As part of our second wedding anniversary celebration, we decided to spend a few days in Lake Como. We had heard so many great things about this Northern Italian destination, and we were just dying to see it for ourselves. There is a reason that Lake Como made my list of the best day trips from Milan! While we had a really nice time and were blown away by Lake Como’s beauty, we definitely made a few mistakes and learned some valuable lessons for the next time we visit. From the layout of the Lake to the local public transportation system, there are a few things we wish we knew before we traveled to Italy’s most famous lake – especially since we visited right in the middle of high season in July.
We figured this tourist favorite would be a little bit more straightforward to explore than it was, and that is why we decided to dedicate an entire blog post to these tips. This post is going to outline 5 things not to do in Lake Como, all of which we wish we knew before we went. Hopefully these tips for visiting Lake Como are helpful for you and help you to have a smoother experience than we did!
5. Don’t Bring a Stroller to Lake Como
When you travel with a baby, you have two main options for transporting them around: strollers and carriers. In the Lake Como area, one of these is a significantly better option than the other. While the thought of pushing your baby around in a stroller in Lake Como might be adorable, the truth is that it simply isn’t all that practical. The city of Como itself is pretty stroller-friendly, but the rest of the towns around the lake are very hit or miss. Even popular places like Bellagio have common areas that are entirely inaccessible to strollers.
We travel with a Babyzen Yoyo2 which is incredibly light and portable, but the challenges were still very apparent. There are a lot of stairs and cobblestones that can’t be avoided, and navigating them with a stroller can be a pain. If you have a carrier, it is absolutely a better option than a stroller in Lake Como.
Half way up these stairs at Lake Como We decided it was easier to fold up our travel stroller and carry the baby the rest of the way up.
4. Don’t Wait to Book Lake Como Ferry Rides in Person
We visited Lake Como in the beginning of July, which is right in the heart of the lake’s busiest season. As a result, the lines and crowds were pretty extreme. Frankly, we didn’t do much preparation before we traveled to Lake Como, as it was simply a spur off from our trip to Milan. We had heard of a few cute towns to visit around the lake and figured we would just figure it out when we got there.
We walked straight to the ferry port in the city of Como around 10:00am and were met with a line that was about 40 minutes long just to buy tickets. The sun was beating down on us, and we had no idea where to go, which ferry to take, or what time to board – and we speak fluent Italian!
After the fact, I learned that all of this could have been avoided with a little bit of prep work on the front end. You can buy tickets for the Lake Como ferries in advance online, and you can even find very detailed maps and timetables. Had we done this, we would have saved time, avoided standing around in the sun, and had a much smoother start to our visit to Lake Como.
3. Don’t Arrive in Lake Como in the Afternoon
This point ties in very well to the previous one. When you figure out your transportation to Lake Como, I recommend trying to arrive as early as possible. The sun tends to get pretty hot in the warmer months, and the crowds are like cockroaches; as soon as you see one person, you’re just a few minutes away from seeing one hundred. Personally, I think Lake Como is at its prettiest when it is peaceful and quiet, and there is no better time in Lake Como than the early morning.
Furthermore, the roads are all narrow and the ferries tend to get pretty packed. Whether you are taking a bus, ferry, or taxi to your accommodation or town for the day, you will have a much smoother trip in the morning than in the afternoon. On top of that, beaches and amenities tend to fill up as the day goes on, and the earlier you can stake your claim, the less likely you will need to wait. Again, Lake Como is one of the most popular destinations in Italy and it tends to get packed.
2. Don’t Forget Your Bathing Suits and Towels
When we arrived in Lake Como, we didn’t have any bathing suits. As I mentioned earlier, visiting Lake Como was kind of a spur of the moment decision for us. That, and British Airways had lost our luggage and we didn’t have any bathing suits in our carry-ons. We figured we would just buy cheap bathing suits at a store in one of the towns up by the lake once we got there rather than buying them at a store in Milan before we left. Little did we know that this would be impossible!
That first day, we visited both Como and Nesso and were unable to find a bathing suit in either place. To be fair, we didn’t look particularly hard in Como because we figure there would be a store in Nesso.
If you want to get in the water of Lake Como at all, make sure you bring a bathing suit with you. While that may sound like an obvious piece of advice, you’d be surprised how many people arrive in Lake Como without a bathing suit, simply expecting to buy one when they arrive!
Imagery of Angel attempting not to pout about not being able to swim in the water.
1. Don’t Plan on Using the Buses if You Have Luggage
We are budget travelers 95% of the time. We can appreciate a luxurious experience, but we usually try to save as much money on the little things while traveling in order to splurge more on experiences or additional trips. One area that we almost always look to save money is on transportation. While you can take a taxi from the city of Como to any other place around the lake, the prices are usually exorbitant. We opted for the bus, which costs just a few euros per person.
This method worked for us, as we only had a backpack, a stroller, and a baby. If you have any luggage, though, you will likely have to stick with a taxi or a ferry. The buses that we rode from Como to Nesso and Como to Bellagio were so packed that there wasn’t even room to stand, let alone sit. I was literally pressed up against the door for the entire ride, and Angel only had better luck because she had a baby. If we had any luggage with us – even just a carry-on – there is no chance the driver would have even let us board the bus. If we had any stroller other than a Babyzen Yoyo2, we probably wouldn’t have been allowed on, either!
Thanks for reading my post about 5 things not to do in Lake Como. Hopefully this post helps you to adequately plan for your trip to Italy’s most popular lake. While we had a couple of hiccups on our visit, we still had an incredible time in Lake Como and fully recommend visiting. We are already planning our return, and we plan to spend much more than just a few days there! If you are visiting Lake Como, I highly recommend reading my post with tips on how to enjoy a small European town, as Lake Como is entirely surrounded by charming small towns. Other than that, if you have any questions about visiting Lake Como, don’t hesitate to reach out – we’ve got you covered.
If you have any questions about traveling in Europe with a baby, don’t hesitate to reach out – we’ve got you covered.