Getting its name from the nearby lake in northern Italy, the town of Como is located in the region of Lombardy, just south of the border with Switzerland. Como’s lakeside location coupled with its position near the Alps has helped to make the town hugely popular with visitors all year round, whether they want to go skiing, walking or sailing on Lake Como.
Como’s history as a major crossing point between the Mediterranean countries and Central Europe has made it a historically important place through the centuries, although it is primarily known for tourism today. The parts of the town which touch the lake itself tend to be the most popular with visitors for the scenery as well as the sense of serenity.
Anything larger than a supermini or city car would prove to be hard to drive in the town and around the lake, owing to the many narrow roads in Como.
The Cathedral (Duomo) in the centre of Como is as good a place as any to get panoramic views of the lake and town as well as learn of the city’s history. It was built in the 14th century and is one of the finest examples of Gothic-Renaissance architecture in Italy.
Outside of Como itself but just a short ferry ride away is Isola Comacina, a small island which holds ruins of several Byzantine churches. Before it’s destruction in the 11th century, it was a vibrant town which was part of the Milanese kingdom.
There are two main museums in Como – The Civic Archaeological Museum and History Museum. Both are in palatial settings and, despite their size, have a wide range of exhibits dating back before Roman times.
To get a great view of the town and the lake, a scenic place to head is the village of Brunate. To get there, you could take a funicular ride up the mountain. Once you reach the top, you’re free to enjoy the view!
A lot of the roads in Como and the surrounding towns and villages are a little on the narrow side and operate as one-way streets.
The E35/A9 motorway crosses the border into Switzerland going north, but is a toll road, costing between €1.10 and €1.60 for each journey.
If driving in from Switzerland, make sure that you take the exits for Como Nord and Monte Olimpino to get in the town itself.
The nearest major airports are Milan Linate and Milan Malpensa. The former is 19 miles south of Como, with the latter being 16 miles southwest of the town centre. Malpensa tends to have the larger range of flights, with the latter being useful for low-cost and domestic ones.
Getting to Malpensa is possible via the A9 going south, the A8 going northwest and the SS336. Linate is accessible from the A9, A8 and A52, which runs alongside the airport.