What to see in Como in a day: 7 unmissable sights
10 February 2023
Como's lakefront, starting from Piazza Cavour
If you arrive by train, start your tour from Como San Giovanni station. If you prefer to drive, you can leave your car at the Centro Lago car park, close to the station. It's a 10-minute walk to Piazza Cavour, the beating heart of the city.
The tour begins with a walk on Lake Como with a view of the Lario. Reflected in the waters of the lake is Life Electric, a metal sculpture inspired by Volta's most famous invention, the electric battery.
The Tempio Voltiano, science on show
Take a stroll through the gardens of the Tempio Voltiano. The Palladian-style temple was built in 1927 to mark the first centenary of Alessandro Volta's death, to house the Volta Museum in Como.
The two floors contain objects, instruments and memorabilia related to the great inventor, many of which were saved from the fire of the 1899 Volta Exhibition. Just beyond is the 30-metre-high Monumento ai Caduti (Monument to the Fallen). Climb to the top to admire the city and the lake from above.
Tempio Voltiano: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm
Monumento dei Caduti: daily from April to October, 3-6pm
The magnificent villas of Como
Continuing along the promenade along the left bank, take the 'promenade of villas' in Como, built under Habsburg rule. The first is Villa Saporiti, or Villa La Rotonda, built in the late 18th century by architect Leonard Pollack. Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Isabella of Naples and Prince Ferdinand I of Austria all stayed here.
Don't miss Villa Gallia, built in the 17th century on an older building and remodelled in neoclassical style.
Villa Saporiti and Villa Gallia: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am-12:30pm and 2:30pm-5pm
Villa Olmo, a garden on the lake
Lose yourself in the magnificent park of Villa Olmo, one of the most beautiful villas on Lake Como, before stepping into its splendid neoclassical rooms. The villa dates back to 1782 when Simone Cantoni designed it for Marquis Innocenzo Odescalchi, who wanted a summer residence overlooking the lake.
These frescoed rooms have accommodated celebrities such as Bonaparte, Ugo Foscolo and Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Villa Olmo: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm
Como Cathedral and Palazzo Broletto, a journey through time in the piazza
Head back towards the centre for a bite to eat before continuing your city sightseeing. What is there to eat in Como? Obviously, pizzoccheri (a type of pasta), polenta uncia (polenta with cheese, browned butter, garlic and sage) and ossobuco (veal shank).
After lunch, dive into the heart of the city and discover Como Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, and built in Gothic and Renaissance style. It is located in Piazza Duomo, which is also overlooked by Palazzo Broletto, built in the 13th century with a Gothic-Romanesque façade. Behind the Duomo stands the former Casa del Fascio, an example of rationalist architecture.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta: weekdays 9.30am-5.30pm, holidays 1-4.30pm
Piazza San Fedele, the heart of the walled city
The next stop is Piazza San Fedele. The Roman Forum once stood here, and the market was held here until the 19th century. Today it is dominated by colourful 16th-century buildings and the Basilica di San Fedele, one of the most beautiful churches in Como.
It was built in Lombard Romanesque style on the site of an early Christian church dedicated to St Euphemia. Continue the walk to Porta Torre, an impressive 34-metre-high fortress built in 1192 to defend access to the city.
Basilica di San Fedele: Wednesday to Monday 8:30-12 and 15:30-19
Funicular Como-Brunate, for an exhilarating view
Exploring the streets of the old town, return to the lakefront and take the promenade on the right to reach the Como-Brunate funicular railway and a magnificent vantage point over Como.
It departs from the station on the Geno lakefront. The ride is one kilometre long and it takes 7 minutes to reach the hilltop village of Brunate. From here you can marvel at the town from above as the sun goes down and paints the water and sky in a thousand different colours.
Funicular Como-Brunate: daily 6-22:30, Saturday and summer season until midnight