A beautiful city to visit, Lugano is blessed when it comes to its incredible setting; it lies on the shores of Lake Lugano, with Monte Bre and Monte San Salvatore looking over it. Located just south of the Alps in Switzerland, the mountainous region in which it is set is awe-inspiring to behold, and the views on offer are stupendous.
With an Italian feel, Lugano’s architecture, cuisine, and nearby lakeside villages are great fun to explore and visitors will never get tired of looking out over the dark blue waters of the lake.
Indeed, the picturesque landscapes on offer proved to be the inspiration for novelists such as Antonio Fogazzaro and Hermann Hesse, and it is easy to see why. With so much to see and do, Lugano is sure to astound and awe visitors with its amazing displays of pristine nature, delightful churches, and pretty parks.
10. Museo Hermann Hesse
Situated not far from Lugano is the delightful Hermann Hesse Museum. It is here that the famous writer lived for the last 43 years of his life. Casa Camuzzi, as it is known, is a beautiful brick building and now houses many items and memorabilia that once belonged to Hesse, such as a typewriter and various books and photos from his life.
It was here that he wrote his most famous works, including classics such as Siddhartha and the fantastic Steppenwolf. For fans of his work, there is also a great audio-guide tour which takes you around the quaint village where he lived – it was here that he became a Nobel Prize winner in 1946.
9. Villa Fogazzaro Roi
Actually located in Italy, the beautiful Villa Fogazzaro Roi lies along the shore of Lake Lugano, just a short trip away from the city. A peaceful and pretty place full of flowers, plants, and greenery, it is here that Antonio Fogazzaro – the Italian novelist – spent much of his life. From the descriptions that arise in his writing, you can see that he at times took inspiration from the villa.
Visiting it is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Some of his memorabilia and personal affairs still remain. The garden is delightful to spend time in, while the views over the glimmering lake are simply breathtaking.
Hugging the lakeside, this charming little town lies on the lower slopes of Monte Bre. It was incorporated into Lugano in 2004 and looks untouched by time, such is its picturesque appearance.
Wandering the small streets and steep stairways of the town is to step back in time. It is astonishing to think that this quaint place was once a hub for smugglers crossing between Italy and Switzerland.
The Swiss Customs Museum which documents these illegal activities is not far away and makes for an interesting visit. Tucked away amongst the narrow streets is a wonderful little church and a number of small cafes and restaurants.
7. Cattedrale di San Lorenzo
Beautiful to look at, the facade of il Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is made out of dazzlingly white limestone and marble and was erected in 1517. With delightful motifs and ornamentation above the three portals, and marble busts and rose carvings also on show, visits can hardly fail to be impressed with the cathedral.
From above, there is a lovely terrace which offers fantastic views of the Old Town – so delightfully framed by the mountains and lake. With a gorgeous bell tower rising above it, the cathedral with its wealth of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles is definitely worth stopping by when in Lugano.
6. Olive Trail
Starting off in the little town of Gandria, the Olive Trail (Sentiero di Gandria) meanders through ancient groves that hug the sun-bathed mountainside of Monte Bre. The hike is delightful and offers captivating views of the lake below.
Wandering amidst the terraces is liberating; you feel unencumbered and free as you wander through nature. There are lots of displays documenting the history of the olive trees and their cultivation. Perfect for nature lovers, this relaxing trail will leave you refreshed and ready to see the rest of Lugano’s amazing sights.
5. Piazza della Riforma
Lying at the heart of the Old Town, Piazza della Riforma is a must-see when in Lugano. Life revolves around this pretty square and it is here that the city hall is located. The pastel buildings that surround the piazza are so pretty, and there are many cafes, bistros, and restaurants for visitors to choose from.
A lively place, the square is great to head to during the evenings and at weekends when it is packed with locals and tourists. Lots of festivals and cultural events are held here throughout the year, so keep an eye out when visiting for anything going on.
4. Santa Maria degli Angioli Church
While the exterior of Santa Maria degli Angioli Church may not be that special, the interior is spectacular and certainly warrants a visit. An absolutely stunning fresco covers much of the walls inside and it really is marvelous to see the detail.
Considered to be the finest fresco dating to the Renaissance in the whole of Switzerland, it was painted by a student of Leonardo Da Vinci – Bernardino Luini. Wandering around the church is fascinating and one could spend hours gazing upon the vivid colors, the lively figures and religious scenes that it depicts.
3. Monte Bre
Located to the east of Lugano, Monte Bre is serviced by a delightful old funicular which transports visitors to its summit, which towers to a height of 925 meters over the city and lake below.
The vistas are stunning and the mountain is reputed to be the sunniest in the country; evidence of that can be seen in the rich fauna and flora. After taking in the view, visitors can enjoy some of the bike paths and hiking trails that snake around the mountain. The village of Bre is a picturesque place to stop by for a drink or something to eat.
2. Parco Civico
Lying alongside Lake Lugano, Parco Civico is a sprawling green area that is the perfect place to stroll around and relax after a morning of sightseeing. With lovely flower beds and fountains, it is a picturesque park full of trees and well-tended gardens.
In addition to its greenery, the park is also home to the Natural History Museum, the Cantonal Library, and the wonderful Villa Ciani. With beautiful views of Monte Bre and Monte San Salvatore, Parco Civico is the perfect spot to simply kick back, relax and watch the world go by.
1. Monte San Salvatore
Towering above Lugano and the lake of the same name, Monte San Salvatore really is awe-inspiring. Seeing the mountain reflected in the fresh water is a spectacular sight. A popular tourist attraction in Lugano, many visitors take the funicular up to the summit of the mountain. From the top, there are astounding 360-degree panoramas.
With the picturesque village of Carona perched high on the mountainside for visitors to wander around, and numerous paths and trails weaving their way around the mountain, there is lots to see and do.
More adventurous guests may enjoy the fabulous rock climbing on offer. For many, however, it is the jaw-dropping views of the lake, city, and Alps which make Monte San Salvatore a must-see when in Lugano.