Once you have arrived at one of the many entry points to Lake Como (Como, Lecco, Varenna), you will find that each of them offer ferry services for travelling around Lake Como or for onward travelling to your ultimate destination.
For Suvanki and I, we had arrived at Varenna from Bergamo (after a train change in Lecco) and we took a ferry from there to Cadenabbia (with an interim stop at Bellagio). This one-way (single) journey cost €4,60 (discounts are offered for 65+ and children 4 - 11).
We re-visited Varenna whilst we were making good use of a one-day unlimited travel ferry pass (travelling there from Menaggio) which we purchased for a cost of €15,00. This was our second ferry of the day and the pass is a great option if you want to spend the day visiting numerous locations around the lake with so many accessible using the ferry services. If you wish to use the hydrofoil or catamaran services when holding a day-pass, it is necessary to purchase a supplementary fare ticket.
Ferries to/from Varenna require the use of two timetables (passenger and car ferries) as there are two separate services operating to/from Varenna. Ferries operate a summer and a winter timetable. During summer (in 2012 the timetable operates from 2 June to 2 September), ferries operated to/from Varenna between 07:00 and 22:35.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Along wih Kate (Goodfish) and Jerry, Hans and I took the train to Varenna via Lecco. Tickets for thw two of us return was 20,60 Euros. Our train was leaving around 9:00 a.m.
The very first thing we did, was validate our tickets on the train - heavy fines if caught without a ticket or validation. First stop was in Lecco and that took about 45 minutes. We had to change trains in Lecco, for the train to Varenna - direction Tirana. That took about 30 minutes . There were some beautiful views of Lake Como along the way. Before long we arrived at Varenna-Esina Perledo Station - about 10:30 a.m.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Soon after arriving in Varenna, we (Hans & I, Kate & Jerry), walked over to the Ferry Ticket Office and bought our tickets for the FERRY TO BELLAGIO - Tickets were 4,60 Euros each one way. We bought two return fares and it came to 18,40 Euros. I asked about a senior fare reduction, but it was not offered.
Ferries run from early in the morning until late in the evening. Check out what pier you are leaving from and what time it leaves. Show your ticket to the official and then board the Ferry. Make sure you keep your ticket, as you will need it for the return trip back to Varenna.
Hans and I sat on top and had wonderful views of Varenna and the mountains. It was a little misty during the morning ride, but nice and sunny on the return trip. The trip lasts about 30 minutes.
Arriving at Varenna, we purchased a single ticket each, for our journey across the lake to Cadenabbia, from the ticket office, which was 4.60 Euros (June 2012).
Check the website (Fares) for details of reductions - Children/Senior Citizens, disability, even if you're travelling by ferry to vote!
Belaggio, Cadenabbia, Cernobbio, Como, Menaggio, Tavernola, Tremezzo and Varenna accept credit/cash cards.
At present you can only purchase tickets in person, and not online.
Each ticket office has a timetable (pic 2) and map of Lake Como (pic 3) with ferry stations. Some have an inside waiting room.
Ferries run from the early morning until late evening - check timetable for times of operation of different routes. If a ferry doesn't link with your destination, there may be an alternative bus service CLICK for info
Check which pier your ferry is leaving from too - there are at least 3 jetties at Varenna. A tannoy announces the destination of the ferry due to depart. They don't hang around too long, once the transport and passengers are on board, they're off.....
Show your ticket to the ticket collector, when boarding - no need to validate it.
I've long been fascinated by ships, boats and ferries unloading/loading whether with passengers, vehicles or cargo, and Varenna was quite interesting, especially when a couple of '3 wheeled motor bikes' majestically arrived at the port, and then boarded for my video
A variety of ferries run the routes along the Lake - All have a name (we got used to spotting Lario, Spugla, Cristoforio and others by their shape) some are car ferries ( traghetti - which only operate from Varenna, Cadenabbia, Menaggio and Belaggio), some with single decked seating, others are double decked. For anyone interested in age, capacity etc of these vessels etc CLICK HERE
The following day, we decided to explore some of the towns of this part of the lake for 12 Euros, we were granted unlimited travel. (Again check the website for ticket prices)
We comfortably managed Cadenabbia - Menaggio - Varenna - Belaggio - Cadenabbia. Spending time wandering around and refreshment breaks.
I find the ferry system an efficient, safe and relaxing way of travelling around the lake, though I would have liked to have had the chance to travel on one of the original steamers!
Other useful info
We travelled by train from Bergamo to Varenna, where we caught a ferry to Cadenabbia, where we were staying for 3 nights.
Varenna is on the Milan - Sondrio line, on the eastern side of Lake Como. I do enjoy travelling by train in Italy, it's so straightforward, the trains are generally on time, without too long to wait between connections, they're clean and comfortable too.
It was a nice surprise to bump into yumyum and HORSCHECK at the station - another chance to say our Good-Byes!
We purchased a one way ticket from the automated machine at the station (pay by cash or cards, but check , as not all offer both, and some don't give change)
You can purchase these from the ticket office too, but there may be long queues.
We validated our tickets near to the entrance to the platform (Hefty fine throughout Italy for travelling without punching your card in the yellow machine), and didn't have long to wait for our train. This was a single decker train, with unreserved seats - There was plenty of space for passengers, and our luggage - but had the seats all been full, it might not have been so comfortable. A 'snack wagon' trundled its way along the carriages - not sure if there was a 'buffet car'
There is a cafe/bar at Bergamo station for purchasing refreshments for the journey.
Destination and next station are announced verbally.
From Bergamo to Lecco takes about 35-45 minutes.
Lecco to Varenna about 20-30 minutes
From Milan, there is a direct service to Varenna, but it was easier/quicker for us to go via Lecco.
So it is quite do-able as a day trip!
We changed trains at Lecco, for the train to Varenna (Sondrio-Tirano direction) a more modern double decker train, which was an advantage for spotting the first lakeside views.
It wasn't long before we were alighting at Varenna (Varenna-Esino Perledo) station. Following the signposts downhill (and down some steps too) to the ferry port, made me realise that I wasn't looking to the return (upward) journey, when we needed to get to Milan. Luckily, we had the more convenient alternative- a bus from outside our hotel direct to Milan, so we didn't get to find out how difficult this would have been. I can't imagine how anyone with mobility/breathing problems or overburdened with luggage/children etc would manage without some difficulty.
www.trenitalia.it. for Train timetables etc
www.navigazionelaghi.it. for Ferry information
http://www.bellacomo.com/lake-como-railways.html for more info about getting to Lake Como from Bergamo or Milan
Once having taken the train to Varenna (see main page), you can walk around the town itself from one end to the other. But being situated in the middle of Lake Como, you will want to use the good ferry system to visit the other mid lake towns (Bellagio, Menaggio, Lenno, Tremezzo). You can buy individual one way rides, round trip, or my favorite....the all day pass. This allows you to take any ferry (walk on or car) to any of the midlake towns all day long. Best deal for sure.
To get to Varenna, forget about driving there, unless you want to or live there anyway, I would advise you to make use of the lake boat service.
You can drive your car onto the ferry and it drops you off, you can drive into town or to somewhere else, cutting down on driving time as well.
The boats are relaxing, affordable and reliable.
Just go to a boat ticket office next to the pier and ask the attendant for assistance. Make sure you catch the right ship.