It’s hard to imagine a more perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of London: sunny and relaxed, yet urbane and adventurous. Lugano combines the sophistication and shopping of Milan or Florence with the azure alpine lakes and lofty peaks of Switzerland.
Situated on the country’s border with Italy, its palm-lined promenades and medieval piazzas afford it a Mediterranean flair. When you’re done exploring the city centre, take a day trip up the gondolas of Monte Tamaro, or across the lake to the enclave of Campioni di Italia.
Though its population is less than one-one hundredth that of London, Lugano is a centre of Swiss commerce in its own right, so the hum that persists throughout its scenic streets will be familiar to visitors from the British capital. Start your visit at the centrally located Piazza della Riforma, whose bistros border the town hall, just a stone’s throw from Lake Lugano. To take in vistas of the lake and the sheer mountain slopes that spring from its shores, head to the Parco Ciani. A walk further into town will take you to the wide Via Nassa and Piazza Bernardino, the city’s retail and cultural centres, and the breath-taking medieval church, Santa Maria degli Angioli.
Visit the Lake City and book a flight from London to Lugano now.
When is the best time to visit Lugano?
Without a doubt, Lugano comes to life between May and September, with a sunny Mediterranean climate that invites locals and visitors alike to its terraces and lakeshore. While the winters are by no means harsh, it should be noted that many attractions shut down for the off-season, so a winter trip will be a more muted affair.
What language is spoken in Lugano?
Lugano is one of the main Italian-speaking cities in Switzerland. That said, it does attract a fairly international crowd of holidaymakers, so English is quite common around the city.
What should my budget be on a trip to Lugano?
Though slightly less expensive than larger Swiss cities such as Geneva or Zurich, Lugano is hardly a budget destination. Including accommodation, visitors can expect daily spends of around GBP 150-200. As with any trip to Switzerland, planning ahead will pay off – and your best first step will be booking your affordably priced travel! Also, save on dining expenses by booking accommodations with self-catering options.
Attractions in Lugano
Lugano’s inhabitants are a cultured lot, and the per-capita presence of music festivals must be among the highest in Europe. The Lugano Festival, the most important of its kind in Italian-speaking Switzerland, features around ten concerts with mostly classical music. Estival Jazz is more of a time to let your hair down and soak in some open-air summertime tunes. The city also boasts a number of excellent art galleries and museums, including the Museum of Swiss-Italian Art, or MASI.
Of course, one of the main draws of Lugano is its picture-perfect surroundings. Take in the cityscape and the deep blue of the lake by riding one of the city’s two funiculars up to the adjoining mountains, Monte Brè or San Salvatore. Or make a day of it and head to the town of Rivera, where a gondola will be waiting to take you up to Monte Tamaro, an imposing 1,900 metre peak with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.
Lugano is a perfect Swiss getaway, whether you’re looking to catch some sun in a historic piazza or get some retail therapy in its shopping boulevards. Book your flight from London to Lugano today!
The jewel of Ticino
Visitors to Lugano will get an excellent sampling of everything the southern Swiss region of Ticino has to offer. It’s the kind of place you may find yourself sipping wine or sampling fine chocolate one day and atop an alpine peak the next.
- Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angioli
- Museo del Cioccolato Alprose
- Monte Tamaro
- Campione d’Italia
Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angioli
From the outside, Lugano’s most important church seems stark, monolithic. Inside, two vivid frescoes from 1529 show the Crucifixion in powerful, colourful scenes.
Museo del Cioccolato Alprose
Ideal for chocolate lovers, the museum shows the process of making Alprose chocolates while visitors indulge in free samples, with more to come in the museum’s special shop.
The gondola terminus at Alpe Foppa leaves visitors near the Santa Maria degli Angeli church, an architectural marvel with a lookout over the valley below. Adventurous visitors can hike the remaining 300-odd metres to the peak.
This village, an Italian enclave in Switzerland, is famed for its casino, once Europe’s largest. Each July, the village puts on a fireworks display that can be seen from the Lugano shoreline.
Lugano is full of wonders: for even more to see and do, check out our travel guide about Lugano.
Lugano for gourmets
Lugano’s cuisine is focused on local products and seasonal fares, the traditions of the Ticino cuisine are taken seriously and the happy tourist can eat a new specialty every day for weeks. The southern alpine meadows feed some happy cows, sheep and goats, the soil of the area nourishes a great wine and the trees of the forests make their contribution as well.
Ticino specialties on your plate
Lugano and the Ticino area are famous for several delicacies, but most of them had started out as poor people’s survival food. Polenta is one of them, today it is far away from the “nourishing-but-bland” prejudice. In Lugano, it usually made with cheese, which has a long tradition. Well known are Formagella or the goat cheese Capra Ticino. Chestnuts are another food that once were used as cheap food from the woods, today they are part of the finer meals as marron glacé or Crema di castagne con farina bona. The chestnut trees also are responsible for a special kind of honey that is cultivated near the woods. Try Minestrone alla ticinese, a delicate vegetable soup, or the sweet dish Risotto ai mirtilli, risotto with blueberries. The typical place to eat a hearty meal in the shade during summer are the Grotti, little caves that once were used to store food, but today serve it as well. The wine of the area is predominantly Merlot, which thrives on the alpine soils.
The Lugano shopping experience
As Lugano is not that big, most shopping destinations are just a short walk away from each other. Whether its fashion, arts and crafts or delicious specialties, you will find it in Lugano. The Via Nassa is Lugano’s main shopping street with fashion boutiques, chocolate shops and bakeries. The Via Pessina is another hotspot for shopping. For the perfect souvenir, try the winding Via Cattedrale, where little shops and boutiques are luring the customers. A thrice-weekly market takes places on the Piazza della Riforma, on weekends antiques and artisans are added to the farmers market as well.
Our Explore page has even more suggestions for dining - visit our guide about eat and drink in Lugano.
London - ZurichFlight duration: 01:40 hrs total, Frequency: 8 x daily
Departure LondonTerminal: 2Counter opening time: 2 h prior to departure
Airbus A321-111Height: 11.80 mLength: 44.50 mSeats: 176-200
Crew:Pilots: 2Cabin crew: 5
Transit Zurich (ZRH)Arrival: 08:40Transit time: 0h 40m
Zurich - LuganoFlight duration: 00:40 hrs total, Frequency: 4 x daily
Arrival LuganoDistance to city centre: 4 km