Best things to do in Lugano
Find out more about those top places in Lugano
Lugano, the most important city in the Italian speaking Ticino region, is where Swiss and Latin cultures come together in spectacular fashion. Similar to many hilltop towns across the Italian border in Lombardy, Lugano’s streets precipitously wind their way down alpine hillsides to the crystal clear waters of Lake Lugano and the picture-perfect Piazza della Riforma. On the hillsides many of the town’s star attractions offer dazzling views across the water to Italy proper with the Renaissance-era Cattedrale San Lorenzo and the medieval church of Santa Maria degli Angioli also highlighting Lugano’s fascinating history. In recent years, Lugano has received a welcome boost from the opening of the Lugano Arts Center, a world-class exhibition space that has put the town on Europe’s cultural map.
One of the buzziest cultural events of 2015 was the opening of Lugano’s world-class arts center. Known as LAC, the center is home to a jaw-dropping number of cultural institutions, including an old masters gallery, one of the largest concert halls in the Alps and the groundbreaking Museo d'Arte della Svizzera Italiana (MASI). The latter, which hosts a series of conceptual exhibitions throughout the year, is a must-see for contemporary art lovers.
One of Switzerland’s most picturesque peaks, Monte Bré, rises above Lugano. Providing spectacular views across the Italian border and the glacial-capped mountains of the Bernese Alps, the mountain is the starting point for many hiking and mountain biking trails. If you do not fancy walking up to the summit, a funicular railway runs from Lugano.
Set high on the hillsides above Lake Lugano is the Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angioli, Lugano’s most spectacular church. While it may look simple from the outside, the interior is dominated by impressive 16th century frescoes by Bernardino Luini. In short, no visit to Lugano would be complete without seeing these jaw-dropping works of art.
For Lugano’s best view, take the funicular railway to the top of the 912 meters Monte San Salvatore where you will be treated with vistas ranging from the high Alpine peaks in the west to the shimmering waters of Lake Como in the south.
Dedicated to the Nobel Prize winning German author, the Museo Hermann Hesse is one of Lugano’s most rewarding museums. Housed in the house where Hesse spent much of the interwar period, the collection encompasses artifacts important in the writer’s life, including his typewriter, glasses and watercolor paintings.
Founded in the Middle Ages but completely rebuilt during the 16th century Renaissance, the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is one of the finest churches in the Alps. Concealing numerous dazzling frescoes and baroque altarpieces, it is a must-see when visiting Lugano.