St Johann in Tyrol
Soak up the sunshine and relax on the sandy beach of Lido di Bellagio. Five minutes' walk from the resort centre, this stylish lakefront spot has 350m² of sandy beach, 120 sun loungers and eight luxurious gazebos. Open daily from 10am to 6pm, entrance is free as long as you rent loungers, deckchairs or a gazebo. Facilities include free Wi-Fi, showers, toilets and a bar and restaurant for food and drinks throughout the day.
Due to boat traffic, it’s not possible to swim near the resort centre. One of the favourite beaches, around 2km from Bellagio centre, is in the neighbouring village of San Giovanni. This popular pebble beach is free to visit, and the Riverside beach bar serves drinks, ice cream and food. Loungers are sometimes available to rent from the bar. The beach can be reached on foot or by battello boat, bus or tourist train.
Most public beaches around the lake are pebbly, so it’s best to take lake shoes with you to protect your feet. Any sandy beaches in the area are man-made by laying tons of sand on top of the pebbles. They’re usually private, so expect to pay a small fee for entrance or rental of loungers and parasols.
To pick up a few holiday bargains, it’s best to head to a local market. Every third Wednesday of the month, Bellagio holds a market in the town centre, from around 8am to 12.30pm. You’ll find a mix of imported and local products including clothing, leather goods, traditional pottery and souvenirs. There’s also a weekly market on Wednesdays in nearby Varenna, a short ferry ride away.
Bellagio has many shops and boutiques selling some luxurious handmade items including shoes, traditional Como silks and delicate glasswear. Popular gifts and souvenirs are the unique, hand-painted bottles that you’ll find filled with wine, oil or vinegar. For some local produce, head to Boutique di Buon Gusto, which translates to ‘the shop of good taste’, and try the meats, cheeses and wines.
For a wider collection of traditional shops, souvenirs and well-known designer brands, spend a day in Como town. As the largest town on the lake, it has much more to offer, and it's just a ferry-ride away from Bellagio. To seriously splash the cash on Dior, Louis Vuitton and Prada, head to Milan - the fashion capital of Europe - where you be spoilt for choice.
For a relaxed evening, take the tourist train from Bellagio to the fishing village of Pescallo. Jump off and explore the undiscovered suburbs of this lovely town. As many shops close for a siesta in the middle of the day, they tend to stay open much later into the evenings. Grab an ice cream and stroll along the narrow cobbled streets.
Bellagio is a lively town with a great evening atmosphere. For cocktails and good music, Lido di Bellagio hosts weekend party nights throughout the summer. Just 500m from the resort centre, you can stroll down and spend an evening on the sandy beach at the lakefront. Bellagio also has a packed summer events programme of orchestras, music, and the Bellagio festival at the end of August.
All along the west coast of Bellagio is a range of restaurants, cafés and bars that will tempt you in with their fabulous views across the lake. There aren't many 'local' eateries here, due to the small local population, but the options aren't typically touristy in the slightest. If you can, try the traditional Bellagino feast day dish, tóch - it's composed of polenta mixed with butter and cheese, plus chicken, cured meat or dried fish from the lake.
The popular Ristorante Bilacus is a traditional Italian with a gorgeous outdoor patio sheltered by green vines and plants. The fantastic atmosphere, food and views over the town make this a favourite with visitors from all over the world.
You might walk straight past the Enoteca Cava Turacciolo, due to its unassuming façade - but make sure you dont. This extensive wine cellar is an enriching experience serving generous plates of cheese, meats, breads and pastas in a rustic, intimate setting. And if you're impressed with your wine, you can always buy a bottle to take home with you.
Jutting out over the lake, the Restaurant Splendide is the perfect setting for a long lunch. Nab a table by the water and spend a couple of hours savouring the views as you tuck into a traditional 4-course meal of seafood and pasta, paired with local wine.
Bellagio is known for its cobbled streets and steep, narrow staircases that may not be very accessible for those with limited mobility.
You can hop on a fast and slow ferry at either Bellagio and San Giovanni - located just down the road - once an hour to Como. Boats also run to many of the most popular villages on the lake, including Menaggio, Cadenabbia and Tremezzo.
The nearest train station to Bellagio is a ferry ride away in Varenna. From Varenna Esino station, you can travel to Milan in around an hour. There's also a tourist road train that loops around the town. It takes under a hour to do the whole circle, or you can hop off along the way - San Giovanni is around 20 minutes away.
There's only one bus stop in Bellagio and you can find it at the end of the Lungolario. There are two main bus lines that travel between Bellagio and Como, with the C30 taking just over an hour. From there, you'll be able to catch a number of buses to various other spots around the lake.
The narrow piece of land that is Bellagio, separating the Como and Lecco arms of the lake, guarantees beautiful views no matter which way you decide to wander. Original cobbled streets and stairs lead you to the many boutique shops, artisan cafés and Romanesque churches that are dotted around the comune and along the main high street, Via Garibaldi. If you prefer being by the water, stroll down towards the Via Roma - though remember it's a bit hilly on the way back into town - to watch the boats sail by.
From Piazza Mazzini, head towards the pier and turn right onto Via Garibaldi. Pass through the fishing village of Pescallo, which used to have the largest fish market on the lake, and follow the main road, lined with olive trees. Further down is Guggiate - stop in front of the Hotel Silvio for views of the lake framed by cypresses. Cross the river Perlo and you'll be in San Giovanni, where you'll find the Nautical Instruments Museum. Walk past San Giovanni Church, which used to be the focal point of local religious life, before heading north back to Bellagio.
Jump on the C36 bus towards Visgnola and alight opposite the church square before walking up towards Erba-Milano. A little further up, take the path towards Chevrio and then follow the card track uphill to the Belvedere Makalle. You'll soon arrive in the village of Chevrio - have a wander around before continuing on trail 5, across the bridge over the Perlo river. The dirt track will lead you towards Brogno, where you can descend on trail 1, down through the forest towards Mulini del Perlo. A paved road will take you back over the river. Continue through the village of Guggiate and take the Via La Derta to the shrine of St Peter, then walk past the villas back into Visgnola.
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