Like kids never say enough to ice-cream, this is how we feel for Lugano and its region 😍!
Although we visit regularly but there is always something new to enjoy! The culture mix, the Italian food, the enchanting scenery, the lively mood…ohhh, it can take volumes of blogs to write about it! Time flies there and you can easily spend a long weekend in Lugano and its roundabouts and more.
This time we will focus on the surroundings to stay on the “out of city” theme! So book couple of days for the plan and a day more for the city itself (read more for Things to do in Lugano).
In attempt to absorb the beauty of the region we started from the top, Monte Brè, with its distinctive cone shape! This is said to be Switzerland’s sunniest spot and arguably the most scenic. Many ways lead to Monte Brè, via a narrow road, some walking trails or by a funicular. When you reach the summit, pinch your self strongly, as you will hardly believe the mesmerizing vistas around. The view stretches beyond lake Lugano valley and even reaches the Bernese Alps and Monte Rosa. We had to force ourselves to leave as we wanted to visit the tiny village of Brè. Its traditional Ticino-style houses are a magnet to artists, out of which is the Swiss painter, Wilhelm Schmidt and his masterpieces.
A hike on Monte Brè is like no other in Switzerland! Olive trees cover the sunny slopes for a 3.5-kilometre fascinating family-friendly trail stretching from Castagnola to Gandria. Some of the groves are hundreds of years old. The Olive Path (or as locally called Sentiero dell’Olivo) is about two hours long. It’s an easy and relaxed walk allowing to enjoy the scenery and the beautiful olive trees. View after view unfolds as the path sneaks through the narrow streets of lakeside villages and among the gardens between trees. The path eventually leads to the picturesque terraced village of Gandria, an unspoiled tiny settlement that preserved its look of a hundred years ago. Walking through its arcaded alleys, you’ll find the Church of Saint Vigilio, with its beautiful Baroque facade. To pass some fun moments you can visit the Swiss Customs Museum detailing the smugglers’ ingenious schemes and the efforts of customs officers to counter them, as the small village was a prime target of illegal trade (mainly cigarettes and meat so your imagination doesn’t take you far 😁).
Although Switzerland has thousands of lakes, but lake Lugano is very distinctive. The lake manœuvres as a giant snake between the steep wooded mountains that shores it. When we were going through by boat, it was as if a curtain opens every few minutes on a different scenery with blue (water) and green (slopes) regularly interchanging. In short, this is a 100% recommended experience for a trip over a weekend in Lugano! And by the way, this was not our first attempt to take a ride on the lake. The year before just as we were checking around the shore, it rained heavily, and we headed to town to shelter. Luckily, we ended up in a local cafe that had arguably the best gelato & cappuccino in the region! 😋
From the center of Lugano, near Paradiso, you can also take the funicular up steep 600 meters to the top of Monte Salvatore.
The view here is literally breathtaking, although the altitude is relatively low. We could see the entire lake Lugano circling around the surrounding mountains. The red roofs of Lugano and neighboring villages cluster around the shores like beautiful bunches of red tulips. As you turn your back on the lake and town and gaze to the other side, you will find a horizon of alpine peaks crowned by Monta Rosa and the Valais Alps.
The walking trails from here lead down to Carona, Melide, Morcote and Figino. Morcote was our destination to visit the village holding the title of the “Most beautiful village of Switzerland 2016“!
We let ourselves get lost in its small alleys, wondering in between the arcades of the old patrician homes, and encountering its numerous characteristic architectural monuments.
With a bit of effort upward we reached the church of Santa Maria del Sasso and the Tower of the Captain, the most stunning view point you can imagine.
Hunger stroke soon and we headed back to a restaurant on the lake side. Couldn’t tell what’s better: the view or the Vitello tonnato! In the end it was a Tiramisu as the sweetest way to top the trip of weekend in Lugano! 😋
- Brunch of August 1 will take place as Swiss government authorised the gathering of 300 people. Multiple farms offer this traditional brunch all around Switzerland. The event is vastly popular and we highly advise an early subscription. More info about August 1 brunch on a farm on brunch.ch (only in FR, IT or DE)