Located just north of the Italian border (7km) in southern Switzerland, Lugano (the largest Italian-speaking city in Switzerland) is home to lakeside retreats, gourmet eateries, galleries, museums, universities and world-class shopping.
Getting to Lugano:
Lugano has a small airport at Agno which accomodates small planes flying mainly to other Swiss airports. There is, however, a privately run shuttle service that provides transportation from Agno (or area hotels) to Milan’s (Italy) international Malpensa airport. Moreover, Lugano is located on the railway linking northern Switzerland with Italy via the Gotthard.
Where to stay in Lugano:
There is no shortage of lovely hotels and resorts in Lugano, many of which offer spectacular views of Lake Lugano and the surrounding mountains. Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, a five-star establishment, is famous for its wellness center, offering thalassotherapy (water therapy treatments) as well as a full menu of massages and beauty services. Their luxurious resort offers lake views, a pool, sauna, tennis courts, and fitness center, as well as a five-star gourmet restaurant. The four- star Hotel du Lac, located directly on the lake, offers luxury accommodations, spa services and innovative Mediterrranean-inspired cuisine at their restaurant, L’Arazzo.
What to do in Lugano:
One of the most popular activities in Lugano is to take boat cruises on the lake. Most hotels will have boat schedules at the concierge desk. If cruising by foot is more your liking, head down to the pedestrian shopping area in the middle of town. Here you’ll find high end gift shops as well as popular European chains such as H&M. Lugano is home to a variety of fascinating museums as well as an ethnographic arts center. Lugano’s extensive municipal art collection is housed in the Villa Malpensata and features artists from the 20th and 21st centuries as well as rotating international exhibitions.
Where to eat in Lugano:
Ars Café (5 Riva Albertolli) is a stylish bistro café by the lake’s edge. The menu features a range of Mediterranean-inspired salads and pasta dishes served with fresh artisanal breads. I suggest going here for a leisurely lunch on a sunny afternoon. It is quite possibly the loveliest eatery on the lake. For a lively dinner, head to the Olimpia (1 Piazza della Riforma) after 7:00pm to catch some live music and fantastic contemporary Italian fare in this large establishment. Be sure to save room for dessert- it’s worth it! Trani (12 Via Cattedrale), a favorite amongst locals, is located near the cathedral. The menu is comprised of a variety of reasonably priced pastas, seasonal fish dishes, snacks (sandwiches, paninis), a decent selection of local wines, and several decadent homemade desserts.
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com