Lake Como vs Amalfi Coast An Honest Comparison To Help You Choose

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Last updated on December 12, 2023 by Wandering our World

Italy is one of the best vacation destinations of them all. Renowned for its rich history, gorgeous landscapes, and world-class cuisine, it’s the kind of country that can appeal to any kind of traveler. And, if you’re looking to eschew the big cities, like Rome and Milan, to see a more relaxing side of Italy, Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast are two places you might consider.

Situated at opposite ends of the country, Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast are without a doubt two of Italy’s prettiest areas. They both offer jaw-dropping views and amazing outdoor experiences, with plenty for visitors to see and do. But, they also differ in some very big ways, and one of them might be much better-suited to your tastes than the other.

On the one hand, you might choose the relaxing and romantic Lake Como. This world-renowned lake has been a big draw for the rich and famous for years. It’s renowned for its luxury villas, many of which are owned by major celebrities, and its scenic beauty, having been used as a filming location for Star Wars, James Bond, and more.

Alternatively, you could opt for the Amalfi Coast. Famed as one of Italy’s leading coastal resort areas, this stretch of shore is made up of a series of picturesque towns, each with its own unique attractions and activities. From soft sands and warm waters to luxurious resorts, centuries-old churches, and beloved hiking trails, there’s so much to do here.

So, which one should you choose? Well, that’s what this guide is here to help you decide. Below, we’ll provide an in-depth comparison of Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast, digging into their biggest differences in a range of key areas, like weather, activities, nightlife, dining, and more!

Contents:

  • A Quick Overview Of Lake Como vs Amalfi Coast
  • Which Has The Best Weather?
  • Which Is Best For Activities?
  • Which Is Best For Beaches?
  • Which Is Best For Nightlife?
  • Which Is Best For Shopping?
  • Which Is Best For Food?
  • Which Is Best For Families?
  • Which Is Best For Couples?
  • Which Is Best For Backpackers?
  • Which Is Cheapest?
  • Where To Stay According To Your Budget
  • Lake Como vs Amalfi Coast: Which Is Better?
An infographic presenting Lake Como and Amalfi Coast showing some of the key differences that will be discovered later in the article.

A Quick Overview Of Lake Como vs Amalfi Coast

Lake Como: A Quick Overview

On the shores of Lake Como, Varenna captivates with ancient charm. Aerial vistas unveil the timeless beauty of the old town, dominated by the venerable Church of San Giorgio.
On the shores of Lake Como, Varenna captivates with ancient charm. Aerial vistas unveil the timeless beauty of the old town, dominated by the venerable Church of San Giorgio.

Lake Como is one of the biggest and best-known lakes in the whole of Italy. It’s situated in the northern part of the country, in the Lombardy region, around 40 miles to the north of Milan, and it extends across 56 square miles (146 square kilometers), making it the third-largest lake nationwide.

With its distinctive Y-shape, Lake Como has an impressively long shoreline, totaling around 99 miles. It’s surrounded by mountains on all sides, with gorgeous views all around and an array of towns and villages dotted along the shore, like Como, Bellagio, Argegno, and Lecco – many of these towns are famed for their charm and beauty.

Historically, Lake Como has been a popular touristic destination for many centuries, going all the way back to the days of Ancient Rome. Back then, the wealthiest and most powerful people of the time often visited this place during the warm summer months. These days, it’s a similar story, with celebrities like George Clooney and Madonna owning homes around the lake.

Overlooking Lake Como near Bellagio, Piedmonte, Italy, the panorama is a masterpiece. Azure waters cradle charming villages against a backdrop of majestic mountains, creating a scene of sublime tranquility.
Overlooking Lake Como near Bellagio, Piedmonte, Italy, the panorama is a masterpiece. Azure waters cradle charming villages against a backdrop of majestic mountains, creating a scene of sublime tranquility.

But, even though Lake Como has a particular appeal for the richest members of society, it’s also a fine vacation destination for people from all walks of life. It’s a wonderful place, oozing charm and elegance, fusing the very best of natural scenery with the most picturesque and perfectly-maintained towns, villages, and villas.

Amalfi Coast: A Quick Overview

As the sun rises, Amalfi's coastal charm awakens on the Mediterranean. Pastel-hued buildings cascade down the cliffs, kissed by morning light, creating a picturesque symphony along Italy's enchanting shoreline.
As the sun rises, Amalfi’s coastal charm awakens on the Mediterranean. Pastel-hued buildings cascade down the cliffs, kissed by morning light, creating a picturesque symphony along Italy’s enchanting shoreline.

The Amalfi Coast is a region in southern Italy, more than 450 miles to the southeast of Lake Como. It’s quite close to the big city of Naples and stretches out along 34 miles of coast in the Campania region. 13 towns and villages make up this coastal stretch, including Amalfi itself, which gave the area its name.

Just like Lake Como, the Amalfi Coast has been a popular touristic destination going back many, many years – though not quite as far as Como. In the 18th century, for example, wealthy European nobles would visit this area, spending entire summers basking on its beaches and exploring its villages.

As the years have gone by, the Amalfi Coast has only become more popular and touristic. It’s famed as one of the most desirable destinations in all of Italy, home to some of the country’s fanciest resorts and best restaurants. And, similarly to Lake Como, this area is also known for attracting stars and VIPs galore.

Positano's allure unfolds in a panoramic embrace, revealing the iconic facade of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Nestled on the Amalfi Coast, it stands as a timeless beacon of beauty.
Positano’s allure unfolds in a panoramic embrace, revealing the iconic facade of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. Nestled on the Amalfi Coast, it stands as a timeless beacon of beauty.

A dream location for couples’ getaways, honeymoons, and family vacations, too, the Amalfi Coast offers a very diverse range of activities. Each of the 13 towns is different, with everything from castles to wineries, museums to ancient Roman villas. With so much to love, it’s no surprise that this area gets so busy during the peak summer months.

Which Has The Best Weather?

Varenna whispers history through its cobbled streets. Off a charming piazza, a traditional Italian street in this Lake Como haven echoes with the romance of a bygone era.
Varenna whispers history through its cobbled streets. Off a charming piazza, a traditional Italian street in this Lake Como haven echoes with the romance of a bygone era.

Since they’re located in very different parts of Italy, Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast have dramatically different weather conditions. The biggest difference between the two is their average temperatures – since the Amalfi Coast is much further south, it’s notably warmer than Lake Como, with hot summers and cool winters.

Lake Como also has hot summers, but tends to get much colder during the winter and can even drop to below-freezing temperatures. Lake Como also tends to get more clouds and rain compared to Amalfi, as well as a little snow in winter – in contrast, there’s zero chance of seeing any snow in the Amalfi region.

Which Is Best For Activities?

There’s plenty to do in both Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast, including water-based activities, scenic hikes, villa tours, and visits to the areas’ various towns and villages. Each area also has its own unique attractions and fun things to do – here’s a quick roundup of all the best activities in Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast.

Lake Como: The Activities

Elegance personified, Villa Bernasconi on Lake Como's shores epitomizes architectural splendor. Crafted in 1906 by Alfredo Campanini, its beauty graces Via Regina 7, Cernobbio, a timeless Italian masterpiece.
Elegance personified, Villa Bernasconi on Lake Como’s shores epitomizes architectural splendor. Crafted in 1906 by Alfredo Campanini, its beauty graces Via Regina 7, Cernobbio, a timeless Italian masterpiece.

Lake Como is renowned for the luxurious villas lining its shores. And, while some of those villas are private and inaccessible, others are open for public tours! Many of them have even been converted into museums, and one of the best things to do here is visit some of the prettiest, oldest villas to learn their stories and admire their beautiful gardens and architecture.

This is a fantastic way to get a real glimpse at how the rich and famous live their lives, and many of the villas around Lake Como have intriguing histories and unique aspects. Villa Bernasconi, for instance, has one of the best museums, while Villa Balbianello has featured in Star Wars movies, and Villa Monastero boasts a vast botanical garden.

Once you’ve had your fill of Lake Como’s villas, you can spend some time visiting the area’s many towns and villages. Bellagio is one of the best, known for its inimitable beauty and romantic ambiance, while Como itself is certainly worth a visit, with a beautiful cathedral and ancient castle. Menaggio, Cernobbio, and Varenna are just a few more must-see spots.

Bellagio's old town street is a canvas of vibrancy. Cobblestones weave beneath pastel facades, each building a stroke of history. A picturesque tapestry, Italy's charm embodied in every hue.
Bellagio’s old town street is a canvas of vibrancy. Cobblestones weave beneath pastel facades, each building a stroke of history. A picturesque tapestry, Italy’s charm embodied in every hue.

Of course, Lake Como is also beloved by many for its natural beauty. No visit to this part of the world can be complete without actually getting out onto the water – visitors can enjoy guided boat tours along the shore and romantic cruises, or something more adventurous, like kayaking and windsurfing. There are also several spectacular hiking trails dotted around the lake.

Amalfi Coast: The Activities

Positano awakens in quiet splendor. March sunlight bathes Marina Grande's harbor and beach, casting a gentle glow on this picturesque scene in Salerno, Campania, Italy.
Positano awakens in quiet splendor. March sunlight bathes Marina Grande’s harbor and beach, casting a gentle glow on this picturesque scene in Salerno, Campania, Italy.

Thanks to its coastal location, the Amalfi Coast is a prime place for all your favorite sand and sea activities. Many people flock to this part of Italy to spend time on the gorgeous golden beaches, sunbathing, swimming, and people-watching on sandy spots like Marina Grande in Positano or the Spiaggia Di Cauco in the tiny village of Erchie.

Outdoor adventurers can also have a terrific time exploring the length of the Amalfi Coast. There are multiple, scenic hiking trails connecting some of the area’s towns and villages, many of which boast beautiful views over the water. Ziplining and cave exploration are other fun ways to pass the time. Or, if you want to get out on the water, try kayaking or sailing.

Of course, the Amalfi Coast is also renowned for its various towns and villages, many of which boast unique attractions to entice travelers. Positano, for instance, has a beautiful 12th century church, Furore has a dramatic fjord, and Amalfi offers a gorgeous cathedral, decorative fountain, and intriguing Museum of Paper (Museo della Carta).

In the warmth of July, Amalfi Cathedral majestically rises at the foot of its steps. Sun-kissed and resplendent, a beacon of beauty against the summer sky.
In the warmth of July, Amalfi Cathedral majestically rises at the foot of its steps. Sun-kissed and resplendent, a beacon of beauty against the summer sky.

Hopping from town to town is easily one of the best ways to experience all the splendor of the Amalfi Coast. There are several museums to tour, old villas to explore, elegant gardens, scenic lookout spots, and charming shops. You can even drive along the entire coastal road – Amalfi Drive – to experience one of Italy’s most spectacular mini road trips.

Overall, there’s lots to see and do in both Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast, but it’s clear that Amalfi has a much wider range of attractions and activities, with something for everyone.

Which Is Best For Day Trips?

Sorrento's dock beckons with Mediterranean allure. Sunlit waves lap against the harbor, framing a timeless Italian town where the sea whispers tales of ancient charm and coastal enchantment.
Sorrento’s dock beckons with Mediterranean allure. Sunlit waves lap against the harbor, framing a timeless Italian town where the sea whispers tales of ancient charm and coastal enchantment.

While the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como are both super spots to spend a few days, a week, or longer, you might still like to plan a day trip or two during your visit in order to see some other nearby parts of Italy. So, which has the best day trip opportunities?

Well, if you pick the Amalfi Coast, you’ll be conveniently located near several super destinations. You can plan a day trip to the charming coastal town of Sorrento, a deep dive into history at Pompeii, the pretty port city of Salerno, or the rich metropolis of Naples, with its fabulous Royal Palace and world-famous food.

Panorama of Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy

Lake Como is a little more cut-off from the rest of Italy, making day trips a little trickier to plan. However, there are still some excellent options. You could head south to the shopping and art haven of Milan, for example, or visit other cities like Bergamo and Monza. You might even consider heading north and over the Swiss border to lakeside cities like Lugano.

Overall, while both locations are decent for day tripping, the Amalfi Coast is the better option, with a broad range of awesome places to visit.

Which Is Best For Nightlife?

Beneath a moonlit sky, Bellagio's narrow staircase transforms into a culinary haven. Tourists savor a late dinner at sidewalk cafes, a lakeside symphony on the shores of enchanting Lake Como.
Beneath a moonlit sky, Bellagio’s narrow staircase transforms into a culinary haven. Tourists savor a late dinner at sidewalk cafes, a lakeside symphony on the shores of enchanting Lake Como.

If you like staying out late, mingling with the locals, dancing until the early hours, and hitting up the nearby bars and clubs of your vacation destinations, you’ll also want to know about the nightlife scenes of Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast.

Let’s start with Lake Como. Unfortunately for party fans, this area isn’t known for a thrilling nightlife scene. There are some lively spots in the city of Como, but most of the other towns are quite quiet after dark. Most travelers will simply retreat to their hotels once the sun sets, or admire the views from a waterfront restaurant over a delicious dinner.

Amalfi's nocturnal charm unfolds along its main street. A lively spectacle, where people wander amidst souvenir shops and restaurants, each step echoing the romance of this Italian coastal haven.
Amalfi’s nocturnal charm unfolds along its main street. A lively spectacle, where people wander amidst souvenir shops and restaurants, each step echoing the romance of this Italian coastal haven.

Along the Amalfi Coast, it’s a very different story. Indeed, this part of Italy has some of the best nightlife in the region, with some iconic nightclubs in the likes of Amalfi and Positano. There are several exciting places to party, dance, and drink, and much of this area feels lively and busy, deep into the night.

Overall, the Amalfi Coast is 100% the best destination for those who love an active nightlife scene. But, if peaceful vibes are more your style, you’re sure to prefer Lake Como.

Which Is Best For Shopping?

Como's market day unfolds along Lake Como's shores. Amidst the stalls, people linger at a jewelry stall, captivated by goods. A "Made in Como" sign sways, emblematic of craftsmanship.
Como’s market day unfolds along Lake Como’s shores. Amidst the stalls, people linger at a jewelry stall, captivated by goods. A “Made in Como” sign sways, emblematic of craftsmanship.

Italy is famous for its shopping, with the likes of Milan and Rome being some of the best cities to shop on Earth. Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast can’t exactly compete with Milan, but they’ve still got lots to offer for shopaholics.

Many of Lake Como’s towns have fun shopping scenes. Como is best for the big brands and chains, while the smaller towns and villages have many artisans, ateliers, and small, independent boutiques selling all sorts of items, from sublime pieces of jewelry to upscale attire. For budget shoppers, there are also some outlet stores dotted around.

The Amalfi Coast is also an engaging and diverse shopping hotspot, with an interesting mixture of high-end boutiques and more affordable gift shops. You can shop for almost everything here, from traditional gifts like limoncello and handcrafted ceramics to glamorous Italian dresses and suits.

In Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, a typical Italian shop unveils a kaleidoscope of ceramics and souvenirs. Vibrant hues and craftsmanship beckon, embodying the essence of southern Italy.
In Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, a typical Italian shop unveils a kaleidoscope of ceramics and souvenirs. Vibrant hues and craftsmanship beckon, embodying the essence of southern Italy.

Overall, both of these locations offer similarly enjoyable shopping experiences. There are lots of boutiques to browse and things to buy, though prices tend to be quite high compared to other areas of Italy.

Which Is Best For Food?

A plate of Casoncelli ravioli emerges, a Lombardy delight. Italian pasta folds cradle tales of tradition, bathed in melted Taleggio cheese—a flavorful alpine symphony from the shores of Lake Como, Italy.
A plate of Casoncelli ravioli emerges, a Lombardy delight. Italian pasta folds cradle tales of tradition, bathed in melted Taleggio cheese—a flavorful alpine symphony from the shores of Lake Como, Italy.

Italian food needs no introduction. This country’s cuisine is some of the best-known and most beloved on earth, with people of all ages enjoying Italy’s pizzas, pastas, and other distinctive dishes. So, no matter whether you decide to stay in Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast, you’re sure to eat very well.

Lake Como has some particularly elegant and refined restaurants, since it caters to the jet-set crowd. That means that prices are quite high, but the quality of food is fantastic. There are some great risotto dishes to try here, as well as cheese-based dishes and fish, like trout and perch, plucked right out of the lake itself.

Then, there’s the Amalfi Coast. This area also has quite a glitzy, high-end feel, with some expensive Michelin starred restaurants. However, there are also some cheaper eateries dotted around the towns, and the area is particularly famed for its top-class seafood, pasta, and sweet pastries.

Amalfi Coast's culinary artistry shines in seafood starters. Delight in briny treasures as the Campania region unfolds a feast—each dish a symphony of Mediterranean flavors and coastal sophistication.
Amalfi Coast’s culinary artistry shines in seafood starters. Delight in briny treasures as the Campania region unfolds a feast—each dish a symphony of Mediterranean flavors and coastal sophistication.

So, if you’re looking for the very best dining experiences, Lake Como might be the place for you. But, if you prefer a little more diversity on the menu, Amalfi Coast could be the better destination to visit.

Which Is Best For Families?

Bathed in sunset hues, a family embraces the allure of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Silhouetted against the coastal panorama, love and laughter echo through this famous Italian village.
Bathed in sunset hues, a family embraces the allure of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Silhouetted against the coastal panorama, love and laughter echo through this famous Italian village.

Planning an Italian adventure with the whole family? If so, Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast are both potential destinations to consider. Kids of all ages can enjoy the wonderful beauty and activities of these famous parts of Italy, but you may find that one of them is better-suited to family fun than the other.

The Amalfi Coast is undoubtedly the better choice for most families, as it simply has much more to do and a wider range of attractions to appeal to children and teens. There are dozens of gorgeous beaches, for example, as well as museums, play areas, a thrilling zipline, old churches, cute gelato shops, boat tours, and more.

In contrast, Lake Como is a little more restricted in terms of things for families to do. Older children can enjoy touring the historic villas and admiring the gardens, and there’s fun to be had on the hiking trails or boat tours. However, young children may get a bit bored by the lack of beaches and typical touristic attractions.

Which Is Best For Couples?

Amidst the serene beauty of Lake Como, a couple unwinds on the tranquil beach. Soft waves lap the shore as they share quiet moments, immersed in the romance of Italy.
Amidst the serene beauty of Lake Como, a couple unwinds on the tranquil beach. Soft waves lap the shore as they share quiet moments, immersed in the romance of Italy.

Couples can also have a magical experience along the Amalfi Coast or at Lake Como. In fact, these two locations rank among the most romantic parts of Italy, beloved by couples of all ages for their splendid scenery and luxurious accommodation.

Lake Como is easily one of the best places to go in Italy if you’re seeking romance and relaxation. It’s a breathtaking place where, if only for a few days or a week, couples can live the life of VIPs. The hotels here are exceptional, the restaurants are divine, and the little towns and villages feel like they were plucked from the pages of a storybook, perfect for romantic strolls.

The Amalfi Coast, too, is a very luxurious and romantic destination with a lot to offer for the average couple. The accommodation here is first-rate, the food is fantastic, there’s lots to do, and the beaches are simply idyllic for those long, lazy afternoons of sunbathing or watching the sunset as you walk hand-in-hand with your partner along the water’s edge.

On Marina Grande Beach, a tourist couple savors drinks, captivated by the golden hues of Positano's hillside at sunset. A romantic Amalfi Coast escape unfolds on the Tyrrhenian shore.
On Marina Grande Beach, a tourist couple savors drinks, captivated by the golden hues of Positano’s hillside at sunset. A romantic Amalfi Coast escape unfolds on the Tyrrhenian shore.

Overall, there’s no wrong answer here, but the Amalfi Coast is probably a little more appealing to couples, due to its broader selection of activities, like hiking, museums, sailing, and so on.

Which Is Cheaper?

Varenna's charm unfolds by Lake Como—a quaint Italian village. A ferry glides across the serene waters, echoing the timeless allure of this European gem nestled in the heart of Italy.
Varenna’s charm unfolds by Lake Como—a quaint Italian village. A ferry glides across the serene waters, echoing the timeless allure of this European gem nestled in the heart of Italy.

You’ll certainly need a decent budget to visit either Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast, as both of these exclusive locations are known for having quite high prices. Accommodation, food, and touristic activities all tend to cost quite a lot in these parts of Italy, and there’s not much difference between the two.

However, if we look at the averages, Lake Como works out just a little cheaper than the Amalfi Coast. It’s slightly easier to get to, as you can fly into either Milan or Rome and then drive or catch a train to the lake. It’s also a bit cheaper to get around – in the Amalfi Coast, you often have to catch boats between the towns, which can add a lot to the final price of your visit.

Where To Stay According To Your Budget

Lake Como

Budget: Perched on Lake Como’s shores, Hotel Asnigo is an opulent haven of Italian elegance. Majestic views of the azure lake and surrounding mountains greet guests from charming balconies. The ornate architecture, lush gardens, and luxurious interiors harmonize, creating a captivating retreat where beauty transcends every corner of this lakeside gem.

Luxury: Vista Palazzo on Lake Como, a sanctuary of opulence, embodies timeless beauty. Cascading down the lakefront, the historic palazzo unveils a tapestry of luxury. Lavish suites afford panoramic views of the azure waters, while refined details, lush gardens, and unparalleled elegance make every moment a symphony of beauty in this Small Luxury Hotel of the World.

Amalfi Coast

Budget: Villa Romana Hotel & Spa is a haven of coastal splendor. The grandeur of its architecture is surpassed only by the breathtaking sea views. Lush gardens embrace the property, inviting serenity, while luxurious interiors echo the beauty of the Mediterranean, creating an enchanting retreat for the senses.

Luxury: Located on the stunning Amalfi Coast, Anantara Convento di Amalfi Grand Hotel is a masterpiece of beauty. A former monastery, its historic allure blends seamlessly with Mediterranean grandeur. Terraced gardens cascade toward the sea, revealing exquisite architecture and endless vistas, creating an enchanting haven where beauty and luxury converge.

Lake Como vs Amalfi Coast: Which Is Better?

In Sorrento's Marina Grande, quaint fishing boats bob gently, their colorful hulls reflecting in the clear waters. The essence of Amalfi Coast's maritime charm captured in a tranquil harbor.
In Sorrento’s Marina Grande, quaint fishing boats bob gently, their colorful hulls reflecting in the clear waters. The essence of Amalfi Coast’s maritime charm captured in a tranquil harbor.

Overall, there’s no doubt that Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast are both magnificent vacation destinations. They’re both home to some of Italy’s most spectacular natural scenery and charming towns, and they’re both ideal places to visit if you want to see, feel, taste, and experience the very best that this country has to offer. But which is best?

Well, for the majority of travelers, the Amalfi Coast is the superior choice. It simply has much more to do than Lake Como, with a very wide range of activities to cater to travelers of all ages and tastes. Whether you’re interested in history, hiking, beaches, shopping, nightlife, or something totally different, you’ll find lots to love along this special stretch of coastline.

With that said, Lake Como is still absolutely worth considering if you’re looking for a memorable getaway. It’s got quieter and more romantic vibes, which may appeal to those who find the Amalfi Coast a little too busy and hectic, and some of its towns and villages are among the most amazing in all of Italy.

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  • Wandering our World

    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.