Without a doubt, the most romantic way to move around the lake is on the water. There are many options available, from the fast hydrofoil to the leisurely steamer, from a car ferry to a romantic sailing boat for two.
One of the first things you should do when planning is arm yourself with a timetable for the boat services on the lake, that are managed by the Gestione Navigazione Laghi Italia. Even if you are only on Lake Como for a weekend, a trip on a boat is an absolute must. From the water you get a special perspective on the lake and the surrounding mountains, as the vista changes gently in slow motion all around you. There are three main services to be aware of. The first is the boat route that goes around the ‘first basin’ of Lake Como; that is, the first part of the Como leg of the lake. For people staying in or near Como town, this is the most likely choice for a boat trip. For those in the central section of the lake, the ferry service that links the points of Menaggio, Bellagio and Varenna, and Cadenabbia (for the Villa Carlotta), is an essential. For those who want to go further up the lake, the hydrofoil service (the servizio rapido) is the one to go for.
Timetables are seasonal and are not published well in advance, although they don’t change much from year to year as a rule. Summer timetable runs from late May through August, Autumn September and October, Winter from November through May. You can check for specific routes and times via the online timetable.
Summer 2017 (use for forward planning)
If you are going to spend a lot of time on the boats as a foot passenger, it might be worth buying a six-day pass. One-day passes are also available. Like public services everywhere, the lake navigation is under threat of cuts, and so currently, timetables are only published for a few months at a time. But we have noticed that things are ok this summer season and we’ll try to keep all the information here up to date. Let us know if you find any changes.
Vehicle prices. Note – the fare for the driver is included, so when you buy tickets, say ‘driver plus one passenger’, or however many other people there are.