Lined with charming villages and handsome villas, Lake Como is a glamorous escape in the foothills of the Alps. See the best of it from your own Lake Como boat rental.
Lake Como stretches 46 kilometres through the Lombardy region in northern Italy. Located at the foothills of the Italian Alps, it’s overflowing with natural beauty. Charming villages cascade towards the shore, with pastel-hued facades illuminated by the dappled light that only occurs where mountains and lake meet.
As a playground to the rich and famous, handsome villas line the shore with manicured gardens that reach towards yachts tied to private jetties.
But both movie stars and mortals can enjoy taking to the water. Hire a boat on Lake Como and chart your own course. Cross the lake from one beautiful village to the next, find a secluded beach for a swim, then moor up at a restaurant for lunch under a wisteria-draped patio.
Lake Como boats can be hired for as little as 1 hour or for as long as a whole day. With so many sights lining the lake, we’ve designed a few suggested itineraries to help you make the most of your time on the water.
The boats are very easy to drive even for the inexperienced. However, if you want to sit back and relax, you can hire a captain and sip champagne while you take in the sights.
Here’s all you need to know for hiring a boat on Lake Como including what to see, where to hire from and most importantly, the best restaurants to moor up to for lunch.
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IS HIRING A BOAT ON LAKE COMO EASY?
Yes, it’s very easy to hire a boat on Lake Como. There are many providers all the way around the lake offering everything from romantic rowboats through to simple speedboats or classic wood-panelled luxurious vessels.
You can either hire a boat to sail yourself or take a private tour with a captain. If you choose to sail yourself you will get a quick demonstration on how to power and steer the boat, along with some brief safety information, before being sent on your way.
If you are comfortable driving a car, you should not have any trouble hiring a speedboat on Lake Como.
WHAT TO SEE FROM A LAKE COMO BOAT RENTAL
Lake Como is a beautiful part of northern Italy in the foothills of the Italian Alps. While the entire lake is stunning, here are a few of the highlights you can expect to see from a Lake Como boat hire.
Probably the most beautiful village on Lake Como, Bellagio is famous for the villas overlooking the water that give the area its movie-star appeal. The boutiques in the old town centre focus on leather and perfume in-between local food stores. It’s one of the top places to visit in Italy.
Villa Carlotta is a picturesque villa located at the top of a formal terrace garden with views across the lake to Bellagio. In peak season the blaze of azaleas and rhododendrons make a colourful spectacle as you cruise past on your Lake Como boat rental.
Varenna is a small village, tucked into the rocks and ideally situated on a promontory where the three legs of the lake meet. Blessed with charm and character, the Church of San Giorgio and the beautiful lakeside terraces along Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi stand out from the shore.
READ NEXT / OUR GUIDE TO BOLOGNA
GRAND HOTEL TREMEZZO
The beautifully set Grand Hotel Tremezzo has sweeping views across the lake. Sumptuous art nouveau design, plus three swimming pools and a private beach complete this luxurious resort. Backed by the mountains it’s a beautiful sight.
VILLA DEL BALBIANELLO
James Bond recuperated at Villa Del Balbianello after his torture by La Chiffre in the 2006 film Casino Royale. Stuck out on a promontory, capture this beautiful building and manicured trees as you make a loop past on your Lake Como boat hire.
VILLA LA CASSINELLA
Villa la Cassinella is a private villa owned by Richard Branson. It’s only accessible by boat or helicopter and caters to guests in sumptuous lakeside luxury with private terraces and a heated infinity pool. From the boat, the immaculate topiary is worth a photo stop.
Located in the village of Laglio, Villa O’Leandra is George Clooney’s summer pad. The 18th-century building has commanding lake views but required renovations before it could be lived in. George had to buy Villa Margherita next door while the works were underway.
Often voted as one of the best hotels in the world, this renaissance palace, set on the shores of Cernobbio, is the epitome of luxury and glamour. Sailing past on your Lake Como boat hire might have to be as close as you get.
Another leading hotel of the world, Villa Pliniana stands all alone on the eastern bank of Lake Como. The 16th-century building occupies 18 acres on the waterfront with a private boat dock and helipad. As a photo opportunity, it makes a great stop.
WHERE TO GO WITH YOUR LAKE COMO BOAT RENTAL
All the highlights listed above are scattered along the shores of Lake Como, which you can see on the map below. To help you with navigation, we’ve put together some suggested itineraries to help you work out what you can see in the time you have.
1 HOUR LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE
In 1 hour we suggest you explore the central area of Lake Como and hire your boat from Bellagio or Lenno. Here you could see Bellagio, Villa Carlotta, Hotel Tremezzo, Villa del Balbianello and Villa Casinella before returning the boat
2 HOUR LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE
In 2 hours you can complete the 1-hour tour above but also visit beautiful Varenna, the lovely town of Menaggio and do a loop of Isola Comacina. For this two-hour itinerary, you could hire the boat from Bellagio, Varenna or Lenno.
4 HOUR LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE
In 4 hours you can complete the two-hour circuit but also add in time for some swimming, a picnic on the boat or a stop at a restaurant. San Giovanni is a small pebble beach near Bellagio which as a bar selling food and beverages during summer. There is also a small beach in Griante where you can rent sunbeds and buy a drink.
6 HOUR LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE
In six hours you can complete the four-hour tour (including lunch) as well as visit the southern end of the lake where you will find George Clooney’s villa, Villa D’Este and Villa Pliniana. Just make sure you’ve hired a decent speedboat and not a wooden rowing boat! For this tour you can hire the boat from any of the locations mentioned above.
HOW MUCH DOES A LAKE COMO BOAT RENTAL COST?
While different operators provide different standards of boats, here is a rough guide for how much it costs to hire a standard 4 to 6 person speedboat. Fuel, insurance and safety equipment are all included in the price.
1 hour Lake Como Boat Rental – €75
2 hour Lake Como Boat Rental – €140
4 hour Lake Como Boat Rental – €220
6 hour Lake Como Boat Rental – €300
For a whole day boat rental, which is usually from 9am to 6pm, the cost is around €350. However, keep in mind full day hire usually excludes fuel which you’ll need to cover yourself.
If you want to just sit back and relax and don’t fancy driving and navigating yourself, you could hire a boat with a captain. A private 1-hour Lake Como Tour with a captain starts at about €140. For a fancier wood-panelled boat, the price is around €180.
WHERE TO HIRE A BOAT ON LAKE COMO?
There are lots of locations to hire a boat all around Lake Como. But driving from one side of the lake to the other either involves a car ferry or takes two hours. So select a boat rental company that is not too far from where you are staying, but also close enough to the sights you want to see (see our Lake Como map below).
If you want to focus on the major sights around the centre of Lake Como, good options for boat rental include Bellagio (central), Varenna (eastern bank) or Lenno (western bank). To explore the southern end, hire your boat from around Moltrasio.
Here are some of our recommendations.
LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE – BELLAGIO
Bellagio is a great place to hire a boat as it is right in the centre of Lake Como and close to many of the best sights. For a tour with a captain checkout Bellagio Boat Service. However, if you’re keen to rent your own speedboat try perfectly positioned Lake By Boat right on the tip of Bellagio.
LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE – VARENNA
Varenna, on the eastern banks of Lake Como, is a beautiful town. Well located to see many of the sights and with a quieter feel than Bellagio, the boat rentals leave from a lovely harbour. Cafe Varenna just nearby is a great place for a pre-sail coffee. Lake Como Boat offers standard speedboat rental as well as tours with a captain.
LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE – LENNO
On the western bank of Lake Como, Lenno is close to all the central sights with Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlotta just a few minutes’ boat ride away. Cadenazzi Lake Como Boat Rental offers self-drive speedboats from 1 hour to the whole day.
LAKE COMO BOAT HIRE – MOLTRASIO
A great option for exploring the southern end of the lake, Nettuno in Moltrasio offers wooden rowing boats and a range of speedboats. They also provide some very helpful suggested itineraries to help you see the main sights.
RESTAURANTS TO MOOR UP TO ON LAKE COMO
Mooring up to a restaurant and having lunch by the shore is a wonderful thing to do on Lake Como. There are a number of great restaurants that allow you to do this, however, space can be limited so book in advance to secure your spot. Alternatively, the boat rental company will be able to make a reservation for you.
Moor up to the stunning island of Isola Comacina and have lunch at Locanda Dell’Isola Comacina or just grab a drink at La Botte.
One of our favourite spots for lunch is the village of Torno on the southern section of the lake. Moor up to the village and choose between Restaurant Vapore or Belevdere then grab a drink at one of the nearby bars.
On the western shore of Lake Como the upmarket Aquadolce has a private dock for its visitors. It’s a great option for a special occasion.
Just 1.5 kilometres from Bellagio but miles away from the tourists, Ittiturismo Restaurant Mella takes homemade cooking of local fish to the next level. it’s usually possible to dock at the harbour in the village.
The grand Metropole Bellagio has only a couple of spaces to moor up to, so you’ll need to be lucky or well connected.
WHERE TO SWIM AT LAKE COMO
Close to the Italian Dolomites, jumping in the water from the boat or finding a secluded (or busy) pebble beach for a swim can be a refreshing experience. Nonetheless, it’s one of the great things to do from a Lake Como boat rental.
Pescallo Bay (Borgo di Pescallo) just around the corner from Bellagio is a very calm bay, ideal for swimming. San Giovanni is a small pebble beach also near Bellagio which has a bar selling food and drink during summer.
The small pebble beach in Griante is a lovely spot where you can rent sunbeds and buy a drink. Finally, the lido near Parco Civico Tereiso Olivelli is also a great option.
MAP / LAKE COMO BOAT RENTAL
Collecting the highlights at Lake Como is a great thing to do on a Northern Italy itinerary. Many of the sights are scattered around the Y shaped lake, however, each of them are very easy to drive past and see from the boat. Depending on how long you have, you may need to select a certain section of the lake to see. Use our map to plot your course over the day.
LAKE COMO BOAT RENTAL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN YOU MOOR YOUR RENTAL BOAT AT LAKE COMO’S SIGHTS?
In general you cannot moor your rental boat at the major sights. These boat hires are great for exploring the lake but not for stopping onshore. If you want to go inside the grand villas and gardens then you are better taking the Lake Como ferry which allows you to get on and off and explore.
Some of the smaller villages have public docking (like Varenna), but they are not always the easiest to find or know how to use. The exception is Isla Comacina, the only island in Lake Como, where you can easily moor up and go for a stroll around the island.
If you decide to hire a speedboat with a captain then he will be able to drop you at the sights, wait until you have looked around and then pick you up again. However, seeing more than 1 or 2 sights would start to become expensive.
CAN YOU MOOR UP AT A RESTAURANT ON LAKE COMO?
Yes, many restaurants have private docks where you can moor, or are close to public docks in the villages.
For a short boat hire, a picnic is probably a good idea, so you’re not using up too much time getting on and off the boat. But, for longer boat hires, pulling up to a lakeside restaurant is a great thing to do. All our restaurant recommendations are above.
CAN YOU SWIM IN LAKE COMO?
Yes, you are free to swim from the boat anywhere in Lake Como. But with so many boats on the water, try to pick a quiet spot near the shore. You will see plenty of lidos and beaches to swim ashore to. Pescallo Bay and the lido near Parco Civico Tereiso Olivelli are a couple of the nicest areas for a quick dip. (See map).
DO YOU NEED A LICENSE TO HIRE A BOAT ON LAKE COMO?
No, you do not need any license to hire a standard speedboat on Lake Como. However, most providers require a passport or driver’s license for identification.
MORE READING FOR THE ITALIAN ALPS
Lake Como is located at the foothills of the Italian Alps; an area of exceptional beauty that we love going back to. With hiking, dramatic scenery and a blend of Austrian and Italian culture, it’s one of our favourite mountain destinations.
Looking for other great things to do in Italy, here are 23 great reasons to visit Verona.
Here’s some more reading from us to help plan your trip.