Sometimes, It's Good to be a Follower
Between the national holidays, the religious holidays, our personal vacation days and our استهبال days, here in Egypt we’re not bereft of long weekends. And while we all dream of spending a week in the Philippines or a week in Cape Town, sometimes our vacation balance or bank account limits us to just a few precious days of freedom.
If you’re itching for somewhere abroad that’s pretty close and totally underrated, then Lake Como is your place. A gorgeous lake nestled at the foot of the Alps in northern Italy, Lake Como is a great place to unwind, soak in the scenery, eat some good food and drink some good wine. And it’s literally only 5 hours away from Cairo.
The lake is originally of glacier origin and is the third biggest lake in Italy, and one of the deepest in all of Europe. It’s been an “aristocratic destination” since Roman times, and even now A-listers like George Clooney and Ronaldinho own houses there. Beautiful villages are carved into the mountains on the water, and lakeside villas dating from the 16th and 17th century still stand today.
Take a direct Cairo-Milan Malpensa flight. The airlines that fly that route are Egyptair (daily) and the little-known Meridiana (four times a week). Yes, an airline called Meridiana flies into Cairo International Airport. It’s an Italian charter airline, meaning the price will usually be lower than that of Egyptair but you have to pay extra for baggage (only your carry-on is free) and there’s no entertainment on the flight. Also, it’s similar to being on a public bus, only in the air. You decide if it’s worth the slightly cheaper price or not.
Price of ticket: the cheapest ticket you’ll find is around 4000 EGP, with the average being around 5000-6000 EGP.
Flight duration: less than 4 hours direct.
Malpensa Airport to Lake Como:
The fastest and easiest way to reach the lake is to rent a car from the airport (make sure you issue your international license before you go, it only takes an hour). The car ride is about an hour and a half and full of beautiful scenery.
Another option is taking the train from the airport to Lake Como (with one or two stops) and then using the bus and/or ferry to get around the lake. This is very doable however it will eat up more of your weekend (waiting for the bus, ferry, etc).
Even if you do go by car, taking the ferry at one point or another is recommended because it gives you beautiful views of the different villages along the coast of the lake.
Most hotels in Lake Como aren’t cheap, but a good affordable option is Airbnb, which usually go for about half the price of a hotel (and sometimes are just as nice!). Keep in mind though that the hotels tend to be completely booked throughout July and August months in advance, so if you can’t seem to find a room, try to get an Airbnb in one of the lesser-known villages.
Lake Como has dozens of different villages around it, so with a little research you can decide which is the best for you. Bellagio is the most famous and most visited, but I don’t recommend actually staying there unless you want to be bombarded by tourists 24/7. Most of the other villages are quiet and still authentic to their roots, so you might prefer staying there and just taking the ferry to Bellagio or other busier villages for the day.
Lake Como is a warm weather destination (during the winter most places are closed for the season), so try to book from spring until fall. July and August are the busiest months because the water then is the perfect temperature for swimming and water sports.
Lake Como has dozens of great restaurants (might be a bit redundant and/or ridiculous to announce that their specialty is, in fact, Italian food), but besides the staples of pasta, pizza, gnocchi and risotto, most restaurants serve locally-raised beef and lamb, as well as fish from the lake itself, which, needless to say, is both fresh and light. All their vegetables are harvested in the area, and lemon and olive trees are grown in many of the restaurants themselves.
Make sure to drink their local wine as well; it’s the perfect addition to your day of relaxing hedonism or your meal by the lake.
In a nutshell: next time you have a long weekend and a Schengen visa to spare, put Lake Como as priority numero uno.
Sometimes, It's Good to be a Follower