Things to do in Varenna
There are so many great things to do in Varenna which I have detailed below!
We travelled from Milan Linante to Varenna in around 2.5 hours. From the airport, get a bus to Milano Central Station for €5 and then the train to Varenna, which run, on average every hour. You can check the train times here. The train is only €6.70 (second class) or €10 (first class) one way. We chose first class just but really there is not much difference so we travelled back second class! The journey is around 1 hour 10 minutes.
We chose to stay in Varenna in Lake Como as it was quieter and less touristy than some of the other nearby towns. We did not regret our decision one bit! Varenna was full of character and charm and was absolutely stunning.
Walk around Varenna
Varenna is small enough (only around 1,000 people live in the centre!) to walk around in an hour or two. We started from Villa Monti up in the hills, past the main square and meandered our way through the cobbled streets down to the lake. We walked through the red arches (known by some as the Lovers Walk!) and to the ferry port. On the way back we cut up different streets and explored before making our way back to our villa.
Castello Di Vezio
We hiked to Castello Di Vezio from Villa Monti in around 20/25 minutes – just make sure you take some good footwear as they are not clear paths and you end up rambling a little! It was pretty much a one way path so no chance of getting lost.
The entrance to the castle was €4 and there is a café there selling food and drink. Look in advance for times of the falconry experience if you are interested. On the way into the castle in the grounds, there were a number of birds including an eagle and an owl (who looked like Hedwig from Harry Potter).
We went over the drawbridge to the castle and climbed the steps to the top where there were beautiful views over Lake Como – there is quite a small space at the top so you may have to wait. The castle itself is not that big so we walked the grounds and climbed up to another smaller turret. We then visited the underground part which, unsurprisingly, was a little dark and ultimate just full of rubble! Worth a trip, even just for the views!
Villa Monti was perfectly located for a short 15 minute walk to Flumelatte, a waterfall at the end of a straight but grassy path. It flows from a cavity in the Grigna into Lake Como and is approximate 250 metres in length. The name Fiumelatte, composed from fiume (Italian for “river”) and latte (“milk”), is due to the milky white colour of its water.
Worth seeing if your accommodation is that way or you could combine it with a trip to the Castle.
For only €5 you can visit the gardens at Villa Monstero located just metres from the main square. You could spend 1-2 hours here exploring the vast gardens with beautiful flowers and trees. There are also some amazing views over the lake.
There are other gardens next door in Villa Capressi (€4 entrance) which are also meant to be lovely.
Ferry to Bellagio
You can get an all day ferry pass for only €15 which is really good value as it allows you to hop on and off to see the different towns. Start early as the ferries do not run that frequently but you can get a timetable from the port.
We decided to just visit Bellagio, which is only a 15 minute trip. You could also visit Lenno, Mennagio, Lake Como and more!
Bellagio is busier and more touristy than Varenna and to be honest, I preferred the charm and character of Varenna. That said, Bellagio is still a lovely place and we wandered around for 3 hours weaving our way in between the different lanes, stopping off for a drink in the sun, all the way to the gardens and then had lunch by the front. A return ticket was just over €9.
We had a delicious meal outside on the terrace at Hotel Metropole Bellagio of pesto pasta and a tomato based pasta – very reasonably priced given the views!!
Rent a Boat
Before we arrived, we were told that you could have a 45 minute trip over Lake Como in a seaplane! Sadly it was all booked up so we decided to rent a boat for an hour. We started off early so it was not too busy or too hot and sped off aiming for Villa Bilballeno, a beautiful place just 10 minutes from Varenna.
It was not too hard to manoeuvre the boat and it was so nice to have freedom to drive around Bellagio and Menaggio. The company was very professional and helpful and it was €80 for an hour with fuel included.
East London Girl: Things to do in Varenna