Things to Do in Como
Things to Do in Como

Ultimate Como Things to Do Travel Guide

Como is one of the great hidden jewels of the northern border of Italy. The city’s location along the southern part of Lake Como offers locals and visitors unparalleled views of the water, mountains, and quaint little towns that border the shoreline. The streets of the city are typically filled with warm and welcoming people making Como feel more like home. Pack your bags and leave your worries behind because the peace and tranquility of Como will fill your soul like a breath of fresh air.


The city of Como sits along the southeast corner of Lake Como, making it a participant in many of the area’s amazing events. One of the most prominent festivals is the Lake Como International Music Festival, which spans roughly five months, primarily during the summer. The event is centered around all things music and includes various performances of classical music as well as new genres. The event is so renowned it is often attended by celebrities from across the globe.
During the summer months, the Festival Como Citta’ della Musica, or Como City of Music Festival, is held. For more than ten years, the event has celebrated art and music in Como’s most scenic locations. Be forewarned, that even for those who do not dance, the music of this festival has a way of making one’s feet tap and keep time. The festival is well attended and is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

In September, a celebrated historical event is held in Como called the Palio del Baradello. Named after the Castello Baradello, this event is a reenactment of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa’s arrival in Como in 1159. The celebrations, which last more than two weeks, typically feature a procession in medieval costume, a medieval dinner, medieval games and shows, a rowboat race, and more.

Each May, Como celebrates its scientific tradition and status as the birthplace of Alessandro Volta during the Festival della Luce (Festival of Light). Founded in 2013, the festival features interactive events and attracts some of the most important Italian and international scientists, including Nobel Prize winners.

In honor of the winter holidays, the city of Como is transformed during the Città dei Balocchi (City of Toys) event. Initially geared towards children, today the event attracts locals and international travelers of all ages who come to admire the beauty of Como’s historical buildings illuminated with lights, as well as visit the market where handcrafted goods are for sale.

As with many other cities in Italy, Como’s principal religious celebration is the Feast Day of the city’s patron saint, in this case Sant’Abbondio. The Feast Day of Sant’Abbondio is August 31, but events take place several days before and after. Key features of the celebration include a procession, mass, and a market where local goods and special culinary treats can be purchased.


Como is a quintessential Italian city and quickly charms visitors with its character. Be sure not to spend your entire visit to Como tucked away inside buildings and museums, when so much beauty awaits you outdoors. Take the family on a walk through Como’s historic city center, enjoy a refreshing drink and people watching in Piazza Cavour or Piazza Volta, wander through a residential neighborhood to experience the local way of life, and enjoy a stroll along the lake.

Piazza Volta, one of Como’s main city squares, is named after one of the city’s most important citizens. In the square, travelers will find a statue of Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery and Como native. Piazza Volta is just one of many places in the city that commemorate the ties between Volta and his hometown. Near the square, situated along Via Volta, it is also possible to see the former home of Alessandro Volta.

Piazza Cavour, located right along the lake, is one of the best places to take in the beauty of Como and its surroundings. Stroll along the lakefront promenade or take a seat on a bench with a gelato in hand and watch the waves roll by. As you admire the lake, you may catch a glimpse of a unique statue located at the end of a pier. Entitled The Life Electric, this 45-foot statue was designed by Daniel Libeskind and is dedicated to Alessandro Volta. The futurist design is a nod to the city’s modern architecture, including Rationalist works, and the structure of the statue was inspired by electric tension.

Situated on the lake front just a short walk from Piazza Cavour, is another of Como’s important monuments. The Monumento ai Caduti, designed in the Rationalist style, is a memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers of World War I. Erected in 1933, the tower’s design is based on a sketch by Antonio Sant’Elia, a prominent artist of the futurist movement—and Como native—who died in battle during World War I. Standing nearly 100 feet tall, the solemn monument is inscribed with the names of more than 600 local soldiers who lost their lives during World War I.

As you continue your stroll along the lake, keep an eye out for Como’s famous villas. Built during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the lakefront of Como is dotted with grand Neoclassical villas. Among these is Villa Carminati Scacchi, a late eighteenth-century villa decorated with beautiful statues.

Another must-see is Villa Saporiti, which has earned the nickname “La Rotonda,” due to its round shape. Built at the end of the eighteenth century, the villa currently hosts the offices of Como’s provincial government. An earlier villa, Villa Gallia, is also a building owned by the provincial government. Constructed in the early seventeenth century, Villa Gallia once housed the Museo Gioviano.

Villa Parravicini Revel impresses with Neoclassical architecture and a majestic garden. Today the picturesque villa is a popular wedding venue. Nearby, visitors can admire Villa Volonté, which was constructed in the nineteenth century and features elaborate bas-reliefs and sculptures.

The final villa positioned on Como’s lakefront is Villa Olmo, which is the city’s most famous villa. Commissioned by Marquis Odescalchi, the villa was completed at the end of the eighteenth century. The stately villa is an excellent example of Neoclassical architecture and it is surrounded by lovely gardens. Today the villa hosts art exhibitions and conventions.

Traveling a little farther back in time, Como’s Palazzo del Broletto is one of the city’s stunning medieval buildings. Featuring Gothic elements, the structure once served as Como’s town hall. Located adjacent to the Como Cathedral, today Palazzo del Broletto hosts art exhibits, and its lights illuminate the night sky.

While exploring the city of Como, keep an eye out for Porta Torre, which dates back to the end of the twelfth century and once served as the entrance to Como during the Middle Ages. Reaching a height of 130 feet, the structure is part of the historic city walls and can be found in the southern part of the city.

History lovers should not miss the Roman Thermal Baths, an archeological site that dates back to the first century AD. Enjoyed by the Ancient Romans, a visit to this site is akin to traveling back to the time of the Roman Empire. Today visitors can admire the stone remains that cover an area of nearly 1,800 square yards.

With Como’s proximity to the lake, depending on the weather and the season that you visit, water activities usually abound. Whether you enjoy sunning on the boat in the middle of the lake or sailing through the water from city to city to take in the tranquility of stunning lakeside villas, Lake Como has something for everyone.


If you enjoy the combination of history and art, a visit to the Museo Storico Giuseppe Garibaldi may be in order. This museum has quite a collection of period accessories, many of which are tied to the Risorgimento era. The museum displays historical samples of furniture, clothing, and more from the eighteenth century through World War II.

Particularly if you find yourself looking for something to do on a rainy day, visiting the Como Archaeological Museum could be a great idea. This is a good stop to make right after a visit to the Cathedral as the two are not too far apart. As many museums in Italy are, this one is located inside a historic palace called Palazzo Giovio. As you tour the museum expect to see treasures such as ancient historical artifacts, stonework, pottery and jewelry, just to name a few.

Among Como’s churches, one must-see is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. A symbol of the city, Como’s Cathedral stands at nearly 300 feet tall and features beautiful Gothic architecture and a Rococo cupola designed by Filippo Juvarra. Inside visitors will find intricate tapestries and sixteenth century paintings by artists such as Bernardino Luini and Gaudenzio Ferrari.

Another important church in the area is the Basilica of San Fedele. The original structure dates back to the twelfth century, though the church was heavily modified over the centuries. The current appearance of the building is attributed to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The architectural style can be defined as Neo-Romanesque. The interior features numerous chapels decorated with beautiful frescoes and paintings, including an early sixteenth century triptych by Giovanni Andrea De Magistris.

Resting along the lake front, travelers will find a grand Neoclassical building with a tranquil park. The structure is known as the Tempio Voltiano (Volta Temple) and it is dedicated to illustrious Como native Alessandro Volta. After admiring the unique architecture of the building, which was completed in the first half of the twentieth century, head inside to visit the Volta Museum. The displays feature early protypes of voltaic piles (the first batteries) as well as other scientific instruments used by the inventor and personal belongings.

The Museo della Seta, or Silk Museum, is another fascinating museum located in Como’s city center. Here, visitors can learn about the history of silk production in Como and admire numerous artifacts including looms and other machinery. The entire silk making process is outlined here as well from weaving and dyeing to printing and finishing.


After you’ve had a chance to tour the museums and several of the amazing area churches, treat the family to a guided boat tour of the area. Taking a boat tour will give you and your family an entirely different perspective of the city of Como as you view it from the water. If time allows, choose a tour that travels beyond Como to see some of the other popular and scenic lakeside towns.

There’s no doubt about it, Italians are known for the loving care they put into every dish that hits the table. Some dishes may take hours to slowly cook and marinate while others may require a shorter preparation time, regardless, the results are mouthwatering and delicious. Rather than visiting a restaurant here and there, consider signing up for a food tour where you and the family can try different Italian delicacies at various restaurants and dining establishments throughout town. If traveling with kids, make sure you end the food tour in the right way…with a generous helping of creamy gelato.


On the northwest side of the city is Parco Spina Verde, one of the biggest parks in Como. The largely green area offers beautiful displays of nature as well as several churches and historical landmarks. The park is popular with families and children because there is room to run, play games, and relax. After a busy day of sightseeing, the park may be the perfect way for the kids to spend an afternoon.


The city of Como and Lake Como are gorgeous from almost any angle, but if you are looking for a more unique way of viewing the city, consider a ride on the funicular. This cable car like ride allows you to take a seat and rest your feet as you travel from the shore of Lake Como up into the mountain village of Brunate. The funicular climbs quite high, which allows for stunning aerial views of Como, the lake, and the surrounding areas.

Just as viewing the city from the water allows for a different perspective, so does a ride upon the funicular. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to take the ride up the mountain, explore Brunate, and ride back down to the shore. If possible, consider a late afternoon or evening ride when the lake shimmers with the rays from a golden sunset and the lights of Como start to glow against the darkening sky.

During your exploration of Como, do not be alarmed if you hear a loud bang. Every day at noon, a cannon of Austrian origins positioned between Como and Brunate is shot using blanks. The tradition dates back to 1912, and keen travelers can spot the cannon during the funicular ride up to Brunate.

With stunning lakeside views, a fascinating history, and countless noteworthy architectural works, Como is a destination that offers activities for travelers of all ages. Whether you would like to visit the villas and museums or simply soak up the beautiful panoramas, a trip to Como will be love at first sight.