Lugano is located in the Italian speaking Canton of Ticino in the Southern Switzerland bordering Italy. The town lies at the edge of the Lake Lugano (in Italian “Lago di Lugano”) surrounded by Lugano Prealps.
Located in on the plains of Southern Switzerland, surrounded by Alps and lakes, Lugano has been inhabited since Stone Age and by the 1st Century BC the region around the Lake was settled by the Romans. The town’s main population is Italian speaking and the town also appears Italian in character. The picturesque Lake side city is nicknamed as the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland”, is popular for its quasi – Mediterranean atmosphere, lovely scenery and serene lifestyle.
Lugano’s town center is located on the lake shore. Facing each ends of the town’s waterfront arises two mountains, to the north is “Monte Bre’” which is home to the old village of Bre’ and to the south “Monte San Salvatore” where an old church and a museum can be found on its summit.
Lugano is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland with museums, historical monuments and natural sights. The town has 17 Swiss Heritage Sites of National Significance. The main source of revenue is from Tourism, International Finance and other manufacturing industries like Chocolate etc.
GETTING TO LUGANO
The town can be reached Air, Railways, by Road and Ship. The Regional Airport of Lugano located in the neighboring Municipality of Agno and long distance National trains and International trains from Italy connects Lugano with Northern Switzerland and Italy.
From Milano Centrale we took the regional train TILO (Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia) which operates frequently between the Canton of Ticino and the Region of Lombardy in Northern Italy. This is the easiest and the most popular mode of transport among the tourists within the two regions. (The train duration is approx. 1 hr 45 min).
With one day you have enough time to explore the city of Lugano but my husband Sanka and I decided to have a more relaxed trip so we decided to have an overnight stay in Lugano. On this weekend we were traveling on budget hence we booked the ibis Lugano Paradiso Hotel in the Residential area of Paradiso which is only about 10 min bus ride from Lugano Railway Station in Piazzale della Stazione. It is a 3 star economy hotel within the easy reach of the town’s historic center and the lake’s waterfront area and 2 minutes’ walk from the Funicular Station of Monte San Salvatore.
When checking – in to the hotel we received the “TICINO Ticket“ free of charge. Staying overnight in a hotel, a hostel or a campsite you have the possibility to receive a TICINO Ticket free of charge which allows you access to free public transport during your entire stay and with discounts on the main tourist attractions of Ticino and discounts on boat trips, mountain railways on the Swiss parts of the lakes.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Lugano is small enough to get around on foot. To reach the hills above the lakefront one needs the services of the buses or the funicular rail. The relaxed way to see the villages of the Lake Lugano region would be to use the ferry service. The regular pedestrian ferry services are operated by Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano.
VISIT THE PARCO CIANI & LAKE LUGANO
It was almost afternoon so we hurriedly took the Bus Nr. 2 to visit the Parco Ciani. It was a 20 min bus ride from the residential area of Paradiso to the busy heart of the city. We got down from the bus station Lugano Palazzo Congressi and walked towards the lake front park passing Palazzo dei Congressi Lugano.
Parco Ciani (Ciani Park) is located east of the center of the city and the shores of the Lake Lugano. The 63000m² urban park is considered as one of the most beautiful parks in Switzerland which attracts locals and a destination for many tourists. The park was originally a privately owned estate by the Ciani Brothers, wealthy Milanese Industrialists. Enteroing the park we strolled along the winding paths, in the shades of the trees towards the lake front. The winding paths are lined with well-kept lawns with beautiful flower beds adorned with statues and fountains. Once you reach the waterfront area to your left you can see the right bank of the River Cassarate with a small jetty and to the right stands the Villa Ciani.
Undoubtedly the beautiful Lake Lugano is the main and most popular attraction of the destination. Located between the Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, the majority of the lake Lugano is comprised in Switzerland and the rest in Italy. It was a quiet afternoon and the atmosphere was amazing. The clear watered glacial lake and the surrounding steep green mountains offered the most magnificent views we have experienced in the region.
Located on the lakefront is the world famous photo spot “Cancello sul Lago di Lugano” (Old Gate of the Lake Lugano). It seems the highlight on the lakefront and Tourists were gathering around the old gate to take the famous photos. We also had to await few minutes for our turn to get unspoiled photos of the gates with the lake on the background. We walked along the waterfront enjoying the spectacular view of the Lake Lugano and the panoramic view of the surrounding beautiful lush mountains in front of us.
Starting from at the end of the park is the Lugano’s famous Lakeshore Promenade which stretches towards Via Nassa, one of Lugano’s historical streets particularly famous for its sophisticated upmarket Boutiques, jewelry shops, cafés and Antique shops.
We strolled along the Promenade and paused at a wooden bench to enjoy the gorgeous view of the lake and the surrounding. Afterwards we walked toward the “Centro Storico” (The Old City Center) and reached the town’s main square “Piazza della Reforma”. It was a picturesque square, where you can spot colorful houses and many Baroque and Neo – Classical style buildings including the “Palazzo Civico”, the City Town Hall.
The main square is an inviting place for the local and tourists. In the evening the Piazza becomes live with locals and tourists gathering at bistros and restaurants. We sat at a local eatery to enjoy a Focaccia and a glass of Aperol Spritz.
After having peaceful stroll back to the bus stop we returned to the hotel. So it was our first experience in Lugano. The next day is to visit Monte San Salvatore … !
THINGS TO DO IN LUGANO
Visit Lake Lugano : There are numerous water based activities available in the lake. It is also possible to rent boats and water taxis. Tourist boat services are available for relaxing boat cruises.
Parco Ciani is an inviting place to laze around to escape the cityscape.
Cathedral of San Lorenzo: In the 15th Century build lovely cathedral one can see countless frescos and the valuable artifacts.
Swimming in the Lake Lugano.
Monte Bre : The mountain can be reached either by hiking or by funicular rail. The observation point on the summit of the Monte Bre offers magnificent vista of the entire Lake Lugano valley.
Monte San Salvatore : This mountain can also be reached by hiking or by funicular rail and the summit offers a 360 degree view of the valley. The trail to San Salvatore is considered as an old route which pilgrims took to reach the top of the mountain. The attractions on the peak of the mountain includes an Old Church and a Fossil Research Museum.
Sentiero dell’ Olivo (The Olive Grove Trail): About 3.5 km trail along the lake from the village of Castagnola to the ancient town of Gandria passes through the areas with the remains of the ancient olive tree groves and the areas where the fruiting olive trees have recently been re-introduced. On the route there are display panels featuring descriptions Olive tree’s history, its cultivation and productions.
Mountain Biking: Cycling is one of the best ways to explore the region around Lake Lugano and the region has one of the best cycling networks in Switzerland