The Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in and Around Lugano, Switzerland

View of Lugano and the San Lorenzo cathedral
View of Lugano and the San Lorenzo cathedral | © Adege / Pixabay
Chiara Assi

With its beautiful natural landscapes, Baroque architecture and relaxed atmosphere, Lugano and the surrounding areas have a lot to offer. While the well-known landmarks such as Piazza Riforma and Via Nassa are definitely worth seeing, there are other non-touristy spots that should be on your list of things to experience in this incredible area – the places locals know and love.

1. San Lorenzo: a cathedral with a view

Cathedral

lugano-2831362_1920
© Adege / Pixabay
The lovely cathedral of San Lorenz0, dedicated to Saint Lawrence, was built in the Middle Ages and rebuilt in the 15th century. Its exterior reflects this 15th-century rebuilding instead of the original Middle Ages, with an imposing white Carrara marble front, a beautiful rose window, and busts of the kings David and Solomon. From the front of the cathedral, there’s an attractive view over the patchwork of the terracotta roofs of the old town centre and the lake.

2. Enjoy nature at Parco Civico Ciani

Park

Right by the lake, you will find the lovely park Civico Ciani, 63,000 square metres of greenery and parkland where locals like to stroll and hang out on sunny days. A perfect escape from Lugano’s cityscape, the park offers long, tree-lined pathways, colourful flower beds and fountains. The garden abounds with trees typical of the Ticino region: maple, lime, oak and plane trees are visible everywhere. There’s also a play area for children. The Natural History Museum is also located within the park, as is the Cantonal Library and the beautiful Villa Ciani, so make a day of it – there’s lots to see.

3. Feel on top of the world at Monte Brè

Hiking Trail, Park

switzerland-3098927_1920
© Makalu / Pixabay
With a magnificent vista over Lugano, Monte Brè is Lugano’s iconic and much-loved mountain and it can be reached via funicular rail. The small, quaint village of Brè has a traditional character and also houses many paintings by the Swiss painter Wilhelm Schmidt – a real delight for art lovers. There are plenty of things to do in the area, including several hiking trails and mountain biking, but also eating and drinking at the panoramic restaurant. The observation point gives you a view not only of the entire Lake Lugano valley but often stretches as far as the views of Monte Rosa and the Bernese Alps.

5. Feel inspired at the Hermann Hesse Museum

Museum

Love literature? The Hermann Hesse Museum is located in Montagnola, a neighbourhood overlooking Lake Lugano, and houses memorabilia from the author’s time here for the 43 years leading up to his death. Camuzzi House, where the museum is housed, is where Hesse wrote many of his most famous masterpieces, including Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. He also painted several watercolours, which can be viewed in one of the rooms. The park around it is also beautiful and well worth visiting, especially in the spring and summer.

6. Drinks with a view on Al Lido's terrace

Restaurant, Swiss, Italian, Fast Food

A young, hip beachfront restaurant much loved by locals, Al Lido offers a typical Swiss-Italian style brunch. To complement the Italian side, there’s an emphasis on sweet dishes, pies, cakes, biscotti, and more. For fans of savoury snacks, there are around 10 cheeses to choose from, plus there is a decadent array of Swiss red wines, and the wonderful view from the beach-terrace of the lovely Lake Lugano.

7. Morcote: visit Switzerland's most beautiful village

Park

switzerland-1546177_1920
© 34240 / Pixabay
A ferry trip away from Lugano, Morcote is one of the prettiest towns along Lake Lugano’s shoreline and was voted “Most beautiful village in Switzerland” in 2016. The tiny former fishing village is set into a hillside that offers charming alleys to explore as well as lovely vistas of the lake below, with the bell tower of its historic Santa Maria del Sasso Church towering over the town. Don’t miss Parco Scherrer with its exotic assortment of Mediterranean and Asian flora and architectural touches such as Greek sculptures, an Egyptian temple, and even a Siamese tea house: this botanical garden is the most charming place in town and one of the most beautiful in the whole area.

8. Art, photography and watersports in Bissone

Building, Church, Swimming Pool

IMG-4773
© Chiara Assi

One of the quaintest villages on the shore of Lake Lugano, Bissone is a waterfront gem known for being the birthplace of famed Renaissance architect Francesco Borromini. The pastel-coloured houses and arcades are much loved by photography buffs and San Carpoforo church is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture that’s well worth a visit. During the summer, the Lido Comunale offers easy access to the lake, as well as a large swimming pool and a lakefront bar and restaurant – ideal for a bit of rest and relaxation.

9. Ticino's most unique church: the Santa Maria degli Angeli chapel

Building, Church

Designed by architectural genius Mario Botta, the Santa Maria degli Angeli chapel is unlike any religious building you’ll have seen before, especially in the Lugano area. The chapel is built at the foot of nearby Monte Tamaro and a long footbridge is a gateway leading you down open-stone staircases and corridors with carefully crafted portholes. Modern and beautiful, this church is impressive and an absolute must-see for those who enjoy architectural masterpieces.
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article