As a tourist escape, Lugano hardly needs introduction. The wild beauty of the lakeshore, the dominating San Salvatore and Brè Mountains all speak for themselves and need to be top of your holiday plans.
Best Time to Visit
The months of March and April (Spring season) have a beautiful weather and the temperature is very comfortable making it the best time to visit Lugano.
Top Places to Visit Lugano
- Lake Lugano
By far the main attraction of Lugano is its beautiful, eponymous lake, which measures 50 square kilometres in size. It is a glacial lake situated on the border between Italy and Switzerland. The mountains not only give Lake Lugano a stunning backdrop from nearly every angle, but they provide some of Europe’s finest viewpoints to admire it from. Try boating or other water-based activities in the Lake, or just sit back and enjoy the view. The most popular are the morning cruise and the panoramic cruise, both lasting three hours, and you can also set off to see Lugano’s city lights twinkling on the lake at night.
2. Monte San Salvatore
Lugano’s own mountain and a monolith on the southern skyline, Monte San Salvatore crests at over 900 metres. At the top you’ll be awestruck by the 360° views of Lugano, the lake and views of the Alps to the west.A funicular carries you up the precipitous slope from the suburb of Paradiso in just 12 minutes.For determined hikers the upper station at the summit is just the start of their adventure as they can pick up the trails for Carona or venture even further along the ridge to the lakeside town of Morcote.You could also walk back down instead of catching the funicular, for a hike of just over an hour.
3. Centro Storico
The old centre of Lugano is a delight to explore, and is crammed with Renaissance and Baroque churches, convents, palazzi and arcaded squares. Your first port of call has to be the Piazza Riforma, edged by tall pastel-painted houses and full of life on evenings and weekends.On the southern boundary is the striking facade of the Neoclassical city hall, while the tourist office is also here if you have an queries.On Tuesday and Friday mornings be sure to rise early for the fresh produce market on Piazzale Ex Scuole, selling cold cuts, flowers, cheese and fruit.On Piazza Cioccaro is the trapezoidal and arcaded Palazzo Riva, commissioned by a count in 1740.
4. Cathedral San Lorenzo
The main facade for Lugano’s Renaissance cathedral is a real treasure, carved from white limestone and Carrara marble. The cathedral dates to the turn of the 16th century, and was constructed over a much earlier Romanesque building.The three portals are sculpted with medallions and Renaissance motifs like birds and puttoes.And between them are marble relief busts of King Solomon, David and the Four Evangelists.In the centre, look up to admire the rose window, adorned with cherubs and sculpted in the 1570s.On this high ground there’s a terrace with a balustrade to marvel at the view of the lake and mountains.
Gandria is unspoiled and looks much as it did a hundred years ago when the village was a den of illicit trade. The high customs duties for goods like cigarettes and meat made this remote stretch of the Swiss-Italian border a prime target for smugglers.You can idle along streets and stairways that are creased with hairpin turns, and pop into the 15th-century Church of St Viglio, the facade of which has historic memorials to members of important local families.Across the water is the Swiss Customs Museum, detailing the smugglers’ ingenious schemes and the efforts of customs officers to counter them.