On the final leg of of our two-week trip to Italy and France, we found ourselves in Como, a hub community on the south end of Lake Como. It proved to be a perfect jumping-off point for exploring Lake Como. It was also an easy day trip by train to Lugano, Switzerland, so the kids could cross another country off their list. You can read about our whole two-week trip to Italy and France here.
While many people wing it when it comes to their lodging reservations, we decided not to roll the dice, knowing we needed to find lodging for five of us, three of whom are children. Our experience has been that hotel rooms in Europe are pretty small, and with five of us, one of whom was a teenager and only child, we were going to need more space. We also like the option of being able to do laundry while traveling, so we can pack lighter, and a kitchen so that not all of our meals were in restaurants. As a result we ended up getting a rental apartment in Como.
Our Como apartment was very nice and spacious. We booked it on booking.com, which seemed to work fine. It was modern and well equipped…except that it didn’t have air conditioning like advertised. It was hot. And it was located on Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, a busy square that was loud at all hours of the night, which meant it was way too noisy with the windows open. Unfortunately our niece had to share a room with our kids in this apartment, but it was a large enough apartment that people could get their space if needed.
We had taken the train to Como from Antibes, France. While in Como, we walked. From our apartment to the main Como destinations was very walkable. We also used the ferry around Lake Como and the funicular to Brunate.
Four Days in Como, Italy and Lugano, Switzerland
We were on the home stretch of our European adventure, so our energy levels were a little lower than earlier in the trip, so being in a city that wasn’t too large but had access to groceries and transportation options served us well.
Ferry to Bellagio
Our first adventure in Como was to take a ferry to Bellagio. I’m not going to lie, this part of the trip was all about me seeing something that I hadn’t seen on prior Europe trips. The kids were tired and my husband was a good sport, but I adored this part of the trip. The boat ride on Lake Como was lovely. It was great seeing all the little picturesque villages along the lake.
Bellagio itself is as stunning as I’d imagined. Lots of tourists, to be sure, but lovely. The town is very hilly (not surprising), so it was a little exhausting for our tired young tourists. It’s not hard to understand why George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin have a home there.
Volta Lighthouse in Brunate
Back in Como we decided to take the funicular we’d seen along the lake to find Faro Voltiano, or the Volta Lighthouse in Brunate, a small village at the top of a massive hill outside Como. Below you can see the funicular track. You definitely would not want to walk up that hill!
Alessandro Volta grew up in Como, and there are several monuments to him, including the lighthouse in Brunate. The funicular was crowded, and the 30 minute walk from the station to the lighthouse was really grueling and uphill. But the views at the top of the lighthouse were worth the effort. Luckily, the walk back to the funicular station was a breeze!
At the end of our trip, we took a day trip by train to Lugano, Switzerland. It is a very hilly town that definitely has an Italian feel to it. Mostly we went so the kids could say they’ve been to Switzerland. And of course, everyone got Swiss Army Knives (except me, because I still have one from my first trip to Switzerland in 1997). And chocolate. We definitely consumed some Swiss chocolate while we were there.
- We had decided to stay in Como due to its location on the train line and access via ferry to other more charming Lake Como stops. Como itself was somewhat charming in places, but if you’re looking for a full Lake Como atmosphere you should probably look to other more charming little villages you can reach by ferry from Como.
- Do not go to Lugano, Switzerland on a Monday! All of their stores were closed when we got there. Oops. We went back on Tuesday, and all was good.
- Remember that Switzerland is not part of the EU, so they have their own currency, the Swiss Franc. You will not be able to use your Euros there.
- We ended up having burgers at least twice on the trip to curb withdrawal symptoms for a few of our pickier eaters. Do what you need to do on an international trip. Not every meal needs to be an adventurous meal.
- If you are taking a teenager on the trip, do everything you can to ensure they have some space to themselves. That worked pretty well for us (though I should ask her how she felt about it).
- Get a travel jacket! My husband and I both purchased SCOTTeVEST outerwear prior to our trip to Europe, and now we are huge fans! Our documents were secure in the inner pockets, and we were able to carry a bunch of our valuables on us without bulk, discomfort, or worry about them being stolen. Check out my review of this jacket and see for yourself.
- We have officially created international travel addicts! Our kids can’t wait to travel abroad again.
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