We stayed in Lugano only overnight and spent a few hours in the city and driving up the Monte Bre, which is clearly not enough to enjoy the place fully. Despite this, we didn't need much to fall in love with the breathtaking views of the lake, the mountains and the architecture of the city. While Switzerland is quite a small country, you may be surprised by how different it is in every single part. The Italian passion mixed with Swiss luxury is what we could not resist enjoying. What we weren't prepared for was the heat and the humidity, with palms, thujas, and pine trees in the landscape mixed all together, and tons and tons of insects chirr-chattering in bushes outside of our window. It is a place full of beautiful contrasts and stunning views, and we saved all we could in pictures and memories to share with you.
WHERE TO STAY
We've stayed in such a great Airbnb, a bit outside of Lugano, but with a breathtaking view of the city and lake. Kail, our host, was so generous and friendly, we could not wish for more. He welcomed us with a lovely dinner and didn't let go without a cup of coffee and a fresh Italian croissant in the morning.
We've paid a bit more than 80 EUR for a room (41 EUR if you are traveling alone), which is quite a good deal considering the prices in the area. Otherwise, you need to expect to pay around 100-150 EUR per night for a room in the city and even more if you plan to rent a full apartment.
Be prepared that there will be a limited amount of Airbnb listings in Lugano, so plan your stay ahead to catch a good deal.
WHAT TO SEE
Lugano City. It can be easily considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. Lugano is situated in the Italian-speaking region of the country and is one of the most wonderful resorts in Europe. For shopping explore Via Nassa and Via Cattedrale, some of the oldest streets of Lugano. Have a rest at Parco Ciani, the beautiful green heart of the city.
Lugano Lake is very impressive, spreading its shores between Switzerland and Italy, it was formed by glaciers and is pretty deep. It is quite possible to swim in the lake during summer (though we didn't try to), while most locals and tourist enjoy riding water bikes and yachts. Do not miss out on taking a boat tour, exploring the lake from all angles.
Monte Brè is one of the most popular locations and the closest mountain to Lugano to get a fascinating view of the lake. Drive up by car, or take a 15-minute ride by funicular to get to the top, where you can take a look around the tiny old village, hike, mountain bike, or simply have a drink at the Restaurant Vetta's terrace.
WHAT TO EAT
I would not recommend Restaurant Vetta on Monte Brè to have lunch, I would go there only for a drink and the view. The food is okay, but not worth the money at all. We have paid around 70 CHF for two meals and two drinks that tasted average, so I would consider having a meal somewhere in town instead.
We've got an advice from the local (from our dear Airbnb host, Kail) to try out the Ristorante Battello for a good authentic Italian cuisine. It is a bit away from Lugano but should be worth a drive if you are nearby. It is 4,2-star rated at Google and very moderate prices, so we are definitely going to stop by next time.
Another suggestion from Kail was to visit the Ristorante Pizzeria del Sole, which is located on the outskirts of Lugano. With a really high rating of 4,4, I almost regret not having lunch there instead of the Monte Brè's option.
Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo clock style of architecture.
While you are in Switzerland, there is no need to buy mineral water while you take a walk in the city, as there are plenty of street bubblers with excellent Swiss water suitable for drinking. We personally think that water shouldn't be sold at all, it should be available to all people at any time, so we were pleased to see that Swiss people see it the same way. And no plastic wasted if you bring your own water bottle with you and fill it up at the closest drinking spot. This is exactly what we did and brought our favourite water bottles by Dopper with us.