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8 Best Day Trips From Lugano

(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Lugano is among Switzerland’s most popular destinations. With a population of more than 60,000, this southern city is compact, easy to walk around, and ideal for a weekend or longer stay. Lugano is known for its many charming spots and breathtaking mountain views. Located in the sunny canton of Ticino, there are many things to do in Lugano itself.

If you would like to venture a bit farther away from Lugano itself to other parts of Ticino, then this article is for you. We have put together a list of eight trips you could take from Lugano if you are looking for different ideas about where you could go once you are there.

1. Morcote

Morcote, Ticino
Image of Morcote, Ticino by TouringSwitzerland.com

It’s hard to imagine a better day trip from Lugano than Morcote. Located a mere 10 kilometers south of Lugano, Morcote is definitely worth visiting for a day. 

The village famously received the title of one of Switzerland’s most beautiful villages. On the peninsula of Ceresio, lies this charming village. Located on a hill overlooking Lake Lugano as well as neighboring Italy across the lake, Morcote offers spectacular views. 

One of the most popular viewpoints in Morcote is the top of the monumental staircase going up to the Church of S. Maria del Sasso. Both the church and the nearby cemetery (Cimitero monumentale), as well as the garden Parco Scherrer, are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national importance. 

The Church Santa Maria del Sasso was built back in the 13th century. Despite being rebuilt and renovated several times over the centuries, it stands there today with its valuable frescoes dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Additionally, there is a 1676 chapel nearby called Sant’ Antonia do Padova.

If you would like to check out our article about Morcote, you can click here: The Pretty Morcote Village in Ticino.


2. Locarno

Image of Madonna del Sasso Sanctuary in Orselina, Locarno by TouringSwitzerland.com

Within thirty minutes of Lugano is Locarno, Ticino’s third-largest city. Locarno is undoubtedly worth a day trip from Lugano. In the center of town is the stunning Piazza Grande, and Castello Visconteo is just a short walk away. 

In the picturesque town of Orselina, on top of a rock, is Madonna del Sasso, one of Ticino’s most sacred religious sites. This lakeside destination offers a scenic backdrop of mountains and trees, as well as easy access to Ascona a short drive away. 


3. Ascona

Image of Ascona, Brissago Islands, and Lake Maggiore by TouringSwitzerland.com

Less than an hour from Locarno is the beautiful village of Ascona. Also a popular tourist attraction, this charming town is also well worth a visit during the day. The entire town is on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.

Ascona has a lot to offer, and the waterfront promenade and historic buildings make it a worthwhile stop. Children can also find a playground and a treasure hunt here. It is definitely worthwhile to visit Ascona, even from Lugano.

If you would like to check out our article about Ascona, you can click here: Best Ascona Activities and Attractions.


4. Bellinzona

Image of Castelgrandeby TouringSwitzerland.com

Among the largest cities in Ticino, Bellinzona ranks second. Bellinzona’s strategic location as a meeting point of three primary north-south routes explains why it was used by various rulers over the centuries to control routes to and from the north. The St. Gotthard, San Bernardino, and Lucogmagno passes can all be controlled via Bellinzona.

Due toBellinzona’s strategic importance, three castles were built there. Since 2000, the following castles have been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List: Castelgrande, Castello di Montebello, and Castello di Sasso Corbaro. The trip to Bellinzona from Lugano is undeniably worthwhile. Moreover, it is only a 20-minute drive away. 

If you would like to check out our article about Bellinzona, you can click here: Bellinzona: Everything You Need To Know.


5. Gandria

Image of Gandria from wikimedia

Gandria is special because it is divided by a lake into two parts. Nearly a third is located near Lugano at the foot of Monte Bré. The remaining two-thirds are situated across Lugano Lake, accessible only by boat. Nevertheless, Gandria is an easy day trip from Lugano. The picturesque fishing village is famous for its oil. Additionally, it is the last Swiss village before Italy.

Since Gandria could only be reached by foot or boat for such a long time, it had to be entirely self-sufficient. It wasn’t until 1936 that they built their first road.

A beautiful lakeside village in Ticino, Gandria has well-preserved buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries. These buildings are decorated with stucco and frescoes. Its historically protected village center is car-free and attracts visitors from around the world. 


6. Miglieglia

Santo Stefano Al Colle church

On the slopes of Mount Lema lies the delightful village of Miglieglia. It is another place worth visiting from Lugano. A municipality of just over 300 residents,Miglieglia is primarily covered by forests. 

There is a wide variety of terrain in this municipality, from the summit of Mount Lema to the meanders of the Magliasina River. The Church of Santo Stefano al Colle, depicted above, offers fantastic panoramic views of Ticino. From here, you could see from Lake Lugano to Lake Maggiore. In this Romanesque church decorated with frescoes dating to 1511, the apostles are shown in a belfry tower and choir. In 1970, it was restored in the late Gothic style.


7. Melide

Image of Lake Lugano as taken from Melide by TouringSwitzerland.com

Melide is only 7 minutes away from Lugano and is definitely worth a visit, especially on a sunny day. 

Melide offers a range of outdoor activities, such as a beach and a fitness trail. Additionally, you will find the Swiss Miniatur, which displays 1:25 scale models of Swiss locations. 


8. MonteGeneroso

Image of Monte Genoroso from flickr

In Switzerland’s Lugano Prealps, near the Italian border, lies Monte Generoso. It is a great day trip from Lugano.

MonteGeneroso is situated between Lake Lugano and Lake Como. Due to its location between both lakes, it provides beautiful views of both. 

A world-renowned nature reserve surrounds Monte Generoso. Against the mountain’s rugged crest stands the spectacular “Fiore di Pietra” (stone flower). The building was designed by the famous Swiss architect Mario Botta, and its picture windows frame the beautiful views. 


More Day Trips from Lugano

It is clear that there are just too many options in the Lugano region. If you have already seen the eight mentioned above and would like to discover more sights, I have included more ideas below. Here are some other day trips from Lugano:

  • Castagnola – Castagnola is a village on the northern shore of Lake Lugano, below the mountain of Monte Brè. It is also home to the Park Villa Heleneum.
  • Sentiero dell’Olivo – In Sentiero dell’Olivo, we learn about the history and nature of olive tree growth along 3.5 kilometers of trails. There will be 18 information boards where you learn about olives and the olive oil they produce.
  • Carona – Carona is a charming village located at the foot of Monte San Salvatore, just above Lugano. It has a rich cultural and historical heritage despite its small size. Local craftsmen (architects, decorators, painters, and sculptors) traveled all over Europe between the 15th and 18th centuries, leaving their expertise behind in Carona. There is also a botanical garden called San Grato Park (Parco San Grato) in Carona.
  • Monte Brè – From the mountain, which is east of Lugano on the slope of Monte Boglia, you can see the bay of Lugano, the Pennine Alps, as well as the Bernese Alps. It is one of the sunniest places in Switzerland.
  • Caslano – Caslano boasts picturesque alleyways and trails. They also offer tennis, golf, and windsurfing facilities in addition to religious monuments and museums. 
  • Montagnola – Herman Hesse was inspired by and lived in Montagnola. Nearly half of Hesse’s life was spent in Montagnola. There is a museum dedicated to Herman Hesse in Montagnola. 
  • Sessa – The ancient village of Sessa was founded during the medieval period. There have been clashes between the Swiss and Italians in this village for centuries. The village offers a glimpse into an interesting past. 
  • Origlio – A beautiful view can be enjoyed from Origlio’s church of San Giorgio. With this small lake here and the surrounding countryside, you will feel at peace.
  • Tesserete – Tesserete is located in a sunny valley. The church of S. Stefano and the Romanesque tower stand out. It is also the location of Switzerland’s first capuchin friar covenant – Santa Maria del Bigorio. There is also a sports center in case you are interested.

Final Thoughts: Best Day Trips from Lugano

Located in the southern region of Switzerland, Lugano serves as a gateway to a plethora of breathtaking day trips. One such destination is Morcote, a charming village situated on the shores of Lake Lugano. With its narrow streets, historical buildings, and fantastic views, Morcote exudes a tranquil ambiance that captivates visitors. Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade and indulge in local cuisine at waterfront restaurants.

For a taste of Swiss-Italian charm, head to Locarno and Ascona. Located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, these two pretty and vibrant towns offer a delightful blend of Mediterranean flair and Swiss hospitality. Ascona is famous for its charming old town, lakeside promenade with colorful buildings, and lively atmosphere. Locarno, on the other hand, is known for its annual film festival and historic Piazza Grande, one of the best places for events in Ticino. You may also enjoy a boat ride on Lake Maggiore and head over to Brissago Islands, savor delicious Swiss-Italian cuisine, and soak up the sun in these idyllic towns.

If you’re a history enthusiast, a visit to Bellinzona is a must. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to three medieval castles – Castelgrande, Montebello, and Sasso Corbaro.

While Lugano offers fantastic day trip opportunities, there are many other captivating destinations worth exploring. The list provided above includes some of the best examples, but there are additional options to consider if you’ve already experienced those mentioned.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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