Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano, Switzerland (5/23-26/2024)

Beautiful Lugano Switzerland from Monte San Salvatore
Beautiful Lugano Switzerland!
Lugano a city you should visit in your exploration of Switzerland. It is surrounded by Lake Lugano with picturesque mountain landscapes, vibrant atmosphere, plentiful outdoor adventures, and appreciation for the arts. Visiting Lugano feels like you are visiting a beautiful town in Italy with many buildings in Lombardy style. You feel the Italian presence in the good food, language, fashions, and warm Mediterranean feel. Lugano has something to offer everyone with boat cruises to quaint lakeside villages, upscale shopping, beautiful churches, cultural events, and interesting museums. The Italian food and wine is delicious!

Lagano Lakeside Promenade
Lagano Lakeside Promenade
It’s a joy to stroll along Lugano’s lakeside Promenade with its spectacular views. The compact car-free town center provides a laid-back feel. Lugano has the ambiance of a resort town and is easily walkable with squares and charming streets fanning from the lake.

Via Nessa Street Lugano Switzerland
Via Nessa Street - Lugano
Paralleling the Promenade is Via Nessa, Lugano’s upscale shopping street, where you will find high-end brand fashions, Swiss watches, and other beautiful items (see photo). Even the window shopping along this beautiful street is great. Although English is spoken everywhere, it is nice to greet locals by saying Buongiorno (bwon-jor-no) and they will make you feel welcome.

Piazzo Della Reiforma Lugano Switzerland
Piazzo Della Reiforma
Be sure to wander through the narrow streets and charming squares of Lugano’s historic center with its historic buildings, spectacular views, shops, cafes, and restaurants. Lugano’s old town center (Centro Storico) is small based around its two main squares located next to each other in front of the Promenade. Pretty Piazzo Della Riforma (see photo) is the main square where the Town Hall (Palazzo Civico) is located. Many nice restaurants and cafes are located here to have a drink or meal - the people watching is great.

Fountain at Piazza Monzani Lugano Switzerland
Fountain at Piazza Monzani
The big fountain at Piazza Monzani is unique (see photo). There are running water fountains throughout the old town where you can refill your water bottles. Lugano is known for its upscale shopping - spend some time visiting the boutiques and quaint shops. On Saturdays from 8AM – 5PM, there is flee market in the old town. Having some ice cream, especially along the lakeside Promenade, is a favorite pastime in Lugano.

Parco Ciani View to Lake Lugano Switzerland
Parco Ciani - View to Lake Lugano
Two of Lugano’s churches include the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, known for its beautiful frescoes, and the Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli. Just outside of the old town, it is wonderful to enjoy a leisurely stroll through beautiful Parco Ciani, a lovely lakeside park on the shores of Lake Lugano, with lush greenery, trees, and scenic lake and mountain views (see photo).

Gandria Switzerland
Lakeside Village Gandria Switzerland
From the boat docks located just across from Piazza Monzani, we enjoyed our quiet electric boat tours of scenic Lake Lugano. The small villages on the shores of the lake make cruising a pleasant experience. You can purchase tickets at the red booth on the Promenade. We had fun taking the round trip 35-minute boat ride (Bacon Nord) visiting the picturesque lakeside town of Gandria located at the bottom of Monte Bre (see photo). We had a wonderful relaxing lunch at the restaurant above the boat dock (Ristorante Antico) with beautiful views of Lake Lugano.

Map of Downtown Lugano
From Gandria, hikers will enjoy the walk on the Olive Trail from Gandria to Castagnola (Sentiero dell’Olivo) exploring the region’s olive groves learning about the local olive oil production with written commentary. It is an easy walk about 1.5 miles taking you through the countryside to Castagnola. You have great views of Lake Lugano all the way. It is about another half hour walk back to downtown Lugano.

Ristorante Della Torre Morcote Switzerland
Ristorante Della Torre
We also took the longer 2-hour boat ride (Bacon Sud) on Lake Lugano that stops at several lakeside villages. Visiting the charming lakeside town of Morcote is definitely a Lugano highlight and should not be missed. 

Scherrer Park Gardens Morcote Switzerland
Scherrer Park Gardens - Morcote
At Morcote, we enjoyed walking through the beautiful Scherrer Park gardens (walk to the left when getting off the boat). Next to the boat dock, we had a lovely lunch at Ristorante Della Torre (see photo) on their flower-covered lakeside terrace viewing the beautiful lake and mountain scenery.

Swissminiatur in Melide
Another interesting stop on the Lake Lugano Bacon Sud boat ride is the town of Melide where Swissminiatur is located just minutes away from the boat dock. It is Switzerland's largest open-air miniature museum with 120+ models of famous Swiss landmarks ideal for families and visitors seeking a condensed version of Switzerland. There is a small train for kids and some kids electro-games.

Pat Dunlap Lake Lugano Switzerland
Pat - Lake Lugano

While in Lugano, you should take advantage of a spectacular funicular ride to the top of Monte Brè or Monte San Salvatore for breathtaking panoramic views of Lugano, Lake Lugano, and the surrounding mountains. At about 3,000 feet elevation, both have wonderful views, restaurants, and nature hiking available. Sit at the top and have a drink or a meal enjoying the amazing views.


View of Lugano from Monte San Salvatore Switzerland
View Monte San Salvatore
Monte San Salvatore offers a better panoramic view of Lugano and the surrounding area. For the best view, be sure to climb up the many stairs from the San Salvatore station to the top of the church. You can e
njoy a drink or a meal at the Restaurant Vetta.

View Lugano from Monte Bre
View of Lugano from Monte Bre
Monte Bre is a special Lugano experience where you enjoy a drink or a meal surrounded by nature and visit the quant medieval village of Bre. Of the two restaurants at Monte Bre, Osteria Funicular may have the better food and is located close to the station while Ristorante Vette is located a short walk away with a better view.

Pretty Village of Bre Switzerland
Pretty Village of Bre
From the Monte Bre station, we enjoyed the easy 20-minute downhill walk to the small village of Bre through a pretty wooded area (see photo). If you haven’t visited a medieval town, well-preserved Bre is a nice one to walk through the beautiful cobblestone pathways and alleyways viewing the public art of this artist community (see photo). Bre’s church (Chiesa dei Santi Simone e Fedele) is very special with its beautiful frescos and deserves a quick look. From the top on Monte Bre, you can return to the funicular station to take it back down. From Bre, a bus comes every 45 minutes to take you back to Lugano.

Nature Walk to Bre from Monte Bre
Nature Walk to Bre from Monte Bre
We did both Monte San Salvatore and Monte Bre… and loved it. The funicular stations are located about a half hour walk in opposite directions from Lugano’s city center - Paradiso for San Salvatore and Cassarate for Bre. You can also access the funicular station at San Salvatore from the Bacon Sud boat cruise and both stations from the little train Lugano City Tour.

Beautiful Street in Lagano Switzerland
Beautiful Street in Lagano
Lugano’s Tourism Office (Lugano Region Tourist Info Point - Lugano Centro) is a great place for information and suggestions for the best things to do for you. The friendly staff is wonderful and will provide maps and information. Interactive displays give you a lot of information about Lugano’s attractions as well as the surrounding area. It is located a couple of blocks from the main square Piazza Riforma at 6 Via Massimiliano Magatti.

Lugano City Hall at Night Piazzo Riforma
Lugano City Hall at Night - Piazzo Riforma
Lugano is a popular tourist destination offering numerous opportunities for excursions. For hikers and nature lovers, Lugano’s surrounding area offers a haven of outdoor adventures with good bus transportation to them. Easy and more advance hiking trails, as well as mountain biking, to different villages are accessible and well laid out. The Tourism Office is an excellent place to learn more about what would be best for you and how to get there. You can also do some research at

Lovely Restaurants for Dinner Lugano Switzerland
Lovely Restaurants for Dinner
Some helpful Lugano travel tips… Credit cards are widely acceptable in Lugano and you can use Swiss Francs or Euros cash. Restaurants don’t expect tips. If you arrive in Lugano by train at the Bahnhof station, take bus #4 to the Old Town or take the modern funicular (funicolare) down to and back from Lugano’s main square, Piazzo Della Riforma. There are several parking structures around Lugano’s old town if you arrive by car. Check out the website for any festivals and occasions that might appeal to you.

Don't Miss Visiting Beautiful Morcote Lugano Switzerland
Don't Miss Visiting Beautiful Morcote
Lugano is Switzerland’s third-largest financial center which means it is rather expensive. However, Lugano actually feels rather small and is not comparable to Zurich or Geneva. Lugano’s history dates back to the 10th century and became part of the Swiss Confederation in the 18th century. Lugano has a much milder temperature than the rest of Switzerland due to being surrounded by Monte Brè, Monte Generoso, and Monte San Salvatore.

Swiss Chocolate - Yum!
Interesting fact: Switzerland has long been known for its fine chocolate and cheese. The Swiss chocolate industry produced over 200,000 tons of chocolate worth $1.7 billion in 2018. It mostly goes to Switzerland, Germany, UK, France, and Canada. The Swiss chocolate brands make up around 40% of the world’s global chocolate production. Alpine milk sets Swiss chocolate apart. It is sourced from high-altitude farms in the Swiss mountains. Due to it being denser and less aerated, alpine milk gives Swiss chocolate a rich fragrance and an extremely milky texture. I liked Läderach Chocolate with stores in many Swiss cities, including Lugano.

International au Lac Historic Lakeside Hotel Lugano Switzerland
International au Lac Historic Lakeside Hotel
We enjoyed staying at International au Lac Historic Lakeside Hotel. It is a good mix of old-style hotel with antiques with modern conveniences and upgraded rooms. The location is very convenient at the lakeside end of Lugano’s upscale shopping street (Via Nessa) and just a short walk to the main square Piazza Riforma and the lakeside Promenade. 

Breakfast International au Lac Historic Lakeside Hotel Lugano Switzerland
Breakfast International auLac Historic Lakeside Hotel
The breakfast at the International au Lac Historic Lakeside Hotel is very nice served in an elegant room with efficient wait staff. They give you a Ticino Ticket to use for free transportation and discounts on some attractions. The bathtub is wonderful for a soak after a day of exploring. The staff is helpful answering questions to make your stay in Lugano enjoyable. There is good Internet and a nice pool and beautiful garden area for getting some sun. Families with kids will enjoy the play area.

StraLugano Lugano is Beautiful
Lugano is Beautiful!
Best time to visit Lugano… For nice weather and lower crowds May-June and September is a nice time. Spring is when the flowers are blooming. Lugano gets busy in July through September when it is warmer and Swiss people from other regions come to Lake Lugano's sunny shores.

While visiting Lugano, it is nice to use Some Essential Italian Words:
Buongiorno (bwon-jor-no) - Good morning
Ciao (chow) - Hello/Goodbye
Salve (sal-veh) - Hello (formal)
Sì - Yes
No - No
Grazie - Thank you
Per favore - Please
Prego - You're welcome

We loved our stay in Lugano!

See Other Wonderful Places in Switzerland, Click on these links:

Zurich Switzerland

Lucerne Switzerland

Zermatt Switzerland 

Montreux & Chocolate Train Switzerland


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