Lugano, situated in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which borders Italy, and is flanked by the peaks of San Salvatore and Monte Brè, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. The lake and the mountains provide many sports and sightseeing opportunities.
Following the Second World War, and particularly during the 1960s and 70s, thanks to an abundant flow of capital from Italy, Lugano experienced exponential growth becoming the third financial center of Switzerland, with over 100 banks in town, and became one of the country's top business and conference centers.
The town center is characterized by Mediterranean-style squares and arcades, piazzas, cafes, and cobblestone streets, and numerous parks with sub-tropical plants such as the Parco Civico on the shores of Lake Lugano. By the lakeside promenade are the Belvedere Gardens, where the parkland boasts not only camellias and magnolias, but also countless sub-tropical plants and modern works of art.
Art connoisseurs are attracted to this city of art and architecture by the high standard of the exhibitions it hosts. The Italian influence is everywhere. There is no shortage of old historic streets, and walking through the Old Town is a must for any visitor. Lugano holds annual festivals for jazz (June), autumn (October) and chocolate (December) lovers.
Two thirds of Lake Lugano are in Switzerland, and one third of the lake is in Italy. Bathing in the lake is allowed at any of the 50 or so bathing establishments located along the Swiss shores.There are numerous shipyards, water taxis and boat rental sites along the lake, as well as hotels and restaurants that offer mooring.
The area surrounding Lugano is home to over 186 miles of mountain biking trails, the largest net of trails in Switzerland. Monte Brè, Switzerland's sunniest spot, has a funicular that runs since 1912, and is also home to the village of Brè which is a fairly intact old village. Monte San Salvatore, which also has a funicular, is located on the outskirts of Lugano and provides an excellent view over the entire city.
When to Go: The best time to visit Lugano is between March and October. There is still snow on the Alps, the weather is mild, and there are far fewer tourists. Spring in Lugano is magnificent, with flowers in full, colorful grandeur. Summers are mild, in the mid 70's.
Featured Five Star Luxury Hotel
Villa Principe Leopoldo Hotel & Spa
Via Montalbano 5, Lugano
A princely villa and residence on the panoramic Collina d'Oro (Golden Hill) with breathtaking views of the lake and the mountains.
Five Star Super-Luxury Hotels
Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola au Lac
Viale Castagnola 31, Lugano
A luxurious, Mediterranean-style villa across the street from the lake.
Five Star Luxury Hotels
Grand Hotel Eden
Riva Paradiso 1, Lugano-Paradiso
This waterfront luxury hotel is a choice destination for guests in search of relaxed elegance and unadulterated serenity.
Hotel Splendide Royal
Riva A. Caccia 7, Lugano
Elegant, 19th- century architecture graces this hotel, whose guests include queens, presidents and celebrities.
Villa Principe Leopoldo Restaurant
Via Montalbano 5, Lugano
This award-winning restaurant under chef Dario Ranza is renowned for its quality and elegance. It features three quiet dining areas, well-distanced tables, marble, floral upholstery, Louis XVI chairs, and an impeccable service.
Piazza Emilio Bossi 7, Lugano
Across the street from the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, directly on the lake and surrounded by art and sculpture, Arté offers a very special dining experience, under the direction of chef Frank Oerthle and Maître d'hôtel Filippo Picardi.
Grand Café Al Porto
Via Pessina 3, Lugano
Right in the city center, this restaurant is Lugano's favorite venue for get-togethers, business lunches, cocktail parties or for tasting some of Al Porto's culinary creations in a unique atmosphere.
Motto del Gallo
Via Bicentenario 16, Taverne - Lugano
An excellent menu in an exquisite, 15th century hamlet.
Ristorante al Portone
Viale Cassarate 3, Lugano
Italian-style, modern cuisine in an elegant, sophisticated setting.
Via Fomelino 10, Sorengo - Lugano
Delectable cuisine in renovated, century-old grotto.
The bubbly and energetic Christa Branchi, a highly regarded multilingual professional tour guide and art historian with over 20 years of experience, provides unforgettable personalized guided tours of Lugano, the canton of Ticino and surrounding areas.
MUSEUMS & LANDMARKS
Parco Civico-Ciani, Lugano
Villa Ciani is surrounded by the City Park and represents, with its astounding beauty, one of the most enchanting corners of the gulf of Lugano. The name of the Villa and of the park is connected to the brothers Giacomo and Filippo Ciani (1778-1867) of Ticinese origin, but born in Milan and among the most eminent figures of Nineteenth century Lugano. They had the Villa built between 1840 and 1843, in replacement of a pre-existing Seventeenth century palace.
The Herman Hesse Museum
Torre Camuzzi, Montagnola
The Herman Hesse Museum in Montagnola, the first of its kind and the only one in Switzerland, preserves precious tokens of the last 43 years of the artist and painter, who died in Montagnola in 1962. The small but important museum is located in the Camuzzi Tower. In 1919, when Herman Hesse was forty-two, he rented a modest apartment here. In 1931, Herman Hesse moved with his third wife, Ninon, into the Pink House, in whose garden he took pleasure in growing flowers and vegetables. He became a Swiss citizen in 1924 and felt very much at home in Montagnola: the incredible landscape and the special conditions of light on the Golden Hill fascinated the artist. Tolerance, straightforwardness, integrity, farsightedness, these are some of the characteristics that have made him one of the most widely read German writers. His works have been translated in 54 languages; 100 million copies have been published globally.
Church of St. Mary of the Angels (Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli)
Built at the end of the 15th century, this church features beautiful frescoes by Bernardino Luini.
Mount Tamaro is one of the most appreciated spots of the region and supplies Alpine emotions at a stone's throw from the city. It offers a unique view of the pre-Alpine landscape, of lakes and the snowy peaks of the Alps.
Museum of Art (Museo d'Arte)
Riva Caccia 5, Lugano
Located in the 18th century Villa Malpensata.
The Alprose Chocolate Museum
Via Rompada 36, Caslano
The Alprose chocolate museum presents the world of chocolate from the origins to this day. From historical aspects and individual developments to the first production plants and today's varieties, it encompasses all aspects of this vital, basic food product. Apart from its didactic importance, the museum also highlights the tradition of Swiss chocolate making which is known for its excellence worldwide. A short drive from Lugano.
Cathedral of St. Lawrence (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)
Via Cattedrale, Lugano
Originally, a Romanesque church, with Renaissance doorways, a baroque interior, and a 16th century tabernacle.
Swiss Miniature Village
Via Cantonale, Melide-Lugano
Small replicas of the major buildings in Switzerland.
The Tassino Park
A tower with an extraordinary view awaits those who stroll the beautiful park's slope to the summit of the hill.
Via Cortivo 24, Lugano
A landmark building exhibiting objects from Oceania, Indonesia, and Africa.
PERFORMING ARTS & CULTURE
The Palazzo dei Congressi is the performing arts center for Lugano. It is a main hall for the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana.
The Lugano Festival runs during April and May, followed by the related "Progetto Martha Argerich" in June. Estival Jazz arrives in July. The Blues-to-Bop Festival in late August and early September turns the city into a hive of activity as thousands crowd the streets and piazzas for free open-air concerts.
Lugano features a broad range of shops and commercial centers, from luxury goods to antiques. Markets dot its signature roads and squares, offering everything from flowers to food. The main shopping hub is on the historic via Nassa, and the influences are both Teutonic and Mediterranean. There a number of sophisticated shops and a large department store on the Piazza Dante (Manor Centro). Small farmers sell their goods directly in the Lugano market in the city center. There is also a broad selection of flowers, fruits and vegetables, antiques and handicrafts.
Lugano offers a spectrum of night life opportunities, from gambling casinos and piano bars to the bars and cafes lining the town's historic center.
via Stauffacher 1, Lugano
Featuring a casino, elegant restaurants, and bars.
Piazzale Milano 1, Campione, Italy
Located in Campione, Italy, across from Lake Lugano, 20 minutes away by car or by ferry.