Varenna is a charming village located on the Eastern shore of Lake Como. It’s a popular destination to take in the beauty of the Como lake. Due to its surrounding mountains and Varenna’s colorful fisherman’s houses, the village has a certain romantic feel to it.
Discover what this appealing village has to offer and read on to find out what to do on a day trip to Varenna.
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Where is Varenna located?
Varenna is located in Italy, in the province of Lecco. The picturesque village is conveniently located, as it only takes one hour by train to arrive there from Milan.
Besides, it only takes 45 minutes to one hour to reach Varenna from Como by hydrofoil ferry.
Important note: if you’re traveling by train, don’t forget to validate your train ticket before you hop on the train.
How much time do you need in Varenna?
First things first, how much time do you need in Varenna? Well, that completely depends on your own wishes and on the time you’re visiting.
If you’re heading towards Varenna in the midst of summer holiday (for example in August), I would suggest spending around 3 hours in Varenna. This time of the year it will be very busy in Varenna, which is why I would suggest you visit it on a day trip. Unless, of course, you don’t mind crowds.
If you want to visit Varenna during the summer, then I would suggest staying in the less crowded town of Lecco, which is more affordable and only 20-30 minutes away from Varenna by train. From here, you can easily go on a day trip to this beautiful village.
However, if you’re visiting Varenna during other times of the year, I would suggest making Varenna your base for a couple of days to a week.
Staying in Varenna will be especially perfect during the months of May and June. The rhododendrons and azaleas in the lakeside gardens begin to bloom during this time of the year.
Where to stay in Varenna?
Perhaps you’ve decided you would like to base yourself in Varenna, but you don’t quite know where you should stay yet. There are a few very good options to choose from:
Hotel Royal Victoria. This hotel was actually named after Queen Victoria, who came to visit Varenna in 1839. The hotel is very luxurious and is located in the old town.
If you’re looking to stay in a brilliant villa with an outdoor pool, have a look at Villa Monti. This place is located only 200 meters from Villa Monastero and has breathtaking views over Lake Como.
If you prefer a classic hotel with a beautiful terrace, then Hotel du Lac is your best bet. Check out the latest prices here.
What to do in Varenna?
What should you actually do in Varenna while you’re there? Read on to find out what are the best things to do in Varenna.
Walk of Lovers
Varenna has a romantic feel to it. One of the best things to do in Varenna is to stroll the Walk of Lovers. This is a few hundred meters long path built over the water.
It’s a short path which brings great views over the lake, the mountains and Varenna’s colorful houses. The walk starts at the ferry pier. You will recognize it by the red fences.
Visit the Old Town
The main square of Varenna is called Piazza San Giorgio. Here you will find the local church named Chiesa di San Giorgio. Wander through the old town to discover small alleyways and afterwards perhaps visit one of the many gelatarias.
Visit Castello di Vezio
Castello di Vezio is a castle located nearby Varenna. The castle has a beautiful view on the lake, which makes it worth a visit. The hike to get up to the castle takes around 45 minutes to one hour and there’s an entrance fee of 5 euros. Do bring appropriate footwear and enough water if you’re going to walk up to the castle.
Go to the beach
If you’re seeking a day on the beach, head over to Lido di Varenna. You will find a small beach here with a few bars and the possibility to rent sunbeds. Do keep in mind that the food served at the restaurants here is a bit overpriced, so it would be better to buy food elsewhere.
Another lovely spot for a swim lies a bit further and is called Spiaggia Riva di Gittana. This is a quieter beach where you can enjoy an aperitif during sunset. It’s also possible to rent sunbeds here.
After your stay at Spiaggia Riva di Gittana I would recommend to have an authentic dinner at Restaurant Il Caminetto.
Visit Villa Monastero
Villa Monastero is a graceful villa located in Varenna. The villa includes a botanical garden, a museum and a convention center. The scenic views from the gardens are what makes this villa extra gorgeous. Nowadays, the villa is owned by the Province of Lecco. For more information about Villa Monastero, visit its website here.
Have lunch or dinner at Hotel du Lac
If you’re looking to have lunch or dinner in an ideal setting, overlooking Lake Como, then head to Hotel du Lac. This has to be one of the prettiest terraces I have ever seen. It has a very romantic atmosphere to it.
However, make sure to make a reservation in advance, otherwise the place is probably fully booked.
Take a ferry to Bellagio
It only takes fifteen minutes to reach Bellagio by ferry from Varenna. Bellagio is an even more popular holiday destination than Varenna, also known as ‘The Pearl of Lake Como’.
It’s famous for its grande villas overlooking Lake Como. You could for instance visit Villa Serbelloni or Villa Melzi. Due to the crowds, I would refrain from visiting Bellagio in August. Instead, a great time to visit Bellagio would be in May or June.
Take a ferry to Menaggio
Another town worth visiting from Varenna is the elegant town of Menaggio. Menaggio is located on the Western shore of Lake Como, at the mouth of the River Senagra. Here you can go for a historical walk through the town, enjoy the views of the lake from a terrace or hike up to La Crocetta or San Domenico.
Hop on a train to Mandello del Lario
If you’re looking for a place less traveled, hop on a train to Mandello del Lario. It won’t take you more than fifteen minutes and two euros to get there.
The quaint town is famous for its motor museum, yet not quite discovered by tourists. For more information about Mandello del Lario, have a look at this article.
Varenna is a beautiful lakeside village and it’s not hard to see why it’s such a popular destination. The romantic village lives up to its hype.
It’s definitely worth seeing on a day trip (during summer), but it would also make a lovely destination to spend a few days to a week (outside peak season).
Away with Danae
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