Lugano, the largest town in the holiday region of Ticino, is not only Switzerland’s third most important financial centre and a conference, banking and business centre, but also a town of parks and flowers, villas and sacred buildings. With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town.
Lugano lies in a bay on the northern side of Lake Lugano, surrounded by numerous mountains offering splendid viewpoints. The traffic-free historic town centre, the numerous buildings in Italianate Lombardy style, the exclusive museums, the mountains, lake and a packed calendar of events all invite visitors to see the sights, soak up the atmosphere – and enjoy “dolce far niente”. Thanks to its mild climate, Lugano is a popular tourist destination in the spring when the camellias are in bloom.
The town centre with its Mediterranean-style squares and arcades, and numerous parks with sub-tropical plants such as the Parco Civico on the shores of the lake invite you to laze around, enjoying the atmosphere. 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. In the Museo Cantonale d’Arte are paintings by Klee, Jawlensky, Renoir and Degas, among others. In the last 50 years, the Ticino region, and Lugano in particular, have developed into an important region for architecture. The most well-known representatives of the “Ticino School” are Luigi Snozzi and Mario Botta. Botta’s Banca del Gottardo (Viale Franscini), the Palazzo Ransila (Via Pretorio) and his own workshop on the Via Ciani are good examples.
The two closest mountains to Lugano, Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè, give you an outstanding panorama of the town, Lake Lugano and the alpine scenery. From Monte Brè there is a walk down to the village of Brè, which has preserved its typical Ticino village centre, and enhanced it with works of art. From the San Salvatore another popular walk leads down through the beautifully situated Carona to Lake Lugano at Morcote. Taking a boat trip back to Lugano is a splendid way to round off the day. Other excursions are to the fishing village of Gandria, up the Monte San Giorgio or the Monte Generoso or to the Lilliput world of Switzerland in Miniature at Melide.
- Belvedere Park – the lakeside promenade is fringed by trees and lush flower-beds. The park is right beside the footpath which goes along the side of the lake as far as Paradiso.
- Monte Brè (925 m) – Lugano’s closest mountain can be reached by funicular railway from Cassarate on the outskirts of Lugano. Wonderful panorama of the town, lake and mountains, stretching right over the border into Italy.
- Monte San Salvatore (912 m) – from the top of the “sugarloaf” (reached by funicular railway from Lugano-Paradiso) you can walk down the panoramic footpath to Carona and then on to Morcote.
- San Lorenzo Cathedral – set above the Old Town, it is worth a visit with its facade in the Lombardy Renaissance style, and countless frescoes and valuable Baroque artefacts inside.
- Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli – in this former monastery church, built about 1500, are fine frescoes by the masters of the Renaissance.
- Hesse Museum in Montagnola – small, intimate museum for the writer and adopted son of Ticino, Hermann Hesse, who lived and wrote in southern Switzerland for at least half a century.
- Festival di Cultura e Musica Jazz – Jazz and Cultural Festival (February).
- Lugano Festival – an important cultural attraction, mainly devoted to classical music, but also including other aspects of the arts (April-June).
- Lugano Estival Jazz – the main musical event in Ticino, with free open-air jazz concerts – well-established on the circuit of major international jazz festivals (June/July).
- “Blues to Bop” – on the stages and squares in Lugano’s town centre, the musical style ranges from blues to pop via gospel and back to soul (August/September).
How to get there
Public Transport: Lugano is directly situated on the North-South axis of the St. Gotthard range and is easily accessible from anywhere in Europe. From Lugano Main Train Station the city center is easily reached by foot (110 min.) or by cableway Lugano-Bahnhof (operating from 5:20 a.m. to 11:50 p.m.)
By car: Lugano is situated on the Autobahn axis linking northern Europe directly with the countries of southern Europe.
- From Milan: Autostrada A9 dei Laghi, in the direction of Como-San Gottardo or Autostrada A8, towards Varese-Stabio (Gaggiolo). Recommended exit: Lugano SUD.
- From Zürich: Autobahn A2, in the direction of St. Gotthard-Chiasso-Italy. Recommended exit: Lugano NORD.