In a country with more than its fair share of spectacular landscapes, Italy’s Lake Como is one of the most breathtaking. Even better, it’s a fabulous destination to explore with kids, with tons to do and outstanding family-friendly accommodations. We asked two Lake Como experts to share their insider tips on the best of the Italian Lakes for families.
It is very historical, more than people expect it to be. If you go back to the 1500s, it was basically the first lake the Milanese nobility visited. There are still very narrow roads and beautiful cobblestone stairways.
It is also quite convenient. Only about an hour from the Milan airport, many guests are surprised to find how easy it is to get to Lake Como. We advise hiring a driver to take you from Milan or elsewhere in Italy, however, as driving is difficult around the Lakes Region in general.
The water is the big draw here, naturally. Families love the opportunities that being near the water affords them.
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Some of our favorite properties in all of Italy around found in Lake Como. We love that most hotels on the lake have extensive grounds and outdoor areas for families to play. Kids and parents won’t feel like they’re cooped up in their rooms. A few stand-out properties include:
Grand Hotel Tremezzo: This is one of the finest hotels in all of Italy. With its iconic views of the lake, the mountains, and the town of Bellagio, gorgeous scenery abounds from every vantage point here. Be sure to book your stay through our agency, as our mutual affiliation with the Virtuoso luxury travel networks offers our clients special perks.
Notably, the hotel recently opened Villa Sola Cabiati, a 6-bedroom villa about 10 minutes away from the larger hotel, which our clients can be exclusively. It’s perfect for multigenerational or multi-family gatherings, as the groups will still have access to the hotel amenities and services.
Villa d’Este is another luxury hotel icon on Lake Como. We love that this historical property never feels intimidating or uncomfortable with children in tow. Some families will be interested to know that there are a few villas on the property with 3-6 bedrooms. A good solution for those groups that need some additional space.
Hotel Belvedere is a good option for families that don’t mind simple rooms but also don’t want to sacrifice a great location.
Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como: Located at the opposite end of the lake from Grand Hotel Tremezzo, this property stands out for its exceptional spa and family-friendly room configurations.
New on the scene in Lake Como is Grand Hotel Victoria. Its more modern decor and smaller footprint appeals to many families.
For families, the water-related activities rank as top options to keep everyone busy while in Lake Como. Boat tours are a must, and there are two different options: a classical Venetian boat or a speed boat. Maybe try both? Adventurous families will love the watersports you can enjoy on the lake with a speedboat, like skiing and wakeboarding. For a really unique activity, book a sailboat excursion. Kids will be fascinated watching the captain maneuver the sails. While the lake isn’t really swimmable right from the shore, most hotels offer a floating pool and/or water trampolines.
It’s also a big area for hiking and biking, although biking is challenging with children unless they’re experienced mountain bikers. We love the hiking options, from casual strolls to more rigorous trails. Consider horseback riding as another way to take in the beautiful scenery of this area.
Cooking classes are also popular and there are several venues to choose from, depending on what your family is interested in learning and where you’re staying. Our family travel advisors love to match families with the perfect hands-on experience during their stay.
Star Wars fans will enjoy a stop at Villa del Balbianello, where the lakeside terrace scene between Padme and Anakin in Episode II: Attack of the Clones was filmed.
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We do not recommend driving in and around Lake Como. The roads are so narrow and curvy. If you’re staying in the major towns, public boats are easy to utilize and a fun way to get around. There are hydrofoils, passenger boats and car ferries that also take just passengers. We can also arrange transfers as part of our full planning services, or hotel concierges are happy to secure car transport for shorter journeys around the area.
Many people are surprised to learn that it is nearly impossible to visit Lake Como in the winter, as most of the major hotels close for the season. Hotels usually re-open around the Easter holiday. Summer is peak season, obviously, when all the action is happening in and around the water. Properties usually close again sometime in October.
We recommend a 3-4 night stay, so that families have enough time to enjoy the highlights but don’t feel stuck in this more remote area. For larger groups renting a villa or just wanting to take their time and have leisurely days, a full week is fun.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.