Lake Como, about 40 kilometers north of Milan, is one of Italy's most popular and well-known lakes. The town of Como, the lake's largest town, is on the train line and can be visited as a day trip from Milan. However Lake Como is also a great vacation destination.
Como is a lively town with a good historic center and a good starting point to visit other towns on the lake by ferry or bus. Those who enjoy hiking or birding can take the funicular railway up the hill from the town of Como to Brunate. Another good base for hiking is the town of Menaggio but there are hiking trails in many places around the lake.
Known as the pearl of Lake Como, Bellagio is one of the lake's most popular and romantic spots. The lake is also known for the majestic villas built along the shore. One of the most famous is Villa d'Este, in the village of Cernobbio, now a luxury hotel. Villa Carlotta, south of Menaggio, is open for tours of the villa and gardens. Star Wars fans may recognize Villa del Balbianello, in the village of Lenno, as it was the set for one of the movies.
Lake Como photo © by Martha Bakerjian, licensed to About.com