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Located in the southern tip of Switzerland close to the Italian border is the Italian speaking town of Lugano. Lugano has an international airport, albeit small, has connecting flights to Italy, Germany and France.
Getting to Lugano
Flight to Lugano: The nearest major airport to Lugano is in Milan, Italy. Milan is a hub of cheap, no-frills flight operators such as Ryanair and EasyJet.
Train to Lugano: From Milano to Lugano, you can either take a super fast train or a cheaper regional one. There are regular super fast trains every hour, the entire journey takes up to 90 minutes.
The ticket costs $25 if you book one week in advance even during the peak summer season. Reserve your tickets on Train Italia website. Alternatively, you can also buy the ticket on the station itself.
Note, that the Train leaves from Milano Centrale and not from the Milan international airport. There is a direct train connectivity between Milano central and Milano airport.
However, the cheapest way to travel between Milano and Lugano is to take the regional train S10 which runs every half an hour. The train takes about 30 minutes more than the super fast ones and will cost around $10. You can book online or simply purchase the ticket on the station from ticket vending machine. Check the prices and schedule here at SBB website.
Note, depending on the regional train you take you might have to change train at Chiasso, the Swiss border town.
Tip: No matter where you are in Europe, always look for the region train over Euro-city. Regional trains are way cheaper and usually the travel time difference isn’t that significant.
Bus: If you want to save the hassle of traveling to Milano central, there is a direct bus connectivity from the Milano airport to Lugano. The three bus operators are:
The bus boarding point is at the international arrival. Tickets are sold on the board and cost almost the same across the three operators.
Tip: Buy return ticket to save money if you are coming back to Milano; return ticket is valid for a month.
Getting around Lugano
Lugano has an excellent bus service which covers area within the city as well as outside towns. It is cheaper to buy a ticket at ticket counters or machines at the station; though you can also buy a ticket on board.
Lugano Top Attractions
Wander around Via Nassa, the main shopping thoroughfare of the town. Grab a cup of coffee in a café or try an Italian cuisine in a restaurant on the central square Piazza della Riforma. Be warned that prices would be on higher side at the main square.
Alternatively, fix a sandwich from the nearby supermarket and sit on one of the benches on the square and indulge yourself in people watching. The balconies of the buildings around are adorned with colorful flowers and walls covered with vines climbing to the rooftop.
The lake offers an oasis of tranquility and calmness in the middle of a bustling town. You have the option to take a cruise or simply walk on the promenade along the side of the lake.
Relax your nerves and immerse yourself in the beautiful nature, there are plenty of parks around the lake. In summer months – June to August – no motor vehicle traffic is allowed on the street. You can also enjoy street food, open air musical concerts and other events in the evening.
Go around the lake, soak in the mountain scenery with a leisurely pace in a rented paddle boat.
Parco Civico is the biggest park located along the shore of the lake. There is a plenty of space for everyone, a play area for kids and benches to rest. Grab a gelato (DIY: Italian Gelato at home) and enjoy the gifts of summer.
Fix a lunch for yourself from the nearby coop supermarket, spread your legs on the ground and soak in the view of the lake.
Come during the late spring or the summer and garden is full of colorful flowers blooming. Magnolias, in particular, are treat to the eyes. Watch the sun set over the lake. Feed the swans!
Monte San Salvatore
The peak of San Salvatore is located at about 3000 feet. On a clear day, you will be treated with spectacular view of the surrounding snow-covered mountains, the sprawling town and the beautiful lake.
You have two options to get here. Either take the 10 minutes ride in the funicular which runs every half an hour and costs 24 CHF return. (Swiss pass – 50% off). Or hike all the way up through the beautiful mountain scenery, but be warned that the 3 hours hike is steep and strenuous.
To reach the starting point of the funicular hop on bus no. 2 and get down at Funicolare San Salvatore.
Once you are at the top continue to the church, and to its rooftop from where you will get a unobstructed 360-degree views of the entire area.
Tip: Avoid the trip if it is misty outside, the views would be blocked. Also, pack your own lunch and skip the restaurant at top as it is expensive.
Church of St. Mary of the Angels (Chiesa Santa Maria degli Angioli)
Located on the lakefront is the church of St. Mary dating back to 1499. The church is known for its frescoes – the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ and Last Supper are the main highlights.
The imposing painting Passion and Crucifixion was painted by Milanese painter Bernardino Luini in the year 1529 and remains one of the best Renaissance art pieces in the country. Last Supper too was painted by Bernardino Luini. He was an Italian painter, who once worked with the genius, Leonardo, himself.
The information brochure is available in English among other languages.