Also known as Lake Cereso, a must-do activity while visiting Lugano is to take a Lake Lugano Boat ride or tour around the region. Regardless of what season you would be visiting Lugano, the boats are running all year (with different timetables), making it a great activity to see Ticino from the water.
With the boat, you can consider just a tour around the lake else to make use of the stops along the way to visit local villages.
FAQ: Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano Facts
Before we go into all detail, we want to share with you some facts about Lake Lugano:
- The Northern area belonging to Switzerland and the Southern area extends into Italy
- Has a a maximum depth of around 288 meters (945 feet)
- Lake Lugano is the second-largest glacial lake in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland (after Lake Maggiore)
- The lake is known to be called Lago Di Lugano or Lago Ceresio in Italian
- The historical name of Laco Luanasco dates back to 804
- It is named after the city of Lugano
Is Lake Lugano worth visiting?
If you are only in Lugano for a short amount of time, such as a weekend visit, the lake is a must-see. You can easily enjoy the lake from the water’s edge, such as from Parco Ciani or the long promenade. If you don’t wish to take a large boat tour, you can also consider a small 30 minute activity of renting a pedalo boat.
Check our 13 reasons why you should visit Lugano for more inspiration!
Is Lake Lugano in Switzerland or Italy?
Officially Lake Lugano is 63% in Switzerland and 37% in Italy.
The places in Switzerland from Lake Lugano include:
|Riva San Vitale||Paradiso|
|Cantine di Gandria||Caslano|
The places in Italy from Lake Lugano include:
|Campione d’Italia||Oria, Valsolda|
|Porto Ceresio||San Mamete|
|Lavena Ponte Tresa||Porlezza|
And lastly good to highlight that Ponte Tresa is in both Italy and Switzerland, which is the border control area between the two countries.
Are Lake Lugano and Lake Como connected?
Both Lake Lugano and Lake Como are separated by land. But you can visit Lake Como with a day trip from Lugano if you want. You can also read our differences and similarities about both lakes to help!
What is the prettiest town on Lake Lugano?
We might be not the best people to answer this, as we love most of the towns and villages situated on Lake Lugano. Being expats here has opened our eyes to lots of amazing events and hikes around the lake. However we do love sharing our favs such as Gandria and Morcote.
Lake Lugano Boat Company
There is one main company that provides transportation on Lake Lugano. This is with Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano (SNL) and they operate all year long.
However it is good to highlight that they do have a summer vs winter timetable, so they do not serve every docking platform all year long. For the Summer, they pretty much stop at every location to provide locals and tourists access to all points around the lake. For the Winter, this is revised to only a few main docking platforms based on the location and demand of tourists and locals.
To buy your Lake Lugano boat tickets, you can chose to do this a few ways.
At the main docking platforms – The main docking platforms, such as in Lugano and at Lugano Paradiso both have members of staff there to buy your tickets on the day, even just 5 minutes before the departure of the boat. This is the easiest option if you are exploring Lugano and feel like a boat trip without planning it in advance.
They accept CHF cash as well as international card payments.
Online via SBB website – The official SBB website allows you to buy a boat ticket for the Lake Lugano boats in advance as well as on the day.
Online via SBB app – Like most other transporation in Switzerland, you can also buy a ticket via the SBB app, where you enter your start and end location and buy the ticket. If you have it enabled, you can also ‘swipe in’ and then ‘swipe out’ based on GPS too.
The timetable is best checked on the SBB website/app or on their website directly. They have a summer and winter timetable for the larger boats. Other boats from the company and events are different, so best to check this based on the season and day you are visiting Lugano.
Facilities On Board
All boats have a few facilities depending on the one you get for the journey you take. The main larger boats have a little bar where you can get a warm or cold drink as well as a snack. All boats also have a toilet on board.
During the Summer period, it can get very busy, but there is usually also plenty of seating for everyone to sit down – inside or out. However with the beauty of the lake, many choose to stand and enjoy the journey with their camera out and walking around the boat too.
Lake Lugano Special Events
There are often events and parties you can book tickets in advance for with the Lake Lugano boats. This is always great for those who are looking for something extra while in Lugano. It’s a special treat!
Some events you can keep your eyes open for include:
- Swiss National Day Fireworks cruise on 1st August every year
- Fairytale cruises with storytelling and treats for families
- Halloween themed cruises for all ages
- Evening cruise with Porlezza fireworks for the San Rocco saint festival
- New Years Eve fancy fondue dinner party
- Gala menu nights
- Christmas cruises with treats and festive surprises for families
They advertise these usually first via their social media accounts (facebook/instagram), so give them a follow from their main website to not miss out!
Would you enjoy a boat ride on Lake Lugano? We can sure recommend it. Regardless of the weather, it’s a great way to see Ticino from the water as well as to stop at a few local villages for exploration.
Rent a pedalo in Lugano right on Lake Lugano
All seasons at Parco Ciani