If you are visiting Europe for the first time, and Switzerland is one of your destinations, then drop by Lugano, for a visit to the Lugano Prealps mountain range. Full of negative ions that refresh the body and mind, you will also get the chance to see Lake Lugano, which is surrounded by the mountains, for a mesmerising view. See artifacts like coins, jewellery and household items, in Aldesago and Davesco. And if you are a Catholic, worship at the Church of Saint Carpophorus, in Como, with its amazing stained glass designs. Alternatively, try the Gotthard Railway Line and experience the way of life and transport mode of the people there. Check out these best things to do in Lugano, Switzerland.
1. Visit the mountains of the Lugano Prealps
If you’re wondering what to do in Lugano, visit Lugano Prealps. It is a mountain range, located in southern Switzerland and northern Italy. It features stunning scenery at a high altitude, with frigid temperatures. The range has a series of majestic peaks, with the Pizzo di Gino, in Italy, as the highest point, at 7,363 feet (2,245 meters). The second highest peak in the range is the Camoghè and it sits in Switzerland at 7,301 feet (2,226 meters).
Remember to wear long underwear and leather winter boots to withstand the cold. Apply lip balm and facial moisturiser to protect your delicate skin from the howling winds. And observe the Girl Guide’s motto: Be Prepared. So, come prepared with all the necessary winter items, so you can fully enjoy your holidays, in Switzerland.
Address: Lugano Prealps Mountains
Website: Lugano Prealps
2. See Lake Lugano which is surrounded by the mountains
Lake Lugano is one of the most prominent Lugano, Switzerland points of interest. It is a beautiful lake, with clear, azure blue water, surrounded by the mountains. White swans can sometimes be seen swimming in this lake, which actually lies half in Switzerland and half in Italy. Nestled in between two other lakes, (Lake Maggiore and Lake Como), Lake Lugano is the smallest of three and is replete with peaceful scenery providing rest and relaxation for the mind, in the vastness of Mother Nature. But the lake is not only great for peace and quiet and is host to a wide variety of water sports and a vibrant city life, on its shores. Restaurants, cafes and hotels make Lugano city a complete tourist destination unto itself and a few days can easily be spent here, enjoying the lake and its surrounds.
You will be in enamoured by the scene and feel grateful to be able to experience these surroundings, in the high altitude of the Prealps. It is cathartic and rejuvenating for tired souls and a great escape from all the hustle and bustle of city life. Lake Lugano is a welcome respite from the concrete jungles of highly concentrated cities, like Penang or Singapore.
Address: Ticino Canton, Switzerland
Website: Lake Lugano
3. View artifacts like coins, jewelry and household items in Aldesago and Davesco
If you love museums and historical items, you should visit Aldesago and Davesco, for their artifacts like coins, jewellery and household items. The antique collectables that are displayed here, will provide useful information to visitors. Women will love the ancient jewellery that was created centuries ago. Those who study archaeology may want to visit these two places to enhance their lessons and experience first hand the creations man has made, a long time ago.
Others may enjoy the primitive models of household items that were used before their time. And if you are interested in antique coins and currency, you will enjoy viewing the collection of coins and notes that are longer in print. Hobbyists from around the world should not miss these exhibits, that are carefully curated and displayed, by theme.
Address: Aldesago, 6974, Switzerland
4. Worship at the church of Saint Carpophorus, in Como
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The Church of Saint Carpophorus, in Como, has an interesting history. Carpophorus was a Christian soldier, in the imperial Roman army, who was martyred in Como when he attempted to make his way to the Alps. To remember this soldier-saint, a church was built in Como, for worshippers to come from near and far, to pray with reverence and seek divine favours. A Catholic church, worshippers travel here to pray, seek blessings and remember this soldier who has been canonised by the Pope.
Church of Saint Carpophorus
Address: Como, Switzerland
Website: Church of Saint Carpophorus
5. Try the Gotthard Railway Line
The Gotthard Railway is the Swiss alpine railway, connecting northern and southern Europe. It was a significant boon to the country as it joined two regions of the country, previously separated by the Alps. Construction on the railway line began in 1872 and was completed in full by 1882. It was electrified in the 1920s and helped boost the economy of Switzerland and also Europe by providing fast movement for the people to go to work and do business.
The line length is slightly over 200 km (124.3 miles) and features the Gothard Tunnel, the world’s longest rail tunnel, at 15 km (9.3 miles). The tunnel also marks the highest point of the rail line and is 3,776 feet (1,151 meters) above sea level.
Gotthard Railway Line
Website: Gotthard Railway Line
The following content is contributed by Trip101 writer, Kenrick
Monte San Salvatore is dubbed as the ‘sugarloaf mountain of Switzerland.’ It is located along Lake Lugano and is a part of Lugano Prealps. Tourists who want to reach the summit are encouraged to book this tour and experience mountain ascents in a whole new way. The tour will take participants on a funicular ride up the mountain. Upon arriving at the top of Monte San Salvatore, they are free to do whatever they want - see the breathtaking views of the city, dine at gourmet restaurants, head off to the trails, and more. However, they shouldn’t miss a chance to visit Museum San Salvatore, which houses a collection of rare religious art and artifacts.
Lugano: 3-Hour Monte San Salvatore Tour with Funicular Ride
Duration: 3 hour
7. Be inspired by the artwork at Lugano Arte e Cultura (LAC)
Immerse yourself in Lugano’s arts and culture scene at Lugano Arte e Cultura. This multicultural complex is home to Lugano’s finest visual arts, musical and other performances. It aims to showcase the best of Lugano’s masterpieces to the world. Inside, you’ll find various exhibitions or have the chance to participate in theater and dance festivals. There are many programs designed for families and kids to spark their creativity and interest in art. Home to Art Museum of Italian Switzerland, there are many great artworks to check out here. And if you come at the right tine, you’ll be lucky to watch performances from LuganoInScena and LuganoMusica.
Lugano Arte e Cultura (LAC)
Address: Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
Website: Lugano Arte e Cultura
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)
8. Take a stroll at Parco Ciani
Parco Ciani is located at the heart of the city, along the shores of the majestic Lake Lugano. This park offers amazing views of the lake in a peaceful and serene setting. If you’re up for a casual afternoon stroll, this park will do wonders. Walk along the park’s path lined with centuries-old trees and blooming flowers as you watch the sun’s golden reflections on the lake. You’ll also see finely-detailed sculptures and fountains as you walk in the park. Relax at the red benches and see the mountains in the distance. Keep an eye out for majestic buildings on-site such as Villa Ciani or visit public buildings such as Museo Cantonale di Storia Naturale and Canton Library.
Address: 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
Opening hours: 6am - 11pm (daily)
9. Find peace at Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Lugano Cathedral)
Adding a distinct charm to Lugano tourism, Lugano Cathedral offers you a chance to experience peace and tranquillity along with a unique architectural style. It is named after and dedicated to Saint Lawrence, a Catholic saint. Upon arrival, you’ll admire the splendid facade which was inspired by Certosa di Pavia. The facade itself is a hint of what you’ll see inside: centuries-old architectural elements, various reliefs depicting Catholic imageries and saints, and large windows that provide ambient lighting, making for a dramatic effect. The altar is a one-of-a-kind structure with the meticulously crafted sculptures of biblical kings like David and Solomon.
Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Lugano Cathedral)
Address: Via Borghetto 1, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
Aside from Monte San Salvatore, Monte Brè is also a prominent peak that overlooks the city of Lugano. Tourists aiming to reach this unspoiled peak can do so by booking this tour. They will climb the summit in a traditional cable car. The ascent is worth it, giving tourists a scenic view that is unforgettable. Upon arriving at the top, they have the chance to tour the village of Brè, an ancient rural village home to reputable local artists and great food. Alternatively, they can take in the scenic views of Lake Lugano and enjoy a picnic at one of the many large picnic areas available on-site.
Monte Brè Tour from Lugano by funicular
Duration: 4 hours 40 minutes
11. Have fun at Skatepark di Lugano
Know someone who loves to skate? Skatepark di Lugano invites every skateboard lover to visit this place and have fun around the block. The whole property is communal, so skateboard lovers can visit anytime and practice their skills. Those who come with scooters and bikes can also come and glide around the area. The skatepark is a beloved spot for many, and first-time visitors will see young people frequenting the park. There’s a skateboarding shop next to the skating bowl where skaters can buy boards and other merchandise. The skatepark has hosted numerous skating competitions in the past.
Skatepark di Lugano
Address: Via Trevano, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
Website: Skatepark di Lugano
Opening hours: 9am - 10pm (daily)
12. Smell the flowers at Parco San Grato
Between Monte San Salvatore and Monte Arbòstora lies a botanical garden that plant enthusiasts will surely enjoy visiting. Parco San Grato is located above Lake Lugano and has a number of exquisite flowering plants, including azaleas, conifers, and rhododendrons. Most of the flowers are in full bloom from April to May, so make it a point to visit the park during those months. There are five theme walks to choose from, each with a unique offering to visitors. For those with kids, ‘Fairytale Path’ is the best option, since it is a short walk and located near the playground. Those who want to see all the flowers in the park are invited to walk along 'Botanical Path’. Those up for a leisurely stroll may take 'Relaxing Path’, or better yet, 'Panoramic Path’.
Parco San Grato
Address: Via S. Grato, 6914 Lugano, Switzerland
Website: Parco San Grato
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
13. Shop until you drop at Via Nassa
No one should leave Lugano without indulging in some retail therapy. And where can you find the shops at Lugano? On Via Nassa, of course! Lugano’s primary shopping street located in the heart of the city. Via Nassa appeals to everyone, with its antique charms and shops that cater to everyone’s needs and wants. You’ll never walk away empty-handed after visiting Via Nassa. There are so many options here, ranging from boutiques, antique shops, bookstores, to jewelers. You’ll also find outlets of luxury brands here. Getting hungry? Food stalls abound along the street, catering to different tastes and sensitivities.
Address: 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
14. See Gandria, a town with mystical charm
On the slopes of Monte Bré lies a small town with well-preserved houses that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. This is Gandria, a Swiss town that shares a border with Italy. It is one of the lakeside towns in Lugano. Despite its size, there’s so much to see here. If you’re up for some boating adventure, take a boat ride on Lake Lugano and visit the opposite end of Gandria. There, you’ll find Swiss Customs and Smuggler Museum. A visit to the villages is also a must, and you must traverse narrow alleyways and steep staircases to get there. The villages at Gandria hide some rewarding tourist spots such as San Rocco Chapel and Cantine di Gandria.
Address: Gandria, Switzerland
15. Tread along Olive Tree Trail
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
How do olive trees grow? You can learn about it by visiting Olive Tree Trail. As the name implies, Olive Tree Trail is lined with olive trees. Along the path, you’ll see 18 information boards detailing the history and biology of olives, as well as how the prized olive oil came to be. But there’s more to the trail than learning valuable information about olives. The trail itself follows the path of Lake Lugano and rewards you with magnificent views. You can access the trail via Castagnola or Gandria. The trail itself promises magnificent views of the lake and olive plantations.
Olive Tree Trail
Address: Lugano, Switzerland
A trip for all ages
Switzerland caters to people of all ages and generations. Dating couples, families and even senior tourists can visit the mountains of the Lugano Prealps for an awesome and splendid panoramic view of the mountains and lake. Here, you can forget all your concerns and worries and be rejuvenated in soul, body and mind. You can experience Mother Nature at its best, with the mountains surrounding Lake Lugano and its crystal clear waters. For those who love archaeology, then the artifacts like the coins, jewellery and household items in Aldesago and Davesco, are must-visit places. They are rich in history and culture.
For the Catholics, you can worship at the Church of Saint Carpophorus, in Como, while for the more adventurous, you can take the Gotthard Railway Line that connects northern and southern Europe, for the best view of trans-alpine scenes and panoramas. You can also snap lots of photos for posterity and have a memorable experience, during your trip to Lugano, Switzerland.
Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Lugano, Switzerland
1. Which are the top attractions to visit in Lugano?
Lugano is home to a number of fascinating attractions. The top attractions to visit in Lugano are Lake Lugano, Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Lugano Cathedral), Monte San Salvatore, Lugano Arte e Cultura (LAC) and Monte Brè.
2. Which are the best outdoor activities in Lugano?
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Lugano. You can go skating at Skatepark di Lugano or embark on an exploratory walk along one of the many themed trails at Parco San Grato. Go boating on Lake Lugano, walk the Olive Tree Trail or explore Parco Ciani.
3. Which are the most popular things to do with kids and family in Lugano?
Lugano is a family-friendly destination. You can visit Lugano Arte e Cultura (LAC) to explore one of the many programs designed for families and kids to spark their creativity and interest in art or enjoy funicular rides up Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè. You could also take your kids on a walk along ‘Fairytale Path’ at Parco San Grato.
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