Things to see and do in Lugano and its surrounding area in Switzerland

March 18, 2015

Located in the canton of Ticino less than 10 km from the Italian border, Lugano is a beautiful city of about 70,000 inhabitants, surrounded by mountains and nestled on the shores of the lake of the same name. Lugano is a busy tourist resort, with many interesting places to see and visit; first there is the historic center, with its churches and the numerous buildings in Lombard style, but also museums, parks, shopping streets and the beautiful landscapes all around. The city also offers a full calendar of events that constitute an additional attraction for tourists. Moreover, Lugano’s Casino definitely represents a reference point for entertainment throughout the Ticino area.

Most of the historic buildings and monuments of Lugano are located in the historic center, with Piazza della Riforma being its main point of attraction. Here you can find the Town Hall, built in neoclassical style, the Old Praetorian of the fifteenth century, the banks and the Federale Cafè with the original inlaid wood furniture. During Christmas time, the square houses a picturesque market, while in summer time the famous Festival Jazz takes place here.

Not far from Piazza della Riforma, in via Canova, is the Cantonal Art Museum. It’s one of the most renowned art centers of Switzerland, where you can admire painting, sculpture and photography masterpieces, ranging from the late Gothic to the twentieth century, all created by leading artists from Ticino, Lombardy and Veneto. The museum also organizes frequent exhibitions of great international relevance.

Beautiful are the churches of Lugano, among which is the cathedral of San Lorenzo, the patron saint of the city. They started building it in the eleventh century and finished it in 1517; it is mostly famous for its façade, which is considered a masterpiece of the Lombard Renaissance. Other significant religious buildings are the convent of Saint Mary of the Capuchin Friars, the church of St. George, the church of San Rocco and the church of Sant'Abbondio.

Lugano offers many great parks, the most important one being Parco Ciani, which represents its green lung. You can take relaxing walks on the quaint lakefront and make excursions on Monte Bré, on the San Salvatore and on the Gazzirola, the peaks surrounding the town and offering a splendid panoramic view of Lugano and the lake.

In the surroundings of Lugano it is recommended to visit Gandria, a tiny fishing village on the lake, and the Val Colla, closed between peaks that reach 2000 meters and dotted with pretty villages where time seems to stand still. Other places of interest include the Malcantone region, the Chocolate Museum in Caslano, Monte Generoso (reached by a rack railway from Capolago), the Swiss Miniatur in Melide (which is basically the Swiss version of Little Italy) and the UNESCO site of Monte San Giorgio.

Read more about

Browse news by destination.

Related news