Monte Grona hike: stunning views over Lake Como

Monte Grona hike: stunning views over Lake Como

As summer approaches, many people in Milan feel the desire to escape the busting city and embark on an adventure in the surrounding area.

If you’re seeking a quick getaway to immerse yourself in nature’s beauty, a trip around Lake Como is an excellent choice.

In addition to leisurely strolls along the lake’s shores (for inspiration you can check our new article on the best things to do in Bellagio), this area offers the opportunity to explore the steep slopes of the Como Prealps through nice mountain hikes.

One such destination that combines both natural beauty and a moderate alpine challenge is none other than Monte Grona.


Panorama over the Lugano Lake, Via Normale


If you’re looking to escape the busy city life and challenge yourself with a hike that offers amazing views of Lake Como, Monte Grona is the ideal destination.

In this article, I’ll share my personal experience at Monte Grona and give you all the information you need to plan your own trip to this beautiful place.


Table of Contents


How to reach Monte Grona from Milan

The easiest way to reach Monte Grona from Milan is by car. Take the A8 towards Varese and then exit onto the A9 towards Lainate.

After about 30 kilometers, take the Lago di Como exit and continue along the western shore of the lake on the SS340 for about 30 more kilometers until you reach Menaggio.

From Menaggio, follow the signs for Plesio on the SP7 and continue on the main road to Breglia.

The road will gently climb over hills, passing through small villages along the way. As you continue on this route, you will eventually reach Monte Grona.



Once you reach Breglia, you may need to pay a daily access fee of €3.00 to continue to the Monte Grona parking lot.

However, I personally did not encounter a parking meter or ticket booth in Breglia or at the parking lot itself.

It is possible that I simply missed it, so be sure to keep an eye out for any signs or instructions regarding parking fees.

The road to the parking lot becomes narrow and winding at this point, and there is even a short stretch of dirt road (about 100 meters, in good conditions).

The parking lot is not very large, so it is best to leave Milan early in the morning (before 7:00 am) to ensure that you can find a spot and enjoy cooler temperatures during your hike.

The total travel time from Milan to Monte Grona is approximately one hour and 45 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you are a student, you may find it more cost-effective to use a car-sharing service that offers unlimited daily rates rather than renting a car for a single day.

This was the most convenient option for me. Just be sure to check if your university has any agreements with car-sharing companies in the city.

Otherwise you can always search for the best deals on DiscoverCars, a reliable online platform that compares prices from various companies.

The “free cancellation” option offers flexibility and protection against any unforeseen circumstances up until the day before departure.


“Via Normale” trail


Monte Grona overview

Monte Grona is located on the northwest shore of Lake Como, about 45 kilometers from the provincial capital and 90 kilometers from Milan.

It is part of the Lugano Prealps, with Monte Grona and Monte Bregagno marking the eastern border of this mountain range.

Although it is not particularly tall (at 1736 meters above sea level), Monte Grona offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

The presence of limestone rocks is particularly striking, as they are more commonly associated with karst areas and the Dinaric Alps. The view of Lake Lugano to the west and the imposing peaks of the Rhaetian Alps to the north are also noteworthy.

In the distance to the west, you can see the summit of Monte Rosa.


Excursion to Monte Grona: trail and Menaggio refuge

Once you have parked your car at the designated parking lot, begin your excursion to Monte Grona by taking the initial uphill path on the left.

This path will lead you through a dense forest of birch trees, gradually ascending as you make your way.

As you progress along the trail, you’ll come across a hairpin bend that offers a magnificent view of the lake and the picturesque landscape surrounding it.

Take a moment to appreciate the scenic beauty before continuing your hike.

At the first junction you encounter, be sure to veer right and follow the designated path.

It’s crucial to come prepared for the journey. Remember to carry an ample supply of water and pack some snacks to keep you energized.

Additionally, dress appropriately, considering the prevailing weather conditions, and wear sturdy shoes to ensure comfort and safety throughout the hike.



Once you have taken some photographs and soaked in the views, continue to the Menaggio refuge by turning left at the next junction.

From this point onward, the trail will have a gentle incline, which will be easier on your legs, particularly on the return journey.

The Menaggio refuge awaits you at an altitude of 1383 meters and can be reached in about an hour from the parking lot.

It’s important to note that the refuge operates on weekends and holidays throughout the year. During the summer season, from late May to late September, it is open daily.

Inside, you can enjoy typical Alpine dishes made with local ingredients. There are 20 beds available in three rooms, but you must bring your own sleeping bag to use them.

After leaving the Menaggio refuge behind, you’ll have approximately ten more minutes of hiking ahead of you until you reach a junction. At this point, you will have three different routes to choose from to reach the summit of Monte Grona:

  • The “Via Normale” (Panoramic Route): This route takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete. It offers stunning panoramic views along the way, allowing you to soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscape as you ascend towards the summit;
  • The “Via Direttissima” Route: This route takes about 1 hour to complete. It is a more steep and thus direct path, providing a slightly quicker ascent. While it may be shorter in duration, it still offers a rewarding hiking experience;
  • The “Via Ferrata” Route: This is a challenging route that involves the use of fixed cables and ladders. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete and is recommended only for experienced hikers who are comfortable with exposed and technical terrain. If you choose this route, ensure that you have the necessary skills, equipment, and knowledge to navigate it safely.

Consider your abilities, experience, and personal preferences when selecting the route that suits you best. Each option offers its own unique experience and rewards.

I personally chose the “Via Normale” route for my hike. Being my first mountain trip of the season, I preferred to avoid something more challenging like the Via Direttissima.



As you approach the summit of Monte Grona, the trail will suddenly start to climb north with a steep slope.

Along the way, you will be treated to stunning views of Lakes Como and Lugano, and you may even spot some goats seeking shelter from the sun behind ridges.

There are a couple of passages on this route that are facilitated by metal cables, one about 20 minutes from the summit and one near the top. These sections are not particularly challenging, but it is always a good idea to be cautious when hiking in the mountains.

Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views and the opportunity to rest and enjoy a packed lunch.

After capturing cherished moments with your camera and immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring views, commence your descent and make your way back to the Menaggio refuge. As you journey back to Milan, contemplate pausing at one of the lakeside bars.

Indulge in a leisurely aperitif, basking in the serene ambiance before returning to the vibrant rhythm of the city.


Me and the metal cross on the Monte Grona summit


Monte Grona, technical information and useful tips

Here is a summary of the key details about the hike to Monte Grona:

  • Altitude: The summit of Monte Grona stands at 1736 meters;
  • Difference in altitude (uphill): The ascent involves a vertical gain of 650 meters;
  • Total length: The entire hike spans approximately 9.5 kilometers;
  • Recommended period: End of May to end of September, when the Menaggio refuge is open every day and the risk of encountering snow on the ground is reduced;
  • Difficulty: The Normal Way is classified as E (suitable for simple hikers). With a minimum of training and caution, anyone can enjoy this fantastic experience;
  • Support points: Rifugio Menaggio, Mason del Fedel, municipality of Plesio, Como – Tel. +390344 1930017, Cell. +393755108734;
  • Duration: It takes about 5 hours of walking in total, with about 2.5 hours each for the ascent and descent, considering all the various stops;
  • Recommended footwear: Hiking shoes with good grip on rocks. The trail can be slippery downhill;
  • Other useful tips: Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, a cap or hat, and a bottle of water that you can refill at the shelter.

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Riccardo, Elisabetta e Stefano

Riccardo, Elisabetta e Stefano

Un android developer a tempo perso, una polacca innamorata dell'Italia e un appassionato di geografia prestato all'informatica.

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