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Lugano (Via Ciani)

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Things to do in Lugano

About Lugano

Once you enter the city of Lugano, you immediately get a sort of Italian vibe to the city. It’s amazing to think that you are still in Switzerland and that you didn’t make a wrong turn at some point during your journey. The city is a good stopping point if you are traveling from Italy into Europe and would like to prolong your availability to authentic pizza and pasta.

Places of Interest in Lugano

The biggest attraction in Lugano, and probably the reason you were drawn to the city in the first place, is the gorgeous lake it sits on. Take your time to walk along the lakeside and if you’re brave you can even dip your toes in! On one side of the lake towards Cassarate, you will find the very well-groomed park, Parco Civico Ciani, where people of all ages stroll, walk their dogs, bring picnic lunches, gossip on park benches and even take a dip in the lake when the weather allows it. As you walk along the lake you will see a few different places where you can rent paddle boats for a few hours. Paddling a small boat out on the lake is the best excuse to justify your gelato consumption while giving you a different perspective on the city.
If you want a little bit more adventure, why not hike Monte Brè, take the funicular up to the top and walk around the summit, or you can just take the funicular up and enjoy the gorgeous view without breaking a sweat. There are many different routes of varying difficulties, so you and your travel buddies should hopefully be able to find something to agree upon. At the top of the funicular, there is the sweetest little village with nice restaurants and shops to accompany the amazing view.

Culture and History of Lugano

If you want to see all of Switzerland in one day, plan a visit to the fun and quirky Swissminatur Museum. This outdoor museum has shrunk all of Switzerland, so visitors can see the entirety of the country in an afternoon. Since the museum is outside, they are only open during warmer months so be sure to check the opening times during your visit.

If you get the unfortunate chance of having bad weather, don’t fear! Head to Museo D’Arte Della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano’s modern art museum focusing on Swiss and Italian art. The museum also holds some of the region’s historical artifacts. The striking modern façade of the museum nestled among sweet Italian styled facades of the village makes it easy to spot where the modern art museum is located. Make note that the museum is not open on Mondays. Students up to age 25 can enter for CHF 14.

Nightlife in Lugano

The city of Lugano is plentiful in gorgeous architecture that will be perfect for your Instagram feed. If you climb the stairs up to the viewing point or take the stairs down from the train station, you will find the gorgeous San Lorenzo Cathedral. You can enter the church for free during its opening hours, but don’t forget to take beautiful panoramic photos from the viewing point. If you can, plan to be at this spot during either sunrise or sunset – you will not regret it!

Take a break from shopping on the main shopping street of Lugano, Via Nassa, to visit and admire the old monastery, Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli, which has stunning frescoes dating back to the Renaissance.

Interesting Facts about Lugano

If you’re looking for a historical and fun day outside of Lugano, the castles of Bellinzona may be just what you need. Bellinzona is only about thirty minutes away by train and only costs about 6 USD. The city contains three castles - Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro – along with their surrounding walls. Castelgrande may be the easiest to get to but all three can absolutely be visited in one day. Castelgrande dates back the late 1st century, which is so incredible to think that something built so long ago has remained standing, so that adventurers like us can enjoy it. You can get to the castle by elevator or by foot, but don’t worry about getting lost as there are plenty of signs. After visiting one or all three of the castles, enjoy some time in the historical center of the city. There are many nice cafes and small restaurants in the city so you take some time to reflect on the beauty of the region. If you have the chance, every Sunday there is a farmer’s market in the historical center of Bellinzona where you may be able to snag some great souvenirs.

Another wonderful place to take a day trip while in Lugano is Como Italy, which you get to by Flixbus for as low as €8 and it only takes 50 minutes one-way. Spend another day soaking up the sun while enjoying great food, just in a different country!

Discover Lugano through Macy's eyes

Hej! I am an American grad student studying and living in Sweden. Being a grad student, I have perfected the act of budget traveling. I have a fierce passion for cute dogs, film festivals, coffee and traveling. Join me as I work towards my personal goal of visiting all 28 EU countries before I graduate in June 2019! Feel free to pop over to my personal blog, Little Mouse. Big World, to read more about my travels while balancing grad school life.

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