With temperatures close to freezing and a spate of seasonal rain, it’s time to go to our “happy place” and talk about the best places to swim in Lake Como. So, instead of curling up by the fire or sipping a cup of hot cocoa, join us to think warm thoughts as we fantasize about basking in the summer sun at Bellagio’s Lido or splashing in the cool waters from a private boat anchored off the north shore.
Here at Palazzo del Vice Re, we are fortunate enough to have the Lake Como literally lapping at our feet – and a stylish sun terrace reserved exclusively for guests with its own private pebble beach. Kids can wade in the shallow waters and adults can brave the deeper depths for an invigorating swim. If you are interested in exploring the waters further afield, a veritable smorgasbord of swimming spots awaits you on Italy’s third-largest lake – over 50 square miles of water!!! – whether you prefer “wild swimming” far from the madding crowd or chic beach clubs with amenities to spare.
Renting a private boat is a great way to discover the hidden charms and secluded swimming spots of Lake Como and most 40 horsepower cruisers don’t even require a boat license! You can drop anchor where you like (as long as you stay the required 650 feet from the shore), swim laps around the boat and float around taking in the mountain scenery. As deep as 1400 feet in places, the water in the middle of Lake Como can always pack a chill, but shallower depths may reach up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August. Nota bene: don’t forget to lower the ladder before you dive in!
Swimming in and around Bellagio
Known as the Pearl of the Lario, Bellagio is perched at the tip of the triangular promontory that separates the two southern branches of Lake Como. All of the best swimming spots in and around Bellagio are either within walking distance of the town center or accessible by ferry in nearby villages of the central lake area.
Pescallo is a quiet fishing village on the east side of Bellagio’s promontory that often has more ducks than people. Its small harbor and narrow alleys hark back to another time, when local fishermen eked out a living with their traditional Lucia boats. Two small beaches between the ancient city walls and the boats bobbing in the harbor are great for wading in the shallow water (bring water shoes to brave the boulders!). For those exploring the tip of Bellagio’s promontory by boat, the wooded and rocky coast just north of the village is a great place to drop anchor. There’s even a tiny “isolotto” to swim to – a tiny rocky outcrop that can become your own little treasure island!
Bellagio Sporting Club
About 20 minutes by foot or a five-minute bus or car ride from the town center, Bellagio Sporting Club is a great place to swim in Bellagio – even without direct access to the lake. Locals and visitors alike flock to this Bellagio institution for its tennis courts, outstanding restaurant and outdoor pool with sunbeds and umbrellas. Catch some rays, let the little ones splash in the kiddie pool or swim lengths with the adults – and check out their Facebook page for fun special events like live music and outdoor barbecues.
Lido di Bellagio
Located just before the entrance to the Villa Melzi gardens, Bellagio’s only beach club is a great spot to swim in Lake Como with modest entrance and rental fees. You’ll love everything from the sand-covered decking to the canopies flapping in the wind, the long slide into the water to the light lunches at the beach bar and the fantastic people-watching to the cocktails at sundown.
Lido di Menaggio
Accessible by ferry directly from Bellagio, Menaggio is a picturesque town with a recently renovated beach club just ten minutes by foot from the ferry dock. Sunbeds are available for rent on a sand-covered platform, around the pool or on the grass; separate pools are reserved for kids and adults. Drinks, sandwiches and snacks are available from the restaurant located in a historic 1930s villa, while the lounge attracts revelers for craft beers and cocktails when the sun goes down.
Lido di Varenna
A quick ferry trip from Bellagio, Varenna is a beloved spot for day-trippers with its 12th century castle, charming town center and cute beach club. A little bridge across the plaza from the ferry station takes you to the Lido di Varenna, where you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas for a reasonable fee. Don’t miss the on-site restaurant serving fresh lake fish as well as a wide range of family-friendly favorites.
Swimming spots on the Como branch of the lake
The western branch of Lake Como south of Bellagio has long been a favorite destination of the jet set thanks to its proximity to Milan and the industrial hubs of northern Italy. It’s no wonder that some of Lake Como’s poshest swimming spots are located here – as well as a few quaint, out-of-the-way beach clubs that won’t break the bank.
Lido di Lenno
This small beach club is located on a quiet bay and the perfect addition to a tour of the famed Villa del Balbianello right around the corner, which featured in Star Wars and James Bond films. Lido di Lenno offers a sandy platform, stairs into the lake as well as sunbeds, canopies and umbrellas for rent – perfect for sunbathers and swimmers alike. The on-site restaurant serves delectable fresh fish dishes as well as pasta and desserts and morphs into a chic cocktail bar when the sun sets behind the hills.
Lido di Cernobbio
Larger than its counterpart in Lenno, the recently-refurbished Lido di Cernobbio has two swimming pools for adults and children as well as state-of-the-art sunbeds and canopies equipped with Wi-Fi and power sockets. The chef’s Street Food menu offers poolside snacks like paninis, wraps and smoothies, while the restaurant transforms fresh seasonal ingredients into delicious dishes that taste as good as they look. This is the ideal spot for round-the-clock fun in the summer – from early-morning yoga classes to the aperitivo buffet every night at 6 p.m. – and the panoramic lake views are unforgettable.
Lido di Ossuccio
This family-run and family-friendly beach covers a vast grassy expanse overlooking Lake Como’s only island, Isola Comacina. There is no entrance fee for the beach, but also no sunbeds or umbrellas – get there early to snag a shady spot under a tree! A pier and ladder offer swimmers access to the water and Il Chioschetto dei Malagufi serves pizza and sandwiches at umbrellaed tables perched on the shore. Rent stand-up paddleboards, paddle boats or canoes at the nearby boat rental for more fun in the sun!
Swimming in Lake Como’s northern branch
The northern branch of Lake Como is the wild, windswept sister of the other two branches. Here the water is colder (and cleaner!), the cliffs are higher and the historical sights more ancient (parts of the abbey in Piona date back to the 7th century!). This undiscovered area has some of the best swimming in Lake Como – not to mention high-octane watersports, a decidedly “off the beaten track” vibe and unparalleled alpine scenery.
Spiaggia Santa Maria Rezzonico
On Lake Como’s quiet northwestern shore, Rezzonico is a medieval village with ancient Roman roots. Its monumental 14th-century castle, uneven cobblestones and quaint arches and portals give Rezzonico its unique old-world charm. After taking the ferry from Bellagio to Menaggio, Rezzonico beach is about 15-30 minutes by bus or car. Follow the signs around the ancient castle walls to the white-pebble beach on a crescent-moon-shaped bay, unroll the beach towel and gaze out onto the lush green hills while the lake laps at your feet. Nearby Bar Pizzeria Beach 29 has moderately priced drinks and snacks when hunger strikes!
Lido di Bellano
Located on Lake Como’s northeastern shore, the very picturesque lakeside village of Bellano has numerous charms. In the making for over 15 million years, the natural gorge known as Orrido di Bellano offers blissful shade and gushing waterfalls between its steep stone walls. La Ca’ di Radio Vecc is a tiny museum run by a retired couple of radio enthusiasts. And the stylish beach club at Lido di Bellano has two outdoor pools, sunbeds and umbrellas for hire as well as an on-site restaurant with delicious wood-fired pizza.
Spiaggia di Piona
The narrow promontory of Piona on the lake’s northeastern shore almost fully encircles a quiet bay known as Laghetto di Piona – take one of the hourly trains to Piano from Varenna’s Esino station (only five minutes by foot from the ferry station). On the very tip of the Piona promontory is a Cistercian abbey originally built in the 7th century. With prior arrangement, the abbey welcomes visitors to its Romanesque church, unique tranquil cloisters and a small abbey shop selling herbal liqueurs, honeys and cosmetic creams made by the monks. Across the Laghetto is the Spiaggia di Piona, a strip of grass and sand where local families wade in the cool water. Make sure to bring beach towels and pack a picnic, as the only facilities here are a parking lot and a small kiosk.
Lido di Colico
Colico is the northernmost stop on the public ferry, which zig-zags across the lake in a picturesque, one-hour cruise from Bellagio. The local beach, a wide swath of grass near a camping site, offers sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, a delightful restaurant with wood-fired pizza and fresh-off-the-hook lake fish, as well as beach volleyball and tennis courts for a fee. This area of the lake is known for brisk winds and not much boat traffic, which is why your view from Colico beach – apart from Switzerland’s impressive Lepontine Alps – is bound to include kitesurfers, windsurfers and sailboats. Check out the surfing schools in Colico if you’re keen to give it a try!