Morcote Switzerland is a small, picturesque town located in the Swiss canton of Ticino, situated on the banks of Lake Lugano. It is known for its picturesque setting, with stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains between Switzerland and Italy.
For visiting, Morcote is one of the prettiest villages to see when in the canton. With lots to see and do, places to relax and delicious restaurants to stop at, you can easily spend more than a day here. Read on to see our top recommendations of things to do in Morcote, places to dine at and if you wish to stay longer check our local Morcote accommodation recommendations!
Facts And History of Morcote Switzerland
The town has a rich history dating back to the Roman times, and its narrow streets are lined with charming houses and buildings that have been beautifully preserved. These buildings and houses are still as they were, with some so tiny it makes you wonder how someone can live inside. Morcote has a population of around only 3,500 people and is known for its charming, old-world atmosphere. It is often rare to find a home for sale in Morcote due to this, as the homes get passed down through generations instead to keep it in the family.
A fun fact to know, is that Morcote was voted as the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2016. Which even to today makes it a popular village to visit among Swiss locals and tourists.
Where is Morcote Switzerland?
Morcote is located in the Ticino canton of Switzerland, which is in the Southern part of the country. Locals speak Italian in the Ticino canton, but often know a little English and German based on tourism.
The best time to visit Morcote is usually in Spring or Summer time when the weather is warm. This are also the most busiest months when visiting Morcote. However even during Winter and Autumn you can enjoy a cosy dinner at a local restaurant or a local hike around the village. So it all depends on when you are visiting to what you prefer.
To get to Morcote, see below the options and how long it takes:
Visiting Morcote By Car
If you are wanting to visit by car, this is pretty easy since its just a short drive (22 minutes) from Lugano heading south. However keep in mind that during busy touristic seasons and Saturdays you may struggle to find some parking when you arrive. There is very little street parking, so it would be best you head directly to the Autosilo parking garage at Strecia da la Filanda 11, 6921 Morcote
Visiting Morcote By Public Transport
We personally recommend that you visit Morcote by public transport, which is very easy to do with the local bus services directly from Lugano.
BUS: You can choose to take the local bus number 431 directly from Lugano bus station to Morcote, which takes only 33 minutes. This is a super pretty option, since it will also drive through some other villages to get there and along the lake side.
TRAIN & BUS: You can also first take a local train from Lugano Central train station to Melide, and from Melide to take the bus. This is only a few minutes faster than taking the bus directly, so it depends on what you prefer.
BOAT: Alternatively, if you prefer to arrive by water, you can buy a ticket at either Lugano-Centrale or Paradiso ferry terminals to take the local boat. This is so fun to do when your visiting on a sunny day, as you can sit outside on the boat. The views are also great, since you sail not far from the coast along the way.
Things to do in Morcote
1. Visit A Pretty Garden
Morcote is known for its beautiful local gardens throughout the village. The town is home to several gardens, which includes the Giardino Botanico Suizo, which features a variety of plants and flowers from around the world, and the Giardino delle Orchidee, which is home to a collection of rare orchids.
These are of course best to visit during Spring and Summer, so check online for more information when you wish to visit to be sure they are open.
2. Church of Santa Maria del Sasso
As one of the most notable landmarks in Morcote, the Church of Santa Maria del Sasso is a top visit when in the village. It is located at the very top of the hill overlooking the village. The church dates back to the 14th century and is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists to take in the breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding landscape.
3. Stroll Along The Lakeside Promenade
Take a slow stroll along the whole lakeside promenade of Morcote. There is a pathway to follow for most of the way, where you can pass by the lakeside, local boats and wildlife. Opposite the lake is Italy, which is not very far and easy to see in the short distance.
4. Climb The Steps In The Village
There are lots of little streets, alleyways and stairs in all directions. If you take some of the main routes, you can climb the steps to the very top of Morcote. This will lead you to being above the Church of Santa Maria Del Sasso mentioned above. There is a viewpoint at the very top with a special red bench. From here, you can look down to the church as well as look across the lake to Italy.
On a warm Summer’s evening, it’s also a great spot to watch the sunset head down behind the local mountains.
5. Enjoy The Swing The World
Just above the church with the steps, you will find one of the Ticino’s Swing The World located here. Its a popular swing since it’s so easy to get to. Enjoy the swing and take a picturesque photo with the church in the background. You can also make it a mission to find more swings while visiting the Ticino canton!
6. Hiking To or from Morcote Switzerland
Even though this post is purely about things to do in Morcote Switzerland, you could also consider visting Morcote and then hiking to another village. Or hiking from another village to Morcote! There are lots of routes to choose from, where you can follow the yellow signposts showing the distance to the next viewpoint or location. Keep it in mind if you enjoy hiking in Switzerland.
7. Shop Something Local
When it comes to shopping, Morcote has plenty to offer, with a variety of small shops and boutiques selling everything from traditional Swiss souvenirs to artisanal products. There are many that sell unique items made by locals. They also sell items you might have forgotten while visiting, such as if you need a pair of sunglasses on a hot Summer’s day or a new bag to carry all your new local products!
Make sure to visit on a weekday or Saturday best, as Sunday often means all shops are closed.
8. Dine At A Local Morcote Restaurant
There are numerous restaurants along the lakeside promenade where you could stop for a drink or a bite to eat. We’ve tried a few, and always had a pleasant stay and delicious meal. See below our Morcote restaurant recommendations:
- Ristorante Al Porto – offering a variety of Italian dishes and seafood specialties.
- Ristorante Albergo Ristorante Vecchio Mulino – offering a variety of Swiss and Italian dishes, as well as a beautiful outdoor seating area.
- Ristorante Grotto Ai Pini – offering a selection of traditional Swiss dishes and seafood specialties.
- Ristorante Pizzeria Grotto Ticinese – offering a selection of delicious pizzas and other Italian dishes.
- Ristorante Grotto Bracelli – offering traditional Swiss and Italian cuisine
- Ristorante Al Lido – offering breathtaking views and a menu of Italian and international dishes.
10. Take A Boat Trip
This is a great activity to do before or after your visit to Morcote, especially if you arrived by public transport. You can take the boat directly between Morcote and Lugano, a short but sweet trip via the water. You can buy tickets directly at the ferry terminal, else to do it online with the SBB.
Morcote Switzerland hotels
If you wish to stay longer in Morcote Switzerland than just a day trip from Lugano, here are the top hotel and B&B locations well recommended in the area:
- Relais Castello Di Morcote
- Swiss Diamond Hotel Lugano
- Casa Angiolina
- Albergo Al Battello
- Casa Al Sole
- Arbostora Charme Hotel
The benefit of staying in one of these Morcote hotels overnight is for a pleasant stay in one of Ticino‘s beautiful villages. Mornings in Morcote are extremely peaceful, with locals getting up for work and local restaurants opening up their terrace areas for you to sit for a coffee. Once the sun rises above the mountains, Morcote is a mini paradise of relaxation. Plus if you stay for an evening or two, on a clear night you can stargaze the night away due to the lack of light pollution in the area.
Summary Morcote Switzerland
In short, Morcote is a charming and picturesque town that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or local food, there’s something in Morcote for you to enjoy. We recommend to visit in the Spring or Summer, but all year round the village is welcoming.
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