Located along the shoreline of Lake Como in northern Italy, the quaint town of Bellagio is often overlooked by people planning their dream Italy vacation. But with its location on Lake Como and some of the best views in northern Italy, it’s a mistake to overlook Bellagio as a potential destination on your trip.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 7 best things to do in Bellagio in 2021. From exploring the streets at ground level to taking in the breathtaking views from up high, Bellagio has something for everyone to enjoy. So start thinking about what you want to do and how you’re going to be getting to Lake Como because you won’t want to go anywhere else after this!
Without further adieu, here are the seven best things to do in Bellagio, Italy:
- Explore the Streets of Bellagio
- Take in the Breathtaking Views
- Check Out the Basilica of San Giacomo
- Walk Around the Melzi Gardens
- Visit Punta Spartivento
- Go on a Boat Tour Around Lake Como
- Spend a Day Relaxing on the Beach
Explore the Streets of Bellagio
Many of Italy’s small lakefront towns, such as the ones around Lake Como and Lake Garda, are small and tightly packed, and Bellagio is no exception. Full of narrow streets and alleyways everywhere you look, Bellagio is the perfect Italian town to explore on foot since many of the roads are pedestrian-only, to begin with.
So if you’re in Bellagio and not sure of what you should do (just because there’s so much to choose from), start by wandering the streets on foot and taking in as much as you can.
On a Bellagio day trip, explore the town and take advantage of the small-town feel. If your trip includes visits to some of the more tourist-centric locations like Rome or Venice, then Bellagio will feel like a nice breath of fresh air. Start at the lakefront and meander through the streets. Check out some of the small shops and boutiques that you find along the way as you make your way uphill through the town.
When you reach the top, grab a coffee from one of the mom-and-pop cafes you find and just sit back and relax. Sip on your coffee as you take in some incredible views of the city overlooking Lake Como that you can’t get anywhere else in town. With how small Bellagio is, you could easily explore the entire town in a couple of hours (maybe even one hour).
But take a bit of time exploring some of the shops and cafes and experiencing the culture of Bellagio in depth. It’s a great experience that will make your trip even more special.
Take in the Breathtaking Views
As you’ll see mentioned in quite a few of the items on this list for the best things to do in Bellagio, taking in the gorgeous views of the area is something that you do not want to miss out on. And while some of these picturesque views are of the beautiful Lake Como and mountainous background, finding unique vistas of the town of Bellagio itself is worth doing as well.
Let’s take a look at where you can find some of the best views in the area of both the surrounding landscape and Bellagio itself. For some of the best views of Lake Como itself and the surrounding area as a whole, you’ll want to be out on the lake itself or somewhere up high above, overlooking the compact little town of Bellagio and the lake.
We’ll discuss a couple of these options shortly, but no matter where you go to get your views of the lake and the landscapes around the area, you won’t regret it. Lake Como is a stunning backdrop of beauty that will leave you with memories of picturesque Italian views.
But if you want to get a glimpse of the Bellagio that you’ve likely seen online, on postcards, or on TV, then you probably want to see the streets of the town itself with Lake Como in the background. To get this famous view of the colorful buildings of Bellagio with a backdrop of Lake Como and the mountains, you need to make your way up to the viewpoint on Via Guiseppe Garibaldi.
From there, you’ll be able to look down the cobblestone streets all the way to Lake Como. It’s an incredible view, and unlike anything else you will see in the area.
Check Out the Basilica of San Giacomo
One of the focal points of a trip to Bellagio is undoubtedly the beautiful Romanesque church built smack dab in the heart of the town, the Basilica of San Giacomo. Constructed nearly a thousand years ago — during the 11th and 12th centuries — the Basilica of San Giacomo is one place in Bellagio that you don’t want to miss. The ancient structure is a sight to behold, both inside and out.
When you walk up towards the church, your eyes will immediately be drawn towards it as it dominates much of the architecture in the small town. The impressive structure is built of stunning stone and the tower of the church looms above the rest of the town. As you approach the basilica, you’ll be in awe of its architecture and design. But the exterior isn’t even the best part of the building.
But once you step inside, the beauty just keeps going. The interior of the church is just as much, if not even more intriguing than the exterior. Walk inside, and you’ll see towering columns, massive archways on each side of the aisle, and a lavishly-decorated altar in the front immediately drawing your attention.
Overhead, peering down from high above is a crucifix that caps off the church’s ambiance and makes the Basilica of San Giacomo somewhere that you have to visit.
Walk Around the Melzi Gardens
If you want to get a break from the compact town center of Bellagio and take a peaceful walk through the gentle Italian breeze, then look no further than the Melzi Gardens. Located just a quick 5-minute walk from the Bellagio ferry station, the Melzi Gardens are super easy to reach and offer visitors a feeling of peace and serenity that you just won’t be able to get with the narrow streets and alleyways that make up much of Bellagio.
The Melzi Gardens are part of (and get their namesake from) the Villa Melzi. Built between 1807 to 1815, the Villa Melzi was constructed to serve as the summer home for the Italian Republic’s vice president at the time, Francesco Melzi d’Eril.
While the villa itself is undoubtedly a thing of beauty, the gardens surrounding the residence are the real treat (and the only thing open to the public). For only about $8, you can tour the gardens during the day from March through November, weather permitting.
And if you’re able to take a bit of time and explore the Melzi Gardens, you won’t regret it. Surrounded by plenty of greenery, plants, and trees, these gardens are a great place to escape the hot sun on a summer day. But beyond the potential for a shady respite, the gardens are magnificent.
Take a look around and you’ll be surrounded by incredible plants, both native and exotic. Spend some time walking through the gardens and relaxing on the benches therein, looking over the nearby lake.
Go on a Boat Tour Around Lake Como
While visiting Bellagio and doing some of the things listed above, you will undoubtedly capture some incredible views of the gorgeous Lake Como. So one of the things that you just have to do while in the area is taking a boat tour of Lake Como. And with all the different boat tour options available for departure from right there in the heart of Bellagio, it’s a super easy attraction to book and is one that you won’t soon forget.
If you’re in Bellagio on a romantic excursion with that special someone, we recommend booking a private boat tour of the beautiful lake. One of the best private tours of the lake is offered by Lido di Bellagio and will run you nearly $200 for an hour-long tour.
But that’s the going rate for any standard boat tour of the lake, so don’t let the price scare you away. Plus, with this tour from Lido di Bellagio, you can customize it to your personal tastes.
The standard one-hour tour that they offer will typically already include the best sites and views from the lake, so you probably won’t even have to do any customizing at all. But if you have something else on your list of must-sees while on the lake, then the tour guides from Lido di Bellagio are happy to oblige.
For families or small groups, you can find other tour options that are less secluded and romantic. Check out some of the options from Barindelli Taxi Boats to see if any of those will work better for you. Visit Punta Spartivento
For one of the best views of Lake Como that doesn’t include as many of the crowds that you’ll find in other areas of Bellagio, consider trekking to Punta Spartivento. Situated as the northernmost point in the town of Bellagio, Punta Spartivento is a small park that takes you right to the banks of Lake Como and affords visitors some of the best views of the area.
From your viewpoint of Punta Spartivento, you will have breathtaking views of the amazing Italian backdrop. Lake Como in the foreground, bordered with the many coastal towns built in the colorful architecture of the Italian lakefront design.
In the background, see mountains reaching into the sky for as far as your eyes can see. It’s a marvelous view of the area and offers some of the best views of Lake Como that you can get anywhere.
That said, if you’re planning on taking a boat tour of Lake Como (more on that shortly) or riding one of the many ferries on the water, you will get many of the same views that you’ll get from Punta Spartivento. So if you are planning on going out on the water, you might be able to get away with skipping the visit to Punta Spartivento. But you won’t be disappointed no matter what if you decide to visit the park, so it’s just up to you and how much time you have!
Spend a Day Relaxing on the Beach
If you’re visiting Bellagio, chances are high that you might want to spend some time at the beaches of Lake Como. After all, Italy is located in the Mediterranean, where temperatures stay relatively mild for most months of the year, and the summers can get downright hot.
So especially if you’re visiting the area anywhere from April through September, spending a day relaxing at the beach and taking a dip in the lake is one of the best ways to enjoy Bellagio.
There are a few different beach options in Bellagio to choose from, but no matter where you decide to go you’ll be in for a treat. Different beaches of Bellagio will offer you a slightly different experience from one to the other, depending on what you’re hoping to get out of it.
For example, some nearby beaches offer soft sand, while others are almost entirely made up of rocks and pebbles. But one thing that they all share in common is the relaxing atmosphere and incredible views of the lake and mountainous backdrop.
For arguably the best beach experience in Bellagio, you should consider trying out the private beach club of Lido di Bellagio. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same place that offers the best private boat tours of Lake Como that you read about above. So it’s super easy to combine the two.
Spend time relaxing at the private beach club — which is one of Bellagio’s sandy beaches — then hop aboard your private boat tour as the sun is setting. The combination is one of the best ways to spend a day in Bellagio and will be an experience that you won’t soon forget.