Ticino Travel Guide

Lugano Switzerland

Highlights and top attractions of Ticino

The southern Swiss canton of Ticino borders Italy and the Italian influence here is hard to miss.  Ticino is blessed with a Mediterranean climate and offers visitors the chance to experience Swiss-Italian style cuisine, culture and architecture, all presented with an attention to detail that is typically Swiss.

The city of Lugano is located right by the lake bearing the same name. The lake is framed by soaring Alpine peaks and fringed with palm trees, making this a favourite with those who like to spend time outdoors.

While in Lugano, visitors can enjoy as relaxing or active an itinerary as they please. Hiking trips are a favourite pastime, or you can discover the town’s pretty gardens or Old Town at a more leisurely pace if you prefer. Lake cruises are also popular, as is sampling the delicious local cuisine. 

Just 30 minutes from Lugano are the twin towns of Ascona and Locarno, which sit on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Visitors head to the popular resort towns of Ascona and Locarno for the mild climate, Italian lifestyle and cuisine, and the surrounding landscape of rolling valleys, dotted with attractive villages, glaciers and lakeside towns.

Whether you’d rather relax in a Locarno cafe with a coffee, watching life unfold in the Piazza Grande, sample Italian style dishes in Ascona or take a boat trip to the Brissago Isles, these scenic, palm-lined twin towns offer the chance to Live La Dolce Vita while in Switzerland.

Major events in Ticino

Street Food Festival – This is a relatively new event, first launched in 2017. Held during the final weekend of April, visitors can sample all sorts of Swiss and international specialities while enjoying vibrant music and lake views.

LuganoMusica– Taking place between mid-April and June, this classical music festival is held in the Palazzo dei Congressi.

Estival Jazz – During the warm summer days of July, this jazz festival in Lugano is a free, open air concert for all.

National Day – In celebration of the country’s national day, the Swiss skies light up over Lugano with a dazzling firework display. This occurs annually, at midnight on 1st August.

Blues to Bop – This Lugano music festival takes place in late August, using the town’s piazzas as stages. It lasts for four days, and plays host to blues artists from all over the world.

Jazz Ascona – As the temperature rises, Ascona starts summer with a music festival featuring a range of Swiss and International artists. Jazz Ancona takes place during late June.

Moon&Stars – Locarno’s Piazza Grande comes alive every July when the Moon&Stars music festival takes place over ten days.  Featuring some of the world’s most famous pop, rock and rap performers, there are up to three concerts per night in the magnificent open-air setting.

Lugano Switzerland

How to get to Lugano

Those who want to take a trip on the Bernina Express, a panoramic Swiss train journey, can take a bus from Lugano to Tirano to connect with the route.

If you are travelling between Lucerne and Lugano, the Gotthard Panorama Express journey is a great option. The journey consists of a boat trip from Lucerne to Flüelen where you connect with a train to Lugano.

A standard train trip from Zurich to Lugano takes just under two hours, or about 3 hours and 15 minutes from Bern. A Lucerne to Lugano rail journey will take about 1 hour and 40 minutes. 

Lugano is easy to reach by car, being located just an hour’s drive from Milan in Italy, or a little under three hours from Bern or Zurich. Lucerne is less than two hours away by car.

How to get to Ascona Locarno

These twin towns are so close together that you can walk from one to the other in around 40 minutes. Or hop on a local bus, and the journey takes around 10 minutes. By car or local taxi, you can get between them in just 3 minutes.

The train trip from Zurich takes around 3 hours and 20 minutes, 3 hours 30 minutes from Lucerne or 4 hours from Bern.

If you prefer to drive to Ascona and Locarno, you can be there in about 3 hours from Bern, 2 hours and 20 minutes from Zurich or 2 hours from Lucerne.

Ticino Info

Population: Lugano – 63,000 / Locarno – 15,000

Language spoken: Italian

Average high temperatures: January –  6C / 44F; April – 15C / 60F; July – 27C / 80F; October – 16C / 62F

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