Lake Como or Lake Garda: Picking an Italian Lake

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Lake Como is a top tourist destination in Italy all year, but especially in summer when it’s hot and the waters are tempting. Both lakes are stunning (and well-known). You might have to choose between them. What can you do? Here are some suggestions!

Lake Garda can be reached from Venice or Verona more easily than Lake Como. Lake Como is closer by Milan.

Lake Garda lies east of Lake Como so it is easier to reach from Venice or Verona. It is only 1.5 hours by train (or 2 hours driving) from Venice. However, Lake Garda can be reached from Verona in just half an hour or on the train in 15 minutes. Peschiera del Garda, the train station at Lake Garda, is where you’ll find it.

Milan is only a short drive from beautiful Lake Como

It takes about an hour from Milan to reach the southernmost tip on Lake Como by train or car. (Depending on where you are on the lake, you will need to choose between Como Lago and Como San Giovanni as your train station).

Lake Como is the best place to find George Clooney and other famous people.

Celebrities have loved both lakes since Roman times. Pliny, the Younger, built two resorts on Lake Garda in 1st-century Italy, and Catullus, the Roman poet, may have owned a villa at Lake Garda. Today, Hollywood is focusing on Lake Como. George Clooney’s schemings from his lakeside villa are well-documented. Madonna, Richard Branson and Gianni Versace also have villas here.

Lake Garda is the best place to find a castle and Roman ruins. Lake Como has opulent villas, gardens and villas.

The touristy town of Sirmione on Lake Como is home to two attractions: Scaligero Castle (which dates back to 13 centuries) and the Grotte di Catullo, a Roman spa. Although romantics believe that it belonged to Catullus, hence the name, there is no evidence to support this claim. You can also take a ferry from Sirmione to the north, or rent a car to drive around the lake. There are many trails for hiking and biking that are far from any developments.

Continue reading: Italy’s Most Beautiful Lakes in Pictures


Villa La Quiete in Tremezzo is one of many opulent Villas on Lake Como

Lake Como also has many other sights to see. It is known for its beautiful villas and gardens. Villa Carlotta, a 17th-century villa, has a lovely Romantic park with sculptures by Canova. The 18th-century Villa del Balbianello, also known for its terraced gardens, is a famous landmark. Villa Melzi d’Eril in Bellagio is a neoclassical villa that includes an orangery, Japanese garden and sculpture. The lake is more developed overall so you will find many charming little villages around the lake’s edge.

Both lakes have touristy and less-touristy areas. However, it is a bit more difficult to reach the tranquil Lake Garda areas.

It is generally believed that Lake Garda has more tourists and is less crowded than Lake Como. It’s not true. There are many peaceful and tranquil places on Lake Garda. The northern portion of the lake is undeveloped and rugged because it is surrounded by mountains. It is more difficult to reach the northern portion of the lake. Most people go to Sirmione and the train station. From there, it takes about two hours to take the ferry to the northern side of the lake. Sirmione in the south is beautiful, but it’s also full of day-trippers to Venice and Verona.


You can go off the beaten track at Lake Garda (and Lake Como!) This is located near Lake Garda’s Monte Baldo refuge, at the northeastern end of the lake.

Lake Como on the other hand is developed all around the lake… with scattered villages that range from touristy to crowded and more “authentic” (como, bellagio, Varenna)

Lake Como is more expensive and elegant than Lake Como.

Lake Como is generally more wealthy than Lake Garda. (Remember all the opulent villas…and celebrity residents?) Lake Garda is a little more expensive than Lake Como. Lake Garda is more expensive than Lake Como, especially in high season. Lake Como, however, tends to be slightly more expensive.

Both lakes are huge and stunning.


Beautiful Lake Garda

Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, is also the most populous. But Lake Como is the largest lake in Italy. It is the third-largest. Both offer plenty of opportunities for boating and windsurfing. You can also bike, hike, or paraglide from the shore. Both are equally spectacular, though Lake Como’s entire ring is surrounded by the Alps while Lake Garda is only half.

But you don’t really want to swim in either.

You can also eat seafood from them. It is sad, but it is true. Italy’s major lakes have been polluted. Lake Garda Lake Como and Lake Garda are just two examples. You should be aware of the possibility of getting skin infections if you take a dip.

Continue reading: Lake Garda (Italy): Where to Stay, how to Get Around and More

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