A Guide To Lugano, Switzerland's Best-Kept Secret

Lugano offers numerous experiences to soothe the soul and the wanderlust in you. If you are planning a summer sojourn across Europe, stop at Lugano for a blissful experience of the idyllic Swiss scapes.
Lake Lugano. Photo Credits Shutterstock.com
Lake Lugano. Photo Credits Shutterstock.com

Set on the southern side of Switzerland and nestled against Italy, temperate Ticino is the only Swiss Canton that unites the legendary Alpine landscape with warm Mediterranean colours. Often referred to as Switzerland's Sonnenstube (the German word for "sunny room"), Lugano was love at first sight. People from the country's northern parts flock here to enjoy a balmy Mediterranean climate that is mostly mild and sunny, even during winter.

Here you'll find palm-fringed promenades, baroque architecture, Medieval castles, Italian cuisine (oh, the pasta) and an enchanting, laid-back attitude that's impossible to resist. For three days, I enjoyed the Italian hospitality served with Swiss precision in Lugano and nearby places. I even got to try some unique experiences, such as invoking the 007 inside me at the highest bungy jumping point in Europe and visiting the smallest village in Switzerland. My timing couldn't have been more perfect, as, at the time of my arrival, the entire city was gearing up to welcome the Autumn season with its three-day autumn festival in early October in Lugano city. The town's lanes and piazzas featured a variety of Ticino gourmet specialities, local wine, cheese, and much more.  

Things To Do In Lugano

Lugano offers numerous experiences to soothe the soul and the wanderlust in you. When travelling across Switzerland or even embarking on a dreamy Europe trip, devote at least two to three days to this charming town. Here's everything you must do 

Sail Across Lake Lugano

This glacial lake is the soul of Lugano. No wonder that it also shares its name with the town. Majestic villas, picturesque mountains, including the Lugano Prealps and the Sighignola mountain, and tall alpine trees surround the 48 km stretch of crystal-clear waters. 

A Walk Around Town

A walk around Lugano offers a delightful blend of sights and attractions. Start by exploring the charming streets and squares of the city's Old Town (Centro Storico), with its medieval architecture and picturesque courtyards. Visit Piazza della Riforma, the vibrant central square, and soak in the lively atmosphere. Take a stroll through Parco Ciani, a beautiful lakeside park with stunning views of Lake Lugano. Marvel at the San Lorenzo Cathedral, an impressive Romanesque church adorned with frescoes and sculptures. Take a funicular ride to the top of Monte San Salvatore for breathtaking panoramic views. Discover art at the Museo d'Arte della Svizzera Italiana (MASI), showcasing modern and contemporary pieces. Wander along Via Nassa, the main shopping street, and indulge in shopping for fashion, jewellery, and Swiss chocolate. Explore the Olive Tree Path, meandering through olive groves with captivating lake views. Don't miss LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura, a cultural centre hosting exhibitions and performances. For a tranquil experience, head to Parco San Grato in Carona, a botanical garden offering peaceful walks and stunning flora displays.

Visit Mount Brè or Mount San Salvatore 

Mount Brè standing at an elevation of roughly 900 meters, is not to be missed. A vintage funicular (established in 1908) takes you to the top to witness the panoramic beauty of Lugano. The view spans about 180 degrees, taking in all of Lake Lugano, the surrounding mountains, much of Lugano, Switzerland and the Italian city of Porto Ceresio. Like Monte Brè, Lugano's Monte San Salvatore offers stunning views from a convenient vantage point. The city, most of the lake, and nearby mountains like Monte Brè and Monte Generoso can all be seen here. 

Dine At Piazza Della Reforma 

The neoclassical Piazza della Reforma is the beating heart of Lugano. It is renowned for its gastronomy and offers the best Italian, Swiss and uniquely "Ticinoian" fare. 

Bungy Jumping At 007 Bungy Jump site

Experience the world's most famous Bungy Jump, the highest in Europe at 220 meters (721 ft.) high. It offers a breathtaking view, an impressive drop, and a free fall of 7.5 seconds for a record-breaking adrenalin rush. Named after the original and legendary jump of the 007 movies, "GoldenEye", this place has been the site of many more films and stunt scene productions over the years, such as "Doom3", "Fire Ice & Dynamite, and "The Amazing Race".

Corippo The Smallest Village In Switzerland

After the thrill of jumping into the void, we took the bus to Corippo, one of the smallest villages in Switzerland, recently transformed into an Albergo Diffuso (a scattered hotel). The two passionate managers, D&eacutesir&eacutee and Jeremy, introduced me to this wonderful project that promotes the preservation of cultural heritage and the use of local products. It was impressive to learn that the old abandoned houses were smartly transformed into hotels and motels. At the same time, there was no damage done in the conversion of properties. 

Lugano And Sustainability

Like the rest of Switzerland, Lugano functions in line with the quintessentially Swiss sensitivity to the environment it encourages sustainable mobility through a reliable public transport system and a widespread Bike Sharing service. Since 2019 an Energy City, Lugano has fulfilled more than 50% of the required goals towards a more sustainable future. What I loved about the city is that sustainability is not merely lip service here but is actively practised in urban living, accommodations, and food. Some of the hotels that use the concept of hybrid hospitality are Luganodante, Hotel City Lugano, Hotel De La Paix 1, Hotel Federale, Hotel Lugano Dante, Hotel Splendide and Villa Castagnola. 

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