Lugano is one of the most popular cities to visit in Switzerland, especially during a long weekend. Located in the sunny Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, this southern city with a population of more than 60,000 is compact, easily walkable, and perfect for a long weekend away.
There are many choices to keep you busy if you do choose to go for a long weekend in Lugano. Whether it means walking through the lush green gardens, exploring the winding streets of the old town, or enjoying the city’s culinary scene – there are choices for people of all ages and interests. Below are some ideas on the places that you can visit in the city whenever you spend a long weekend in Lugano, Ticino.
For those who want to spend a few days in Lugano City, here are a couple of ideas to help you maximize your stay. The best time to visit Lugano is during the spring months when the weather is mild yet not too hot. Ticino is popular for most locals starting Easter Weekend until Corpus Christi. It is also a popular place to visit during Autumn break, shortly before the winter season starts and the locals hit the slopes for skiing.
Lugano is a wonderful city with loads to offer. Here are some of the places to visit in Lugano during your stay:
Chiesa Santa Maria Degli Angeli Church
How would you like to enjoy the works of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s disciples? Bernardino Luini was the artist responsible for this large Renaissance fresco found on the walls of the Church of Santa Maria Degli Angeli.
The Church of Santa Maria Degli Angeli is the most important church in Lugano. Although its outdoor facade is simple, it is absolutely beautiful inside. The large Renaissance fresco with more than 150 faces and figures is called the “Passion and Crucifixion“. Its construction started back in 1499 thanks to the Franciscan friars. As depicted by its name, the artist shows the crucifixion of Jesus Christ alongside Gestas and Dismas suffering right beside him.
The church is located near the LAC Lugano Arte a Cultura museum and the lake.
LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura
Another stop in your long weekend in Lugano could be the arts and culture building of Lugano. Not only it is an easy walk from the center of the city, the place also provides fantastic views of the lakes and surrounding mountains.
LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura is a wonderful place to visit if you are into arts and culture. Built only in 2015, this building supports various forms of arts – from visual, music, to performing arts. This modern building on the shores of Lake Lugano is a cultural hub that hosts shows and events for all age groups.
Lake Lugano Lidos
Lake Lugano has several beaches. Lido di Lugano is a good choice due to its proximity to the city, wonderful fine sandy beach, and various pools (Olympic-sized pool included). It also has a soccer field as well as a beach volleyball court. It is open from May until September every day from 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM. For those who need drinks and snacks, they also have a bar restaurant.
Lido Riva Caccia is another alternative albeit a bit smaller. Still close to the city center, Lido Riva Caccia is basically a wooden raft floating platform. Most people simply hang out here, have food and drinks, attend yoga classes, or admire the views.
Lido San Domenico is also another lakeside beach with good food and drinks. This is a bit more secluded compared to the other two lidos mentioned above. There is, however, no shore here. You will have to use a ladder to go inside the lake.
If you would like to discover other beautiful lakeside resorts in Switzerland, you can check out our article 8 Most Beautiful Lakeside Resorts in Switzerland.
City Center and Via Nassa
The city center contains one of the best shopping and dining areas in all of Lugano. This historical street called Via Nassa is lined with boutiques and shops for you to enjoy. They have lots of jewelry and clothing shops.
Among the shops in Via Nassa are CHRIST Watches, Bucherer Jewelry, Ermenegildo Zegna Boutique, Gübelin Jewelry, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Hermes.
Parco Ciani Garden
Adorned with flower beds, statues, and green space, the Parco Ciani Garden has a nice view of the lake and the mountains. Just a few steps away from the city center, it is a welcome park in this busy city. On its grounds, you can find several buildings such as Villa Ciani, the Convention Center, and the Rino Tami Cantonal Library.
This park with perfectly manicured lawns also has a nice kids’ playground for the young ones.
Parco Ciani Garden is open all year round from 6:00 AM until 8:00 PM. During summer, they keep it open until 11:00 PM. Admission is free.
Piazza della Riforma and Palazzo Civico
Piazza della Riforma is the main square of the city of Lugano. Different events (concerts, Christmas lights) may take place in this city square. It also houses the Lugano Hall called Palazzo Civico.
The building Palazzo Civico (or Municipio di Lugano) was built between 1840 and 1833 in the neo-classical style. It houses a restaurant and beautiful sculptures.
Catedrale San Lorenzo
It’s the tower you see when you come from Lugano train station – the Lugano Cathedral of St. Lawrence. The Cathedral has beautiful frescoes and valuable Baroque decor. It was founded back in the 15th century and completed in 1517.
The Cathedral is located near the Lugano train station and the Lugano funicular.
Swiss Tourism (MySwitzerland) prepared an awesome short video about Lugano. I have shared it below — enjoy!
Final Thoughts: Weekend Trip to Lugano
We have listed above some places that you can visit should you decide to spend a long weekend in Lugano city, Ticino, Switzerland.
You can visit churches, the garden, shop in Via Nassa, swim in one of the beaches, and many more.
With that being said, the greater Lugano region has more to offer than the tips we have listed above. There are over 900 kilometers of hiking trails in the Lugano region. If you are into hikes, there are numerous mountains nearby where you can hike – Monte Brè, Monte San Salvatore, Monte Tamara, Monte Sassalto, and Monte Lema. You can reach Monte Brè and Monte San Salvatore quickly and easily by funicular.
There are also lots of pretty villages nearby. Morcote is possibly the most well-known one. But visiting Melide together with Swiss Minatur is also another option. Other pretty villages near Lugano include Gandria, Miglieglia, Montagnola, Sessa, and Origlio as well.
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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.