Varenna Travel Guide

  • Villa Monastero, Varenna
    Villa Monastero, Varenna
    by SallyM
  • Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista
    Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista
    by SallyM
  • Varenna main square
    Varenna main square
    by BurgerQueen

Varenna Highlights

  • Pro
    leics profile photo

    leics says…

     Lake and mountain views, little alleyways, ferry to Bellagio 

  • Con
    leics profile photo

    leics says…

     Probably heaving in high season 

  • In a nutshell
    leics profile photo

    leics says…

     Very pretty...and knows it is! 

Varenna Things to Do

  • Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista

    The Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista is a small Romaneque church with some fourteenth century frescoes.Look out for the rather macabre skull and crossbones memorial in the floor.

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  • Villa Monastero

    The Villa Monastero was originally a Cistercian convent dedicated to S. Maria. The establishment dates back at least to 1208, when the first documentary mention occured. In the mid-sixteenth century the last six sisters transferred to a convent in Lecco and the buildings were sold to the Mornico family. The Mornicos owned the villa for the next...

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  • Walkway Along the Lake

    Varenna is a pleasant enough little village right on Lake Como. There is a nice walkway along the edge of the lake that takes you past shops and cafes.

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  • Walk the lakeside path

    Varenna has a pleasant lakeside walkway that leads round the lake edge from near the ferry terminal to the another area that is filled with restaurants and shops.This walkway offers great views of Lake Como, including to the north and the Alps in the distance.

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  • Enjoy exploring the lakeside and streets

    Varenna is an interesting village to explore on foot. From the train station, it's a downhill walk. There is a pleasant pathway around the lakeside (pics 3-5) with interesting views, reached from the ferry port - part is on the flat - suitable for wheelchair users/prams etc, but then there are steeper parts I enjoyed seeing the narrow lanes winding...

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  • Walk the lakeside

    The passarella, the lakeside path from Olivedo to Varenna, is really very pretty indeed.It meanders its way between cliff and shoreline, under overhanging branches, across a little bridge, through restaurant patios and past little (very expensive) shops towards the main square. Numerous stepped and cobbled alleyways lead from it up to the road.It...

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  • San Giorgio

    The church of S Giorgio presides over the main village square (named after the church).It was started in around 1200, although it has no written mention until 1313, and has obviously undergone many changes over the centuries. But you can still see fragments of its earlier incarnations in the form of frescoes which have been uncovered and one or two...

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  • San Giovanni Battista

    You could so easily miss this very ancient church.It's tucked away in the corner of Piazza San Giorgio, almost on the lakeside. No tower, and nothing to see from the piazza apart from a curving grey wall.S Giovanni dates from at least the 1100s, although was probably built on the site of an earlier Christian building.It's a small church, and you...

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  • Explore the alleyways.

    If you are feeling energetic you could spend a lot of time going up and down the numerous stepped and cobbled alleyways which are indicators of Varenna's fishing-village past.I didn't feel very energetic on my visit, I'm afraid, but did very much enjoy exploring one or two and having a quick look up (or down) several more. I liked the glimpses of...

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  • Lake Hopping

    A good way to spend the day on Lake Como is to get the all day ferry pass and hop around the lake, visiting the other towns. Bellagio is a short ride away, as is Menaggio and Lenno. At each place you will find opportunities to shop, eat, or visit villas.One of my favorite stops was seeing the Villa Balbianello. I took the ferry to Lenno and from...

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  • Villa Monastro Botanical Gardens

    Situated along the eastern side of Lake Como, the garden is the result of age-long work which transformed the steep slopes into a scenic design.A very peaceful and relaxing place to wander or sit under the arbors and picnic.Please refer to my Lago di Como travelogues for more photos.

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  • Town square

    Varenna is easily walkable from end to end, and the main square is home to Hotel Olived (pictured), and the ferry dock where you can catch a boat to Bellagio (regular departures several times a day). It's a quaint, old-fashioned town that doesn't shout touristy, but caters well to those who are lucky enough to stay here.

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Varenna Hotels

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Varenna Restaurants

  • Great Gelati!

    After a hard day's sightseeing (and skipping lunch) we thought we had earned a gelato each. There are lots of places to choose from. We happened to choose this one, and definitely had no cause for complaint.Our extravagant ice-creams cost €7 apiece, but we thought they were worth it.This isn't just an ice-cream place. Whilst we were enjoying our...

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  • Lake View

    Il Bar Molo is a nice casual place to sit along side beautiful Lake Como and take in the views. A pretty walk along the lake takes you to several small cafes and shops, separated by narrow steps running steeply up the hill. Some wine, beer, fries, a capresse salad and we were happy campers. The service was friendly.

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  • Beautiful view of Lake Como

    During our second visit to Varenna, we took the opportunity to partake of a light luncheon and use this restaurant's free WiFi service to catch up with friends across the world.We walked along the lakeside walkway (see tip here) and, after encountering a small shopping area, we walked slightly up the hill and found this restaurant with a beautiful...

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  • Right by the ferries!

    Having arrived at Varenna train station from Lecco (where we changed trains from our train from Bergamo), we took the fairly easy walk down the hill to the ferry terminal and purchased our tickets. With spare time on our hands, we decided to have a light lunch. (Hotel) Ristorante Olivedo was conveniently situated opposite the ferry ticket office,...

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  • Friendly restaurant with Lake Views

    We'd visited Varenna for the 2nd day running, and had spotted some restaurants around the bay. A pleasant lakeside path, brought us to the restaurants, and we chose this one, for its lakeside terrace, and notices offering free WIFI - it also looked very nice, with a pleasant atmosphere - the terrace was filling, and we got a table overlooking the...

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  • The Restaurant that won't let you use...

    Arriving by train from Bergamo, we'd arrived at the ferry port, and found that we had a couple of hours to wait until our ferry to Cadenabbia was due. So, having purchased our tickets, food was our next priority. The nearby Restaurant of the Hotel Olivedo enticed us - colourful tablecloths, beckoned us to sit for a while, enjoy a beer and a local...

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Varenna Transportation

  • Ferry to Varenna

    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...

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  • GETTING TO VARENNA VIA LECCO

    Saturday, June 2, 2012Along 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...

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  • FERRY TO BELLAGIO

    Saturday, June 2, 2012Soon 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...

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Varenna Local Customs

  • Traditional Rowing or Fishing Boats

    When I first visited Lake Como in 1978, I remembered seeing these canopied boats, known as Lucia's bobbing around the lake. They were used as fishing or leisure craft, and were rowing boats, manouvered by oars, which the oarsman wields while standing, facing forwards. I was entranced by these vessels, and bought a silver charm of one of these to...

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  • Watch the cat! (?)

    On my visit to Varenna I noticed plenty of signs reading 'Watch the Cat'. There are two possibilities: either Varenna cats are big felines and then dangerous or they are too often killed by vehicles...

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  • Varenna Hotels

    8 Hotels in Varenna

    54 Reviews and Opinions

Varenna Warnings and Dangers

  • If you visit out of season....

    ......you can expect the railway station ticket office to be closed. And you may find, as I did, that the ticket machine isn't working either.To avoid problems you could, of course, buy a return ticket from wherever you started. But this wouldn't work for me, as I'd intended to stop off elsewhere on my way back.Fortunately, there were signs at the...

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  • Don't be misled....

    With regard to the buying of train tickets and the problem if the station ticket office is closed and the ticket machine dead:As you walk down into Olivedo (the village adjoining Varenna) you will see the sign in the main photo. Don't be misled: this is *not* the 'last stop' for tickets. You *can buy them next door, at the Bar Beretta.I went into...

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Varenna What to Pack

  • suvanki's Profile Photo
    One minute grey skies... 3 more images

    by suvanki Written Jun 26, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: Travel as light as possible - The 10 minute walk from the train station to the ferry port is downhill, with some steps to negotiate, but your return may well take longer with heavy luggage on a hot day!
    Day sac for guide book, camera, water bottle etc

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Although the weather was kind to us in early June, the area does have rainy days, and I've witnessed some spectacular thunder storms on previous visits.
    Waterproofs and layers along with comfortable shoes.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring essential medications and prescription. I didn't spot a pharmacy here - Belaggio or Menaggio might be the nearest choice.
    Sunscreen and mossie repellent recommended.
    Although I didn't have a problem with the ferries - travel sickness pills if you don't have sea-legs.

    Photo Equipment: As much as you can carry - Varenna is very photogenic!
    I didn't see anywhere selling batteries/SD cards - but one of the gift shops might have limited stock, at a price. Belaggio or Menaggio should offer a better chance of re-stocking.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Photography
    • Hiking and Walking

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Varenna Off The Beaten Path

  • slcook52's Profile Photo
    The Bernina Express 3 more images

    by slcook52 Updated Oct 28, 2007

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    Not necessarily off the beaten path, but a fun days outing anyway. I booked a day trip thru the local Varenna travel agency, Tiviano Tours, which was right across the street from where I stayed. It was a guided bus/train tour that left at 8am from across the lake in Menaggio, so first I had to take an early ferry across the lake. We drove north all along Lake Como then headed east on the route to Sondrio with a short pit stop there. Continued on to Poschiavo and changed from our bus to the Bernina Express train. What great views going up the mountain pass. Then back on the bus for the rest of the short ride to St Moritz. We had a couple of hours here, for lunch or shopping before heading back. This time a different route back down over the Maloja Pass with an incredible series of hairpin turns down many many miles. What an engineering feat to built that road. The pit stop on the way back was in the pretty town of Chiavenna, nestled in the foothills of the mountains. Lots of photo ops here. Eventually ending back in Menaggio at 5pm. Worth the money for the scenery and the no hassel of driving.

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Varenna Favorites

  • A Place to just Chill-out

    Realistically if you come by boat to the Centro Lago from Como, as we did, I think it's best to just visit a couple of villages and Bellagio would be on most people's list first.Although there are other places that would warrant inclusion we chose Varenna because of its more peaceful nature.The thing I liked about Varenna apart from it being...

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  • A BIT ABOUT VARENNA

    Saturday, June 2, 2012Hans and I, along with Kate (Goodfish) and hubby Jerry, enjoyed a day trip to VARENNA which is on Lake Como in the province of Lecco, in the Italian region Lombardy. It is located about 60 kilometers north of Milan and about 20 kilometers north-west of Lecco.

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Explore Deeper into Varenna
Crossing the Lake
Transportation
From Bergamo by Train
Transportation
Excellent!
Restaurants
Getting around Varenna
Transportation
Ferry Service
Transportation
waterfront dining
Restaurants
Best gelato in Varenna
Restaurants
What a place!
Restaurants
Church
Things to Do
Steep streets
Things to Do
Villa Monastero
Things to Do
Villa Cipressi
Things to Do
Romantic Promenade
Things to Do
Map of Varenna

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