Situated in the south east of Switzerland, in the Italian speaking region of Ticino, the beautiful lakeside city of Lugano is a fusion of breathtaking mountains and swaying palm trees, offering the visitor a perfect mix of Swiss charm and Italian sophistication. Lugano has long been a popular destination for tourists who, since the nineteenth century, have travelled south of the Alps, to absorb the idyllic landscape and Mediterranean climate the city offers and, today, tourism provides jobs for the majority of its 52,000 inhabitants.

Lugano has been a city of influence and fame since the middle ages when it was host to the largest cattle market in Europe and, today, as the fourth largest banking town in Switzerland, Lugano is one of the country’s most celebrated cities. Whilst Lugano has an array of facilities to rival any cosmopolitan city, the surrounding countryside remains unspoiled, and, to this day, its lakeside views are the very heart and soul of Lugano’s character.


Lugano is an ideal destination for those wishing to contemplate glistening lakes and sub-alpine splendour and, yet, with its range of outdoor pursuits, the city is also perfect for those wishing to engage with the scenery a little more actively. Additionally, Lugano has a variety of indoor attractions on offer, including an array of museums and art galleries, which make the city one of undoubtable cultural worth. Whilst the attractions of Lugano are enough to captivate any visitor for the duration of their stay, the city also serves as a good base point for those wishing to see more of Ticino, offering impeccable public transport in and out of its town centre.

Lugano lies in the heart of stunning countryside and, for those desiring to explore the city’s surroundings, the tourist information centre offers numerous cycling routes and walking trails which are ideal for absorbing the vast amounts of greenery and lakeside views that Switzerland offers. The most popular destination for cyclists and ramblers is Ceresio peninsula, an area of hilly parkland extending beyond Lugano’s Monte San Salvatore, which offers spectacular views of Ticino’s romantic landscapes for miles around.

Lugano sits comfortably between the mountains San Salvatore and Bre, and towering above Lake Lugano they stand at 912 and 933 metres respectively. Both mountains are served by funicular railways, which make regular journeys to the mountain peaks during the summer months, from which majestic views of the lakeside villages below can be captured.

On top of San Salvatore is a little church, which offers the chance of quiet contemplation, as well as an open roof for visitors to stand and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views. The funicular railway descends the mountain every fifteen minutes, but for the able-footed there is also the option of an hour-long walk that winds down San Salvatore, offering an opportunity for visitors to enjoy the beautiful greenery and wild flowers that cover the mountain. In contrast, Monte Bre lies host to a beautiful ancient village, which, over the years, has become a centre for art works and even has its own open-air museum. The mountain also has a picnic spot and a children’s play area, as well as plenty of chances to quietly contemplate the magic of Lake Lugano.

It would be a crime to visit Lugano and not take to its water, either by hiring a peddle boat or going on one of the tourist boats that travel across the lake every three quarters of an hour during high season. It is well worth getting a boat over to the eastside of the lake to Campione, a tiny enclave, which became a part of Italy in 1798, after declaring its independence from Switzerland and, to the present day, law and order is kept in Campione by the Italian police force. There are also opportunities for taking panoramic cruises around the lake which offer on-board meals and various forms of live entertainment.


Since as far back as the Middle Ages, Lugano has been a centre of commerce that has rendered it one of the most influential cities in Switzerland and, today, Lugano is almost as famed for its shopping as it is for its more natural attractions. A haven of little boutiques, jewellery shops and chocolateries, Lugano is perfect for anyone craving a slice of Italian designer chic or any number of traditional Swiss products. Purse holders beware, though, as Lugano bears witness to Switzerland’s high prices and the city is not the ideal destination for those wishing to purchase Italian fashion at budget prices.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Most of the towns within the municipality of Ticino serve traditional Italian food as their chief cuisine and Lugano is no exception, offering a range of award-winning Italian restaurants. The city also offers a wide variety of International foods, reflecting the cosmopolitan vibe of the city and there is an abundance of hot eating spots to suit all tastes. Whilst Lugano’s restaurants tend to be pricier, there are some that offer more economical menus and there are plenty of good pizzerias, in particular, that offer high quality budget food.

Lugano’s city centre offers a worthy collection of friendly bars and night-clubs, but in the summer months the city’s lakeside terrace bars are its biggest attractions, allowing the visitor to wonder further at the mountains that are just a stones throw away from the lakes shores. There is also an array of musical and cultural events in the summer and it is worth going to the tourist information in high season, to find out a list of summer entertainment taking place in the city.

Tourist Information

Lugano TurismoPalazzo Civico – Riva AlbertoliCP 60806901 Lugano

Official Lugano Tourism websitePhone + 41 (0) 91 913 32 32Fax + 41 (0) 91 922 76 53


Lugano has its own small airport which is served by Swiss, Flybaboo and Darwin Airlines and a regular shuttle bus service takes travellers to and from the city centre. Alternatively, Zurich is a two or three-hour trains ride from Lugano, which is more of a pleasure than an inconvenience, given that the train passes through some of the most scenic parts of Switzerland.