With easy access by ferry from Varenna or Menaggio, a half day in Bellagio is time very well spent. Here’s what to see and do in a quick trip to the mid-lake town.
The biggest and busiest of the three middle lake towns, spending at least a half day in Bellagio is a must when visiting Lake Como. If you’re not staying in the town itself, it’s an easy day trip from the other villages around the lake or even from Milan. Two nearby towns that make popular bases while staying in the area are Varenna and Menaggio. Both towns offer ferry services to Bellagio on a regular basis throughout the day, so transportation couldn’t be easier.
Welcome to Bellagio
Located in the centre of the inverted ‘Y” shaped Lake Como, Bellagio is a shopper’s paradise. There are no must-see museums, churches or other sights in this town. The main activities here include shopping, eating and relaxing. This quaint town with mountain views will draw you in and you’ll never want to leave. Visitors beware!
As with the rest of Lake Como, Bellagio is packed with tourists, so expect higher prices than other parts of Italy. With views of a shimmering lake bordered by snow topped mountains, the price premiums are definitely worth it.
Arrival in Bellagio by ferry
If you’re visiting Bellagio from one of the other towns on Lake Como, you’ll likely arrive by ferry. The ferry ‘terminal’ has a couple of piers but they are close together so it doesn’t matter where you arrive. Arriving by ferry comes with the added bonus of views of the old town and waterfront promenade from the water.
Once on dry land, follow the crowd to Bellagio’s Old Town for a wander through the cobblestone streets and lots of shopping.
Of the three middle lake towns, Bellagio has by far the most amount of shopping. There is a main strip of shops at lake level, and also laneways of shops running up the hill. The stairs aren’t particularly steep (see photo below), but comfortable shoes would be a good idea.
Bellagio’s shops sell a range of items including: jewellery, leather goods, clothing, scarves and accessories, and of course, all types of souvenirs. The shopping ranges considerably in terms of quality and prices. If you’re looking for something in particular, it’s worth looking around before buying. As an example, I was scarf shopping and the prices (and quality) ranged from 20 euros to well over 150 euros.
Taking in the lake views from Parchetto della Punta
To get away from the crowds, or if you’re in the mood more more pretty mid-lake views, head to Parchetto della Punta at the northern end of the peninsula. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the tourist information centre in the main shopping area in Bellagio.
There’s a restaurant with the same views called Ristorante La Punta. While I didn’t eat or drink there, it was very popular on the day we visited and I could easily imagine myself with a glass of Prosecco in hand. Next time!
Parco Martiri Della Libertà
For some more nature, head south of the Old Town to Parco Martiri Della Libertà. We stumbled upon it as we were making our down to the promenade from the top of the Old Town. It was a lovely surprise with lots of greenery, flowers and some much needed piece and quiet away from the crowds.
Eating, drinking and being merry
Needless to say, a few drinks and a meal is a must do when in Bellagio. The difficult part is picking which restaurant. As a general rule, I look for places away from the main streets where tourists tend to eat. Bellagio seemed to be a rare exception, as everywhere was busy.
We had some midday drinks and nibbles on the square next to Basilica di San Giacomo at Caffe Bar Sport. Located on Via Roma, it’s a great spot for some people watching.
We had lunch at Antico Pozzo Ristorante, which was ok because we were really hungry, but it was fairly underwhelming. My tortellini looked like something I could buy out of a bag at my local grocery store! The outdoor seating was fabulous though, and the atmosphere was great.
Last but not least, strolling Bellagio’s waterfront
Just south of the ferry terminal, there is a lovely promenade made for walking. We had just missed a ferry and had some time to kill before the next one was departing. We walked south along the water and came across this lovely area where lots of people were out for a stroll, enjoying the beautiful May spring day.
We spent a half day in Bellagio as a day trip from Varenna. Here’s a link to my related post on planning a four day trip to Lake Como.
Are there any highlights you’d recommend for a half day trip to Bellagio? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!