Get to Know Lugano, Switzerland Like a Local

Get to Know Lugano, Switzerland Like a Local

Its Mediterranean climate, lively lakeside and breathtaking green spaces make Lugano, Switzerland a must for adventure-seekers who enjoy blending urban joys with back-to-nature escapes.

In partnership with

Mediterranean lifestyle reigns supreme in Lugano, in the Swiss holiday hotspot of Ticino.
From the piazza-style squares that make up the traffic-free centre,
to the Italianate Lombard architecture dotted throughout town – not
to mention the Renaissance churches and Belle Époque hotels – the
destination oozes a laid-back but sophisticated “let’s do
aperitivo” vibe. Culture lovers will find sanctuary in Lugano’s
many museums and pop-up events: the Art Museum of Switzerland (MASI Lugano)
houses works by Klee, Jawlensky, Renoir and Degas, but there are
plenty of more low-key gems to discover, too.

Seeking a healthy dose of nature? Make a beeline for Lake Lugano, which is surrounded by the verdant
Parco Civico. Belvedere Gardens, meanwhile, is brimming with
camellias and magnolias, and home to a diverse array of subtropical
plants. A little further afield, you’ll find Monte San Salvatore
and Monte Brè, the summits of which offer fabulous panoramic views
of the town, Lake Lugano and the surrounding alpine scenery.
Soaking up the rays with a picnic among the palm trees should also
feature high on the agenda.

Whether you’re in the mood for a post-gallery brunch or a
blow-out dinner after an adventure-packed day, this Swiss escape
has you covered.

Explore the best of Lugano with our pick of the city’s

Eat and drink the evening away

Combining the best of its Meditteran roots, Lugano is packed
full of top-draw restaurants where the platefuls of pasta are
plenty, locavore produce leads the way and delicious Swiss wine is
always on ice. There’s something very appealing about a restaurant
only being reachable by boat, so the Grotto dei
instantly stole our hearts. Set on the only wild
shore of Lake Ceresio, it serves traditional Mediterranean cuisine
worth making the voyage for. Looking for a more refined,
contemporary affair? Book a table at Ristorante META, whose head chef Luca Bellanca is all
about “Med-fusion” with an exotic twist. Dark and moody speakeasy
tones meet delicious Italian dishes at Vitti – a
good place to make a night of it. There’s fun to be had on the
waterfront at La Cucina di Alice, which scores top marks for its
hearty bowls of pasta and generous wine list. For a casual pizza
moment, make tracks to Acqua e Farina, then swing by Vizi e Sfizi for a sweet
Sicilian takeaway treat. The top-notch coffee and vegan bites at
Natural Food, meanwhile, have made this a
popular spot among locals. Lugano’s convivial culture and climate
lends itself to the aperitivo hour: Caffé Caruso is where we’ll be heading for it. If all
this eating and drinking has got you in the mood for dancing,
Auberge is the place to continue until dawn.

Bed down in style

If an endless view of the water appeals, The View is
your spot. Nestled in the hills of Lugano Paradiso, with terraces
overlooking the lake, the boutique hotel has been designed in the
style of a giant yacht. Looking for some pampering? Make tracks to
the on-spite spa. Art lovers should head to the more maximalist
. Nestled within a private subtropical park, the
property’s grounds are as spectacular as its interiors. The
Restaurant Galleria Arté al Lago is the real draw, though. Twice a
year, local and international artists exhibit their work in this
picturesque setting. For a more laid-back, urban vibe, right in the
thick of the action, in the historical centre, make LUGANODANTE your
crash pad. The in-house Flamel dining and drinks lounge is a fun place to grab
a cocktail.

Take to the water

The action-packed Lido di Lugano is a magnet for water babies,
being home to a heated Olympic swimming pool, a diving pool with
trampolines, a children’s paddling option with water games and a
beach volley court, plus a five-a-side football pitch. For
something altogether more chilled out, soak up the views of Lake
Ceresio from the fine sandy beach. Prefer to glide along the lake?
Book a tour with Lugano’s Navigation Society: from lunch cruises to
scenic routes, there’s something to suit every taste.

Stroll around Piazza della Riforma

A browse around the centre begins in Piazza Della Riforma. You’d be forgiven for
thinking you were in Italy, going on the architecture and
café-culture buzz in this district. The main building in the square
is the striking 19th-century Town Hall. Stroll around Via Nassa,
coffee in hand, stopping to pop into chic boutiques, antiquarian
bookshops and jewellers. Maurio is a cool concept store-meets-barber shop,
where covetable design finds sit alongside must-know beauty

Enjoy the great outdoors

You’re never far from greenery and nature in Lugano. The
Parco Ciani is a short hop from the centre, but
feels a world away from urban life. An afternoon meandering among
the flower beds and fountains overlooking the lake is one well
spent. Follow the promenade along the waterfront towards Paradiso
to find Belvedere Gardens – the ideal place to take a
break and admire your surroundings. From the Paradiso area, you can
take the funicular all the way up to Monte San Salvatore. Born out of an ancient sea
in an environment that was very similar to that of today’s Bahamas
archipelago, it has 360-degree views over the lake, far south and
to the Alps in the west. Those up for an active adventure can do
the three-hour ridge hike to pretty Morcote.

Alternatively, overlooking Monte San Salvatore is Monte Brè. Also accessible by funicular, it is thought
to be the sunniest mountain in Switzerland, and is home to the
Christmas rose, otherwise only found in Southern Europe. Take a
lunch break at one of the two restaurants – both of which have sun
terraces – that form part of a scenic hike. There are several
trails to choose from, via the grotto-lined Brè village, including
an archaeological trail to Gandria.

Soak up some culture

The art and architectural scene is thriving in Lugano: Luigi
Snozzi and Mario Botta are among the many notable architects
stemming from the area. LAC Lugano
Arte e Cultura
champions contemporary creativity from southern
Switzerland. The building itself, designed by Ticino’s Ivano
Gianola, houses an ever-changing line-up of exhibitions, as well as
a theatre and concert hall. For something more historical, visit
the former home of writer Hermann Hesse: the Hermann Hesse
in Montagnola showcases his personal objects, photos,
books and watercolor paintings. Some of Hesse’s most important
works, including Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund and Klingsor’s
Last Summer, were written in this little castle, which has
beautiful views of the nearby lake.

The Lowdown

Keen to soak up city life in Lugano? Start planning your trip at

Discover More
48 Luxurious Hours In Lausanne, Switzerland