Nestled in the heart of Switzerland’s picturesque Ticino region, Lugano is a city that effortlessly combines the allure of lakeside beauty and the Alps, but we want to highlight some amazing, memorable day trips from Lugano with our post. So while the city itself is a destination worth savoring, it’s the surrounding treasures within Ticino, within Switzerland and nearby Italy locations that truly helps add to its charm.
In this blog post, we invite you to check these unforgettable locations for day trips from Lugano. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history enthusiast, a food lover, or simply in search of breathtaking Swiss or Italian scenery, Lugano offers an abundance of day trip options to suit every taste.
Read on as we share more than 17 hidden gems, outdoor wonders and cultural treasures that await you just beyond Lugano’s borders. Your next unforgettable day trips from Lugano adventure starts right here!
Day Trips From Lugano
We personally live in Lugano since 2022, but we also love taking day trips from Lugano, with many choices such as North of the Swiss Alps, scenic drives around and to Italy in the South. So this post is written from experience of our own explorations from Lugano.
We would like to highlight that there are plenty of locations to visit as day trips from Lugano within the Ticino Canton of Switzerland as well as within Switzerland and Italy, which we have also included in this post. Our post is split up with three main categories:
- Ticino specific day trips from Lugano
- Switzerland Specific Day Trips From Lugano
- Italy Specific Day Trips From Lugano
Is lugano worth visiting as The base?
Yes! Check our 13 reasons why Lugano is worth visiting to get inspired. It’s a great location base for exploring Southern Switzerland as well as Northern Italy!
Plus Lugano is often missed off many Switzerland travel lists by tourists, so we hope this day trip list helps inspire you to check out Lugano as well as other locations!
Day Trips From Lugano Within Ticino Switzerland
Here are our suggested Ticino specific day trips from Lugano Switzerland:
Locarno is a beautiful and in our opinion a less touristic location to visit for a day trip. Located not far from Bellinzona, Locarno sits on the Northern edge of the stunning Lake Maggiore.
Home to lots of little boats, a peaceful beach and a quaint little square of restaurants, Locarno is a stunning location for a peaceful day out. We personally love enjoying a walk along the promenade before grabbing a bite to eat at a local restaurant, such as Ristorante Sensi with a view of the lake.
Tip: For something fun, consider this Escape Room across Locarno!
The highlight of visiting Locarno includes a hiking and mountain trip to the top of Cimetta. You can get there by first taking the Madonna del Sasso funicular from Locarno. This is the first funicular, which you can then change to the ski lift and then a little chairlift. Our visit to Cimetta was really great, which is good to do in all weather types!
There are often events also held in Locarno, so check the local tourism before visiting. For example, we’ve enjoyed Locarno with the following events, Moon & Stars Festival, Locarno Film Festival and the Luci e Ombre Air Show.
How to get to Locarno from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Locarno takes only …. minutes with a direct train.
Driving from Lugano to Locarno takes 54 minutes and its only 45 KM.
With many charming locations in Ticino to choose a day trip from, Ascona is a gorgeous location worth considering. Ascona is a charming lakeside village, home to under 6,000 locals.
There are lot’s to see and do in Ascona, such as swimming at Lido di Ascona, hiking to the local viewpoint and getting your steps in while visiting all the boutique stores. The village is car-free, with lots of alleyways and cobblestoned streets to get lost in.
The waterfront promenade is the place to be for dinner time. There are plenty of restaurants along the lakeside area, all serving fresh local delicacies as well as the Italian cuisine of pizzas and pastas. Make a table reservation at Ristorante Osteria Nostrana (It’s our favourite place!) under the trees for a delicious meal. Bring a cardigan or scarf to wrap around yourself for colder evenings, else make sure to sit under one of the outdoor heaters they have for a cosy dinner.
Depending on the date you visit, they may be hosting a local event. The events range from music, The local tourism page has all the events listed, such as watching fireworks for new years day!
From Ascona, you can also visit the Isole di Brissago botanical gardens on the island nearby. There are multiple trips a day with the large touristic boat, but a fun and faster suggestion is to book the local water taxi instead. However please check the opening times, as this island is not open all year round and weather permitting.
Ascona is one of our personal favourite locations on a sunny day. Check our detailed post for more inspiration.
How to get to Ascona from Lugano?
Train and bus journey from Lugano to Ascona takes between 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes depending on what train you first take.
Driving from Lugano to Ascona takes 44 minutes and it’s only 45 KM.
Morcote, voted Switzerland most prettiest village back in 2016, is a day trip close by to the city of Lugano.
The village has a rich history, with the 14th century Church of Santa Maria del Sasso as one of the highlights and photogenic points in the village. We lost count on how many steps from the promenade to the church was, but we guess it’s at least 300-400 steps to the church and viewpoints above. Well worth the climb!
Morcote is best for many outdoor activities, such as to visit the botanical gardens Giardino Botanico Suizo, walking the lakeside promenade and a special wooden swing with a stunning view. It’s a definite highlight on our day trips from Lugano post!
Of course stopping at a local restaurant for something Italian or Swiss to eat is a must when in Morcote. Find a table at Osteria Portici on the terrace for some relaxation with deliciously prepared food. You can watch the local boats pass by on Lake Lugano next to you as well as spot fish in the water.
Morcote also has a few boutique shops for buying something local if you want to take something home with you. There is one specific store called Al Vasaio which has a wide range of souvenirs and gifts.
During warmer days the local boat is the best way to arrive and leave with, which departs multiple times a day during the summer back to locations such as to Melide, Lugano and Gandria. They also ofter also a day ticket just to enjoy Ticino by lake so you can squeeze in more locations in a day if you wish.
How to get to Morcote from Lugano?
There are three public transport journey options from Lugano to Morcote:
- 37 minutes with a direct bus
- 27 minutes with a train and then bus
- 1 hour with the local boat (most enjoyable route on a sunny day!)
Driving from Lugano to Morcote takes 24 minutes and it 12 KM. There is a 2 story parking garage at the start of the village, else paid street parking is possible if you can find a spot.
Bellinzona is quite a highlight as one of our day trips from Lugano suggestions, located in centrally in Ticino. Bellinzona is the capital of the Ticino canton, where there are many things to see and do while visiting.
To start with, Bellinzona is beautifully known for its’ 3 UNESCO World Heritage castles that are dotted in and around the city. Given this title in 2000, you can visit all during a day trip (by walking or local transport), with all castle grounds and walls being free to wander. They all have something unique worth knowing, with a museum or exhibit you can attend to learn more.
We highly suggest to choose your day trip to Bellinzona on a Saturday to enjoy the local market. You’ll be able to enjoy and see local sellers with products such as local honey, cold meats, Ticino wine and Swiss cheeses. You can also grab some snacks at the market and then follow a local walking tour around the city and river.
For a sit down restaurant in the heart of the city, find a table at il Piazza ristorante at the Piazza della Foca. They have some great local options as well as many Italian cuisine dishes on the lunch and dinner menus. I personally took my mum here and she swears she had her most delicious cheese risotto ever.
How to get to Bellinzona from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Bellinzona takes: 18 minutes with a direct S10 train.
Driving from Lugano to Bellinzona takes usually between 30 and 45 minutes and it’s 29 KM.
5. Verzasca valley
An exploration day trip for some nature, water and sunshine can be to the beautiful Verzasca Valley. See more specifically day trip locations in the valley include:
A highlight location for the Verszasca Vallay day trip is to visit Lavertezzo’s crystal clear waters, which attracts those who want to dip their toes in fresh waters. The water is rather cold, even in Summer, but from early Spring you will already witness locals having a quick dip or full-blown refreshing swim. One thing to keep in mind is that at some sections the water has stronger currents, so be careful where to swim. During summer months it can also get a VERY busy during the day time hours, so best to arrive a little early if visiting by car.
The Ponte dei Salti, which was built back in the 17th century can be found nearby Lavertezzo. This is a gorgeous double arched stone bridge that is picture perfect, with some bridge-jumping into the water from here!
Hiking in the Verzasca Valley is quite special too, with plenty of hikes to choose from based on your level of experience. A personal favourite route we recently enjoyed was along the river from Lavertezzo South, but you can also hike North. There was not too much elevation changes, peaceful from the local landscape and water, as well as meeting some local wildlife and past local stone houses. Hiking along the valley is great as there are plenty of bus stops to get public transport back to your car.
We think everyone should experience a day trips from Lugano visit to Lavertezzo, even if you have just half a day to visit! It’s so pretty and peaceful and you’ll definitely want to dip your feet in (or more) on a hot day!
How to get to Lavertezzo from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to the Lavertezzo takes 1 hour and 6 minutes. This is first with a RE90 train and then 1 change to the local 321 bus.
Driving from Lugano to the Lavertezzo takes 45 minutes and it 37 KM. However there is not much parking throughout, so keep this in mind if visiting with a car on a busy Summer weekend.
The village of Corippo, located in the Ticino canton, is just that! With quaint little granite houses, a local historical church and plenty of surrounding nature, the village is possible to visit as well as sleep the night at. It is a perfect pitstop while on a local hike in the Verzasca valley too.
It is a charming little village that you can spot from the main road along the Verzasca valley, can be best visited with local transporation such as the public bus.
Since Corippo is such a small village, you may expect that there is not actually that much to see, but it is still rather special to see with your own eyes during a day trip. The houses are very pretty for those who enjoy photography, especially during the Spring flowering seasons.
Many also like to visit Corippo while hiking in the area, which most people first visit the village before visiting the beautiful crystal clear waters on a hot Summers day. It’s truly a paradise location in Ticino!
How to get to Corippo from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to the Corippo valley takes 1 hour 22 minutes. This is first with a RE90 train and then 1 change to the local 321 bus.
Driving from Lugano to the Corippo valley takes 1 hour and it 48.5 KM. However there is not much parking, so we advise taking public transport and hiking!
The village is located at the very end of the valley and is home to under 100 residents. The village is one of the most peaceful, picturesque locations in Ticino. The village has mostly stone houses and typical alleys filled with the most colourful flowers. You definitely don’t want to rush your visit when walking and exploring the cobblestoned pathways.
A special highlight in Sonogno is the marvelous La Froda waterfall, which is just a short walking journey along the pathways. The waterfall, called Cascata La Froda, is easily reachable and definitely a waterfall you should visit with friends, loved ones and children!
How to get to Sonogno from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to the Sonogno valley takes 1 hour and 39 minutes. This is first with a RE90 train and then 1 change to the local 321 bus.
Driving from Lugano to the Sonogno valley takes minimun 1 hour and 15 minutes and it 63 KM.
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.
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, which is closeby for one of our day trips from Lugano.
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.
The village is filled with cobblestone alleyways, which you can spend all your time exploring. You can also combine the visit to Gandria with a stop at the Customs Museum. After that, make sure to bring your swimwear as you can take a dip in the lake!
We think everyone should experience a day trips from Lugano visit to Gandria, even if you have just half a day to visit with the bus – but best is to walk there and back. It’s so pretty and peaceful!
How to get to Gandia from Lugano?
The most beautiful way to arrive to Gandria 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 walking from Lugano city.
By car, it would take 12-15minutes only, with a parking area at the top of the village. From there you need to walk down.
By bus, it takes only 19 minutes.
7. Vallemaggia District
Following the valley from Locarno and Ascona, the Vallemaggia District is truly beautiful all year round. We personally enjoyed a drive through here many times and have always enjoyed it. Following the road, you can end up all the way at Lago di Sassilo and Lago del Narèt!
The district is also home to many beautiful villages along the way, following the river and past many waterfalls. It’s an idyllic location that many locals visit during good weather for hiking and swimming, as well as tourists flocking to the district for exploring.
There’s also some delicious Ticino grotto restaurants, where you can stop for a local drink and bite to eat. They provide some amazing local polenta, meats, cheeses, salads and warm dishes.
We’ll have a specific blogpost coming soon for the Vallemaggia district soon!
How to get to Vallemaggia from Lugano?
There is a public bus that you can take up and down the valley leaving from Locarno, which is number 315. So you first have to get from Lugano to Locarno, which can be with a short, direct train ride. Once you are at the bus, which has a daily timetable, you can choose to visit any points in the valley. However it is best you check this on your choice of day to be sure you won’t miss the last one or get to the station/stops too early!
Driving from Lugano to Vallemaggia takes 1 hour and 30 minutes and it’s 75 KM based on heading towards the end of the valley. So if you visit the start of the valley, then of course this is less time and less KMs.
Important Local Travel Tips For Ticino
Here are some important travel tips when visiting Ticino:
When staying at a hotels, youth hostel or campsites in Ticino, most if not all of them will offer a “Ticino Ticket”. This is a digital card that gives you free transportation on the local buses, trains and boats. It also provides discounts at local partners within Ticino – such as for shops, museums and local activities. This is super ideal to get if you are only visiting for a few days and it’ll save you money! So if your hospitality offers this, take it and enjoy!
Local Offers In Lugano
Local boat companies on Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano offers day tickets just to enjoy Ticino on the water, so you can squeeze in closer lakeside locations in a day if you wish. This is great when you want to have a day trip within Ticino to one of the little villages nearby.
The funicular of Monte San Salvatore offers a discounted return ticket if you make a reservation at the restaurant at the top for the dish of the day. This is great to save money if you plan to eat at the top with the stunning view. The food in our opinion has always been great so we can totally suggest this.
For saving money on food in Lugano (for taking with you on day trips), consider grabbing a healthy lunch from the supermarket. All supermarkets, with our favourite being Coop, have a wide choice of fresh lunch dishes for takeaway. These include fresh chicken or vegetarian salads, poke bowls, sushi combos, tofu mix dishes and more. My personal favourite includes the pesto pasta with mozzarella and rucola salad.
If you do not get the Ticino Ticket for free transporation, you can consider keeping a look out for the local super saver tickets from the SBB. These are cheaper tickets you can buy, usually in advance, that are non refundable but also cheaper for travelling with. This is great to choose when taking a day trip within Switzerland from Lugano.
Day Trips From Lugano To Other Switzerland
Switzerland Specific Day Trips From Lugano Switzerland:
How far is Zurich to Lugano? not far at all, making it easy for a day trip!
Zurich, being Switzerland’s largest city, is a great location that combines a rich history with a vibrant modern culture, making Zurich a must-visit destination for one of our day trips from Lugano. The Altstadt Old Town is a charming labyrinth of cobblestone streets, where medieval and renaissance buildings transport you back in time. You can spend a day alone just walking the Zurich streets and alleyways.
For points of interested, you can consider exploring the Grossmünster and Fraumünster churches, both boasting impressive architectural and artistic significance. The city also has a large commitment to art and culture, which you can experience in numerous museums, galleries, and theaters. The Kunsthaus Zurich, one of Switzerland’s most important art museums, boasts an impressive collection of classic and contemporary art.
Tip: Make sure to book in advance your ticket to the Lindt Chocolate Museum!!
By Lake Zurich, you can relax along its pristine shores, ideal for picnics, boat rides, or leisurely walks. The view of the Swiss Alps in the distance adds to the serene atmosphere. You can combine this with a guided city tour if you prefer.
For a deeper dive into Switzerland’s history and culture, the Swiss National Museum showcases a diverse collection of artifacts, art, and exhibitions that reveal the nation’s heritage.
When in Zurich, don’t miss trying traditional Swiss fondue or raclette. This can be tasted all year round, but better during Winter when you need warming up with food!
We can also suggest visiting Zurich for a day trip for the Christmas Markets!
How to get to Zurich from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Zurich takes: 2 hours 30 minutes with a direct train. This is easiest option and the prettiest, with the route going through a few tunnels but also past local lakes and villages.
Driving from Lugano to Zurich takes 2 hours and 20 minutes and it 207 KM.
Lucerne, also spelt Luzern, is a picture-perfect destination known for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage. It’s a favourite of ours to visit Lucerne for a day and more!
One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke). This historic wooden bridge, adorned with a tower, offers picturesque views of the city and Lake Lucerne, making it a must-visit spot for any traveler. It’s something you would definitely see when visiting on a day trip.
The city itself is stunning, with cobblestoned car-free streets and the cutest shops and restaurants. We have been many times for shopping and events, like Lilu Light Festival, and love the city. We also have eaten at places such as Mirch Masala Restaurant (Indian) and Pacifico (Mexican).
Lake Lucerne is another jewel of the city. Its crystal-clear waters, set against a backdrop of majestic mountains, create a serene setting for boat trips, swimming, and lakeside picnics. The sight of the surrounding natural beauty is simply mesmerizing.
For things to do, you can consider visiting the Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz), the famous Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal) or otherwise to the local mountain of Pilatus. It’s easy to do in a day from Lugano, where you can take a cable car or cogwheel train to the peak! If interested, you can get a guided tour for your day here!
Top tours to choose from in Lucerne:
- A Historic Walking Tour with Chocolate & Cheese Tastings
- An enjoyable 1-Hour Cruise on Panoramic Yacht on the lake
- A Swiss Museum of Transport Full Day Pass
How to get to Lucerne from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Lucerne takes: 2 hours and 39 minutes with a direct train.
Driving from Lugano to Lucerne takes 2 hours and 20 minutes with the car, which is 168 KM.
Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland, is a charming and historic gem nestled in the Alps not far from Lugano. With a history dating back over 5,000 years, Chur boasts a rich cultural heritage that can be seen in its well-preserved architecture and museums. The city’s Old Town, with its narrow winding streets and medieval buildings, exudes an atmosphere of timeless beauty.
We love the city centre of Chur, with lots of hidden restaurants and boutiques to shop at. We suggest stopping at Restaurant Calanda for a delicious meal and a drink!
Chur is not only known for its history but also its natural surroundings. It serves as a gateway to the stunning landscapes of the Swiss Alps, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, skiing, and mountain biking are just a few of the activities that draw visitors to the region year-round. If you are visiting on a day trip, you can consider taking the chairlift to the peak of the local mountain.
Tip: Try a Chur Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour for fun!
How to get to Chur from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Chur takes 2 hours and 32 minutes as the quickest route. This is with a local bus and train.
By car, the drive takes 2 hours and 6 minutes with 147 KM.
Day Trips From Lucano To Italy Locations
Italy Specific Day Trips From Lugano Switzerland
Milan as you may know is a dynamic metropolis, standing as a global center of fashion, design, art, and commerce. It’s a great city to visit for a day trip from Lugano with a direct train taking you straight to Milan into the city.
Renowned for its cosmopolitan vibe and historical significance, Milan seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. The city’s iconic symbol, the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano), is a breathtaking Gothic masterpiece that dominates the central Piazza del Duomo. We highly recommend that you visit also the rooftop of the Duomo, with beautiful views all around the city and a great experience. We did this on a cloudy day but it was still enjoyable.
Fashion enthusiasts also flock to Milan for its prestigious Fashion Week and designer boutiques. So if you like fashion, Milan is the place to be! However keep in mind your budget, since there are affordable shops as well as the most expensive!
We have visited Milan many times together and with friends, with it being such as social city and great place for shopping. Highly suggested for a day for good food, things to do and shopping!
How to get to Milan from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Milan takes 1 hour and 15 minutes with a direct train.
Driving from Lugano to Milan takes 1 hour 15 minutes and it 78.7 KM. There are plenty of parking locations in the city, so please check this based on where you would want to park and what you would want to see and do. We can suggest also parking just outside of the city and taking the metro into the city best.
12. Lake Como
An exploration day trip for some beautiful lakeside locations and sunshine can be to Lake Como and it’s stunning villages. See more specifically day trip locations by the lake include:
With a history dating back to Roman times, Como is a lovely city to stop at for a day trip.
Como in our opinion is great for just a day trip, and the iconic Como Cathedral (Duomo di Como) is a definite highlight, which stands as a testament to its architectural heritage, showcasing Gothic and Renaissance elements.
The city of Como is a great place to shop for those wanting to spend some euros too. There are many unique stores here as well as some of the well known brands. Locals from surrounding areas visit Como for their shopping as well. The benefits of visiting Como for shopping is that there are also shops here that you cannot find in Lugano.
Como has a wide range of restaurants too, most serving delicious Italian cruise but also a few international treats. There are also restaurants selling fresh lake fish dishes and traditional Lombard cuisine. We suggest stopping at a restaurants near Piazza Alessandro Volta, such as:
- Vintage Jazz Food & Wine
- Mediterranee Bistrot di mare Pizza
We think everyone should experience a day trips from Lugano visit to Como, even if you have just half a day to visit. There’s a little something for everyone in Como!
Try these for additional fun:
- A Guided Electric Bike Tour with iPad and Audio Helmet around Como
- A ticket in advance at Villa Del Balbianello
- Go exploring with this Guided City Walking Tour with Cruise Ticket
How to get to Como from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Como takes 1 hour with a direct train. We suggest this transport best, as parking in Como and around Lake Como can be quite a struggle during peak periods and weekends.
Driving from Lugano to the city of Como takes 44 minutes and it 34 KM.
For a romantic, idyllic known location in Italy, find yourself spending time at Menaggio, which is one of the villages in the heart of Lake Como.
This little village has everything you need for a day trip. Little cafes, good weather, restaurants by the lake, possible boat trip, overall picturesque and full of Italian charm.
To highlight in more detail, the restaurants here have the cutest terraces to relax at while enjoying a local Italian dish. It’s peaceful to take a coffee and dream away while sat right next to the lake with gorgeous views. A recommendation for a coffee with a view is to find a table at Caffè Centrale.
Spring and Summer for Menaggio is the best, when the village is the most prettiest with flowers, sunshine and the warm heat of the season.
For those wanting to swim directly in Lake Como, head to the Spiaggia Lerai beach area, which is less than 10 minutes from the centre of Menaggio. It’s a rocky beach, so don’t expect sand, but still perfect for those wanting to swim, sunbath and relax with a book.
How to get to Menaggio from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Menaggio takes 2 hours 14 minutes with one RE90 train and the local bus.
Driving from Lugano to Menaggio takes 46 minutes and it 28 KM.
Lake Lugano is very close to Lake Como. Want to know the differences and similarities are with Lake Lugano vs Lake Como? Read on!
Bellagio is a picturesque town located on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy. It’s known for its breathtaking beauty and charming atmosphere.
You can stroll along the lakeside promenade, visit beautiful gardens like Villa Melzi, and explore the narrow, winding streets of the historic town center. When I personally visited with my mum, we first took the touristic dotto train to get an understanding of the area, which provided tour information in English. This then helped us get on and off at different locations around Bellagio to explore by foot!
Bellagio is often referred to as the “Pearl of Lake Como” due to its elegance and natural splendor. We can see why it’s a popular destination for tourists, with its’ serene lake, boating options and the most delicious Italian cuisine at the numerous restaurants.
We think everyone should experience a day trips from Lugano visit to Bellagio, with it being such a beautiful day out via the lake. It’s such a pretty location, so even going and just relaxing is worth it!
How to get to Bellagio from Lugano?
For a Lugano to Bellagio day trip, there are a few routes you can take.
By car, you can first choose to drive from Lugano to Menaggio, which takes around 40 minutes without traffic. Then take the boat to Bellagio, which is not take more than 30 minutes. The local boats are very frequent in the Spring and Summer, but in Autumn and Winter please check the times beforehand.
By public transport, you will first need to head to Como with a direct train from either Lugano Central train station or Lugano Paradiso train station. Then once you have arrived in Como, you can take a local bus or boat (depending on the season) up to Bellagio directly.
Varenna is known for its enchanting waterfront promenade, lined with cafes and restaurants where one can savour local delicacies while enjoying breathtaking views across the lake. The village’s narrow cobblestone streets wind their way through centuries-old houses adorned with colourful flowers, creating a romantic ambiance that captivates visitors.
You can walk around Varenna and find yourself easily lost between the alleyways. Between these, many little restaurants can be found hidden, with a few chairs and tables for a bite to eat. We suggest you find a table at any of the locations, since all that we have tried have been great. They really strive on tourism, so most also provide international dishes as well as local cuisine.
We have personally eaten at Albergo del Sole Ristorante Pizzeria, which we can definitely recommend! Two pizzas and two Aperol spritz was perfect and affordable under 40 euros, which was also during our Summer visit.
Book one of these for additional fun:
- Enjoy a Picnic Experience in the Italian Alps with loved ones and friends!
- Or try a Cooking Class at a Local’s Home
- Else to explore these Lakeside Villas with Entry Tickets with Ferries
How to get to Varenna from Lugano?
For a Lugano to Varenna day trip, there are a few routes you can take.
Public transport journey from Lugano to Varenna takes hours 2 hours and 20 minutes with a direct train and then bus and boat. It’s nice with public transport as you will travel along Lake Como, which on a sunny day is stunning.
Driving from Lugano to Varenna takes only 1 hour and 17 minutes, which includes the boat trip from Menaggio to Varenna with your car. You can choose to leave the car in Menaggio and take the boat as public transport.
Bergamo has a captivating blend of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. It is often overlooked by tourists, but we think it’s well worth your time to visit during this Lombardy Road Trip route.
Divided into two distinct parts – Città Alta (Upper Town) and Città Bassa (Lower Town) – Bergamo offers a unique experience to visitors, which is great to explore for those alone, with kids or loved ones!
Città Alta, perched on a hill, boasts medieval and Renaissance architecture, cobbled streets, and magnificent piazzas. The iconic Piazza Vecchia stands at its heart, surrounded by historic buildings like the Palazzo della Ragione and the Civic Tower.
Descending to Città Bassa, a more modern ambiance prevails, featuring elegant boutiques, vibrant markets, and inviting cafes. Bergamo’s culinary scene beckons with local delights such as casoncelli pasta and polenta taragna.
Tip: For the foodies, take this recommended 3.5-Hour Traditional Food Tour!
How to get to Bergamo from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Bergamo takes 2 hours 21 minutes with two trains (via Milan) as the quickest.
Driving from Lugano to Bergamo takes 1 hour 30 minutes and it’s 120 KM.
Varese, a charming town in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, offers a delightful mix of natural beauty and cultural attractions.
One of the town’s prominent attractions is the Sacred Mount of Varese (Sacro Monte di Varese). This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a collection of 14 chapels, each dedicated to the life of Christ, nestled amidst lush woodlands. The pilgrimage route to the summit provides both a spiritual experience and spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
Art enthusiasts should make a point to visit Villa Panza, a historic mansion turned art museum. It boasts a remarkable collection of contemporary art, as well as rotating temporary exhibitions. The villa itself is a work of art, with beautifully landscaped gardens.
Varese is also home to the Giardini Estensi, a picturesque park that surrounds the Este Castle. This green oasis is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a quiet moment of relaxation.
Varese’s historic center has many beautiful charming streets, quaint cafes, and boutiques – great for exploring all by foot. The Basilica di San Vittore stands as a notable architectural gem, showcasing the town’s rich heritage.
Varese’s culinary scene is another highlight. Local trattorias and restaurants serve up delicious regional dishes, including risotto and polenta, providing a place to be for food lovers.
We think everyone should experience a day trips from Lugano visit to Varese, and we hope to also visit again soon ourselves!
How to get to Varese from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Varese takes only 48 minutes with a direct train.
Driving from Lugano to Varese takes around 1 hour driving without traffic and it’s only 50 KM.
Nestled in the heart of the Italian Alps, Domodossola is a delightful town you can visit on a day trip from Lugano. Its historic old town is a must-visit, like other Italian locations, Domodossola has cobblestone streets and medieval architecture.
The Piazza Mercato, a bustling market square, is surrounded by charming cafes and shops, making it a perfect spot to soak in the local atmosphere. Every Saturday, the Domodossola market comes alive, offering a vibrant and authentic experience. We recommend visiting on this day to try all the local delicacies, buy something unique and enjoy the local atmosphere.
One of the town’s cultural gems is the Sacred Art Museum (Museo d’Arte Sacra), located within the Collegiata di San Bartolomeo. This museum boasts a remarkable collection of religious art and artifacts, providing a window into the rich cultural heritage of Domodossola.
Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Alpine landscape, Domodossola provides easy access to nearby valleys such as the Anzasca Valley and Formazza Valley, where you can witness the awe-inspiring Toce Waterfall. This natural beauty serves as a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Additionally, Domodossola’s strategic location as an important railway hub makes it an ideal starting point for exploring the Italian and Swiss Alps by train. We also visited on our way to Zermatt one vacation, where we took the scenic train from Domodossola back to Switzerland! It’s the local train worth also taking if its a beautiful day such as in Autumn or Winter – as it has the most prettiest views of the valley!
How to get to Domodossola from Lugano?
Public transport journey from Lugano to Domodossola takes 3 hours 20 minutes with local transport, which can be quite a while for a day trip – but we wanted to include it anyway as the scenic train makes it special to get there.
Driving from Lugano to Domodossola takes around 2 hours only and it’s 94 KM.
Verbania is a charming town nestled on the western shore of Lake Maggiore. It is renowned for its picturesque lakeside location, mild climate, and lush gardens, making it a delightful destination for both locals and tourists alike. The town is divided into two distinct areas: Intra and Pallanza, each offering its unique character. It is very similar to Ascona in Switzerland.
Intra is the more urban and bustling part, with a vibrant market, shops, and historical sites like the Civic Archaeological Museum. In contrast, Pallanza is known for its relaxed atmosphere, beautiful promenades, and well-manicured gardens, such as the Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens, which houses an impressive collection of exotic plants.
Lake Maggiore itself provides ample opportunities for water sports, boat trips to the Borromean Islands, and lakeside dining. With its stunning views of the surrounding mountains and serene waters, Verbania offers a serene retreat and a glimpse into the natural beauty and tranquility of the Italian Lakes region.
Tip: Take a Private Boat Tour with Pickup/Drop-off for a bit of luxury!
How to get to Verbania from Lugano?
Driving from Lugano to Verbania takes 1 hour and 30 minutes and it’s 85KM. This is most easiest since you are crossing the Swiss-Italian border. You can reach it either by driving via Ascona in Switzerland and heading South. Else you need to drive South of Lago Maggiore and drive North instead.
Turin, a charming city nestled in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and culinary delights. Known for its majestic architecture and rich heritage, Turin boasts an array of must-see attractions.
Start your journey with a visit to the iconic Mole Antonelliana, which houses the National Cinema Museum and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city. The Royal Palace of Turin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcases opulent Baroque architecture and royal history.
Tip – Buy this in advance to save time: Royal Palace Skip-the-Line Guided Tour tickets
Turin is also celebrated for its role in the automotive industry, and the National Automobile Museum pays tribute to this legacy. It’s a great day trip from Lugano when you are a car enthusiast. The city’s historic cafes, such as Caffè Al Bicerin, offer a taste of Turin’s famous Bicerin coffee.
For art enthusiasts, the Egyptian Museum houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt. Foodies will relish the city’s culinary scene, renowned for its chocolate, regional wines, and delectable Piedmontese cuisine.
Explore Turin’s vibrant markets, like Porta Palazzo, and take leisurely strolls along the Po River. With its rich history, cultural treasures, and delectable cuisine, Turin is a captivating destination for travelers.
We think everyone should experience a day trips from Lugano visit to Turin, and we hope to also visit again soon ourselves next year!
How to get to Turin from Lugano?
Train journey from Lugano to Turin takes: 2 hours 38 minutes. The journey can be done with two trains only, first from Lugano to Milan and then second from Milan to Turin.
Driving from Lugano to Turin takes 2 hours 33 minutes and it 188 KM.
Cannobio is known for its beautiful waterfront promenade, lined with cafes and restaurants where one can savour local dishes while enjoying breathtaking views across the lake. The village’s cobblestone streets is a popular visit among tourists, but also has a strong homely vibe for locals.
There is a weekly Sunday market during good weather where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. It’s also a great opportunity to buy something local such as piece of clothing, leather bags and accessories.
The lake is Lago Maggiore, which is partly in Italy and partly in Switzerland. You can consider a boat trip to many villages around the lake for an activity in good weather, such as Verbania or Ascona.
It’s worth visiting on a sunny day best, but can be cosy to sit also at a local restaurant when raining. The locals are very welcoming and happy to have you as company.
For the adventurous types, hike up to Monte Giove at elevation 1298 meters or to the Orrido of Saint Anna scenic nature spot. Else to go swimming in the lake!
For those looking for Italian dishes, we recommend a table at Oggi Pasta. It’s a small, hidden restaurant down one of the streets, but super cosy, fast service with delicious pastas and pizzas.
How to get to Cannobio from Lugano?
Driving from Lugano to Cannobio takes 1 hour and 9 minutes and it’s 58 KM. This is the most easiest, where you can cross the border with the easy border security area along Lake Maggiore.
Summary Day Trips From Lugano
We hope that a location or more on our ‘day trips from Lugano‘ list has caught your attention, that you will also consider exploring! It depends on how far you wish to travel for a day trip, but all destinations are doable based on what mode of transport you take.
We personally LOVE living in Lugano, but we also LOVE exploring around Lugano. Most of these locations we have visited ourselves, which you can head back up to the destination that you like and see our specific posts about that place. If there isn’t a specific post yet, it’s likely in our draft posts so then it’s coming soon!
If you have any other day trip suggestions we should also add to the post, do let us know by reaching out to us!