With a Mediterranean micro-climate, beautiful alpine backdrop and vibrant food and wine scene, Lugano combines Swiss efficiency with Italian charm.
Located in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region, the canton’s largest city sits in a bay on the northern side of the lake which bears its name. Visitors to Lugano can expect palm-treelined boulevards, picturesque piazzas and a pedestrianised city centre packed with colourful Italianate architecture, chic boutiques and lively pavement cafes.
Whether you’re looking for world class art and culture, outdoor adventure or inner peace and tranquility, Lugano - with its laid back vibe and breadth of attractions - does not disappoint. Wander the lakeside promenade with a scoop of gelato or take a boat trip out on the water. Ride the cable car to the summit of Mont Brè or the funicular to the top of Monte San Salvatore for breathtaking panoramic views of the lake and surrounding alpine peaks. Book a tasting tour to some of Ticino’s best known wineries and sample the canton’s acclaimed Merlot varietals. Amble through the narrow streets of the old town, visit the LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura - a new venue dedicated to showcasing the visual arts, music and performance - relax in one of the city’s beautiful flower-strewn parks and dine at a traditional Ticino grotto for a taste of the region’s delicious cuisine.
Like in most Swiss cities accommodation in Lugano leans towards the luxury end of the market with five star boutique hotels and exclusive lakeside apartments the overnight option of choice for many travellers who visit here. There are however plenty of budget and mid-range hotels and guesthouses available - particularly if you’re willing to stay a little further afield to avoid the premium of a city centre / lakefront location.
Often referred to as the most fashionable hotel in town, Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola is a glamorous former mansion house, set within private subtropical grounds, on the shores of Lake Lugano. Known for its incredible views, fine dining and discreet service, it remains a firm favourite with visitors more than a century after it was opened. Equally popular with luxury travellers, The View - a modern design hotel, opened in 2015, offers elegantly furnished suites, Michelin star dining and - as one would expect from a hotel with this name - spectacular views of the city and the lake. Other notable establishments here include the characterful Hotel Splendide Royal which houses an acclaimed Michelin star restaurant.
Lugano’s food and wine scene offers everything from the rustic to the refined. The city - and the wider region - boasts a good range of restaurants and bars from traditional grotti (simple restaurants or taverns typically housed in rural buildings) to Michelin star restaurants; casual lakeside cafes to sophisticated rooftop wine bars. With such strength in numbers driving high standards, diners can expect top quality food and drink - as well as excellent service - across the board.
Ticinese dishes are closely related to the cuisine of Lombardy, with a focus on fresh, farm-to-table food from local, seasonal ingredients. Cured meats, cheeses such as Valmaggia, olives and bread products are all commonplace and the region’s specialities include Polenta, Minestrone Soup, Risotto Ticinese (typical risotto dish made with Valais saffron) and Osso Bucco (locally reared braised veal shanks). For the sweet toothed, the city is also home to some wonderful gelaterie and artisanal chocolatiers such as Läderach which offers a wide selection of fresh chocolate that’s simply unparalleled!
If you’re looking for a refined dining experience in beautiful surroundings, The View - the Michelin restaurant at the aforementioned boutique hotel of the same name - ticks all the boxes. An elegant, modern restaurant serving contemporary Italian cuisine and boasting a panoramic terrace with memorable views. The restaurant also has a carefully curated wine list of predominantly Swiss, Italian and French labels, including prestigious names like Châteaux Margaux, Cheval Blanc and Mouton Rothschild alongside local Ticino producers. Alternatively, I Due Sud at the Splendide Royal Hotel offers a host of gourmet dining experiences through tasting menus that marry the flavours or chef Domenico Ruberto’s Calabrian roots with those of his adopted Swiss city. Seasonality, quality and exclusivity are the cornerstones of the restaurant’s imaginative cuisine, and the menu is complemented by an extensive wine list of Swiss and international varieties. Modern Mediterranean restaurant META and contemporary Swiss eatery Flamel are also noteworthy.
For the wine lover, Lugano is well placed for exploring Ticino - one of Switzerland’s most important winemaking regions. The Swiss are keen to showcase their wines to the world and local producers across the canton offer a warm welcome to visitors. Red wines dominate here, with Bordeaux grape Merlot the principal variety; a white wine from the same grape has also become popular as an aperitif in many of the city’s bars.
So whether you’re a foodie or a wine aficionado, an outdoor pursuits enthusiast or a people watcher, whatever you want from your holiday, Lugano is sure to deliver. With its idyllic lakeside setting, favourable climate and culinary marriage of Swiss and Italian cultures, this picturesque city serves as a perfect weekend break destination, as well as an ideal base to explore canton Ticino and the rest of Southern Switzerland.
Piazza Cioccaro 5, Lugano, 6900
Hotel Splendide Royal, Lugano, 6900
Riva Paradiso 2, Lugano Paradiso, 6900
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