The Best Bars on Lake Como, Italy

Bar Il Molo in Varenna offers stunning views over Lake Como
Bar Il Molo in Varenna offers stunning views over Lake Como | © Alpineguide / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Lane

Lake Como, in Italy’s Lombardy region, is just as popular with the rich and famous as it is among Italians keen on picturesque views, lake fish restaurants and classy cocktail and wine bars. Here are the best bars on Lake Como, Italy.

Italy’s third-largest lake, Lake Como, is encircled by some of the country’s prettiest waterside villages – all of which have local watering holes, usually with staggering lake views. Whether you’re seeking out the liveliest nighttime spots in buzzy central Como, or simply a secluded lakeside spot to sit and sip as you watch the sun go down, the choice of contemporary cocktail bars, historic cafés and atmospheric wine bars is ample. Many serve good food, and most are open all day. Here are the best bars on Lake Como, Italy.

1. Fresco Cocktail Shop, Como

Bar, Cocktails

cocktails corso como milan italy
© SFM MILAN (Italy) / Alamy Stock Photo

Master mixologist Andrea conjures up imaginative and colourful concoctions, served with tasty snacks at his petite and highly popular cocktail bar in central Como. It’s a firm protagonist at the Como Lake Cocktail Week each July (which is a good time to go for mixologists in the making), which should tell you something about the quality of its drinks. Wooden ceiling beams and stone walls combine successfully with clean contemporary lines for an interior that’s as fresh as the bar’s name.

2. Vintage Jazz Food and Wine, Como

Bar, Wine

This characterful and friendly bar-eatery has live jazz on rotation, patio seating on the pretty, paved Piazza Mazzini and a retro interior, with wooden tables contrasting with a whitewashed beamed ceiling. It’s open all day, so you can come just for a drink or a snack such as a fresh tomato-topped bruschetta, or choose from a menu of burgers (we recommend the octopus one) and classic lasagne, linguini with clams or marinated venison fillet.

3. Enoteca Castiglioni, Como

Bar, Wine

An offshoot of the long-standing, family-run Castiglioni deli, this wine shop and bar has at least 1,000 labels from all over Italy and other parts of Europe, including prestige bottles and some rarities stacked floor-to-ceiling on each wall. With around 20 wines available by the glass each day, it’s a great place to try a different bottle before buying or simply to taste Como’s top tipples.

4. The Brothers Cafe, Como

Bar, Cocktails

The Brothers cafe bar, Como nightlife. Diners take the streets to eat in the many pavement cafes and restaurants. Como. Italy.
© David Broadbent / Alamy Stock Photo

Arrive in time for breakfast to dip fragrant pastries into frothy cappuccinos, then return later in the day for refreshing cocktails, light bites and a wide selection of wines. The terrace tables are ideal for watching the world go by – this is the heart of Como’s nightlife area, after all – but the atmosphere is at its coolest and rowdiest in the quirky interior. Come nightfall, the music is turned up and the dancing crowds spill onto the cobbled street outside.

5. Battello Bisbino Lounge Bar, Tremezzo

Bar, Wine

A former passenger steamboat, moored on the water directly opposite the 17th-century Villa Carlotta house and gardens, hosts this fun, informal bar. Bag a table in the atmospheric interior or out on deck to soak in the view along with a couple of glasses of crisp white wine. Open all day for drinks and serving a simple menu of pizza, salads, panini and pasta, the bar also serves a daily lake speciality dish and seafood snacks come aperitivo time.

6. Bar Rossi, Bellagio

Bar, Cafe, Cocktails

Negroni cocktail with orange peel and ice, selective focus.
© Tatiana Bralnina / Alamy Stock Photo

Dating from 1905 and with original walnut wood furnishings, this classic Art Nouveau-style café has the polished, sophisticated air of a bar fit for the cast of Mad Men. Try pan mataloch, the local speciality fruitcake, or order a Milano Torino cocktail – made with Campari and red vermouth – to sip at a table under the portico as you wait for your ferry to arrive at the jetty just opposite.

7. Enoteca Cava Turacciolo, Bellagio

Bar, Wine

A beautifully restored stone cellar, with wine bottles lining the walls, sets the scene for memorable moments dipping into the 300 or so carefully selected wines, offset with platters of local lake fish, cheese or charcuterie. Put together the picturesque location on a narrow, cobbled lane just off the busy waterfront, with the staff’s warm welcome and quality wines to boot, and you’ll want to stay all day.

8. Lido di Argegno, Argegno

Bar, Cocktails

There are many bars and restaurants in Argegno’s Piazza Roma, perfectly placed for a cool Aperol spritz after a trip to the hilltop viewpoint on the cable car. But for pure relaxation and even a dip to cool off, head for the contemporary Lido di Argegno. It’s an idyllic spot with loungers on the grass around a lakeside pool, a well-stocked bar for all-day refreshments, a pizzeria and occasional live music in the evenings.

9. Bar Il Molo, Varenna

Bar, Pub Grub, Italian

typical small restaurant in Varenna Lombardy taly. Image shot 07/2010. Exact date unknown.
© Marco Secchi / Alamy Stock Photo
This elegant lakeside bar is something of an institution in Varenna, offering stunning views over the water that are even more magical at sunset. Open from morning until the wee hours, it’s one of those places where you could happily while away the hours simply taking in the panorama from the terrace, over a bottle of wine or a spritz, to soft jazz in the background.

10. Varenna Caffè, Varenna

Bar, Cocktails

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© M Ramírez / Alamy Stock Photo

With its steep, narrow lanes and clustered houses, Varenna, on the eastern shore, might just be the loveliest of Lake Como’s many pretty waterside villages. It’s also the starting point for several panoramic footpaths that crisscross through the region. The terrace views, which extend across the water to the mountains beyond, are the area’s best. Come for a light meal or cocktails, and time your trip for the sunset.

Head back to one of the best hotels near Lake Como, now bookable via Culture Trip. If you’re wanting to explore a nearby city, see why you must visit Milan. Discover which neighbourhoods are considered the coolest and what else there is to do there.

This is a rewrite of an article originally by Luca Pinelli.

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