Hidden a little around the corner from Lugano is a village called Gandria. This picturesque hidden gem is the perfect spot to explore little streets, tiny restaurants, shop in some local boutiques and more. There are no cars in the village, making it perfect for a peaceful day of exploration.
Where Is Gandria, Lugano
Gandria is a small village located at the base of Monte Brè in Lugano. It is one of Ticino’s most beautiful villages just on the border with Italy. Situated also along the water’s edge of Lake Lugano, this allowing residents and tourists to arrive and leave by boat. It also includes the slopes of the mountain on the opposite side too.
How To Get To Gandria
For a day trip, it’s very easy to get to Gandria many ways. The most beautiful way to arrive is by boat. You can depart from one of the Lugano docks, with it being just a short 10-15min boat ride into Gandria.
You can also walk to Gandria via the Gandria Trail, also known as the Olive Path. This is a very beautiful route between Lugano and Gandria along the waters edge and olive trees. It takes a total of 1 hour from Lugano city.
Else there is a bus that you can take half way while combining with the walk, or all the way along the main road.
Alternatively as a last option, you could first visit Monte Bre with the funicular, then hike down from there to Gandria. It’s all down hill which is rather enjoyable for the views!
Travel Tip: There is a very small paid parking location at the top of the village from the main road, but we highly suggest to leave the car at your accommodation and visit by public transportation or walking.
Facts About Gandria
Before you visit, read here some of the top facts about Gandria:
- Many houses were built back in 16th and 17th centuries
- The population is only around 300 residents
- The road to Gandria was only built in 1936, so before that everyone had to arrive by foot or boat
- Local residents store their wine, cured meats and cheeses in cellars
- Silk production was set up here in the 19th century
- It was once infamous for smuggling, due to its close proximity to the Italian border
- In 1300, the residents used to live higher up the mountain, which are now just ruins
- It was an independent municipality until 2004
What To See In Gandria
Here are some top things we recommend you can see and do in the village
The Customs Museum
This delightful museum is a fun, interesting place to visit while in the area. You can learn all about the past of the village, such as how the smuggling happened. You can also hear more about the Swiss border regarding illegal trade, economic crime, migration, drug searches and protection of species.
It can be reached with a hike along the pathway or with the local boat docking at Gandria Confine. Take your time and also enjoy their lake terrace and seating area.
Relax By The Water
What better way to see village life is to sit and relax somewhere, listening to the local sounds and watching people along the way. Relaxing by the waterside also allows you to watch the local boats passing by, as well as a few swans if you’re lucky!
Visit the San Vigilio Church
This gorgeous hidden gem is located right in the village centre that you can view. Officially dating back to the 13th century with a Gothic-Romanesque layout, it also has a neoclassical style with rebuilt features from the 19th century. The bell tower is 25 meters high and easily visible from many angles of Gandria. The inside of the church is decorative with six side chapels.
Stroll The Cobblestone Streets
Since Gandria is known for having no cars in the village, this makes it gorgeous to explore in the peace and quiet. Most streets and side streets have cobblestones for the pathways, making it very picturesque. You can easily explore in half a day all the narrow streets.
Dine At A Local Restaurant
There are surprisingly many little restaurants in Gandria, all with something delicious on the menu. On quiet days it is easy to find a table at one of them for food, else we recommend booking in advance on the busier weekend days. Many restaurants have a view of the lake side, which is gorgeous to sit and enjoy. If you don’t fancy any food, it’s worth stopping for at least a coffee!
At Lido San Domenico along the pathway towards Lugano (so just outside of the village), you can find a local swimming area. It is more secluded and less family than the swimming location in Lugano, making it more suitable for couples. But it’s still open for all ages. It has a great atmosphere with music, light meal options (sandwiches etc), changing rooms and of course chairs and umbrellas.