On our most recent short trip to Milan, we decided to spend a day in Varenna, Italy, on the shores of Lake Como. Because our flight landed at Bergamo Airport, we decided to take a shuttle bus to Milan. These buses run on a regular basis and depart directly in front of the airport’s arrivals terminal. We bought the tickets directly from the driver, but they are also available online here or here. A ticket costs between 10 and 12 euros per person, one way.
As a result, we arrived at Milan Central Station in less than an hour. We then took another bus and a tram to get to the hotel. We stayed at the Novotel Milano Linate Aeroporto because it provides excellent value for money.
The next day, in the morning, we arrived in Milan’s Central Station to catch a train to Varenna. The best option is to take a direct train to the Varenna-Esino station, which runs at regular intervals. You can buy tickets from vending machines at the station and cost 13.6 euros per person round trip. Don’t forget to validate your ticket at any of the platform devices before boarding the train!
During the hour-long journey, try to sit on the left side of the train in the direction of travel to enjoy the breathtaking scenery that will delight you throughout. It’s time to get off the train at Varenna – Esino station. You’ll know when to do this because many people will get off the train.
Things to do in Varenna, Italy, on Lake Como
Varenna is a charming and traditional village on the eastern shore of Lake Como in Italy. The lake is well-known for its natural beauty and the elegant villas that line its shores. Como, Lecco, Bellagio, Tremezzo, Menaggio, and Varenna are just a few of the well-known lakeside resorts. Steamer services connect several towns.
The Church of San Giorgio is located in Piazza San Giorgio, Varenna’s town center
The church was built in the 14th century in a style that straddled Romanesque and Gothic, and it houses many paintings from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Look down to see the solid pavement, which is entirely made of local marble.
Take a stroll along Lake Como’s waterfront
You can walk toward the lake along the narrow streets that branch off from Piazza San Giorgio. Take care when walking because the streets are cobblestones and some alleys are quite steep.
Riva Grande, Varenna’s lakefront, is simply delightful! There are numerous cafes, restaurants, local artisan shops, ice cream parlors, and other attractions here.
Take a romantic walk along the Passeggiata degli innamorati (Walk of Lovers), the inspiring lake promenade that connects Riva Grande to the boat landing, where boats and ferries keep coming and going (do not miss a short walk on the lake by taking a Varenna – Bellagio ferry).
A visit to Villa Monastero is unquestionably one of the best things to do in Varenna. The villa was once an old monastery that was later converted into a patrician residence.
Apart from being an international conference center, Villa Monastero attracts visitors from all over the world due to its beautiful botanical garden, which houses many rare plant species.
You will also have the opportunity to see Casa Museo, a museum that gathers four centuries of history within an elegant setting, characterized by refined decorations and furnishings, if you visit this famous villa.
Remember that Villa Monastero is only open to the public from March to November (with the exception of some special winter openings – see their website for details).
Villa Cipressi, a 4-star hotel near Varenna’s town center, is adjacent to Villa Monastero.
The complex is surrounded by terraced gardens that reach the shores of Lake Como, making it an ideal location for unforgettable weddings and vacations.
The majestic and ancient cypress trees that can still be seen in the Villa Cipressi grounds give the property its name.
Castello di Vezio
If you don’t mind walking, you can reach Castello di Vezio, an ancient medieval fortress overlooking Varenna, by following the path along the Esino River.
The castle is home to a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Lariosaurus – an extinct sea reptile from the Middle Triassic period that inspired a legend similar to the Loch Ness monster – as well as a training center for birds of prey.
In the evening, while waiting for the return train to Milan, enjoy a “aperitivo” in the train station’s small restaurant.