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Lugano


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The Swiss take on nearby Lake Como
The largest Italian city outside Italy, Lugano has been rivals with pricier neighbor Como for centuries. This border city (1/3 of its eponymous lake is Italian) is a charming exemplar of the architecture its southern neighbor is known for. Its palm trees complete the illusion of being somewhere else. Stroll the picturesque boulevards, and enjoy this city's excellent shopping, then venture beyond. Staying at a hotel in Lugano gives you a pass good for free public transportation throughout the surrounding Italian-speaking Ticino canton, including the network of ferries crisscrossing Lake Lugano. A classic activity is to ride a boat (as part of a cruise, or on your own) to one of the "grottos" across the lake, then tuck into one of the authentic rural meals these picturesque restaurants specialize in.

After a memorable meal at a grotto, take advantage of your pass to branch out further. The town of Gandria makes a nice end to a 45-minute hike, but you can get the best views from the boats plying Lake Lugano. Even more charming is Morcote, with its winding streets, and the view from the 15th century cliffside Chiesa Santa Maria del Sasso. Bellinzona, the capital of the Ticino canton, features three UNESCO-protected castles, partially linked by an extensive system of walls. The Castlegrande provides the best views of the other castles, and the town below. After lunch there, you can continue on to colorful Ascona, on Lake Maggiore. For a taste of traditional Switzerland, visit the isolated, dramatic Verzasca Valley, which you can explore by boat, then panoramic train.

Where to stay in Lugano

All of the accommodation options we offer in Lugano have been hand-picked, and provide the perfect base for exploring this beautiful city. From a former convent now home to a restaurant popular with locals, to the hilltop home of Kaiser Wilhelm II's brother-in-law, and a luxury hotel resembling a giant yacht, we have plenty of memorable options. Once we start preparing your customized itinerary, we will present our recommended options for you to select from.
Classic Modern Hotel
Elegant, modern, classy and very centrally located hotel.
Modern Design Hotel
Good value contemporary hotel in a lively, central area.
Luxury Heritage Hotel
Historical hotel with great lakeside location, spacious rooms, and beautiful new spa.

Things to do in Lugano

Lugano's boulevards bedecked with palms are well worth strolling, especially if you're fond of shopping, but one of the town's classic activities involves taking one of the many ferries that are free for those staying in hotels in town to one of the grottos along the lake. These restaurants offer excellent, authentic meals in picturesque locations. Lake Lugano offers plenty more, so feel free to travel further, and explore the nearby lakes, dramatic valleys deeper in the Ticino canton, or the regional capital, Bellinzona, with its three UNESCO-protected castles. Lugano's traditional rival, Como is always calling, and an easy half hour train ride away. When we send you your customized itinerary, you will be able to choose additional excursions to include in your vacation package, or consider adding later.
Bellinzona Three Castles Private Half Day Hike
Castelgrande and Bellinzona Private Half Day Trip
Private City Tour with Wine and Gelato Tasting

Frequently Asked Questions about travel to Lugano

How can I get around Lugano?
For about $10, you can get a Lugano Card, which offers free use of public transportation, including funiculars.
How long should I stay in Lugano?
Lugano and its alluring environs call for at least 2 nights, if not three. With its neighboring UNESCO-listed sites, not to mention Lake Lugano's lidos and grottoes, and neighboring Italy, there are plenty of places that will make those days pass by quickly.
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