lake Como sights from the waters. Some private boat trips take you to a special island renowned for the clear waters where you could have a swim. This is the most efficient way of exploring the best of Lake Como for timeless memories. If this is the kind of thing you’d like to do, take a look at this private boat trip I found:
This particular private boat trip is flexible where you can curate your own itinerary of places to visit and admire from the waters. You could also hire these guys for a special celebration like a birthday, anniversary or a special couples outing with champagne. They will even do drone photography , if you want them to. However, if you do not want to curate your own itinerary, this private boat trip takes you to see the popular villas from the waters. It includes a trip to the beautiful Comacina Island where you can swim in the clear waters of Lake Como.
Book this exceptional private boat trip from Viator.
GETTING TO BELLAGIO, LAKE COMO
There are several ways to get to Bellagio. You can reach Bellagio by ferry, boat, bus or car as well as by a day tour from Milan. Bellagio does not have a train station but you can take a train from Milan to either Varenna or Como, followed by a short ferry ride to Bellagio. The ferry ride from Varenna to Bellagio is about 15 to 20 minutes, and from Como to Bellagio is about 50 minutes. You could also hop onto a car ferry from Varenna or Cadennabia which also stops at Bellagio.
One of the nicest ways to reach Bellagio is by boat. Bellagio is well connected to the other main towns in Lake Como such as Como, Lecco, Varenna or Menaggio. Several day tours from Milan include the fast boat trip to Bellagio in their Lake Como itinerary. Once in Bellagio, the town is easily explored on foot and you don’t really need a car.
You can find up-to-date information about ferry schedules in this official link of the Lake Como Navigation Timetable.
STAY AT ONE OF THE BEST PLACES IN BELLAGIO, ITALY
There are plenty of choices when it comes to accommodations in Bellagio. Ranging from palatial palazzos, grand villas to traditional family hotels that have been owned by families for hundreds of years. Bellagio is a place where you can find accommodations for any budget. For the best experience of a Lake Como stay, you may want to spend a touch more on a room with a view of the lake.
To experience the peace and tranquility in Bellagio, stay at a lakefront hotel. If you prefer the narrow, cobblestone streets bustling with life and late nights, you may want to stay in the old town centre, around Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. There are some remarkable places to eat and drink along with boutiques where you can shop for finer things.
You can find the best deals about Bellagio accommodations here. I list a few of the best hotels in Bellagio below. This list below is curated from my research of a couple of hundreds of accommodations and is based on traveller reviews and recommendations.
One thing to note is that the popular hotels are only open during the high season, from April to mid November.
Here are some of the nicest hotels in Bellagio, Italy which you may like:
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni — Villa Serbelloni is one of the oldest and most elegant of Lake Como hotels. A 5-star hotel comes complete with frescoes, murals, heavy gilt, marble pillars, huge chandeliers and an incredible ballroom. This hotel boasts an amazing location by the lake and beautiful gardens which you can visit even if you are not staying there. This is a hotel much loved by the rich and famous to Lake Como. It is rumoured that Robert De Niro is a frequent guest here.
Hotel Belvedere Bellagio — Set on a gorgeous hillside, this hotel has been run by one family for five generations. The hotel boasts secluded gardens shaded by olive trees, and offers incredible views over the whole area. It is located within a short walking distance of the town centre. Facilities include a heated swimming pool, sauna and heated jacuzzis in some rooms. Guests recommend booking a room with a view.
Hotel Florence Bellagio — This stunning hotel on the shores of Lake Como boats elegance, sumptuous suites with private balconies and gourmet restaurants along with spectacular views. The spectacular Hotel Florence has been in the same family for 100 years.
Hotel Metropole Bellagio — This 3-star hotel is the only mid-range hotel directly on the lake and is considered to be one of the best budget hotels with a view. If you decide to stay here, you can be assured of a room with a view since all rooms have direct or side views of Lake Como. The hotel features an award winning restaurant, and a private rooftop terrace.
Hotel Du Lac — Located in the lower part of Bellagio, this charming small 3-star hotel is close to the lake, shops and restaurants. Given its excellent location, this budget accommodation in Bellagio is highly recommended by travellers.
WHAT TO DO IN BELLAGIO, ITALY | BEST THINGS TO DO IN BELLAGIO
Here is our selection of the 18 best things to do and places to see in Bellagio, Italy.
1 | Wander the picturesque streets of Bellagio
Bellagio is small, and compact. It is easy to see that it is situated at two levels. The lower part is by the lake and the other, is the higher part that requires some uphill walking on cobbled streets and stone staircases.
At the lower level, many of the roads are pedestrian only and are great for strolling and exploring. There are just a few streets here filled with shops and restaurants which can easily be explored quickly. There are many places here to sit and have a bite to eat.
From the waterfront, narrow and winding stone staircases and walking paths lead uphill through the town. It is from the tops of these cobbled streets that you get the picture-perfect views of Bellagio’s red roof-tops, shuttered-windows and Lake Como. The upper part of Bellagio is where you will find unique boutiques and some of the best shops.
2 | Get the perfect view
The most famous and most instagrammable street in Bellagio is Salita Serbelloni, giving a gorgeous view of Bellagio.
Salita Serbelloni is one long stone staircase from the waterfront to the endpoint in Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. There are many little shops along the way where you could stop for gelato or wine tasting.
3 | Walk along the waterfront promenade
Walk along the lakeshore from Bellagio harbour in the southwestern direction and you will find some of the best views of the lake. Bobbing boats, colourful houses, snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance, shimmering waters of the lake are all absolutely stunning. If you keep walking a little further, you’ll reach Villa Melzi with its amazing gardens and view points of Lake Como.
4 | Villa Melzi Gardens
The gardens of Villa Melzi are one of the main attractions in Bellagio. The Villa is a 19th century mansion and is privately owned. It was the summer residence of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, the vice president of the Italian Republic in 1800s. While Villa Melzi is not open to the public, the beautiful botanical gardens, museum and chapel are accessible by the public for a small fee. This is a beautiful place to go for a stroll, through walking paths, under the shade of trees. There are park benches situated at key points for enchanting views of Lake Como.
Address: Via Lungo Lario Manzoni, 22021 Bellagio CO, Italy
From March to mid-November. Some exceptional days in December.
5 | The Gardens of Villa Serbelloni
In addition to the gardens of Villa Melzi, you may want to visit the gardens of Villa Serbelloni (Parco di Villa Serbelloni or Giardini di Villa Serbelloni). The gardens of Villa Serbelloni are owned by the Rockefeller Foundation and are located at the top of the hill. The gardens of Villa Serbelloni can only be visited with a guided tour. The guided tour requires a minimum of six persons and departs at set times. These gardens are not to be confused with that of Bellagio’s famous and most luxurious hotel of the same name (Hotel Villa Serbelloni).
6 | Visit the Basilica of San Giacomo
Built between the 11th and 12th century, the Basilica of San Giacomo sits in the centre of Bellagio, surrounded by one of the most picturesque and enchanting areas of Lake Como. San Giacomo has undergone a series of modifications through the centuries and presently stands in its original Romanesque form. The abbey has a rectangular plan, divided into three naves by semicircular arches, supported by solid pillars. It’s worth making a quick stop as you stroll through the town.
Address: Piazza della Chiesa, 27, 22021 Bellagio CO, Italy
7 | Go shopping in Bellagio
Bellagio is a shopper’s paradise and is well-known as one. Here, you’ll find everything from souvenir shops, art and crafts to some of the most expensive designer boutiques.
Como Silk, one of the best in Europe and produced in Como town can be purchased here. There are fashion boutiques that sell some amazing silk clothing and accessories that make perfect gifts.
8 | Go on a boat tour
Lake Como is best discovered from the waters. There are various possibilities to do so, ranging from renting a kayak to regular passenger ferries as well as numerous boat tours along with private boat hire.
Bellagio’s strategic central location makes it an ideal base for exploring all the other towns and the celebrated villas along the shores of Lake Como.
Private boat tours will take you to the famous villas where you will have exceptional views from the waters. You could book this highly rated private sailing boat tour that departs from Bellagio or this excellent speedboat tour which can pick you up in Bellagio.
One of the prettiest towns to visit in Lake Como is Varenna. Varenna sits across from Bellagio and is only a 20-minute ferry ride away and makes a nice day trip from Bellagio. You could also add Menaggio and Tremezzo as day trip options to your itinerary as these are also within a short ferry ride.
9 | Swim in Lido di Bellagio
Bellagio has its own little beach at Lido di Bellagio. It is a small sandy beach where you can dip in the water or simply relax on the shore. There is an outdoor swimming pool too, that offers spectacular views of Lake Como.
Alternatively, you may want to try the public beach at San Giovanni. Just know that this is a pebble beach, so you may need to use your water shoes when you go swimming here.
Practical info: Outdoor swimming is not a year-round activity. For further information, go to this official site of Lido di Bellagio.
10 | Visit Villa Carlotta
the gardens at Villa Carlotta
Villa Carlotta is one of the prettiest villas in Lake Como, situated in Tremezzo. The interior and the views are absolutely amazing as are the villa’s famous botanical gardens. The lush gardens have a huge variety of plants from all over the world where you can easily enjoy a stroll and relax.
Villa Carlotta can be reached by ferry from Bellagio in 15 minutes.
11 | Visit Villa Balbianello in Lenno
Villa Balbianello is another of the most magnificent villas in Lake Como. Its splendid terraced gardens and scenic location has earned Villa Balbianello a favourable spot in various films including a number of James Bond movies and the Star Wars.
When you arrive in Lenno, Villa Balbianello can be reached via a 20-minute hilly walk or by boat from Lenno village. The ferry from Bellagio to Lenno takes about 30 minutes.
Address: Via Guido Monzino, 1, 22016 Tremezzina CO, Italy
12 | Walk and explore Punta Spartivento
Punta Spartivento is the tip of the town, a point at the very end of the peninsula where Lake Como splits into three different branches. Take Via Eugenio Vitali from Bellagio town centre towards Punta Spartivento. There is a park to relax at and opportunities to take breathtaking photos.
13 | Visit the hamlet of Pescallo
Pescallo is an old fishing village situated on the opposite side of the peninsula to Bellagio. This hamlet is much quieter than the bustling touristy Bellagio and makes a great escape from the crowds. Pescallo hosts a small beach that is popular for water sports. You could find a spot to relax here while enjoying the tranquility and authenticity of the village.
Take the steeped pathway from the town hall, heading south out of Bellagio. There is a sign to Pescallo on the road. From here, walk up and over the hill on a pedestrian walkway (a long staircase) , down to the waterfront in Pescallo. You can reach Pescallo in ten to fifteen minutes. To return to Bellagio, re-trace your steps back on this walkway.
14 | Visit the village of San Giovanni
San Giovanni is a very small town that was once a fishing village. The village is home to a few houses, a public pebble beach and the spectacular Chiesa di San Giovanni. The best way to reach San Giovanni is to follow the paths through the gardens of Villa Melzi. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
15 | Take the Bellagio Express Train
The Bellagio Express train is a little tourist train that takes you to the highlights of Bellagio. This is a nice way to explore Bellagio if you do not want to walk the hilly town that much. You can ride this train without getting off or hop on and hop off at various points of attractions, therefore making it really easy to explore and discover Bellagio.
If you plan your visit to Bellagio beforehand, you could use this little tourist train as transportation to get to Pescallo, Oliverio, Visgnola, San Giovanni and Villa Melzi. The roundtrip takes 25 minutes.
Practical info: There is no definitive timetable for the Bellagio Express mini train but it is highly likely to run between mid-March through to September and may even run up to October/November depending on the weather. You can board the train at the little square near the ferry dock. Tickets can be purchased on the spot and recently it costs 5 Euros. Children under 3 years are free while children between 3 and 12 travel for 2.50 Euros.
16 | Take an Italian cooking class in Bellagio
One of the best things to do in Bellagio is to experience the local life and food. Consider joining a hands-on Italian cooking class in Bellagio. This particularly popular cooking session with a local chef is followed by a self-made lunch using fresh ingredients and the secrets of Italian culinary which makes for an unforgettable experience in Bellagio.
There are some Italian cooking lessons that last from one to three hours while there are some for a little longer, lasting four to five hours. You could also opt for a wine tasting session paired with snacks or a cheese cooking and tasting session with a famous chef from recipes handed down generations. Therefore, if you have some time, joining a cooking session in Bellagio is a unique experience worth going for.
17 | Enjoy a lovely meal at a restaurant with a view
If you want to do something really special and nice, go to a restaurant with a view, or one that serves excellent quality food.
Here are some of the highest rated and best restaurants in Bellagio, Lake Como Italy:
For an authentic Italian meal within a romantic setting in a superb panoramic location, go to this highly rated Michelin starred Mistral Restaurant in Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio.
La Terrazza Bellagio is another highly rated restaurant for its superb quality food and good value for money. This restaurant offers a Mediterranean selection and is ideal for groups.
Ristorante La Punta is an elegant restaurant serving romantic dinners or casual lunches amidst a picturesque setting. Set within a unique location this restaurant serves antipasti, pasta dishes & freshwater fish at terrace tables overlooking Lake Como
18 | Watch the sun disappear behind the mountains
Bellagio’s unique position on the centre point between the two branches of Lake Como offers a wonderful place to see the sunsets. The views from the lakefront are spectacular. The wide and picturesque view of the lake is captivating. If you can stay long enough on your day visit, you can watch the sun close to the horizon, redder and softer while watching it disappear right in front of you. We found this magical moment to be the perfect way to end our visit in Bellagio before catching our ferry to Como, which was our base.
WHERE TO EAT IN BELLAGIO
There are numerous eateries and restaurants in Bellagio town centre. Some are tucked away on the hillsides via narrow cobbled lanes which makes an experience in itself. You can taste from simple ordinary pasta, a typical Italian coffee to creative cuisine and innovative desserts at restaurants with a view.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED TO VISIT BELLAGIO?
If you don’t have much time, Bellagio can be covered easily within a couple of hours. However, exploring the nearby hamlets of Pescallo, San Giovanni or taking a private boat trip will involve a good half-a-day visit. I’d suggest a half-day visit which is what we did and this allowed us to experience Bellagio easily.
On the other hand, Bellagio makes a good base for exploring Lake Como. If you are considering staying here, then perhaps two to three days may be an ideal time frame.
IS BELLAGIO, ITALY WORTH VISITING?
Bellagio is one of the prettiest towns in Lake Como but it is a little touristy and there really isn’t very much to do. However, Bellagio’s location as a hub for water transportation, scenic views and the availability of a wide range of shops and restaurants make it a highly worthwhile destination in Lake Como. In addition, strolling through the old town, exploring the nearby towns and climbing those stone staircases that are unique to Bellagio is quite an experience in itself. You can definitely fill half a day of sightseeing, easily fill a full day of sightseeing unhurried in one of the best scenic places in Europe, and be part of a day tour from Milan. In whichever way you want to experience Bellagio, it is 100% worth your time.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION + TRAVELLER’S TIPS FOR VISITING BELLAGIO, LAKE COMO, ITALY
- Consider travelling to Bellagio in the shoulder season/off-season (late March-May or September-early November). You’ll enjoy pleasant temperatures during this time for sightseeing, lower prices and fewer people.
- Book accommodation in advance. Bellagio is one of the most popular towns in Lake Como. If you want a good stay at one of the nice hotels here, book early so you are not disappointed. The same goes for restaurants. Book at least two or three days earlier for dinner. Earlier if you are dining on a weekend.
- If you are unsure of how long you want to stay in Bellagio, consider this. The best of Bellagio can be seen in just a few hours. Therefore, you could experience Bellagio on a day trip from Milan. On the other hand if you want to stay in Bellagio and use the town as your base, then stay for at least 2 or 3 days.
- There is more than one way to reach Bellagio (by bus, car or boat). The nicest way to reach Bellagio is by boat. If you are travelling from Milan which is a 90-minute drive, the easiest would be to take the train to Varenna followed by a ferry ride of 20 minutes. You could take the train from Milan to Como followed by a boat ride of 50 minutes.
- Bellagio is best reached by boat and explored on foot. You don’t really need a car here or any other public transport.
Would you like to visit another famous Italian lake?
If so, here’s my guide to places to visit in Lake Garda:
My sincere wish is that this guide to Bellagio has given you a better idea of what to expect when you visit, things to do in Bellagio, and how to plan your time. I hope this guide has answered some, if not all of your questions about Bellagio.
Here are some articles to read before you travel for experiences in Lake Como:
- Where to Stay in Lake Como, Italy
- How to Travel Around Lake Como
- From Milan Malpensa to Lake Como by Train
- Argegno: The Perfect Off-beat Charm in Lake Como
- Varenna: 10 Best Things to do
- 18 Best Things to Do See in Bellagio, Lake Como
- 17+ Best Things to do in Como City, Italy
- Complete Guide to Lake Como, Italy
Before you leave, take a look at other travel stories and practical info about Italy if you are planning a trip to this country. You may like my recommendations and enjoy reading the following articles also:
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- Getting Around Milan like a Local: A Simple Guide to Milan’s Public Transportation
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- Quotes about Milan that makes the City Irresistible
- Milan at a Glance: An Overview of What to Expect
- Milan Bucket List Ideas: Best 19 Attractions
- How to Enjoy the Best of Milan in One Day
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- Milan Cathedral: How to Make the Best of Your Visit
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- The Ultimate Milan City Guide
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- Mazzanti Houses, Verona, Italy
- Verona Arena
- Piazza delle Erbe, Verona
- Piazza Bra, Verona
- The Lamberti Tower, Verona
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- Verona at a Glance
- Complete Guide to Verona, Italy
For more inspiration and travel information for your trip to Italy, take a look at my Italy travel page that has detailed destination guides and experience based tips to support your travels.
Have a wonderful time in Bellagio xoxo
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