Set within the Italian Alps, Lake Como has long been a popular travel destination in Europe. Centuries-old villas that used to house prominent Italian families still line the lakeshore, while celebrities like George Clooney have established a home base at the popular lake. Indeed, Lake Como has a reputation for luxury. But this does not mean that it is inaccessible to the general tourists.
Lake Como is only a short train ride away from Milan and offers plenty of activities for travellers of all kinds. When visiting Lake Como in February, plan your trip well and be prepared for the chilly weather.
As the most popular tourist destination in Northern Italy, there’s plenty of great attractions to see in Lake Como. In February, some of the most popular Lake Como breaks include visiting snow-capped alps, afternoon boating at the lake, and exploring idyllic lakeside villages. There is certainly a different aspect of the lake to discover in winter, making it a wonderful time to visit.
Although Lake Como is often overlooked in winter, February is a romantic time to visit. As it is the last month of the winter season, you can still expect cold weather in February in Lake Como, with average temperatures ranging from 0°C to 6°C.
Lake Como’s average relative humidity is 74% in February, with an average of about 10 days of rain. Lake Como receives the most snowfall of the whole year, with an average of 40mm of accumulated snow that will mean you’ll need to bring a warm coat and suitable shoes if you’re planning on going up into the mountains. However, the lake never freezes and can still be explored on a ferry, and if you stick to the towns and lakeside paths the snow shouldn’t delay you too much.
The average number of daylight hours in Lake Como in February is 10 hours, with around 6 hours of sunshine forecasted each day. The cold weather means that prices drop in winter and tourists start departing for the southern coast, so, if you want to explore Lake Como without the crowds, February would be the perfect time for that.
How to Get There
There are many ways to get to Lake Como, but the most popular way to travel is to take the train from Milan, as Lake Como is only 40 min away from Milano Centrale station. Bear in mind however that trains from Milan during winter do not run as frequently to Lake Como, so you’ll have to plan accordingly and make sure that you don’t get stuck waiting at the station for hours before you depart.
International tourists can fly to Milan Malpensa International Airport before catching the train to Lake Como, as this is the closest airport to the area and is well-connected to many major destinations in Europe. From the airport, ride the Malpensa Express train to Saronno, and from there, take the train to Como. The journey will take around an hour and a half, although it could take up to two hours depending on the time interval for the change.
It is also possible to travel to Lake Como from Milan and other areas of Italy by car. Be aware that some of the roads around Lake Como are pretty twisty, so you’ll need to be a confident driver to keep up with the locals who know the routes well. But with incredible views at every turn, driving to Lake Como is such an unforgettable experience!
Taking boat trips is highly recommended when exploring Lake Como and visiting its famous attractions. Whether you’re visiting for only a day or staying longer, jump on a boat to reach a variety of destinations on all sides of the lake.
Festivals and Events
The Schignano Carnival is one of the best events you can witness when visiting Lake Como in February. It’s named after Schignano, a small village on the hills in the Middle Lake, where the event takes place. The carnival features a quirky mix of primitive myths, history, and local legends, highlighting the carnival parade of ancient origins.
The Carnival of Schignano stages the rivalry between the Brüt (the ugly) and Bèi (the beautiful), or the rich and poor. Both groups are emigrants, but those from the Bèi have made a fortune abroad, which is why they are dressed elegantly. Meanwhile, Brüt is a group of those emigrants who have failed and ended up getting drunk and sadly wandering around the village with empty suitcases.
The main symbol of the Schignano Carnival is the hand-carved wooden mask made by local artisans. These masks are sculpted from the roots of walnut trees, with the oldest tree dating back to more than 200 years.
Another unique festival to attend in Lake Como in February is the Sant’Apollonia Festival. While it is not a particularly famous festival, it’s a great event to watch since it takes place in Asso, a historic village that is a great place to visit for the afternoon. Located in the Vallassina district, Asso is an Italian commune about a 30-minute drive away from Bellagio.
The Sant’Apollonia Festival is centred around Apollonia, a saint of African origin. Celebrated every February 9th, the festival is accompanied by a very ancient ritual that involves burning balls made of paper and cotton. On the day of the event, a variety of fairs will be held in the village with stalls and local produce. Locals will also feast on the traditional dish called busecca; tripe cooked with celery, beans, carrots, tomatoes, nutmeg, and cheese.
Things to See and Do
Enjoy the Last of the Snow
Lake Como may be a popular destination in summer, but the lake exudes a charming and magical atmosphere in winter. When you visit in February, you’ll get to enjoy some snow and the chance to experience fun winter sports activities without the crowd of tourists.
February is the last month of the winter season in Italy, so this is your last chance to enjoy snowsports in Lake Como. Valsassina is the best area for snowboarding and skiing, whilst on Monte San Primo, you will find several trails for snowshoeing.
Piani di Artavaggio, a renowned mountain destination in Valsassina, is a great place to spend a lovely day in the snow. Ideal for sledging and skiing, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the snow with the family. Meanwhile, Icewall and couloir on Grigna and Resegone are the best destinations for winter climbers.
Make the Most of Off-Season Prices
If you’re the kind of traveller who loves to hunt down travel bargains, then you should visit Lake Como in February, where you can take advantage of off-season deals. Many places in Italy that rely primarily on tourism adjust their prices according to the ‘tourist season’, so if you visit during the colder and quieter months you’ll be able to enjoy lower prices and fewer other visitors.
In Lake Como, the low tourist season is during the winter months from October to March. Therefore, visiting Lake Como in February means making the most of off-season prices, from restaurants to hotels and flights. Even ticket prices and tour packages on Lake Como breaks are discounted during the off-season!
Aside from saving money, the best part about travelling to Lake Como in February is there are far fewer crowds of tourists. Therefore, you’ll be able to visit the best towns on Lake Como and share this authentic experience with locals, ending your day with a sumptuous dinner at a fancy restaurant without the crowd.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day
Lake Como is a favourite choice for couples looking for a romantic escape thanks to its beautiful scenery, range of luxurious hotels and peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, one of the best things about going to Lake Como in February is being able to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a special way.
The area is home to many stunning villas and luxury country houses where couples can cosy up and spend a night or two together. A romantic holiday in a country villa by the lake or even a castle above the hills is sure to make your Valentine’s Day celebration extra special.
Lake Como also offers plenty of activities for couples to do on their Valentine’s break. Stroll hand in hand as you explore the best towns on Lake Como, from beautiful Bellagio to Tremezzo, Menaggio, Bellano, Cernobbio, Lecco, and Como. Marvel at their unique landscapes filled with historical and cultural activities, then after a day of exploring, indulge in a relaxing couple’s spa with massages and a glass of wine in a hot tub.
Tour Galleries and Museums
Italian winter weather can get really cold, and some tourists won’t want to spend a lot of their time outdoors at this time of year. So instead of exploring the scenery around the lake, a great alternative is to tour its galleries and museums.
Lake Como is home to some of the region’s best museums, and most are situated in the centre of Como, allowing you to visit them all in one day. Head to the Paolo Giovio Museum housed inside Palazzo Giovio; an ancient building belonging to the noble Giovio family. It has a section dedicated to the archaeological collection of Egyptian and Greek artefacts dating back to the 1800s.
Right next to Palazzo Giovio, you will find Palazzo Olginati. Inside it is the Giuseppe Garibaldi historical museum. The museum showcases exquisite collections from the Napoleonic era and the two World Wars.
Indulge in a Spa Trip
One of the best things you can do in Lake Como is to indulge in a relaxing spa treatment at one of the area’s luxury hotels. You will find numerous spas all over Lake Como, some of them are housed in historical buildings, allowing you to relax and de-stress in luxury and style.
Overlooking the stunning view of Lake Como, the spa at the 5-star Mandarin Oriental hotel is located in an exclusive stylish and smart setting. In Tremezzo, you will find the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which has a luxury spa with a heated indoor infinity pool complete with hydro-massages and an outdoor whirlpool bath.
Go for a Hike
There are dozens of hiking trails all over Lake Como offering incredible views of the mountains and the lake. The mountains that surround the water provide endless opportunities for exploring and trekking, and all these trails will treat you to the most breathtaking landscape views! Even though some of them might be closed in February, you can conquer a few local routes in the frost and snow and will be rewarded with stunning views of the frozen landscapes.
Visit the lake on a day trip
If you had only planned to stay in Milan on your Italian break, it is definitely possible to visit Lake Como as part of a day trip. As mentioned above, Lake Como is a quick 40-min train ride from Milan, which allows you to save money on accommodation and see the top sights of the area in less than 24 hours. You can leave early in the morning, spend the day exploring, and go back to Milan in the evening.
Reserve a table when dining out
If you plan to eat at a restaurant in Lake Como, it’s highly recommended that you reserve a table whenever possible. Some of the best restaurants are closed during winter, so your options will be limited. Those open can get full pretty quickly, so your best option is to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Prepare for narrow roads
If you plan on taking a car to Lake Como, do your research and plan your trip well. Most of the roads around the mountains in Italy require that your car has winter tires, so keep this in mind and ensure that your vehicle is safe for the conditions in February.
Also, be prepared to drive on narrow roads. Those who have driven around the more rural areas of Italy before will understand how narrow and winding the roads in the mountains can get, and whilst all drivers should be able to handle the conditions, it’s very different to the long, straight roads you’ll find in Italian cities.
If you want to find out more about Lake Como, and start planning a holiday to this brilliant part of Italy in February, explore the rest of Italian Breaks and find out more about top attractions and activities in the area.