It’s no secret that Lake Como, situated in the Lombardy region of Italy, is one of Europe’s most desirable holiday destinations. This is where impressive mountain scenery, lush greenery and deep blue water come together to form a truly one-of-a-kind panoramic view.

It is also no secret, however, that vacationing here can be quite pricey. Throughout history, Lake Como was a popular holiday destinations for aristocrats and wealthy Europeans, which explains the many villas and impressive lake houses built along the shoreline. Many of the lake villas now belong to celebrities such as George Clooney, Madonna or Sylvester Stallone.

Of course nowadays, you don’t need to rent a palace to stay at Lake Como, but hotels and guest houses still tend to charge quite a lot compared to other parts of Italy or closeby Switzerland.

However, just because you can’t afford to blow that hard-earned cash of yours on an expensive hotel room doesn’t mean you should have to miss out on the beauty of Lake Como!

Fellow Travelette Marie and I had the pleasure of visiting Lake Como in the summer when we were touring Europe for Contiki Travels together with the rest of the Guerilla Army. We stayed in Menaggio, one of the small towns on the western shore, just above the intersection that divides the lake into three branches.

Menaggio is home to the only hostel at Lake Como, and subsequently attracts a younger crowd than some of the other towns in the area. Menaggio Youth Hostel is run on a non-profit basis by former guests, and all guests are immediately adopted into the ‘family’ upon their arrival by owner Fabio and his crew.

Although we arrived late at night, we were welcomed with a traditional homecooked Italian meal of pasta, grilled meat and vegetables and mouth-watering tiramisu for dessert. For no more than 8€, we enjoyed 3 courses of delicious food, a glass of wine and an amazing view of the lake at night.

The hostel offers both dormitory and private rooms. Prices range from 18€/person in a dormitory room with shared bathroom and shower to 38€/person in a twin room with bathroom (dinner included). Groups of 4, 5 or 6 people can book out entire rooms for a set price, and groups of over 7 people should contact the hostel individual for a special group discount.

The morning view from our dormitory room

However, my favourite thing about the hostel was not the food or amazing view. It was the broad range of activities and classes offered by all members of the staff . Whether it’s special cooking classes, an Italian language crash course or various sport activities you’re after, you’ll find it here for a bargain.

Throughout our 2-day stay at Lake Como, we had the chance to go climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and  sailing. None of these activities set us back more than 15€, and our well-deserved dinner of pizza and gelato tasted so much better after the exercise.

Some of the beautiful scenery we came across on our bike ride:

If you plan on visiting Italy, make sure to include Lake Como in your itinerary as it really is a magnificent sight to see and explore.

Most of the main cities surrounding the lake are connected by the ferry or bus service. Menaggio is about 30km north of Como and 27km east of Lugano (Switzerland). It is easily reached by train, bus, car or even airplane. Local airports in the area are Bergamo Oiro al Serio, Lugano, Milan Linate and Milan Malpensa.