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There's an undeniable glamour to Lake Como, the glittering lakeside getaway dotted with centuries-old palaces, grand five-star hotels, mahogany cigarette boats, and hidden-away medieval villages shrouded by soaring mountains.
But while there's certainly plenty of pampering and indulging to do here, the fabled Italian enclave is also a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. There's a scenic hike or easy walk around the lake for every type of traveler, from gentle lakeside strolls winding through cobbled-stone medieval villages and towns to strenuous hikes up the area's mountainous terrain where you'll pass UNESCO World Heritage sites, chapels, and bucolic landscapes, and be rewarded with magnificent panoramic views over the lake.
Looking for the best hikes around Lake Como? For the hikes and walking trails worth spending your non-pampering, pre-apertif hours, we turned to the concierge team at American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property Grand Hotel Tremezzo for their go-to trails for nature lovers of all skills levels.
This gentle and pleasant six-mile route takes travelers through the borgos (that's Italian for small villages) along the lake's Greenway, from Colonno to Griante (or from Tremezzo to Ossuccio if you're starting at Grand Hotel Tremezzo), just follow the signs for the Greenway del Lago and you'll walk past postcard-perfect villages, beautiful gardens, and stunning lakeside villas. Easily done with an espresso in hand.
Sacro Monte di Ossuccio
Perched on a mountain crag surrounded by olive groves and woodland, don't sleep on an easy half-day hike to UNESCO World Heritage site Sacro di Ossuccio. Start your walk in Lenno, then follow the path of the chapels up the Sacro Monte to reach the church of Madonna del Soccorso with its fourteen chapels.
The San Martino church may look like it's impossible to reach (it's perched on a ledge of a limestone rock cliff) but the uphill walk here from the town of Griante is actually pretty pleasant—and totally worth the slight uphill effort for one of the best views of Griante, Bellagio, and the eastern shores of the lake from above.
Cappelletta degli Alpini
For some seriously breathtaking panoramic views of the center of the lake, take an hour-and-a-half hike up toward the Cappelletta degli Alpini, a chapel that sits on the slopes above the town of Tremezzo. Start at Tremezzo, wander past the hamlet of Intignano and then follow the trail past farmhouses, streams, and woodland.
San Benedetto in Val Perlana
This classic hike is one of the more challenging trails in the area but is packed with architectural beauty and beautiful views which make it all the more worthwhile. Starting from Ossuccio, the walk towards the Abbey of San Benedetto (a Benedictine monastery that dates back to 1083) takes hikers on a panoramic route through UNESCO World Heritage site the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio, before continuing upwards towards the church.
Rifugio Menaggio and Monte Grona
Prepare your best walking boots for this hike. With an altitude of 1,736m (5,700 ft), Monte Grona offers what is rumored to be the best view of the lake, and on clear days, you can also glimpse the Alps. If you're up for the challenge, the trail to reach Monte Grona starts at Plesio and has some sharp ascents throughout, passing Sant’Amate church, rocky trails, and shaded woodland. Add a stop at Rifugio Menaggio for an added viewpoint along the way.