Straddling the border between Switzerland and Italy, Lake Lugano offers the best of both countries. Enjoy its year-round Mediterranean climate and sparkling blue waters while majestic snowcapped mountains beckon in the distance.
Nearly two-thirds of Lake Lugano falls in the canton of Ticino, Switzerland, while the rest is in Lombardy in northern Italy, sandwiched between the much larger Lake Maggiore and Lake Como. Unlike its expansive neighbors, Lake Lugano is more like a large, winding river because it averages only about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) in width.
The best way to discover the lake is on a boat tour. Choose from dozens of cruise options. Admire the opulent lakeside mansions in Morcote or watch the fishing boats coming in and out of Porlezza.
The lake’s perimeter is dotted with charming villages, but Lugano is its hub. This glamorous city is known as the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland.” Explore its winding streets, full of one-of-a-kind shops and quaint restaurants. Visit the Cathedral of St. Lawrence, whose bell tower is an iconic symbol of the city. Peruse the unique exhibits from Oceania in the Museum of Cultures.
Explore the mountains surrounding Lake Lugano. Ride the train from Capolago to the top of Monte Generoso, where you are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Funiculars leading to the summits of Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè run throughout the day.
Enjoy Lake Lugano’s subtropical climate in one of its many green areas along the lake. At Scherrer Park in Morcote, sculptures mesh seamlessly with a variety of tropical plants. Walk among palm trees and olive trees at Belvedere Park in Lugano.
Although you could spend days on Lake Lugano and not run out of things to see and do, it is also conveniently close to some of the area’s other top destinations. Milan is just 1.5 hours south by car. In less than 3 hours, you can be skiing the slopes of St. Moritz or sampling the famous chocolates of Turin. Lake Como and Lake Maggiore are also just a short drive away.