What to do in the winter on Lake Como

Lake Como is a popular destination in the spring and summer months for visitors looking for La Dolce Vita, sitting on a terrace overlooking the lake sipping prosecco, going boating or catching some rays on a local beach. It is true that many of the bigger hotels close in Varenna and Bellagio, but you can still find smaller hotels and apartment rentals. There is a charming, mysterious atmosphere on the lake in the winter and you will not see crowds of tourists like you see in summer.

Main photo: Isola Viscontea, Lecco

Lake Como is also beautiful in the winter.

The Climate

Temperatures are mild with winter days generally between 5°C and 10°C (40-50°F). January is the coldest month and mercury readings could go down to 1°C or 2°C (33-35°F) with freezing temperatures at night. According to climate-data.org, January to March have the lowest levels of precipitation. When it rains in town, you can expect snow in the mountains at higher altitudes. This is good news for skiers and weekend snow bunnies.

Christmas Markets & Lights

Most Italian Christmas markets are in the mountain areas like Trentino-Alto Adige and Bolzano, but lake cities like Lecco and Como have Christmas markets, and their popularity is growing each year.

Como usually has a particularly beautiful Christmas display. They have nicknamed it La Città dei Balocchi (named after Pinocchio’s adventure in The Land of Fools). Traditionally a fanciful light display projected directly onto the cathedral and 18th-century buildings in the main square of Piazza Duomo. Nativity scenes and market stalls are also set up in towns throughout the area, some are even life-size with live actors. Private three-hour walking tours organized by locals are available all year.

Update for December 2022: La Città dei Balocchi Christmas light show and the display have been moved to the neighboring town of Cernobbio and will be called “Natale a Como”, Christmas in Como.  Cernobbio will host the Christmas light show from 7 December 2022 to 8 January 2023. Market stalls and an ice skating rink will be set up in the center of Como.


Lecco, located on the eastern branch of Lake Como has a wonderful lights, market and ice skating rink. The open square of Piazza XX Settembre is a great place to stop and have a cup of hot chocolate and watch the light display. Go shopping in the city center on Via Roma and Via Cattaneo to find special gifts and more of the Christmas atmosphere.

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Get up early in the morning and feel the frost

The entire Lake Como area is surrounded by hillsides and mountains. If you are an early riser, take a walk into the woods and see the marvel of nature at work. Small streams and waterfalls are found along paths and in January and February it is not unusual to see them iced over.

Skiing near Lake Como

Photo Fiorenzo/Wikimedia

Piani di Bobbio, L’Alpe Cimbra, Livigno and Cervinia, Madesimo and Santa Caterina di Valfurva are all resorts close to Lake Como. Bring your passport, you may cross over the Swiss border inadvertently while you are skiing! Read more about  ski resorts  near Lake Como.

Luxury Spa Treatment

Sottovento Luxury Hospitality / SLH press

The natural thermal spas at Bormio have been soothing traveler’s bones for centuries. Treat yourself to a blissful weekend at Sottovento Luxury Hospitality  . Located in the center of Bormio, 300 meters from the ski lift, and offering special rates at the Bormio Terme spa centre. On site there is a hot tub, Turkish bath and sauna.

Visit Villa Monastero, Varenna

Villa Monastero, Varenna / Popo Le Chien, Wikimedia

Many hotels and businesses are closed in Varenna during the winter but the Villa Monastero, house- museum of an eccentric art collector is open to tourists often on Sundays during the winter.

Wine and food tasting in Valtellina

Valtellina Day Trip / Picfair

Bordering Switzerland,  the valley of  Valtellina  is known for its skiing, its hot spring spas, its cheeses ( in particular Bitto) its wines and specialty dishes like pizzochieri, sciat, and gnocchi bianchi.

Where to eat:
Il Crotasc  Via Don Primo Lucchinetti, 63, 23020 Mese (SO) ITALY Tel. +39 0343 41003  (read about our visit)
Crotto Quartino  Via dei Quartini 5, 23020 S. Croce di Piuro (SO) Tel. +39 034 335 305 (read about our visit)
Le Case dei Baff  via dei Mulini, 19, Ardenno (SO) Tel +39 0342 661045    (read about our visit)

Private Tour: Valtellina Day Trip with Lunch and Wine-Tasting from Milan

Get married on Lake Como in the winter

Winter wedding / Canva Pro

Lake Como is renowned for romance and destination weddings. The Lake Como and Brianza area is full of castles, villas, and luxury country houses. A winter wedding in a country villa or a castle above the hills of the lake is sure to make your wedding day special. You are sure to find a unique location for your special occasion with  Italian Easy Wedding 

Lake Como view from Gravedona ed Uniti / Picfair

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Come to Lake Como in the winter!

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Article by Celia Abernethy

All photos by Celia Abernethy are available for licensing  on Picfair