Do you ever wonder what Lugano Switzerland is like? Is Lugano Worth Visiting for you? The answer we can already share is YES! Lugano is one of the sunniest locations in Switzerland, with a bit of everything possible, such as hiking, swimming, eating out at great restaurants, relaxing in a local park and catching a funicular to amazing views!
Now we don’t want to be biased since we live here* close to the city, but even before we lived here in 2022, we fell in love with many things Lugano Switzerland has on offer.
* All photos are our own, taken from 2022 to present.
Our 13 Reasons Why Lugano Should Be Your Next Travel Destination
If you are still here and wondering if Lugano is worth visiting? Well get a cuppa tea as we share our best 13 reasons why you should visit Lugano, Switzerland:
1. The Beautiful Outdoor Parks
Lugano city parks and gardens imparts a sense of tranquility and peace, making it a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. And the great thing about these are, that there are numerous Lugano parks and gardens to choose from!
Whether you wish to relax for just 10 minutes to a whole day, the parks are a lovely place to visit. You can choose to also take a book and have a picnic!
Here is a list of some of the parks you can visit:
- Parco Ciani
- Parco San Michele
- Parco del Tassino
- Parco Florida
- Parco Panoramico Paradiso
- Villa Heleneum Gardens
2. Have Fun On Three Funiculars!
Lugano is home to three historic but fun funiculars that you can all have a ride on:
Lugano City Funicular
The first one is the easiest, which is located in the city at Piazza Cioccaro and takes you up and down from the Lugano main train station. There are stairs alongside it to walk down or up as well if you want to see it from outside instead.
It can hold and is running daily from 05:00 to 00:15. Departing every 5 minutes, it takes only 92 seconds on the journey.
It only costs CHF 1.30 per ride, which you can buy at the machine (with EUR and CHF cash or card) or at the ticket office nearby.
Monte San Salvatore Funicular
Secondly, for those wanting to reach some higher distances, the funicular of Monte San Salvatore is the place to visit. It is not far from Lugano centre, with a short walk to the entrance else to take the touristic red train to get there.
The funicular is in two sections, where you have to change half way up. The first section of the funicular has a gradient of 37% and the second section up to 61%. The funicular also operates daily, with half-hourly departures. The journey itself takes only 12 minutes one way.
It is 1660 m in length to the top, where you can enjoy the best 360 views above Lugano and Lake Lugano. There is also a restaurant at the top for those wanting to get a bite to eat or drink.
Tip: Take this 3-Hour Monte San Salvatore Tour with Funicular Ride for an easy fun option!
Monte Brè Funicular
Thirdly, is the Monte Brè funicular that can take you 1,599 meters up to the top, where a few restaurants and viewpoints are.
The first funicular starts in Cassarate, where you can take the journey to Suvigliana. This can take up to 30 people each time, with a 60% gradient. This unmanned route is easy to start at, with it being 22 minute walk from Lugano centre. Else the red touristic train comes to Cassarate too!
From Suvigliana you then change to the official Monte Brè funicular next. This funicular section has a gradient of 47.5% and can take up to 68 people each time. It only takes 10 minutes too, with views of the city and lake all the way up.
3. Sunshine, Sunshine & More Sunshine!
Lugano is in the sunniest location in Switzerland, which is part of the Ticino canton.
For more specifics, the temperature in Lugano for a whole year can vary from 2°C to 35°C (29°F to 80°F). For winter time, it can drop a few degrees minus °c, but it’s quite rare.
So if you plan to visit in the Winter, don’t expect snow every day. Yes Ticino does get snow, especially on the higher elevation areas and mountains around. The city also gets a layer of snow around once a year during Winter, but apart from that, you can still expect a warm sunny day!
From our experience, even Christmas day in 2022 was a merry 13°c degrees with sunglasses needed!
Tip: Take a Lugano Guided Walking Tour to Gandria with Boat Cruise for a great day out!
4. Swiss Italian culture
The Swiss lifestyle may be a little different to the Italian lifestyle, but those living in Ticino and Lugano still take time, without rushing around, enjoying la dolce vita (the sweet life).
Everyone local likes their food, especially the traditional Italian sweets, biscuits and themed meals during festivals. This of course in combination with the Swiss food options! Then once all the food is enjoyed, locals love to get outdoors for an activity, such as hiking, mountain biking or walking.
This Swiss lifestyle includes keeping the streets clean, throwing away all trash in the dedicated bins (and recycling bins for plastic, glass and cardboard).
Swiss residents are also very honest with others, proud of their neutrality and have high standards for themselves. This is visible throughout Lugano, taking pride in what they also wear, how they look and how presentable they are to others. Shaking hands is the most common and formal greeting among Swiss people and you’ll sure see someone shaking hands in Lugano too!
5. Italian Food
And to follow on from the previous point, Lugano will get your tastebuds thinking you are in Italy!
Many restaurants and local supermarkets cater with all the Italian goodies and traditional choices that you can buy in Italy. You may think you’ve had the best pizza or pasta dish in Italy, but then you haven’t tried a local place in Lugano.
For a personal recommendation with a restaurant in Lugano, check our best Lugano restaurant recommendations from many restaurants we have tried and loved.
6. Lake Lugano and Promenade
For those who love the water, Lake Lugano is the perfect place to enjoy a boat ride, some water activities (think swimming, paddle boards or peddle boats) and to walk along with the local promenade.
The lake itself is rather big, with it officially 63% in Switzerland and 37% in Italy!
For a boat tour (as well as to explore other locations around the Lake), you can get tickets with the passenger boats company Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano (SNL). They have 2 docking terminals along the lake to board, one at the lakeside near Paradiso and the other called Lugano-Centrale (which is near Piazza della Riforma).
You can buy your boat tickets at the ticket booths at each terminal area, else you can easily buy a ticket via the SBB website/app. This can be done on the same day or in advance, as the price is the same.
For a walk along the lake, it’s a beautiful route all the way from Paradiso to Parco Ciani. This takes only 30 minutes one way, which is flat and suitable for all. The length is only 2.5km long and beautiful to do in all seasons of the year.
If visiting Lugano for a whole day, we have a self guided 1 day Lugano walking route which includes a boat trip as well as up one of the mountains!!
7. There Is A Car-free city centre
Not only is the city centre pretty with some historical architecture, it is also car-free! That makes exploring the streets and side streets much more enjoyable. You don’t have to worry about any cars (or bikes!) coming out of no where. This we feel is great, making the center of Lugano quite relaxing to wander.
The main shopping streets and areas without cars include:
- Via Nassa
- Via Canova
- Via Francesco Petrarca
- Piazza Cioccaro
- Piazza della Riforma
- Piazza Alighieri Dante
- Via Pessina
8. Join a Local Free Event!
Throughout the year, Lugano has many ongoing events for all ages in the city and . These can range from music events, food festivals, vintage shopping events, children’s activities, car shows and themed seasonal events. The best thing is that most of the local big events are also free!
So if you are wondering if Lugano is worth visiting, with an event, even more so!
With these events, it all depends on when you would want to visit to what is on at the time. Some of the bigger events in Lugano include:
Lugano Elegance (Concorso di Eleganza)
A beautiful event of classic cars, with around fifty selected classic cars who aim for the “best of show” trophy during the event. The main promenade street is closed for normal cars, so that all cars are on show for the public.
A open air music event throughout the city, with many stages and all types of music genres. There are buskers, workshops, stand-up comedy and readings. There is something for everyone!
Lugano Air Show
A great day event for those who are interested in a show from many flying aircrafts. The event for 2023 had PC-7 team showing off their acrobatic formations with smoke trails.
When: A day in September (usually on a weekend)
Switzerland National Day
The Switzerland National Day off with lots of music, celebrations all day, people dressed up in red and white, food stands and then fireworks at the end of the evening.
When: 1st August every year
Autumn Festival (Festa d’autunno)
A seasonal festive weekend event where you can buy local cuisine, cute Swiss gifts, vintage items for your home and join a old fashioned game or two! If you like chestnuts, make sure you visit this festival.
When: A weekend usually late October
A Christmas magical event of 60 traditional wooden chalets, live musical shows, enchanted forest of lights and of course warm gluhwein. Get inspired here!
When: Usually for 3 weeks in December, before New Years Eve
9. WatcH The Lugano Webcams!
For those wanting to see what Lugano is like before you visit, there are many webcams based in Lugano!
We personally would check these, such as to see the weather, whats happening and just out of curiosity what Lugano was like during the day. Before we moved here, we were checking daily in excitement!
The webcam at the top of Monte Brè is one of our favourites, especially after a day of rain. As then you will spot the low clouds passing by the camera, which is very pretty when the sun shines too!
10. Even When It Rains There Is Lots To Do!
Despite Lugano being located in the sunniest canton of Switzerland, it does rain here too! So if you find yourself in Lugano stuck in a rain shower, don’t let that put you off exploring the city.
We have a specific post about what to do in Lugano when it rains, but to highlight a few activities you can:
Visit A Local Museum
- Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana (MASI Lugano) – Art Galley Museum
- Museo Cantonale di Storia Naturale – The Natural History Museum
- San Salvatore Museum – great to combine with visiting Monte San Salvatore
- LAC Museum
- Museum of Cultures
Watch A Film
Visit the local CineStar cinema for a showing. Most showings are in Italian only, however the larger, international Hollywood films usually have one English showing per day.
Join A Local Tour (with umbrella!)
Check the local tours that Lugano tourism office organises, as long as the weather isn’t too bad to be outside. For example they have a tasting experience tour where you can discover meats, fish, cheeses and wines from the region.
Tip: Consider the following tour if you are a photographer with a Photogenic Spots Tour of Lugano with a Local!
11. Lugano Has it’s Own Beach area
For those who want to visit Lugano and enjoy a day at the beach, you wont have to travel far. Within 15 minutes walking from the city centre to the end of Parco Ciani, you can find yourselves sitting on the stoney beach with your feet in the water!
For the summer time, the lake can get pretty warm for a swim. There is no lifeguard here, so it is your own responsibility to swim and be smart about your surroundings. However it’s quite shallow to start with, so even suitable for those with kids.
For example, in July the lake is usually already 25°c (77°f) with people swimming at all times of the day!
I would like to highlight that this is a public beach area is without any changing rooms nearby. So bring a towel, some snacks, drinks and arrive with your swimming costume on as the easiest visit. Alternatively there are public toilets in the park about 5 minutes away walking that you could pop in to change.
Tip: There is also a playground right nearby, perfect for those with kids wanting to combine a beach day with lots of playtime.
12. There’s A Miniature Switzerland
Even though this post is about Is Lugano Worth Visiting, Lugano is perfect for those wanting to see more of Switzerland while only in one place, the Swiss Miniatur Museum features miniaturised versions of the whole country’s landmarks. The park has lots of items moving, such as the trains and boats, making it great to watch how it all is. It’s suitable for families, but also great for adults too.
Enjoy all the Switzerland models and park area first before stopping at their cafe for a drink or ice cream.
To visit, there is a short 10 minutes train ride or 20 minute public bus ride from Lugano to Melide, then its just a short few minutes walk to the entrance of the Swissminiatur museum. Prices can be found on their site.
13. The Lugano District includes the prettiest villages!
There are quite a few villages within the Lugano district, all reachable with a local bus or car journey. These are all based sightly outside of the city center, but all worth your time visiting. They each have something unique to explore and see, as well as all having some local restaurants to try local dishes:
Voted as the prettiest village of Switzerland back in 2016, we think it deserves the title again. Morcote has a population of around 3,500 people and is 20-30minutes away from Lugano with car or a public bus. The same boat mentioned in paragraph 6 also docks here!
The village itself is stunning, especially in Spring time with all the flowers and greenery at its best. There is much to see in this tiny village, such as the Giardino Botanico Suizo (botanical gardens), the church of Santa Maria del Sasso and little boutiques with plenty of souvenirs.
You can also choose to walk the 300+ stairs to the top viewpoint, where you will be above the church tower looking towards Italy. There is also a large wooden swing for some fun!
The quaint restaurants on the lakeside have a range of dishes for if you get hungry while visiting.
Tip: Take a 5 hour Lake Lugano Cruise to Morcote & Sightseeing!
The village of Brè is located at the very last stop of public bus 12 (from the Lugano bus station), or a short 15-20 minute walk from the Monte Brè funicular mentioned above. You can also visit by car with parking nearby.
The village of Brè is a quiet one, with stunning views through the valley towards Italy. The village is historical for many artists, such as Wilhelm Schmid, Pasquale Gilardi and Luigi Taddei, who all lived in the village. Walking around the village will show off their work, with artistic decor on some of the houses and along the cobblestone streets.
The village has a few restaurants (try Osteria Salotto Brè!) for those wanting to stay longer than a walk around.
During our walk around the village one afternoon, we spotted more than 5 cats! So if you like cats as much as us, keep your eyes open when exploring!
For visiting Gandria, there is a scenic olive path route along the lake from Lugano to Gandria directly. It’s mostly a flat route and on a stone/dirt track with some tarmac to start with. Alternatively the same local boat mentioned above or with public transport (bus) is possible. There is also a little car park at the top for those with their own transport.
Gandria is situated on the base of Monte Brè, so you can consider visiting Brè at the top first and then walk down to Gandria in one day. The village itself is quaint with around 300 residents only, but very pretty, with hidden restaurants and walkways in many directions.
Once infamous for smuggling, due to its close proximity to the Italian border, there is now a Customs Museum you can visit. Else on hotter days, you can also consider a swim in the lake by visiting Lido San Domenico.
So Is Lugano Worth Visiting?
As like we started, we believe the answer is yes, with the 13 reasons above some of the reasons why!
Can you think of any more reasons if “Is Lugano Worth Visiting”? Im sure there are plenty more that we could add to this list.
We hope this post inspires you to visit Lugano one day, and if you need more tips and local suggestions, check our up to date Lugano posts!