Discover the top 10 things to do in Lugano, Switzerland for the ultimate Italian getaway – that’s not in Italy.
Lugano is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful and magical cities. It sits in the Italian part of Switzerland (also called the Ticino region) just along the border of Italy. As a result, the city has strong Italian influences from the architecture, the food, and even the atmosphere. What makes Lugano special is that in addition to the Italian influences it is still in Switzerland and you will find luxurious shops, expensive cars, and (unfortunately) the high Swiss price tag.
If you are heading to the Italian part of Switzerland and looking for the top things to do in Lugano keep reading!
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Top 10 Things to do in Lugano
Explore the City Streets
The streets of Lugano are inexplicably gorgeous. The Italian influences can be felt all around with the cobblestone streets and pastel-coloured houses. It really feels like you’ve left Switzerland and entered an Italian dream destination. Spending some time walking around and enjoying the unique buildings and surroundings is a must. You will likely walk past many local boutiques and high-end shops which are great for window shopping.
As you make your way through the city you will notice the incline and how Lugano is built within the surrounding mountains. The higher you go, the better the view you will get of the city below, the surrounding mountains, and Lake Lugano. You will find out pretty quickly why exploring is one of the best things to do in Lugano.
Coffee in Piazza Della Riforma
Piazza Della Riforma is the main square in Lugano and a lively place to be. Here is where you will find a grand open space full of bistros and restaurants always brimming with people. It is located right in the center of the city and is a popular place for both locals and tourists alike. It is not as busy in the winter months as it is in the summer, but still, a great place to visit regardless. Even if you just want to view the baroque and classical-styled architecture.
Venture to The Colourful Village of Gandria
Gandria is a small village in Ticino located just 10 minutes from Lugano’s city center. Heading to this stunning village is easily one of the best things to do in Lugano to see something new, exciting, and less touristy. Gandria is also one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland making it a welcome place to explore and admire.
While the village itself is built into the steep hillside. In order to visit here, it is best that you are in good shape to walk up and down a lot of stairs as this is the only way to get around. While in Gandria be sure to wander around the small streets and eat at one of the lakefront restaurants. It is also nice to see the city from the water as from this view you can see the entire hillside village in its entirety.
To get from Lugano to Gandria you can take a car, hike, or take public transport. Public transport can either be a bus or ferry.
Walk Along Lake Lugano
Lugano’s location along Lake Lugano provides this city with stunning seaside walks and views to engage in. Lake Lugano is a stunning blue water body of water that is wonderful for water activities and viewing from many angles. However, one of the best ways to soak in Lake Lugano is by walking along the waterfront. Taking a stroll after dinner along the lake is the perfect way to soak in Luganos beauty and admire the mountains from afar. It may seem simple but this is one of the best things to do in Lugano.
Go on an Adventure
Adventure and Lugano go hand in hand! Due to the extreme landscape of this region, there is a ton of outdoor activities for you to join in. From hiking to boat rides, to paragliding and more. Lugano is an adventure and thrill-seekers paradise with a ton to do and see. Below are some great adventure tour options that will show you Lugano in a different way than most are used to.
Enjoy Parco Ciani
Parco Ciani is a stunning flower-filled park that sits along Lake Lugano. It is full of greenery and beauty, making it the perfect place to walk around and explore while soaking in the warm Italian Swiss sun. You will find both locals and tourists wandering the paths and enjoying this little oasis in the middle of the city.
To the Top of Monte Brè
Monte Brè is a small mountain located near Lugano. It offers stunning views of Lake Lugano, the Pennine Alps and the Bernese Alps making it the perfect place to venture to for breathtaking views of this region. Monte Brè is also considered one of the sunniest places in Switzerland as it welcomes tons of warm days with plenty of sun. To get to the top you can take a funicular railway!
Walk the Old Olive Trail
The Old Olive Trail is a famous trail to walk to see the remains of the old olive tree groves. The path of this trail winds between the two villages close to Lugano of Castagnola and Gandria and offers a beautiful and very peaceful adventure. The trail is best enjoyed from June – September. This is the perfect way to see the famous olive trails and make your way for FREE to some of the stunning nearby villages, making it one of the top things to do in Lugano out in nature.
View San Lorenzo Cathedral
San Lorenzo Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral located atop a hill in Lugano. Visiting this church and entering it is one of the top things to do in Lugano if you are seeking a more historic adventure. San Lorenzo Cathedral was founded in the high middle ages but was rebuilt in the 15th century to how it looks today. The exterior is beautiful, but the real beauty is on the inside.
The inside of this cathedral is full of delicately painted walls and high ceilings. Plus stunning stained glass windows and alters. It is the perfect place to get some peace from the outside and enjoy the tranquil indoors. Be sure to look over the ledge on the outside of the church for the lovely views of Lake Lugano and the old town.
Enjoy Fresh Cannoli
Cannoli are delicious Italian pastries that make for the perfect dessert after a day of exploring. While in the Italian part of Switzerland you get to enjoy Italian specialties like this which only adds to the amazing experience. A cannoli is a tube-shaped shell that is stuffed with a sweet creamy filling. They come in large and small sizes and can also have toppings like chocolate, pistachios, and others. While you explore Lugano keep an eye out for local shops selling fresh cannoli to eat as you walk.
Where to Stay in Lugano
This list of the top things to do in Lugano is nowhere near complete. There is so much to discover here, and even more in the neighbouring cities and villages!
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