When to Visit
A common question that visitors have is "When is the best time to visit Lake Como?" Situated in Northern Italy and surrounded by the foothills of the Alps means that Lake Como has distinct seasons throughout the year. Its varied terrain and winds off the Alps also results in unique microclimates so that the weather on one area of the lake might be very different from another. What looks like incoming rain from across the border in Switzerland might never reach Lake Como. The lakeside is kept temperate while a few hundred meters up you will find a distinct change in weather and vegetation. Depending on the type of traveler you are and how much you like to experience an area, the answer could easily be "Any time of the year!"
The winter season is generally from December - February, when most of the tourism businesses take a well needed break from the busy tourist season. The weather is typically cold and dry, with occasional days of snow that do not last long at the lower lakeside areas. However, the mountains up high can have snow for much of the winter. There is a small ski hill on Monte San Primo so the children and families enjoy taking their skis and sleds to play in the snow. Cyclists continue riding year-round on the lower roads. Every New Years Day there is a tradition of riding the entire perimeter of the lake, called "Il Lagone". Winter is a great time to soak in the quiet charms of Lake Como villages. The locals still hustle with their daily lives and businesses so you can be sure that vin brulè is also still flowing.
Spring in Italia! Yes it everything they say. The first shoulder-season runs from March through May. The temperate weather of Lake Como allows flowers and trees to begin awakening in March so that the blooms of April are a show of wisteria and other flowering vines and leafy trees. The weather begins warming with periods of rain, but sunshine always comes through to dry the area and take in strolls through the woods, a long bike ride, or a cappuccino at an outdoor cafe. The area is still quiet, but picking up in May with the warmer weather, longer days, and more sunshine. This is a great time to have tours and restaurants to yourselves.
Since the Roman times people have been flocking to the Italian Lakes to escape the intense heat of other regions. The deep lake waters and high mountains keep Lake Como cooler and provide the ultimate retreat, whether on the water's edge or high in the mountains. June through August is the busiest season for tourism, but the guides and hotel staff know all the perfect ways to avoid the crowds. The days are long and allow endless time for outdoor activities: cycling, hiking, kayaking, village exploring, boat tours, and even a late night e-bike ride to watch the sun set.
This second shoulder-season is the other great option for traveling to Lake Como. The summer crowds have dispersed and the weather from September to November is cooler with abundant fall sunshine and brief periods of refreshing rain. The skies seem bluer against the colors of the changing leaves, which will make you want to explore the hillsides and mountains all day. This is a perfect season for outdoor activities, from hiking to mountain biking, and a great excuse to stop at the rifugio mountain huts for food and wine. Feeling a little chill? Sounds like a great reason to visit one of the local shops to wrap yourself in a new Italian silk-wool blended scarf.