Top Things to do in Lugano: My Experience, Tips and Recommendations


As I had mentioned in my last article, this summer, it was the first time we took an intra-country vacation for 12 days! Yes, to me it sounded like a lot…but it was totally worth it. So, post spilling all the details of our shenanigans in the Bernese Oberland , in this one I am going to tell you all about our time spent in the beautiful Italian part of Switzerland – Lugano.

Lugano: The Mini Italy of Switzerland

Lining the shore of a vast lake Lugano and surrounded by beautiful mountains, the beautiful city of Lugano is indeed placed in a perfect setting.  Located in the Italian-speaking Ticino canton of Switzerland, it is a lovely blend of Italian, Swiss, and Mediterranean cultures. Apart from the natural beauty and scenic views, you can also experience an eclectic mix of Swiss-Italian architecture, culture, and cuisine. Since we were vacationing in the Bernese Oberland earlier, a 3-hour drive to Lugano was scenic to say the least.

So, here’s a breakdown of everything we did during our 3-day stay in Lugano as well as my top recommendations from the region

#1 One just can’t avoid the beautiful and vast – Lake Lugano

First things first, let’s talk about to the most obvious thing – a visit to Lago di Lugano. Of all the things to do in Lugano, Lake Lugano is a definite highlight. It spans nearly 50 square kilometers and there are a lot of things you can do around the lake.

Due to the peaks on the shore, you can only see one portion of the lake from Lugano, so you shouldn’t miss the chance to see more of Lake Lugano by boat. Nowadays, there are many boat trips and companies to choose from, most operating between April and October. You can either pick a cruise to see the northern area of Lugano, Porlezza and Gandria or opt for a journey that includes the lake’s most famous attractions like San Salvatore funicular and the Monte Generoso cogwheel railway, to name a few. If you’re a night owl, you can even enjoy an evening cruise (usually operating throughout July and August) along with some snacks on the beautiful lake of Lugano. 

#2 Visiting Morcote

Did you know that Morcote was voted as the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2016?

This gem is also included in the Swiss Federal Inventory as a site worthy of protection. Morcote is studded with archaic monuments. Amongst these are ornamental fountains, the Tower of the Captain – part of the village’s original defence walls – and a terraced cemetery. All the nature lovers out there can also head to Scherrer Park, where visitors can admire an extensive collection of subtropical flora and artworks.

How to get there:
The car journey from Lugano to Morcote takes around 25 minutes. If you don’t have your own vehicle, there are other multiple ways in which you can reach the beautiful town of Morcote.

  • You can catch a #431 bus from the Piazza Rezzonico PostAuto stop in Lugano. The trip from there to Morcote (Piazza Grande stop) takes around 30 minutes. 
  • You can take a train from Lugano to Melide then connect to a #431 bus to Morcote.
  • Finally, if you’re a water baby, you can board a boat at Lugano Central pier for a 50-minute cruise to Morcote. 

#3 Hiking on Monte Brè

With a magnificent view over Lugano, Monte Brè is Lugano’s closest mountain and separates Switzerland from Italy just a short distance away. There are a variety of things to do in the outdoors, including several hiking trails and biking tours! The best way to experience the not-to-be missed parts on Monte Brè is by taking the funicular to the top (933 metres above Lugano), then hiking down to Lake Lugano. We chose to do the iconic hike to experience the true natural beauty of the mountain. From the top of Monte Brè, we witnessed superb views of Lake Lugano and the city below. On our walk down, we passed through the artistic little villages and peaceful forests, soaking in the beautiful summer sun and Italian culture.

#4 Kayaking

While near a town with a vast lake in between, how can we skip on the water activities? This time we tried out Kayaking with KayakXplore. It was so much fun learning under the guidance of Enrico. He was super sweet and made this experience a one to be remembered forever! You can explore their website to discover personalized experiences in both Switzerland and Italy, I’d highly recommend that you do!

#5 Some Other attractions in the city

  • Explore the old town: The Old Town in Lugano is full of life, with its Baroque and Renaissance places of worship, exquisite palazzi and squares. The main square of Lugano, Piazza Riforma, is a delight to stroll around in, surrounded by the sight of pastel-hued buildings. If you’re a foodie, you must head to Piazzale Ex Scuole early on a Friday or Tuesday, where you can browse the market stalls. This place is a feast for the senses, with vendors selling colourful blooms and delicious produce. 

  • Stroll around in Parco Civico: Lying alongside Lake Lugano, Parco Civico is a sprawling lush area that is the perfect place to stroll around and unwind after a morning of sightseeing. With lovely flower beds and fountains, it is a picturesque park full of trees and nicely maintained gardens.
  • Shop till you drop at Via Nassa: Lying alongside Lake Lugano, Parco Civico is a sprawling lush area that is the perfect place to stroll around and unwind after a morning of sightseeing. With lovely flower beds and fountains, it is a picturesque park full of trees and nicely maintained gardens.
  • See how chocolate is made at Chocolat Alprose Factory: If you’re a chocolate lover, a visit to the Chocolat Alprose Factory at Caslano should definitely be in your itinerary. It’s a fun place where you can watch chocolates being made through glass windows before tasting free samples in the shop.

….And with this, the long vacation came to an end. Like I said, it was a summer vacation filled with many firsts, unexpected weather and fun filled adventures. I hope you’ve enjoyed my recommendations and tips! If you’re planning to visit the region – do bookmark this post.

Have you downloaded our free ebook – 21 Hidden Gems of Switzerland? If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to download it while planning your Swiss Getaway.

To read posts from August, click here

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