There is one aspect of transport around Lake Como that attracts relatively little attention. It’s a railway line that enables you to travel from one end of the lake to the other in about three quarters of an hour with a couple of stops (or just over an hour with more stops).
It’s a reasonably frequent service, with a couple of dozen trains a day in each direction, making it the most efficient form of transport at the lake. Yet it’s easily overlooked because the railway line doesn’t pass through Como or Menaggio or any of the ‘west bank’ tourist centres. Instead, it connects Lecco with Colico, on the less popular eastern side of the lake.
Varenna is the only place on the eastern lakefront that many visitors are almost certain to visit. But they are more likely to see it as part of the broad mid-lake basin (along with Bellagio and Menaggio) than as a gateway to the east shore of the lake.
We think it’s worth doing a bit of exploring by train on that side – either up from Varenna to Colico or down to places like Mandello del Lario or Lecco. You might be pleasantly surprised. The lakefront at Colico, for example, is every bit as attractive as its equivalent in Cernobbio.
The railway extends beyond the lake, south to Bergamo and Milan and northwards to Tirano where you can pick up the ‘glacier express’ to St Moritz. This makes Varenna a good place from which to make a day trip to any of those places.
Timetables and fares can be found on the Trenitalia website.