GMT +1 hour
The ‘Monte Carlo’ of Switzerland whose swaying palm tress, jasmine scented evenings and sparkling lakes beget an effervescent Italian atmosphere lending itself to serene strolling, tranquil sailing and plenty of exploration.
Stylishly anchored around a glistening bay, Lugano seductively entices with a beautiful blend of Mediterannean climate, sub tropical vegetation, cobblestone streets, commanding mountains and relaxed café lifestyle. Climb up to spectacular mountain summits, sail over to Italy, soak up sunshine in flower filled parks and indulge in delectable Swiss/Italian gastronomy. Could life get any more leisurely?
Stay five consecutive nights at the Parco Paradiso in Lugano and receive a free return ticket on the Monte Bre funicular lift.
Lugano lies in the Italian speaking part of southern Switzerland in the canton of Ticino on the northern side of Lake Lugano, whose other shores are all located in Italy. Blue skies, imposing mountains, sunny days and a relaxed café lifestyle are what distinguish Lugano as an idyllic holiday spot jam packed with Italian ‘joi de vivre’, lakeside lounging, mountain hiking and stunning cruises.
The city centre itself is located on the shores of the Lake with Mount Brè to the east and San Salvatore to the south, both linking each end of the city’s waterfront. The historic town is pedestrianised and boasts a mix of cobblestone streets, architectural gems and sophisticated deisgner shopping along the historical Via Nassa. The shores of Lugano are an explosion of vibrant flora and picturesque promenades, with an elegant, Mediterranean vibe. Parco Civico is filled to the brim with sub tropical plants and the Belvedere Gardens are a treasure trove of sweetly scented magnolias, oleanders and camellias all growing amongst modern works of art and sculpture. Grab a bottle of wine, some local Swiss cheese and bread, and stop a while for a picnic. Next to the Belvedere Gardens you will find the church of Santa Maria degli Angioli, home to a large collection of Renaissance art and if you stroll further along you will discover three of Lugano’s most popular squares, Piazza Rezzonico, Piazza dell Riforma and Piazza Manzoni. The beauty of Lugano is to while away your days dipping in and out of the sunshine, navigating narrow streets and medieval building, enjoying good food and wine…and leaving all your cares behind.
Out of the city, hike through picturesque shaded woods up to the sunny Mount Brè or take the funicular to the summit. Your reward is a breathtaking panorama of the Alps, Lake Lugano, the city and parts of Italy. The mountain boasts many hiking trails and there is an easy descending staircase to the ancient rural village of Brè with its unusual ‘Artistic Path’ - a walk that starts in the square in front of the church and leads past many national and international works of art along its trail. Between the summit of Mount San Salvatore and Arbostora sits the charming village of Carona where architectural and stucco works abound, including the 16th century San Giorgio parish church, the Santa Marta Monastery and the Madonna delle Grazie Chapel. Carona is also home to the intensely hued San Grato Botanical Gardens, which have great trails for mountain biking and hiking. At the foot of Mount Brè, the lakeside fishing village of Gandria is a car-free medley of narrow streets, medieval buildings and stunning views, whilst on the slopes of Mount Arbostora, the lakeside village of Morcote is awash with exceptional architectural beauties including the Captains Tower, the Church of Santa Maria del Sasso and a beautiful cemetery. Here, the distinctive Scherrer Park is also worth visiting for its artistic blend of Oriental and Mediterranean monuments and flowers, where a Greek temple sits beside a Siamese tea-house which can be found next to an Egyptian masterpiece amongst groves of oranges, lemons and magnolias. A great excursion is to take the cable car to the top of San Salvatore, hike to Carona and then on to Morcote, before taking a scenic boat ride back to Lugano.
Life on Lake Lugano itself is charming. You can windsurf, sail, row, paddle board and scuba dive, or if you prefer to stay on board there are over 30 different cruises and excursions on the Lake, dreamily sailing to sleepy villages, romantic landscapes and past spectacular mountain backdrops. Take a boat to Gandria, Morcote and even Italy’s Polezza, where you can stop a while for a coffee and some shopping. Don’t forget to take your passport on all boat trips, as much of Lake Lugano is situated in Italy.
Lugano is also a vivacious cultural hub with museums, art galleries, cathedrals and vibrant summer festivals. View the Lombardy Renaissance style of the San Lorenzo Cathedral and the Baroque interior of Saint Lawrence Cathedral, discover a collection of rare religious art at the San Salvatore Museum and tour the Buchmann Gallery for contemporary sculptures. Also famed for its open-air summer festivals, immerse yourself in a world of iconic music, with the spectacular Estival Jazz Festival in July and the Blues-to-Bop Festival in late August/early September.