Imagine soaking up the magical aura of the Swiss Alps and still having access to the lip-smacking pasta and pizza. Yes, you will find all of this in the charming city of Lugano. This city hardly needs an introduction. Switzerland’s financial hub with swaying palms, magnificent boulevards and the dominating Bre Mountains speaks for themselves. Being close to Italy, Lugano has an Italian touch in its architecture, lake promenades and bustling squares dotted with restaurant tables. Lugano is densely populated with tourists in the springtime when the camellias are in full bloom. No wonder, it is an inviting destination to take a break from the routine life and unwind. There are plenty of things to do in Lugano that you might often wonder what you should start with.
Best Time to Visit Lugano
Due, to its proximity to Italy, the city of Lugano has a Mediterranean climate. Spring (March and April) is the best time to plan a trip. The weather is pleasant and comfortable for outdoor activities. The summer months (May till mid-September) has a warm and humid climate. The average temperature ranges between 18-20 degrees Celsius with a probability of heavy showers. Temperature starts dropping down during the autumn months (Mid-September to October) and the city is not at all crowded. With temperature ranging between 3-4 degrees Celsius, November to February is the coldest months in the year. Rainfall is less and snowfall is often expected.
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Ultimate Things to do in Lugano
The popular city of Lugano in the Ticino Canton is ‘Switzerland with an Italian flair’. It sprawls beautifully along Lake Lugano and attracts vacationers for its warm sunshine, majestic landscapes and fancy shopping. It caters to the needs of all kinds of travellers. Some tourists love spending time lazing around the lake, others make this a base for crazy mountain activities. Even art connoisseurs are drawn to the city because of the high standard art exhibitions it hosts. Interestingly, there is an exhaustive list of things to do in Lugano that every vacationer needs to explore.
1. Savour the sight of Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano is a tranquil blue lake enveloped by the Swiss Alps. The striking feature of this lake is that half of it is in Switzerland and the other half lies in Italy. The peaceful scenery around the lake offer relaxation to the mind as well as the soul. Apart from the peace of mind, Lugano is a host to a number of water sports and vivid city life.
One of the best ways to sink in the charm of Lake Lugano is by embarking on a boat tour. The most thrilling boat trip is the one to Gandria and coming back. The round trip lasts for approximately seventy minutes and is worth your money and time. Apart from the lake view, the cafes, shops and restaurants complete this vibrant city as a tourist destination and you can spend a few days here relishing the surrounding. Admire stunning views from
2. Monte Bre
Lugano has an irresistible appeal when it comes to natural wonders and outdoor activities. It is hugged by numerous mountains offering mesmerizing viewpoints. So, if the scenic views of Lake Lugano are not enough, the majestic sight of the mountain will soothe the soul. Monte Bre is one such mountain surrounding Lugano. It is an unspoiled natural beauty and has the reputation of being the sunniest mountain in Switzerland.
Monte Bre boasts a dense network of mountain-biking trails and hiking opportunities that draws intrepid travellers from far and near. You cannot afford to miss the stunning views of the city, lake as well as the Bernese and Valais Alps from here. This mountain is also the home to the rare Christmas rose which cannot be found anywhere except Southern Europe. The best way to reach the summit is by taking a funicular through nature’s heart and admires the scenery during the ride.
3. A leisure stroll through Parco Civico
One of the most stunning gardens on the shores of Lugano Lake is Parco Civico. It is overflowing with verdant hues and monuments. Take some time to wander around this impressive park and savour the surrounding. If you are travelling with kids, there are playgrounds with benches where they can play and have fun.
The flowers are mostly of Mediterranean origin with a unique colour palette and add an oomph factor to this place. On sunny days, Parco Civico is quite crowded. If you want to relax on one of the benches and admire its charm, the mornings and the evenings are usually the best bet. You can soak in the lake views from anywhere in the park and is truly a sight to behold.
4. Explore Piazza della Riforma in Lugano Old Town
One of the top things to do in Lugano is to wander through Piazza della Riforma. It is the main town square, located in the heart of Lugano Old Town. Traditionally, known as Piazza Grande, it was the centre of several political events. However, after lots of struggle Lugano achieved its long lost independence in 1798.
Piazza della Riforma invites travellers to chill in the exotic restaurants and bistros. Sit in one of the cafes for some nice indulgence and let the world go by. Throughout the year, there are plenty of events taking place in the town square. Even when there is no grand occasion, Piazza della Riforma is always the vibrant centre for fun and excitement.
5. An excursion to the Lugano Prealps
Lugano Prealps is a mountain range on the western side of the Alps. It is named after the lovely Swiss city of Lugano. It features dramatic Alpine landscapes infused in a Mediterranean flair that can drive any mountain enthusiast crazy. The highest peak in this range is the Pizzo di Gino that sits in Italy, at an altitude of 2245 meters.
The second highest is the Camoghe in Switzerland at a height of 2226 meters. There is also a large network of hiking and mountain-biking trails with impressive panoramic points. Lugano makes the ideal base for exploring the Lugano Prealps. Plan a day trip to the Lugano Prealps and immerse in the rustic Alpine landscape around you.
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6. Peaking into the life of Herman Hesse at Hesse Museum
One of the major things to do in Lugano is to visit the Hesse Museum. It sheds light into the life of Herman Hesse, the famous German writer. It is located in Montagnola and is one of the most visited attractions in Ticino. The museum displays the work of the renowned author, his personal stuff, books as well as watercolours.
There is also an audio guide in different languages that take visitors through the picturesque landscape of the Golden Hill, Hesse’s personal favourite. The permanent exhibits in the museum also give visitors an in-depth idea about the different phases of his activity. Hesse Museum also features a beautiful garden for those who want to sit in a peaceful environment and enjoy reading.
7. Go for a funicular ride to Monte San Salvatore
A few steps away from the hustle of the city, Monte San Salvatore dominates Lugano’s skyline. It allows you to indulge in moments of calmness and serenity by letting the mind wander off to limitless horizons. The funicular ride from Lugano offers fantastic views and it gets wider as you climb up. There are a number of trails that allow you to walk or hike in the unspoiled surrounding.
In case you want to know the history of Monte San Salvatore, visit the Salvatore Museum. There is also space solely dedicated to caving especially for those willing to explore something unique. No wonder, this mountain range can satiate the craving of every wandering soul, cultural seeker and nature lover. And allow them to sink in the unending love for Monte San Salvatore.
8. Feast your eyes to the interiors of Cattedrale di San Lorenzo
One of the top things to do in Lugano is to feast your eyes to the splendid interior of Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. It is located next to the funicular railway tracks. Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is a marvellous Roman Catholic cathedral dating back to the 8th century. It is dedicated to St. Lawrence of Rome. The most beautiful feature of the church is the Renaissance facade that was inspired by Giovanni Antonio.
There is a massive rose window in the centre that has decorations of cherubs and is a symbolic representation of God’s eye. The grand interiors are decorated with Baroque decorations and vibrant frescoes. You can also get to witness a picture-perfect view of Lugano from here.
9. Witness chocolate in the making at Alprose Chocolate Museum
If you are a chocolate lover, one of the most appealing things to do in Lugano is to visit the Alprose Chocolate Museum. It presents to you the world of pure indulgence from the beginning till date. The visit to the museum involves some Alprose chocolate tasting in the ‘Nostalgia’ shop that is drool-worthy.
There is modern machinery that plays an integral role in chocolate production. In the museum, you can also observe the different phases of chocolate processing. From liquefying the cocoa to transforming them into solid bars and finally packaging, you can learn everything here. In addition, you can also buy various chocolate specialities for yourself or gift it to your loved ones.
10. Embrace shopping in Lugano
A trip to Lugano is never really complete without indulging in a shopping spree. Shopping in Lugano involves a wide array of boutique shops that line the ancient streets. These shops are usually open from morning to the evening on all days. One of the main centres of shopping is Via Nassa, a popular historical street in Lugano. There are various kinds of shops that you can find here, from clothing to jewellery, antique stuff to gastronomy and many more.
Another renowned shopping centre is the Centro Lugano Sud. It has more than fifty popular stores including C&A, Media Markt, IKEA, H&M to name a few. The Lugano Market in Piazza Della Riforma is open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This market mainly consists of local produce, fresh flowers, handicrafts and antiques. So, find some time and delight the shopaholic within you.
Lugano is indeed a Swiss city with an Italian influence. This confusion is incredibly captivating and intrigues you to explore more of it. Undoubtedly, Lugano is a gem of Switzerland and a favourite destination for tourists who love a classic vacation.
A few Essential Tips when in Lugano
- Local transportation in Lugano features only buses. You can purchase a 12-hour bus pass in case you are planning to stay.
- There are options for renting a bike in case you are not willing to explore the city by public transport.
- If you are planning to go around Ticino, the best possible option is to rent a car.
- Experience the vivacious music festivals of Lugano, plan a trip between April and September.
- If you are planning a trip to Lugano in summer, visit the nearby towns of Bellinzona and Locarno known for the majestic views of the Swiss Alps.
- Carry a good camera as there are immense photographic opportunities.
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