Is a car needed to explore Lake Como

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12 posts
new member
May 17, 2018 - 12:32 PM

Hi, We plan to drive from Lugano to Como and have a look around the Lake Como area. We've heard a car can be a hindrance because of the narrow streets but I believe this would be only in the town centre itself? We are hoping the car may be useful to get from one town to another. We only have 2 nights in Como after which we will return the hire car to Lugano and taking a train to Milan.

If a car is not necessary in Como and we'll be able to see the towns around the lake just as easily by bus/ferry, would we be better off dropping the car in Lugano first, take a train to Como and catching the train from Como to Milan instead.

Is it cheaper to purchase SBB tickets from Lugano or Como to Milan in advance or is the price going to be the same if we purchase when we get to Zurich.

Thanks for any suggestions.


1148 posts
top member
May 17, 2018 - 11:12 PM in reply to jools

It is true, the roads around lake Como are quite narrow.

Easy to see on Google street view

By their very nature, Alpine lake-side roads are sinuous, and often narrow, and by natural geography lake side villages are usually tightly squeezed between mountainside and lake - so very often it is difficult to stop and/or park.

Lake Como has a decent boat service

10385 posts
expert &
May 18, 2018 - 3:37 PM in reply to jools

International ticket prices do fluctuate so I'd look into it beforehand: https://www.myswissalp land/train/tickets

however, it isn't a big trip so prices might not change too much. I think you can explore the Como area by car or train/ferry without a huge issue. Personally I'd be tempted to take a car but I'm fairly comfortable driving on mountain roads and on cramped town lanes (mostly haha). There are pros and cons to both.

685 posts
top member
May 18, 2018 - 6:33 PM

Hej !

There is a train route from Como to Lecco (at southern end of eastern branch of Lago di Como) and then one that runs as far north as Chiavenna. But I would not do this. By all means rent a car and explore around the shores of the lake. The roads are narrow in some places but quite passable as long as you are not driving a Hummer or a 1960's american boat. I would go as small as possible just to make it easier to navigate and park. If you have the time, you can fit in a boat ride. I was just watching this video, which looks like fun. There are piles of videos about this area, which might help you decided where to go. I would recommend the southern area between the two branches of the lake which has Bellagio at its northern tip. The video Bellagio (italia hermosa) is very nice.

I do believe that car rentals in Italy are cheaper than in Switzerland, so you might want to check that. If you do not need to return to Lugano after your visit to Lake Como, why not go by train from Lugano to Como, rent your car there, and leave it there after your Lago di Como visit, and then continue on by train to Milano after that ? One more thing, you might want to consider staying for one or both of your two nights elsewhere than Como itself (i.e. in smaller towns). Just a thought.

Last modified on May 18, 2018 - 6:42 PM by Peterli
12 posts
new member
May 19, 2018 - 5:51 AM in reply to Peterli

Hi Peterli, We hired the car from Zurich so we have to return it to Lugano rather than Como to avoid exhorbitant one way relocation charges to another country. We will probably spend the other night in Menaggio like you suggested. Thanks.

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