Nothing can quite compare to cruising Lake Como – and the thrill is that much greater when you pilot your own boat! We have partners all over the lake who rent self-drive boats by the hour or the day and many of them provide a drop off service directly at the Palazzo del Vice Re landing stage just steps from our centuries-old palace. We’ve put together this handy guide to renting a boat on Lake Como, with all of the details you need to make your cruise more convenient plus a few tips on sights and eateries to check out on your way. After all, Lake Como’s true charm – its elegant villas, wooded slopes and colorful lakeside villages – are all best experienced from the water.
The Nitty Gritty
Renting a boat from our loyal partners could not be easier. As slots can fill up quickly during the busy summer months, we recommend reserving your boat well in advance. Our friendly staff and our partners at IC Bellagio would be happy to take care of those arrangements for you – just say the word! We recommend at least a 3-hour rental, if not a full day, to get the most out of your cruise and explore as much of the lake as possible.
In selecting the boat that best fits your needs, there are a few things to consider. First, don’t worry if you are not an experienced boatman. Even amateurs – provided they are over 18 years of age – can rent a wide range of 40 horsepower boats that are as easy to drive as any automobile and don’t require a special boating license. There are various models on offer in this category, from rubber “Greenpeace” boats with a rigid hull to runabouts with a center console, and they generally can accommodate from 5 – 7 people (though the maximum number can be a tight fit!) Depending on the boat, you may have a cushioned deck on the prow for sunbathing and a cushioned seat or bench for the pilot. Many models are outfitted with a retractable awning that can be a real blessing in the summer sun and a convenient swim ladder at the back. Of course, if you have a boating license, there are several (more expensive) options – like a motorboat with 100 or even 250 horsepower.
On the day of the rental, you’ll be required to provide a valid passport and driver’s license, fill out some paperwork and possibly provide a security deposit. Depending on the rental company, insurance (in some cases included, in others available for a small fee) covers any damages less the relevant deductible and a full tank of gas is included. The staff of the boat rental company will give you a briefing on the operation of the boat, the safety features on board and the relevant rules of navigation before you set off. Remember to always give the public ferries the right of way, to stay at least 150 meters/500 feet from the shore (protecting the privacy of lakeside residents and preventing erosion!) and to respect the strict speed limits in certain areas, including the canal by the Isola Comacina and the bay of Piona. Sections of the shore by Lenno and Bellagio are also dangerously shallow and marked by white poles with red stripes.
What to see and where to eat
The best part about renting a boat on Lake Como is the chance to see the lavish lakeside villas, the quaint villages and the staggering landscape from the water. Many – if not most! – of the villas hugging Lake Como’s coastline are virtually invisible from the public roads and not accessible to the public, so cruising in a boat is the real ticket to discovering the treasures of the region. But without a heads up, boaters often don’t know what they’re seeing!
We hope you’ll enjoy the following guide with some not-so-known sights to look out for as you cruise the Como branch of the lake south of Lezzeno. For more information on other areas, check out our blog posts on Lake Como’s villas and boat tour ideas! And although boating is a popular pastime on Lake Como, not all restaurants offer boat slips for guests to park. We’ve included in our list of sights a few restaurants that welcome boats.