Download GPX file for this article
46.00008.9500Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lugano is a lakeside city in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of southern Switzerland, and is the largest Italian-speaking city in Switzerland, or for that matter, outside Italy. Part of a temperate micro-climate, Lugano offers palm trees, picturesque boulevards, stunning views of the lake and the Alps, and plenty of opportunity for outdoor and indoor activities. Lugano also makes a good base for visiting other cities and sites in the area. The city is a pleasant place to relax in the summertime and is only half an hour away from Lake Como.

Get in

By plane

Lugano has a small international airport with flights arriving from Zurich and Geneva. Milan's airports are 1.5 hours away by bus or train and are served by easyJet and Ryanair. Swiss International Airline, Flybaboo and Darwin Airline offer discount web special prices to Lugano from many parts of Europe.

By train

Trains leave for Zürich (3h), Basel (3:34) and Milan (40min-1h) as well as Geneva (via Zürich or Locarno-Domodossola: 5h30 with one or two transfers, 6h30 via Milan with one transfer). Note that getting to Geneva or points west it is faster to go via Zürich or Locarno as the trains are more frequent and faster.

By bus

There are three shuttle services between Lugano and Milan Malpensa Airport:

  • Lugano Services(approx every 2 hrs, 04:00AM-23:30AM; 1hr 10min; €25,00 one way; advance reservations on line or tickets directly on the bus)
  • JetBus (approx every 1-2 hrs; 06:00AM-23:10PM; €27,00 or 35,00 CHF one way; can be booked at airport)
  • Malpensa Express (every 2 hrs; 8:35AM-23:35PM; €30,00 or 35,00 CHF one way; can be booked at airport.)

There is also a daily bus service during summer to Tirano, Italy with train connection (Bernina Express) to St. Moritz (Switzerland).

Get around

The church of S. Maria degli Angioli and a quaint old hotel

Lugano is small enough to get around on foot, and many of the streets are pedestrian-only, but the hills above the lakefront are very steep so the bus or the funicular from the center of town might be a better option on the way up to the train station if you have a lot of bags. Taxis can be found on the main roads. Ferries and funiculars are great options for seeing the views.

For more information:

  • 2 TPL (Trasporti Pubblici Luganesi). for bus services in the city. A short-journey ticket (30 min.) costs CHF 1.90, 1-day travelcard for 1 zone -- CHF 7.20, short-journey multi-journey travelcard (6 trips) -- CHF 9.50, the later can be used by multiple people.
  • 3 Funicolare Lugano Citta - Stazione, +41 91 800 72 28. This funicular links the old center of the town on the lake shore to the railway station higher up the hill. Starting 05.20 till 23.50, always, there is one every 5-10 minutes. NB: the service is suspended until Dec 2016 for renovations. Instead TPL runs FuniBus, a bus shuttle service, between the train station and 4 via Pelli. CHF 1.10.
  • 5 Funicolare Lugano Paradiso - Monte San Salvatore, Via delle Scuole 7, Lugano Paradiso, +41 91 985 28 28. 17Jul–15Aug daily 09.00–23.00; 8May–11Jul & 21 Aug–26 Sep Fr, Sa 09.00–23.00; the rest 09.00-17.00. links Lugano with the top of the Monte San Salvatore, with spectacular views of the Lake of Lugano, the isthmus of Melide, the Monte Generoso and the Italian enclave of Campione d'Italia on the other side of the lake. Single: 23 CHF; Return: 30 CHF.
  • 6 Funicolare Monte Brè, Via Ceresio di Suvigliana 36, CH-6977 Ruvigliana (bus lines 2, 11, 12 to Cassarate-Monte Brè), +41 91 9713171, fax: A funicular between Lugano and the top of the Monte Brè. Single: 16 CHF; Return: 25 CHF See the end of the page linked for promotions..

By boat


Italian is spoken in Lugano as a primary language. English and German are widely spoken by many of the individuals that interact with tourists.


  • 1 Centro Storico (Old town).
  • 2 Palazzo Civico (Palazzo Riva), Piazza Riforma, 1. Lugano's City Hall
  • 3 Parco Civico (Ciani Park). A peaceful park with a wide variety of flowers and trees located near the heart of Lugano's tourist area. Villa Ciani is located there.
  • 4 Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (Cathedral of Saint Lawrence).
  • 5 Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angioli. contains an impressive full wall 16th century fresco by Bernardino Luini.
  • 6 Museo Cantonale d’Arte (Cantonal Art Museum), Via Canova 10, +4191 815 79 71.
  • 7 Museo d'Arte Moderna (Museum of Modern Art).
  • Hermann Hesse museum (The museum is in Montagnola and you can get there in fifteen minutes from the Lugano railway station by a bus number 36 (direction Agra). Check the timetables beforehand as the buses aren't frequent. Get off at the bus stop Bellevue.), +41 91 993 37 70. Summer season (Mar-Oct) daily 10.00-18.30; otherwise F-Su 10.00-17.30.. The museum also offers an audio guide for a walk in the steps of Hesse, which is an extremely good choice on a beautiful day. Besides the exhibition there is also a film on Hesse shown, duration approximately 50 minutes. Friendly and helpful staff. English, German and Italian spoken. CHF7.50/CHF 6.00, discounts for families and groups..


Monte San Salvatore seen from Lugano
  • 1 Gandria (Walk, boat or bus). Gandria is an unspoiled, picturesque lakeside village at the foot of Monte Brè. Perched on the steep mountainside it is a community of narrow streets, inaccessible to cars, with a delightful surprise round every corner.
  • 2 Museo Doganale Svizzero (Swiss Customs Museum) (from Gandria by boat across the lake). There is also a grotto restaurant nearby.
  • 3 Sentiero dell'Olivo (Olive Tree Trail). A path from the end of the Lugano promenade to Gandria. It is marked with panels which describe the history of olive trees in the region.


  • 4 Monte Brè (Mount Bre). There are numerous rustic trails that lead up from towns surrounding Mount Brè to its summit and the Funicolare Monte Brè. A trail map is available from the local tourist information.
  • 5 Monte San Salvatore. The top of this mountain has a restaurant, hiking paths and a look-out tower offering an amazing panoramic view of Lugano, the lake and surrounding area. It is possible to hike up to the mountain (about 2 hours), or take the cable car.
  • Trekking Lugano and Malcantone region.

Bike rentals



  • Blues to Bop Festival. 21:00-01:00/02:30 depending on the evening.. Free open air music festival with multiple stages throughout the heart of Lugano in late August.


  • Swimming. The Lido di Lugano right in the city centre is a great place to swim with a beach, 3 swimming pools and a bar.
  • Boating. Boat rental options include paddle boats and speed boats.



Many major labels and designer boutiques (Versace, Hermes, Paul & Shark, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier) can be found here, as well as the usual Swiss and Italian knick-knacks. Via Nassa in the city center is the main place for shopping high street brands.

  • Foxtown, Mendrisio, Via A. Maspoli 18 (Can be reached by train from the Central Station (direction Mendrisio-Chiasso)). 11-19. Huge designer outlet in just 20 km from Lugano.


The cafeteria in the Manor Department (Piazza Dante 2) store offers a wide variety of tempting International dishes, ranging from sushi to pasta. Fresh fruits and vegetables arrayed in stylish displays are almost a painting themselves. Wine and beer are available as are a wide range of other beverages.


  • Argentino, +41-91-9229049. Piazza Riforma. Excellent pizza, great service. They offer 2 sizes of pizza, price ranges around CHF15-20.
  • Tango, Piazza Riforma, Really great tasty pizza, quick service (6-7 min per pizza). Price ranges around CHF 15-20.
  • Ristorante Antico, CH-6978 Gandria - Lugano, +41 91 971 48 71. Italian cuisine in the village of Gandria with dining on a terrace with views of Lago di Lugano


In the summer your best bet is just to wander along the lakeside promenade and open air bar/cafes. Check local listings for clubs and shows as venues come and go with the seasons. Spring-Autumn, Bar Mojito ( Manzoni, directly at the lakeside)

There are clubs in the city (discos). Nix (under the Casinò), Privilege (near Manor, a department store), Tito's Place (quartiere Maghetti), Club One and The Cube are all located in the downtown.

Oops (via Maderno 24) and Bibliocafè Tra (Salita dei Frati, Piazza Molino Nuovo) are a great place to have beer in the evening. Near University [1]. Another hint:

  • Arte, Lungolago. Amazing decor, (also an art gallery), great food and views of the Lake!


There are a wide range of hotel options right in town, from atmospheric B&Bs to posh four stars to comfy and communal hostels. Be sure to book ahead in the summer, but the rest of the year it's possible to just show up and find something as long as your budget is flexible.


  • Montarina Hotel & Hostel, Via Montarina 1, +41 91 966 72 72, fax: +41 91 966 00 17, . The house is surrounded by a palm garden and has a nice swimming pool that all guests can use. Hostel guests can use a small communal kitchen. The hostel costs CHF 25 per night whereas a single room in the hotel starts at CHF 70. Breakfast at CHF 12 per person.
  • Hotel Pestalozzi, Piazza Indipendenza 9, +41 91 921 46 46, fax: +41 91 922 20 45, . A very clean, family-run hotel with some en-suite rooms. English and German are spoken. Prices start at CHF 64 for a single room without shower and toilet.


  • Hotel International au Lac, Via Nassa 68, +41 91 922 75 41, fax: +41 91 922 75 44, . Check-in: 14:00-onwards, check-out: 6:30-12:00. Family tradition since 1906, it is the right hotel for holidays or for business stays and the only one on the lake promenade in the centre of Lugano, with own indoor parking, restaurant, meeting room, garden with swimming-pool and terrace. W-Lan Internet Hot-Spot, an Internet workstation and an "Ethernet" connection for notebook computers are available free of charge at the Internet corner. “Historic hotel with honor”: the ICOMOS jury has granted the hotel this eminent UNESCO award. CHF 115-310.
  • Acquarello, Piazza Cioccaro, +41 91 911 68 68, fax: +41 91 911 68 69, . Check-in: 15:00-23:00, check-out: 07:00-11:00. Has a direct connection to the station with the cable car and is in the city center. Single room from 116.25 CHF, double room from 157.50 CHF (season from October 2011, all included).



There are a few internet cafes in town. As usual, try near the train station. Free Wi-Fi connection can be found along the lakeside and in the University campus (Via Buffi, 13).

Stay safe

Lugano is as safe as most cities in Switzerland, but the density of expensive purses, watches, and sunglasses may make pickpockets more of a problem. The usual cautions apply to walking alone late at night, especially after bars and clubs close before dawn.

Important Numbers

  • Police (Polizia) – Emergency only: 117
  • Fire Department (Pompieri): 118
  • City of Lugano Police: +41 58 866 82 50 (piazza Riforma), +41 58-8668111 (Via Beltramina 20B)
  • Civic Hospital (Ospedale Civico): +41 91-8116111 (via Tesserete 46 )
  • Emergency Ward (Pronto Soccorso), Civic Hospital: +41 91-8116006
  • Ambulances (Ambulanze): 144
  • Poisonings (Intossicazioni): 145
  • Doctor and dentist on call: 1811
  • Emergency Service - Street aid: 140
  • Lost Property Office (Ufficio oggetti smarriti), City of Lugano Police, Via Beltramina 20b; Mon-Fri: 7:30AM - 12AM, 1:30PM-5PM; Phone: +41 58-8668250

Go next

  • Bellinzona for castles nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage list
  • Locarno
  • Melide for Swissminiatur — Switzerland in miniature park
  • Meride for Monte San Giorgio — another UNESCO World Heritage site, and the museum of fossiles
  • Como
  • Varese
  • Milan
This city travel guide to Lugano is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.