Logistics to Bellagio, Lake Como
The towns of Como and Lecco on the southern arms of Lake Como are about an hour's drive north of Milan, with Bellagio and Hotel Il Perlo on the promontory in the middle about another 30 minutes along the winding lakeside road. There are several options to arrive, from planes, trains and ferries to automobiles and private shuttles.
Milan is directly south of Lake Como and is served by two airports: the larger Malpensa (MXP) and more regional Linate (LIN). Either is good to fly into, but in my experience LIN is very small and easy to navigate, making it much less stressful in the wee hours of the morning. MXP is far larger, with a lot of shopping and duty free options, but makes for a lot more walking when you're catching your flight in the early morning.
cars & Private Shuttles
The fastest and most direct way to arrive to either Hotel Il Perlo in Bellagio is by private shuttle. We highly recommend the services of Nicola at Bellagio Taxi. They take care of all the arrangements from door-to-door so you do not worry about catching trains, standing in line for a rental car, finding parking, or driving the narrow Roman-era roads. When it is time to depart, they will recommend an appropriate departure time depending on time of day and traffic to ensure you have plenty of time to catch your flight. They are very professional and very prompt.
You can pre-arrange the service for pickup at either Malpensa or Linate airports. The shuttle driver will be waiting with a sign when you exit the baggage claim area. It takes about 90 minutes to drive from Malpensa or Linate to Bellagio, and less time to Lecco. The cost is typically between 100-150 euros depending on time of year, day, and number of persons. Payment is due at time of service.
If you rent of have your own car, Hotel Il Perlo has guest parking for those driving for their holiday. Just note that the roads in the area are extremely narrow (think Roman chariots) and often only have room for one car, but the locals grew up driving these roads and will squeeze through anyway. Also, gas is about 4x the price in the U.S. Given the option, try to avoid driving the road between Como and Bellagio. It is the oldest and most harrowing to drive. Try SP 41 that goes up the center of the promontory, or SP 583 from Lecco to Bellagio.
Example route driving from MXP airport to Hotel Il Perlo
Example route driving from LIN airport to Hotel Il Perlo
Trains & Ferries
Italian trains are phenomenal! You can get nearly anywhere in Italy just by train. The Trenitalia website has all you need to know about schedules and stops. I highly highly recommend getting your train tickets ahead of time, especially for the high speed routes like Milan to Florence. Having the PDF ticket that the website sends you is so easy to manage on your smartphone, no need to stand in line and buy it at the station. I always download the PDF to my phone in case I can’t get data or Wifi. The conductor will either scan the bar code or look at the PDF itself. If you do have a paper ticket always remember to have it stamped by the small yellow or green machine at the station before you board. When you buy a paper ticket it is “open ended” so you must stamp it with today’s date or the conductor will yell at you.
Lake Como has 2 train stations to note:
In Varenna - this is the easiest for arriving in Bellagio. The Varenna-Esino train station is a few blocks from the ferry, which you can take across the lake to Bellagio.
In Como, which is usually where trains from Switzerland come in.
If you are coming from or going to Milan, taking the train via Varenna is very straight forward and about 60 minutes. This Varenna train line is a regional train and does not require a seat reservation, but it is convenient to buy the ticket online from the Trenitalia website. If you are coming from other areas of Italy on a high speed train, those do require advance seat reservations. Add on the 15 minute car ferry to or from Varenna and you have the perfect multimodal transportation. How European! A hotel shuttle can pick you up at the Bellagio ferry by request.
Ferry schedules change during the season so be sure to see the current PDF. Through Varenna you will look at the Bellagio-Menaggio-Varenna-Cadenabbia car ferry schedule. Through Como you will look at either the passenger only “Servizio Rapido high speed service” or the slower “ship” time table. The high speed ferry skips the towns on the lower lake and is around 1 hour, the slow speed ferry is around 2 hours. Note that bicycles are not always allowed on the passenger ferry. It is up to the captain’s discretion and in high use times he likely will not allow you on.
A basic idea of the train from Milano Centrale to Varenna, then the ferry to Bellagio (not shown on map)
A basic idea of the Como train station to the Como ferry terminal, and high speed ferry to Bellagio. No you won't be going through the mountains, Google doesn't always get it right.