The best things to do in Bellagio, Italy:
- Explore Bellagio’s Narrow Streets
- Eat at Dispensa 63
- Swim in the Lake at San Giovanni Bellagio Beach
- Have a Drink on Lake Como’s Most Famous Steps
- Get Tickets to Parco Di Villa Serbelloni
- Visit Pescallo Fishing Village
- Stay In Cool Accommodation in Bellagio
- Promenade the Lungolago Europa
- Go Inside a 12th Century Church
- Take a Boat Tour on a Venetian Limousine
Bellagio is a must-visit spot on your trip to Lake Como. Whether you choose a top-rated day trip from Milan or stay on the lake for a couple of days, you can’t miss this stunning town.
1. Explore Bellagio’s Narrow Streets
Known as the Pearl of Lake Como, Bellagio is well known for its cobbled lanes and elegant buildings.
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Bellagio is wander the streets of the old town to appreciate the history of the region.
When you get off the ferry at the terminal, head up the Salita Monastero steps all the way to Piazza della Chiesa, one of my favourite spots in Bellagio.
From here, you can head in any direction to discover more hidden streets and passageways and peruse the cute shops for leather goods, silk clothing, perfume and gelato.
Be sure to wear comfy shoes, because Bellagio is very hilly.
History enthusiasts may enjoy a guided walking tour of Bellagio, but if you simply want to appreciate the architecture and culture at your own pace, the town is compact enough to explore on your own (and it’s also a cheap thing to do in Lake Como).
2. Eat at Dispensa 63
There are a lot of restaurants in Bellagio (and unfortunately a lot of tourist traps too).
I’m going to save you the trouble of trawling through Tripadvisor reviews and just tell you to make a reservation at Dispensa 63, the best restaurant in Bellagio.
The family run restaurant offers regional dishes with a modern twist, using seasonal local ingredients.
Unlike most restaurants in Bellagio that churn out carbonara and margherita pizza for tourists, Dispensa 63’s menu honours the seasonal produce of the Lombardy region.
The summer menu features beef fillet with roast zucchini along with homemade tomato gazpacho, whilst autumn favourites include truffle risotto and sweet chestnut tart for dessert.
Something that is available all year round is the restaurant’s special dish, cacio e pepe tagliatelle with red prawns.
Found tucked away down one of Bellagio’s alleys, Dispensa 63 seats just 24 and has an open kitchen so you can watch the chef create your meal.
Wine pairings can be recommended for each dish, and you can expect warm Italian hospitality during your visit.
During your trip to Bellagio, avoid the low-quality tourist trap restaurants with lake views and book Dispensa 63 instead for some real local food.
Dispensa 63 also offers cooking classes in Bellagio, drop them an email to find out the schedule (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Love your wine as well as food? I can highly recommend this Private Italian Wine Tasting with Food Pairings in Bellagio.
3. Swim in the Lake at San Giovanni Bellagio Beach
One of the best things to do in Bellagio is take a walk to the small village of San Giovanni for a swim.
Because there is so much ferry traffic in Bellagio town centre, Bellagio Beach is located a 15-minute walk away in San Giovanni.
At Bellagio Beach, the water is blue and refreshing, providing the perfect place to cool off in the summer months (and it’s way better than the concrete Lido di Bellagio!).
The best months for swimming in the lake are June-August when the weather is hot and the water is an ideal temperature.
At Bellagio Beach there’s also a beach bar which sells really good fresh piña coladas (avoid the food though!).
Aside from the beach, San Giovanni is a charming little locality to explore.
There’s a really good fish restaurant called Ittiturismo Ristorante Mella near the beach, offering lake fish and fried perch risotto, which is a regional delicacy.
Whilst in San Giovanni make sure you wander down the medieval streets to find the ‘Casa delle Biciclette Volanti’ or the ‘house of flying bicycles’.
On a street called Vicolo Pretorio, carpenter Ivan Gilardoni has transformed the exterior of his home into a museum of vintage bikes.
4. Have a Drink on the Steps of Lake Como’s Most Famous Street
Bellagio’s famous street is probably the most photographed spot on the whole lake.
The cobbled passageway of Salita Serbelloni is lined with colourful buildings housing fashion boutiques, restaurants and gift shops.
Not many people know this, but once the day-trippers have left, you can actually have a glass of wine on the steps at the top of the picturesque street.
The ‘wine steps’ are best enjoyed at sunset, and all you need to do is go into the excellent wine bar Aperitivo Et Al and order a drink, letting them know you’re going to take it outside onto the steps.
Glass of Italian wine in hand, you can enjoy views right down to the lake and even listen to some live music from buskers if you’re lucky.
After sitting here for a short while, you’ll really understand why Bellagio is the prettiest town in the Italian Lakes.
If you are visiting on a day trip from Tremezzo or Lenno, you can still enjoy this experience by getting the last ferry from Bellagio at 7:40pm.
5. Get Tickets to Parco Di Villa Serbelloni
Villa Serbelloni Park is one of the most popular attractions in Bellagio.
The natural park is well worth a visit for unique views of Lake Como and the 50 acres of manicured gardens.
Villa Serbelloni Park can only be accessed with a guided tour.
The 90 minute tour with a knowledgeable guide will teach you all about the history of the 15th century villa and the flora and fauna of the park.
Tours cost €10 for adults and €5 for children (kids under 6 are free).
You can book a tour of Villa Serbelloni Park here or at Bellagio Tourist Office near the ferry terminal.
Unfortunately, the guided tour doesn’t take you inside the beautiful villa because it’s now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation (they host scientists and artists here for research and collaboration).
6. Visit Pescallo Fishing Village
Bellagio in high season is a busy place, with hundreds of tourists arriving at the ferry terminal every day.
Therefore, one of the most unique things to do in Bellagio is take the short walk to the hamlet of Pescallo.
Just ten minutes on foot from Bellagio, the charming fishing village of Pescallo is a quiet, peaceful spot which feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the busy town.
In Pescallo you can swim in the lake or do an epic kayak tour.
There aren’t really any foodie spots in Pescallo, so whilst in Bellagio head to traditional Italian deli Macelleria Salumeria Butti Enrici for some homemade paninos (sandwiches) or meats & cheese before heading down to the village for a picnic on the beach.
To get to Pescallo village, head to the Town Hall of Bellagio on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and walk down the cobbled steps to the side of the building.
7. Stay In Cool Accommodation in Bellagio
If you want to experience Bellagio’s charm over a couple of days instead of visiting on a day trip, then there are some really great hotels, villas and Airbnbs available.
This Airbnb with lake views is the best holiday apartment for couples.
If you like your holiday accommodation off the beaten track, Hotel Il Perlo Panorama is found up on the hill above Bellagio with stunning lake views and bike hire for cyclists wanting to ride the Ghisallo Pass.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many budget accommodation options in Bellagio.
The hostel is located on a farm with newly renovated shared dorms and private rooms.
It also includes buffet breakfast plus free entry into the gardens of nearby Villa Melzi.
If you want to really splurge on a place to stay in Bellagio, then you should choose this exceptional alpine villa with a private pool and lake views for a peaceful retreat right in the centre of town.
8. Promenade the Lungolago Europa
The Lungolago Europa is a lakeside promenade in Bellagio, which is filled with colourful flowering trees and rose bushes in the spring and summer.
To get to the Lungolago Europa, take Via Lungo Lario Manzoni south out of the town centre past the ferry station.
At the southern end of Lungolago Europa there is a grassy area where people like to sit at sunset and enjoy a bottle of wine from the best wine shop in Bellagio Enoteca La Principessa.
Another free viewpoint in Bellagio is Punta Spartivento, an observation deck that juts out into the lake at Bellagio’s northern tip.
9. Go Inside a 12th Century Church for Free
Bellagio is home to the Basilica of St. Giacomo, which dates back to the 12th century and offers a fine example of Romanesque architecture.
Free to visit, don’t miss the bell tower and 10th century mosaics inside!
10. Take a Boat Tour on a Venetian Limousine
Venetian Limousines are quintessentially Italian and offer a unique experience when visiting Lake Como.
In Bellagio, you can cruise the lake on a traditional mahogany water limousine with Bellagio Water Limousines.
The 1 hour ‘Highlights of the Lake’ tour criss-crosses the central Lake Como area (the towns around the inverted Y shape on the map) and lets you experience many of the famous villas around Menaggio, Tremezzo and Lenno.
Alternatively, you could do a longer boat trip to the famous Villa Balbianello (from the Casino Royale film), or a boat tour with lunch at a famous Lake Como restaurant.
Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Bellagio
There isn’t an airport in Bellagio, so you will need to fly to Milan and then either get a private transfer or a train & ferry/bus via Como San Giovanni.
Parking is a nightmare in Bellagio, either find a hotel/ apartment with parking for your hire car or arrive on public transport or by taxi.
Bellagio is hot and busy in Summer. I personally love to visit Lake Como when it’s boiling and the atmosphere is buzzing, but if you don’t like crowds, you should visit in the ‘shoulder months’ (April-May or September-October).
If you’re short on time then you could definitely visit Bellagio and Varenna in one day. Varenna is a bit better connected with its own train station, so you could get the train from Milan to Varenna via Lecco and then get the ferry to Bellagio for the afternoon.
In the high season, book tours and tickets for Bellagio’s attractions in advance and be sure to check the current ferry timetables at the terminals so you don’t miss the last ferry of the day.
And remember, avoid the tourist traps! If a restaurant has got a lake view, it’s likely overpriced and overrated. Always check reviews and head down side streets for more authentic Italian food.
I hope you enjoyed the ultimate guide to visiting Bellagio. Don’t miss the Lake Como Budget Trip Guide if you want to travel Lake Como without spending much money!