10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Visit Lugano at Least Once

Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano | © IMBiblio/ Flickr
Chiara Assi

Close enough to Italy to have a certain Mediterranean flair, but still quintessentially Swiss, Lugano is an eclectic destination that has a lot to offer its visitors – whether they are seeking peace and relaxation, adrenaline and thrills, delectable food or refined culture. Surrounded by beautiful nature, Lugano offers the best of both worlds: the slow pace of a holiday destination and the services of a lively town.

See one of Switzerland’s prettiest lakes

Picture-perfect Lake Lugano is the number one reason people fall in love with this lakeshore town. Its waters can be enjoyed in countless ways, from swimming to sailing to pedalling on paddle boats. But the most popular is taking one of the cruises offered by the Società di Navigazione Lago di Lugano, which include lunch and dinner options as well as different routes to explore the lake.

Enjoy a sunset cruise on the lake

Hike up a mountain and windsurf… on the same day

Ideally located between the water and the mountains, Lugano is perfect for sport enthusiasts. You can hike to the summits of nearby mountains, feed your need for speed down one of the many mountain bike trails, as well as go windsurfing and say Namaste to the setting sun all on the same day. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you will find the right activity for you.

Eat in an art gallery

A unique experience for art and food lovers, Restaurant Gallery Arté al Lago is the only Michelin-starred kitchen in Lugano, and an absolute must-try if you are seeking the best and most innovative dishes prepared with locally caught fish. Dining surrounded by paintings and sculptures by world-renowned local and international artists only adds to an already over-the-top dinner experience.

Try your luck at the Casino

You don’t have to be an avid gambler to enjoy spending an evening at the Casinò in Lugano. Besides slot machines, poker rooms, and other much-loved card games, the beautifully modern Casinò, right on the lakeshore, offers two restaurants, a cocktail bar, and lounge and a club where you can eat, drink, and dance until the wee hours.

Enjoy the climate

The region around Lugano is often referred to as Switzerland’s Sonnenstube, German for “sunny room”. People from the northern areas of the country flock here to enjoy a climate that is mostly mild and sunny, even during the winter months, and so should you. You will enjoy the unique opportunity of sitting under a palm tree by the lake while watching the snow-capped Alps in the distance.

Savour local wine

The hills around Lugano are home to a vast number of vineyards and wineries that produce a fruity and bold Merlot using only local grapes. You can visit the cellars, try and buy the wine directly from the producers or savour it with some cheese and salami at any local bar – the choice is yours.

Try a bold Merlot and some local salami

Discover local culture

While nature is blatantly present all around the area, there are also several cultural and entertainment activities to enjoy if you know where to look for them. Lugano features several history and art museums, galleries, theatres, and Baroque churches. During the summer, the town comes alive at night with free rock and classical music open-air concerts, buskers’ festivals, and street performances sure to entertain everyone.

Shop till you drop

If you are in the mood for a shopping spree, the downtown area of Lugano is the right place to visit, with so many different shops and stores it’s impossible not to find what you are looking for. Via Nassa is home to all the big names in high-end fashion, from Hermes to Louis Vuitton, while the alleys and streets around central Piazza Riforma host several markets. Depending on the day of the week, you will find fresh local produce, artefacts, vintage books, records and much more.

Take in the views from Lugano’s three mountaintops

Three mountains, three different breathtaking views. Monte Brè, Monte San Salvatore, and Monte Generoso offer the chance to see the lake from different angles, as well as hiking, biking, and dining options. All three can be reached by taking a fast and reliable funicular ride, so they are perfect even for those who are not up for a hike. No matter how you reach the summit, the panoramas are well worth the journey.

Enjoy the view from Monte Brè

Discover local flavours

Nestled between Italy to the South and the rest of Switzerland to the North, the region around Lugano offers a cuisine that is the best of both worlds. You can easily find Swiss specialties such as raclette and cheese fondue, but also Northern Italian delicacies such as risotto. The best way to enjoy them is in grottos, typical family-owned restaurants that serve all the great dishes the tradition has to offer in a warm and informal atmosphere.

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