Travelling by public ferry on Lake Como kills two birds with one convenient stone – you don’t need to take the lakeside road (which can be hair-raising and crowded at times!) to get where you want to go, and you get to sit back, relax and enjoy the view from the boat as you travel!

Full Ferry map, Lake Como Ferry Maps and Timetables

Gestione Navigazione Laghi just published the summer timetables for 2019 – four timetables in all – and we are here to help you decipher them!

Como & Colico

The Como-Colico timetable is on two pages – one heading north and one south. Some schedules are written in black and others in red: red for high-speed boats and black for regular service. A straight line means the boat bypasses certain stations and only stops where there’s a departure time. Not all of the boats go the whole distance – choose your boats wisely! A handy key at the bottom of the page explains the symbols in Italian and English. The main thing you need to know is “Fer.” means weekdays – i.e. Mon.-Sat., “Gior.” means every day and “Fest.” means Sundays and holidays. You will need to plan wisely if you plan to travel to the hotspots on the northern branch of the lake (around 2 hours by boat), like the kite-surfing capital of Colico or the wine-growing town of Domaso – there may not be much time to browse before the last boat leaves heading south. Of course, the Palazzo team would be more than happy to arrange transport to or from your destination whenever you need it.

Como & Colico - Lake Como Ferry Maps and Timetables
Sample Itinerary:

An afternoon in Como Town

Hitch a ride on our new electric vehicle from the Palazzo to the Lezzeno boat station, or “Imbarcadero”, and board the boat for Como at 12:07. Enjoy criss-crossing the lake past picturesque villages and lovely lakeside villas, which – close to Como – come fast and furious, from Clooney’s Villa Oleandra in Laglio to Villa d’Este in Cernobbio. The slow boat back to Lezzeno leaves at 3:20, which gives you just enough time to catch Como’s highlights. If you want a bit more time to explore, take the fast boat back to Lezzeno at 4:15 (Sundays and holidays) or at 5:10 (Monday-Saturday).

Arriving in Como around 1:30, head straight for the center of town and grab a quick al fresco bite on Cathedral square. After lunch, marvel at the cathedral that took almost 400 years to build: from breaking ground in 1396 to official completion in 1770, with Filippo Juvara’s impressive dome. The vast nave with its tapestries and frescoes is a sight to behold – and a welcome cool respite from the summer sun.

On your way back to the ferry station, head down to the waterfront and celebrate the life of the town’s favorite son before you leave. Chemist, physicist and pioneer of electricity Alessandro Volta was born here in 1745 and came to international fame with his invention of the first battery. The Tempo Voltiano, a neoclassical monument set in a park of the same name, has exhibits on Volta’s innovative experiments, among them the first “Voltaic pile” or battery from 1800. Nearby is Daniel Libeskind’s amazing sculpture “Life Electric” from 2015, which he says was inspired by the maestro’s great gift to mankind: the electric tension between two poles of a battery.

Car Ferry

The Traghetto, or car ferry, only runs between four ports: Bellagio, Varenna, Cadennabia and Menaggio. Make sure you have the right schedule – blue covers Monday through Saturday and yellow covers Sundays and holidays. The ferries take between 10 and 15 minutes and run at least every hour. It’s convenient for Palazzo guests who want to explore points east, like the spa at San Pellegrino Terme, the hilltop town of Bergamo or the wine region of Valtellina, or points west, like Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore and beautiful Bellinzona.

Lovely Lugano! Lake Como Ferry Maps and Timetables
Sample Itinerary: 

Lovely Lugano!

After a leisurely breakfast at the Palazzo, drive to Bellagio and make your way around the Bellagio parking lot into the two lanes marked “Ferry”. The 10:40 ferry is ideal, but if you have to wait until 11:10, it’s not the end of the world (10:45 and 11:15 on weekends and holidays). Once you’ve disembarked in Cadenabbia, turn right on the main lake road and then follow the signs for Lugano through the first tunnel. After a few switchbacks up the mountain and bypassing Lago di Piano (lovely nature reserve where you might stop for a walk or a picnic!), you reach the northern tip of Lake Lugano.

Follow the lake’s northern shore, cross the border into Switzerland (don’t forget your passports!) and stop for a wander in Gandria. This typical lakeside town is built directly on the shore, connecting its medieval houses and piazzas in a car-free center with staircases, arcades and alleys. If it’s time for lunch, try some local cuisine at a typical trattoria like Grotto Teresa right on the water or Le Bucce di Gandria above the town (free parking!) with its panoramic terrace.

After Gandria, you gradually come into Lugano proper – a shock of civilization on this otherwise sparsely populated lake, with lavish villas and chic modern apartment blocks crowding the terraces built along the steep slopes. Follow signs for parking lots (Silos Parco Ciani and Autosilo Balestra are both very central) and wander through the pedestrianized center – particularly the quaint old city behind the main square – and along the lovely lakeside promenade with its modern statues. Before you continue on, stop at Vanini for an amazing ice cream or Grand Café al Porto for decadent cakes and pastries!

Leaving Lugano, follow the green signs for the A2 highway and Milano/Chiasso. Cross back over Lake Lugano at Melide and – if you like – do a bit of retail therapy at FoxTown outlet mall in Mendrisio. Just after the Italian border at Chiasso, drive around Como town and head north on the lake road to Lezzeno.

Bellagio – Lecco – Bellagio

The Lecco – Bellagio line cruises up and down the Lecco branch, or southeastern branch, of Lake Como, an area that attracts fewer tourists than the Como branch. Its lakeside towns like Limonta are quaint and sleepy, while traditional manufacturing towns on the northern shore like Mandello Lariano are still more work-a-day than touristy – both the Guzzi motorcycle factory in Mandello and the Silk Factory in Abbadia Lariana have museums (open only afternoons). There are six non-stop cruises in each direction on this line during on weekdays, and they are denoted in dark blue on the Como-Colico and Colico-Como schedules above. The weekend schedule has twice that, so pay close attention to the timetable.

Bellagio – Lecco – Bellagio - Lake Como Ferry Maps and Timetables
Suggested itinerary:

Bike tour on the Adda

Make your way to Bellagio and board the boat for Lecco at 11:45 a.m. (every day). Once in Lecco at 1:11 p.m., grab a sandwich at a café like Piadineria Biribò on Piazza XX Settembre and be at the bike shop “Lario and Bike” (Corso Carlo Alberto 130, open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 – 1, 2:30 – 7:00) right when it opens after lunch. Rent e-bikes or road bikes for a half day, and head for the “Pista ciclabile dell’Adda” bike path.

The Adda river enters Lake Como at the northern tip in Colico, and leaves the lake at Lecco. The bike path along its banks goes all the way to Milan through some very picturesque scenery. On today’s tour, follow the path along the river and the eastern shore of both Lago di Garlate and Lago di Olginate. Cross over the Adda at the bottom of Lago di Olginate and return on the western shore. The whole trip shouldn’t take more than 3 hours, especially if you have the extra kick of an e-bike!

After you drop off the bikes at the rental shop, grab a gelato or an aperitivoon Lecco’s lakeside promenade – the Palazzo staff would be happy to recommend one! – and catch the last boat home at 7:35 p.m. (NB: the last boat leaves at 6:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays!!).

The Mid-Lake Shuttle

The Navetta, or mid-lake shuttle, is the perfect option for Palazzo guests looking to explore the Central Lake Area by public boat. Head to Lenno and visit the famed Villa del Balbianello or lounge lakeside at the Lido di Lenno beach club. Cruise to Villa Carlotta and wander through the vast botanical gardens. Cross the lake at its widest point to Varenna and hike up the hill to the medieval fortress Castello di Vezio for the Birds of Prey demonstration. Hop across to Menaggio and catch a cab to the 100-year-old – and very scenic – Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club.

The Mid-Lake Shuttle, Lake Como Ferry Maps and Timetables
Sample Itinerary:

Sunday Services at the Anglican Church in Tremezzo

The Anglican Church of the Ascension sits on the main road of Tremezzo with its striking striped façade. It was the first protestant church to be consecrated in Italy in 1891, built to cater to the aristocrats and intellectuals on the Grand Tour who came to Lake Como from the protestant north. If you catch the Navetta from Bellagio at 9:40, you will arrive at Villa Carlotta at 9:56, plenty of time for the roughly 10-minute stroll along the lake to the Anglican Church for Sunday services at 10:30 (from April to October) with this year’s acting priest, Rev. Roger Williams from Australia. The sung services are quite moving, particularly performed in this interior with its gold mosaics and unusual coffered ceilings. After the service, stay in Cadenabbia for lunch (perhaps at the ever-elegant Grand Hotel Tremezzo or in La Caffétteria di Villa Carlotta) before catching the 2:20 boat back to Bellagio. Other boats leave at 4:25, 5:30 and 6:40 if you want to spend more time exploring this shore!