Deciding between Lake Garda and Lake Como can be dizzying for travelers, making it difficult to settle on the ideal lake to visit in Italy.
After all, both of these lakes are stunningly beautiful and offer plenty of activities for visitors.
But if you're trying to decide which one is the better choice, there's no need to worry! We'll break down what each lake has to offer so that you can make an informed decision about where you want to go.
From accessibility and towns to scenery and attractions, we'll help you compare the two lakes side-by-side so that your vacation will be a memorable one.
So let's get started on our journey around Italy’s two most famous lakes!
Which Lake Is Easiest to Reach?
If you are looking for an easy-to-reach lake, then I suggest you choose Lake Como.
– How to Get To Lake Como
Lake Como is easily accessible from a variety of locations in Italy and beyond. It can be reached via car, bus, or train.
Milan's Malpensa Airport is the closest international gateway, with frequent buses and trains to Como.
In terms of driving, Lake Como is only a 2-hour drive from Milan and one hour from Switzerland's border.
So if you will be flying into Milan then Lake Como becomes an obvious choice.
We simply rented a car in Milan and drove to Lake Como ourselves (despite it being a scenic drive, it can also be stressful).
Others might prefer traveling by train as it is affordable, stress-free, and convenient. Grab your train tickets online here. The train will take you from Milan to the town of Como and from there you can hop on a ferry boat trip to the towns.
You could also base yourself in Milan and visit Lake Como on a day tour from Milan as well.
– How to Get To Lake Garda
On the other hand, Lake Garda is a bit more remote than its counterpart. The nearest airport is Verona Airport, however, Milan Airport is close by as well.
From Verona, you could rent a car and the drive to Lake Garda will only take around 1 hour – 1 hour, and 20 minutes.
Additionally, getting to Lake Garda from Milan requires a two-hour drive, making it much less convenient for travelers who don't want to rent a car.
There are no trains from either Verona or Milan to Lake Garda.
If you are happy to rent a car, both lakes are relatively easy to access.
However, if you plan on using public transport, then Lake Como will be your better option as it is easier to reach from Milan or Verona by both bus and train.
Which One Has The Prettiest Lake?
It's hard to deny that both lakes are incredibly beautiful, but if we had to pick one as being the most picturesque: Lake Garda has a clear advantage.
– Lake Garda Lake
The lake is surrounded by towering mountains on all sides, creating an unparalleled backdrop for travelers and giving it a much more dramatic appearance than its counterpart.
It is also much larger than Lake Como, making it a great option for those who want to explore the lake by boat.
We rented a boat for a few hours to explore Lake Garda and it was just the perfect day. Our favorite part of the lake was Limone Sul Garda and the dramatic sheer cliffs behind the town.
The prettiest part of this lake is without a doubt the northern shore.
– Lake Como Lake
Lake Como, on the other hand, is known for its quaint villages and lush scenery.
The lake is much smaller than Lake Garda and surrounded by rolling hills instead of towering mountains.
It is still beautiful, with its deep blue waters and elegant villas, but it doesn't have the same level of dramatic beauty as Lake Garda.
So the clear winner here is Lake Garda – it's much larger and has the most breathtaking views.
Which Lake Has the Most Beautiful Towns?
Lake Garda and Lake Como both have a variety of charming towns that offer something unique to visitors.
But if we had to pick one winner, it would be Lake Como for its mix of historical sites, breathtaking views, and vibrant culture.
– Towns in Lake Como
The prettiest towns on Lake Como are Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio.
Bellagio (our favorite town) is known for its stunning villas, lush beautiful gardens, and cobble-stoned streets.
Varenna is the most romantic town on Lake Como with its pastel-colored buildings lining up along the shore of the lake.
And finally, Menaggio is great for exploring historical sites and for its picturesque promenade.
You can read about the most popular Lake Como towns here.
– Towns in Lake Garda
The most popular towns in the Lake Garda area are Riva del Garda, Malcesine, Limone sul Garda, and Sirmione.
Riva del Garda is popular for its lively atmosphere, while Malcesine is known for its castle and cable car ride up to Mount Baldo.
Limone sul Garda is great for its stunning scenery, and Sirmione is the most popular spot on the lake with its picturesque old town.
In my opinion, the lake with the most picturesque towns is Lake Como.
It has a mix of historical sites, breathtaking views, and vibrant culture that makes it one of the best places to explore in Italy.
Activities at Lake Garda vs Lake Como
Both lakes offer a variety of activities to enjoy. So it really comes down to which type of activities you enjoy and whether you love more laid-back activities or more active activities.
– Activities at Lake Como
At Lake Como, you can go sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and more.
There are also plenty of hiking trails for nature lovers or those who want to explore the lake at a slower pace.
It's also home to some of Italy's most elegant villas, including Villa Carlotta and the Villa Balbianello.
At Lake Como, visitors can explore the beautiful towns that dot the lake's shoreline, such as Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio.
These towns are renowned for their stunning villas, lush gardens, cobblestone streets, and historical sites.
Aside from simply strolling around the towns and admiring their beauty, you can also take boat rides and even rent bikes to explore the area.
You could also try out some incredible tours, the most popular of which is this food tour, enjoy local wines on this wine tour, or enjoy the lake on a private boat tour of Lake Como.
Personally, I see Lake Como as a more laid-back and slow destination. Great for sightseeing together with a bit of sunbaking.
However, if you love to be more active on a holiday, then I think Lake Garda would suit you better.
– Activities at Lake Garda
At Lake Garda, you can rent mountain bikes or rent motorboats to explore the lake or take a cable car ride up to Mount Baldo for stunning panoramic views of the lake.
For those who love nature, there are plenty of hiking trails to explore the area. For those more adventurous try out the Canyon Adventure Tour.
The lake is also home to some incredible medieval castles and historical sites that are worth exploring such as the Scaliger Castle in Sirmione. Enjoy a boat tour around the Sirmione peninsula whilst in the area.
The lake is also known for its thermal baths (such as at Garda Thermal Park), which offer visitors the chance to relax and unwind.
And then for those young at heart or those who have kids, there are also various theme parks such as Gardaland and CanevaWorld.
Both lakes offer a variety of activities and charming towns to explore.
Lake Como is best if you love easy, slow activities like sightseeing, boat tours, food tours, and sunbaking.
Lake Garda is perfect for those who love to be a bit more active with hiking, watersports, and theme parks.
Accommodation At Lake Como vs Lake Garda
Both lakes have a wide range of accommodation options for you to choose from and I bet you will find something suitable at either Lake Como or Lake Garda.
Accommodation at Lake Como
When it comes to accommodation, Lake Como offers a range of luxurious villas, luxury hotels, quaint mountain lodges, and boutique hotels. The towns are also dotted with B&Bs and charming guesthouses.
Recommended Places To Stay At Lake Como
Wondering where to stay in Lake Como? Here are a few of the most popular places to stay during your vacation.
1. For Luxury and Romance
The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is a luxurious 5-star hotel located in the picturesque town of Bellagio, on the shores of Lake Como in Italy.
The hotel is set in a beautiful historic villa, surrounded by lush gardens and boasting stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
The hotel offers a range of luxurious amenities and services, including a spa, a fitness center, a pool, and several restaurants and bars.
Overall, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is a highly recommended option for those seeking a luxurious and memorable stay on Lake Como.
Click here to check reviews and availability at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni.
2. For Those Looking For Hotel Views
The Hilton Lake Como is a 4-star hotel located in the city of Como, Italy. It is a modern and elegant hotel that offers luxurious accommodations and a range of amenities and services to its guests.
The hotel also boasts a range of facilities, including a rooftop infinity pool, a fitness center, and a spa.
Guests can enjoy a range of dining options at the hotel, including an upscale restaurant, a casual bar and lounge, and a rooftop bar that offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Click here to check reviews and availability at the Hilton Lake Como.
3. For Those On A Budget
The 3-star Hotel Rossovino Como is a budget-friendly hotel located in Como, Italy. It offers comfortable and affordable accommodation in a convenient location, making it a great option for travelers on a budget.
The Hotel Rossovino Como is situated in a quiet residential area, just a short distance from the city center of Como.
It is close to several public transportation options, including a bus stop and a train station, making it easy to explore the city and its surroundings.
Click here to check reviews and availability at Hotel Rossovino Como.
Accommodation at Lake Garda
Lake Garda is just as diverse when it comes to accommodation options. There's everything from lakeside resorts and modern hotels to traditional family-run guesthouses.
Recommended Places To Stay At Lake Garda
Wondering where to stay in Lake Como? Here are a few of the most popular places to stay during your vacation.
1. For Romantic, Luxury, and Wow-Factor
The Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda is a luxurious 5-star resort located on the shores of Lake Garda, Italy. This resort is an ideal destination for couples seeking a romantic and luxurious getaway in a beautiful setting.
The Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda also boasts a world-class spa that offers a range of treatments and therapies, as well as a fitness center, two pools (an indoor pool and an infinity outdoor pool with insane views), and a relaxation area.
Overall, the Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda is a highly recommended option for couples seeking a romantic and luxurious stay on Lake Garda, with stunning views, world-class amenities, and a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
Click here to check reviews and availability at Lefay Resort & Spa
2. A Popular 4-Star Hotel Option
TH Lazise – Hotel Parchi Del Garda is an excellent 4-star hotel located in the town of Lazise.
This hotel is an ideal option for families or couples looking for a comfortable and convenient base to explore the region's many tourist attractions, including the nearby theme parks.
Hotel Parchi Del Garda features a range of facilities, including a large outdoor swimming pool, and kids' outdoor play equipment.
Gardaland is a 10-minute walk from the hotel, which is really handy.
Overall, Hotel Parchi Del Garda is an excellent choice for families or couples looking for a comfortable and convenient base to explore the many attractions of Lake Garda, with modern facilities, beautiful views, and easy access to nearby theme parks.
Click here to check reviews and availability at Hotel Parchi Del Garda
3. For Those On A Budget
The Hotel Bell'arrivo is a 3-star hotel located in the historic city centre of Peschiera del Garda. This hotel is a great option for travelers on a budget who are looking for comfortable and affordable accommodation in a convenient location.
The hotel features cozy and functional rooms, some of which have pretty views over the lake.
At the Bell'Arrivo, you can enjoy a delightful bar that hosts a happy hour, as well as a charming terrace situated directly on the waterfront.
Click here to check reviews and availability at Hotel Bell'arrivo
Both lakes have plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences.
So, it ultimately comes down to what type of accommodation you prefer and what part of the lake is most convenient for you.
Which Lake Is More Affordable?
Lake Garda is generally the more affordable of the two lakes, with a variety of accommodation options that fit different budgets. Hotels on Lake Garda are quite affordable compared to similar offerings on Lake Como.
I don't think though that the price difference is so significant that it should be the deciding factor between whether you should see Lake Como or Lake Garda.
Which Lake Has the Best Food?
Both lakes feature delicious traditional Italian cuisine, but Lake Garda is known for its wide selection of seafood dishes. The restaurants in the area serve up some of the freshest fish, calamari, and other seafood dishes.
However we had absolutely amazing food at both lakes, and it is hard to choose a winner here.
Which Lake is Best For Families?
Our kids definitely enjoyed Lake Garda a lot more than Lake Como. Lake Garda is also easier to explore with either a baby or a toddler as well. As a side note, if you are traveling with a baby, you might find our Italy with a baby guide helpful as well.
Visiting Lake Garda with Kids
Lake Garda has the most to offer family travelers, with a wide range of activities for both adults and children.
From world-famous theme parks like Gardaland (our favorite theme park – perfect for toddlers – teens) and Movieland to outdoor adventures such as treetop trekking and ziplining, there's something for everyone in the family here.
On top of that, Lake Garda also has aqua parks like Canevaworld and several tour options that will show you the best of the lake.
Alternatively, you could also rent a boat and enjoy the lake that way. Our kids loved driving the boat and checking out the scenery.
Plus, there's Monte Baldo with its incredible cable car ride and majestic views, or head to Parco Natura Vivia which is a zoo and safari park combined.
There are plenty of castles to explore, the best of which is the Castle in Malcesine.
And lastly, there are also various hikes through nature trails that have been created in order to admire the exquisite beauty of this region.
Where to Stay in Lake Garda with Kids
Hotel Bella Italia is one of the best hotels for kids at Lake Garda. It is located in the town of Peschiera del Garda, on the southern shore of Lake Garda in Italy.
It offers various family-friendly features, including:
- Family Rooms: The hotel has spacious rooms that can accommodate families of different sizes. Some rooms have a balcony or terrace.
- Swimming Pools And Water Slide: The hotel has two swimming pools, including a large outdoor pool and an indoor pool. It also has some awesome water slides for the older kids. The pools are surrounded by sun loungers and umbrellas, and there is a poolside bar serving drinks and snacks.
- KidsClub: The hotel has a Kids Club, where children aged 4 to 12 can participate in supervised activities such as arts and crafts, games, and sports. The Mini Club is open daily during the summer months.
- Playground: The hotel has a playground with swings, slides, and other equipment for children to play on.
- Sports Facilities: The hotel (and its sister hotel that is located a short walk away) has archery, tennis courts, and a basketball court, where families can play sports together.
- Restaurants: The hotel has several restaurants serving Italian cuisine and international dishes. Some restaurants have children's menus and high chairs.
- Location: The hotel is located close to many family-friendly attractions, including Gardaland amusement park, CanevaWorld water park, and the Movieland theme park.
Overall, Hotel Bella Italia appears to be a good choice for families looking for a fun and comfortable vacation in Italy.
Click here to see reviews and check availability for Hotel Bella Italia
Visiting Lake Como with Kids
Lake Como also has options available for families such as boat rides and hikes, but the activities are more limited and our three kids got bored there pretty quickly.
So if you're looking for a family vacation with plenty of things to do, Lake Garda is definitely the best option and is also one of the best places in Italy to visit with kids.
Which Lake Is Best For Couples?
Both Lake Como and Lake Garda are great for couples, but if you want an extra special romantic experience, then I would recommend Lake Como.
The lakeside towns of Bellagio and Varenna are especially magical – from the stunning villas to the cobbled streets and quaint cafes. There's something about this part of the world that just oozes romance.
You can take a romantic stroll along Lake Como's shoreline, try some delicious Italian food at one of the many restaurants, or even sail away on a private boat tour to explore some of the hidden gems around the lake.
Ultimately though, it comes down to personal preference – you can't go wrong with either lake! It just depends on what kind of experience you're looking for.
Which one is best for couples? That's up to you to decide.
Why Should You Choose Lake Garda
No matter if you're traveling with family, friends, or your partner, Lake Garda has something special to offer.
The combination of the breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities, delicious food, and relaxed atmosphere make it a great spot for any kind of trip. And with so many different towns to explore, there's plenty to discover on this stunning lake.
Lake Garda is for:
- Family travelers, with children
- Couples looking for a romantic experience
- Groups of friends looking to explore the lake’s beauty and hidden gems
- Those seeking a budget-friendly holiday
- Luxury travelers wanting to stay in villas or resorts
- Outdoor enthusiasts wanting to go treetop trekking, ziplining, or enjoy boat rides on the lake
Why Should You Choose Lake Como
Lake Como is known for its stunning scenery, with the snow-capped mountains in the background and crystal blue waters.
The lake's beauty has attracted many famous personalities such as George Clooney who have holidayed in one of its elegant villas.
It’s also a great place for anyone wishing to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, as it’s one of the most peaceful and serene places in Italy.
Lake Como is for:
- Luxury travelers wanting to stay in stylish villas or resorts
- Couples looking for a romantic getaway
- Nature lovers who want to explore the islands on the lake
- Those seeking a unique experience, as many of the towns and villages around Lake Como are still relatively unknown
- Adventure seekers who want to go sailing, windsurfing, wind kiting, or take part in other water sports
- History buffs who want to explore some of the beautiful old churches and attractions nearby.
Lake Como Or Lake Garda FAQ
Here are some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Lake Como and Lake Garda.
Yes, Lake Garda and Lake Como are both beautiful destinations that are definitely worth visiting.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is known for its crystal-clear waters, charming lakeside towns, and beautiful landscapes.
Lake Como is also a stunning destination with its beautiful azure waters, lush greenery, and scenic towns.
Lake Como and Lake Garda are located about 130 kilometers (81 miles) apart from each other.
The driving time between the two lakes is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
The number of days you should spend in Lake Como depends on how much you want to see and do, as well as your travel style.
However, we recommend spending at least 2-4 days in Lake Como to fully enjoy the area and experience its beautiful scenery, charming towns, and local cuisine.
The number of days you should spend in Lake Garda depends on how much you want to see and do, as well as your travel style.
However, we recommend spending at least 2-5 days in Lake Garda to fully enjoy the area and experience its beautiful scenery, charming towns, and local cuisine.
Northern Italy is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Here are some of the best lakes in Northern Italy that you might consider visiting:
– Lake Como – Known for its stunning scenery, historic villas, and charming lakeside towns.
– Lake Garda – The largest lake in Italy with crystal clear waters, picturesque landscapes, and plenty of outdoor activities.
– Lake Maggiore – Located in the northern part of Italy, with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and islands.
You might also like to include some other popular places in Northern Italy on your itinerary.
The best time to visit Lake Como and Lake Garda is during the spring and summer months. During this time, temperatures are milder, the skies are sunny, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
To us, Spring is the best time to visit as the summer is the high season which means that the towns and lakes can get overwhelmed by tourists.
Final Thoughts On Lake Garda Or Lake Como
When it comes to choosing between Lake Garda or Lake Como, the decision ultimately boils down to personal preference.
Both lakes offer stunning scenery and a host of activities for travelers of all kinds.
Whether you're looking for an adventurous holiday with your family, a romantic getaway with your partner, or some peaceful alone time in nature – either lake is sure to provide you with unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime!
Now, of course, if you have the time I highly recommend you visit both – but if you can only choose one, I hope this article has helped you make the right decision.
If it helps, the one that I would choose to return to time and time again is Lake Garda. Lake Como was incredible but once was enough for me.
But either way, I think both of these Italian lakes are incredible!