Варена / Varenna

Called by many the most romantic town on the shores of Lake Como, Varenna is becoming a magnet for tourists and an ideal choice for a short visit or a long relaxing holiday! Here you will find beautiful colorful alleys winding literally over the water, as well as elegant villas with picturesque gardens…

Where is located and how to get there

Positioned along the eastern shore of the lake, Varenna is the most accessible of its more popular towns. It can easily be visited by train from Milan (85 km), the journey taking about an hour. On the Trenitalia website you will find exact timetables and the possibility to buy a ticket.

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The easiest option is by car, because the SS36 main road passes around it, and at the beginning of the town there is a large paid parking lot (Parcheggio Multipiano), where you can leave the car for the whole day and explore the rest of the towns in the central area of ​​the lake by boat. If you choose the area of ​​Lecco for the night (we stopped at Malgrate), you can also arrive on the panoramic road SP72, which reveals a beautiful view of Varenna jutting out into the water and the mountain rising behind it, and also towards the middle of the lake – HERE.

If you have chosen another of the towns as a base, the ferry between Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna is the best way to get around. Prices and timetables can be found HERE, and if you plan more than three trips, it will be more profitable to buy a day pass. And to catch a glimpse of the colorful houses from the boat, amazingly contrasting with the velvety green hills in the background, is memorable…

See more places to stay in Varenna


On the alley of love

If you choose a train or ferry, then you will most likely start your Varenna tour from the iconic alley of love – Passeggiata degli Innamorati. It’s named so for a reason, because walking over the water on it is one of the most romantic things to do around Lake Como! It starts at the ferry terminal and goes all the way to the old port, with dizzying lake scenery accompanying you all the way and flowers and greenery adding to the colours. The huge tourist flow can make it a bit crowded, so the best time to visit is early in the morning or at sunset…

By the shore

No less lively is the area around the former fishing port Porto Vechio, where people like to spend time with an ice cream in hand, admiring the scenery. This is the most photographed part of Varenna – the Riva Grande bay and the houses perched above the shore. Here you can take a kayak for an unforgettable trip around the lake! If you prefer timelessness, you can sit down for a fragrant cappuccino or an afternoon aperitif at Bar Il Molo, guaranteeing the best view in town! And going back to the gelato, try this one from La Passerella, it’s worth it. And although the beaches of Varenna are slightly away from the central part, here too you will see people jumping into the water during the warmest summer months…

Through the streets of Varenna

At some point you will decide to wander through the maze of narrow streets… I will hardly surprise you when I tell you that for the most part they are steep steps! A walk through them will take you under stone arches covered with greenery, it will take you to someone’s home, to a secluded restaurant or you will have a great view of the waters of the lake… And finally you will find yourself around the 14th century church (Chiesa di San Giorgio) and the small central square (Piazza San Giorgio).

Villa Monastero

For a final we leave one of the must-visit villas around Lake Como – Villa Monastero! You can buy a ticket in advance on the website (HERE) or directly on the spot. The options are just the gardens (10 euro) or in combination with the villa (13 euro). During our visit, the inside part was being restored and we were only able to take advantage of the botanical garden.

The villa itself was built in the late 12th century and served as a nunnery until the 16th century, when it was dissolved due to the unruly behavior of the nuns. Then the villa was bought by the Mornico family and remained their property for three centuries! Both they and its subsequent owners carried out numerous repairs, added elements and decorations, but at no time did they change the previous appearance of the building. Thus, in 1939 it was acquired by the Italian government and turned into a museum, and today it is one of the most interesting examples of eclecticism around the lake!

The tour of the gardens starts from the high part and gradually goes down to the coast. There are many rare plant species collected from all over the world and a huge variety of colors and aromas. Fountains, statues and columns complete the perfect picture and turn the courtyard of the villa into a unique setting for photos…

For a final

If you have more time to spend in Varenna, you can also visit the other impressive villa that also functions as a hotel – Villa Cipressi. Another option is the 20-minute climb to the castle above the city (Castello di Vezio), for a beautiful panoramic view over the lake.