One Of Rick Steves' Favorite Beach Hideaways Is This Stunning Destination In Italy

Rick Steves, best-selling guidebook author and TV host, encourages Americans to get out and see the world. While any traveler may struggle to narrow down just one place to visit, Steves has identified Italy as a must-see European country. Within Italy, he has revealed Lake Como, specifically Varenna, a small village on the eastern shore, as a preferred beach hideaway. Steves raved about the popular destination on his website: "Lake Como, lined with elegant 19th-century villas, crowned by snow-capped mountains, and buzzing with ferries, is our favorite. With all the charm and none of the intensity of points further south, this is Italy for beginners."


Steves has made Varenna his go-to Lake Como destination for a couple of reasons. First, travelers can easily reach it from Milan — it takes just over an hour by direct train to get from the Milano Centrale Railway Station to the Varenna station, multiple departures take place every day, and it costs under $10. Varenna also sounds like an easy-going place for a relaxing or romantic getaway.

Slow down and enjoy the beauty of Varenna

Beyond ease of access, Rick Steves favors Varenna for its vibe, which centers on relaxed beauty. It's more laid back and quiet than the nearby and more popular (read: more crowded) town of Bellagio. Steves has shared some suggestions for any Varenna visitor: "Savor a lakeside cappuccino or aperitivo. As ferries come and go, ponder the point where Italy is welded to the Alps. Listen to the volume go down with the sun." Basically, sit back, relax, and take in your location. Don't rush around trying to make sure you visit every museum and monument; instead, sip a drink and remain present in the moment. Pretty good advice, and where better to do it than in such a beautiful place?


If you want to get out onto (or into) the lake, beaches in Varenna allow you to rent a kayak or take a boat tour of the iconic waters. For a swim and sunbathing, Lido di Varenna in Perledo features deck chairs and umbrellas. If you travel with your dog(s), head to Bau Bau Beach on the northern end of Varenna, the only canine-friendly beach on Lake Como's east side. Beyond the beaches, consider Varenna's Villa Monastero, a former monastery for women that now houses a museum and an impressive botanical garden.

Rick Steves likes the romance of Varenna

"Varenna, with a romantic promenade, a tiny harbor, and narrow lanes, whispers luna di miele (that's Italian for honeymoon)," Rick Steves wrote on his website. "After dark, Varenna's passerella (lakeside walk) is adorned with lovers pressing silently against each other in the shadows." The narrow pedestrian walkway, which takes you out over the lake with beautiful views of the water and the colorful houses of the town, has earned the nickname the "Walk of Love" or "Lovers' Walk."


When you visit Lake Como, a popular celebrity honeymoon destination, you'll be in good company. Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift have vacationed there, and George and Amal Clooney have a house on the water. Like many places in Italy and throughout Europe, the high season at Lake Como and Varenna falls in the summer. That's part of why Steves thinks the best time to visit Italy is in the shoulder seasons before and after the summer crowds. There are also lots of cobblestone streets and steps up some occasionally steep hills, so make sure to pack comfortable shoes.