Fusing Swiss and Mediterranean architectural influences, Lugano is a picturesque lakeside city surrounded by mountains. It boasts a distinct Italian heritage that is evident in the language and atmosphere, all within easy access of the Alpine landscapes of the Ticino region.
Things to do in Lugano
Spend an afternoon exploring the winding streets of the Old Town, which sprawls around the Palazzo Civico. Visit the Romanesque Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, which was originally built in the Middle Ages and houses impressive medieval frescoes within its Baroque interior.
Lugano lies on the northern shore of Lake Lugano, a magnificent glacial lake that can be explored by boat or along one of its numerous walking trails. For the best views, ride the red funicular from Paradiso station up to the top of Monte San Salvatore, where you can see Lugano’s red-tiled roofs scattering across the hillsides below.
The lakeside promenade is dotted with landscaped gardens and charismatic old buildings, such as the 18th-century Palazzo Riva. Be sure to stop at both the Palazzo dei Congressi and Villa Ciani along the way, which house art collections and historical museums.
Want to learn about rural life in the Ticino region? Make a day trip to the open-air Museo Etnografico Valle di Muggioin the village of Cabbio. Follow the designated trail to witness its traditional buildings, including the stone mill of Mulino di Bruzella and a cheese maker where you can try the local produce first-hand.
Getting around Lugano
Lugano-Agno Airport is 20 minutes’ drive west of Lugano and has flight connections across Europe. There are trains to Zurich, Basel, Geneva and Milan from Lugano Station, while the town itself is best explored on foot along its pedestrian-friendly streets.