Lake Como certainly doesn’t have the number of beaches that neighbouring Lake Maggiore has around its shoreline. As a result, for those with young children, it can sometimes feel a bit frustrating being so near to the lake without being able to actually access it.
That said, beach access isn’t impossible! You just have to know where to go! The best swimming spots are certainly in the north of the lake, where the water is much cleaner and there are some good sized beaches. The lake waters are wonderful for swimming in reaching a pleasant 20 to 22 degrees across July and August. Head to either Domaso or Gravedona on the Western shores for the largest beaches. Alternatively, just slightly further south, Dongo has a public lido at the northern end of the town.
Further south, there are some smaller pebble beaches. Argegno has a small pebble beach whilst on the other side of the lake, there is also a small beach just outside Bellagio at Punta Spartivento. There is also limited lake access at neighbouring Varenna.
Whilst other towns may not have beaches, they have created lidos which tend to have sunbathing areas and pools, allowing you to relax in the sunshine. Some of the best include the lido in the grounds of Villa Olmo just outside Como. There are two swimming pools here open during the Summer months. Alternatively there is a public lido in Lenno, Varenna, Bellagio and Managgio. The latter is one of the larger lidos on offer with both adult and childrens pools, playground, restaurant, bar and plenty of space for sunbathing.
For those that want to enjoy a day trip to Lake Maggiore, it’s worth heading up the autostrada from Como to Locarno and Ascona at the tip of Lake Maggiore. Both these towns have fantastic lidos right on the lakeside, but the lido in Locarno is cretainly the best of any around Lake Maggiore. It only opened in October 2009, presenting itself as a ‘true recreational, sports and well-being oasis focused on a water theme in the splendid scenario of Lake Maggiore.’ It is open throughout the year and in all weather conditions, with numerous indoor and outdoor swimming pools including an Olympic size swimming pool, thermal pool, play pool with water effects and 4 water chutes. The water slides cater for all tastes. There’s the Melezza Blackhole with light and sound effects (6 years +), the Isorno Whitehole (6 years +), the Verzasca Abyss (8 years+) and the Looping slide (12 years +). Apparently, the slides are inspired by the many rivers that feed Lake Maggiore. In addition, the lido has a gym and café which overlooks the pools and lake and serves everything from morning coffee to dinner in the evening. Opening hours are 8.30 – 22.00 Monday to Friday and 8.30- 20.30 on Saturday and Sundays. (www.lidolocarno.ch) If heading there for the day, it’s worth stopping for dinner in Ascona before you head back to Lake Como. Ascona has a really pretty waterfront and you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to good restaurants.
On nearer Lake Lugano, there is also an absolutely fantastic lido which we would highly recommend. Located in Lugano itself, you do have to pay to get in but there is access to the lake there as well as 3 beautifully clean swimming pools (one Olympic sized pool, one childrens pool with slides and water spray and another family pool) as well as diving boards.