Lugano is seen primarily as a Summer destination. We decided to visit during Wintertime, and I absolutely loved it! It was just as charming with fewer crowds, and it was so easy to get around. We also found some incredible fresh pasta. Read about our day and see the incredible town of Lugano.
Lugano is known as a summer destination… Should you visit Lugano in the Winter? Yes! Absolutely! Ticino is a fabulous region of Switzerland, with more mild weather and Italian charm, whilst still keeping that Swiss efficiency and beauty. Although Lugano isn’t necessarily the most well-known Winter destination, there’s so much to do in Lugano in the wintertime.
In this post, I’ll be covering how to get to Lugano for a day trip and things to do in Lugano during winter. Read on!
How to get there: Lugano Day Trip
If your base is in another part of Switzerland, but Lugano is calling your name, check out either super saver tickets on the SBB website in advance, or try to get a Swiss resident to get you a Coop day pass (one of the best ways to travel Switzerland on a budget). Sometimes Coop will have deals that allow tourists to buy these, too, so check out what deals Coop has online before your trip.
My mum and I had a free day and some unused Coop Day passes and we decided to do a Lugano day trip.
If you live in Switzerland, get a couple of Coop Day Passes. They’re good for unlimited train travel anywhere in Switzerland for the day. They also cover buses, trams, and ferries.
What’s Lugano like during the wintertime?
Lugano is a beautiful little city near the border of Italy, in the province of Ticino. The language they speak is Italian, and while you’re in Switzerland, it truly feels like you’re in another country. It’s not quite Italy, but not quite Switzerland. It takes the best of both countries and combines them!
Lugano is primarily a summer destination, and it’s so easy to see why. It’s on the lakefront, near Como and Milan. I can definitely imagine eating a few gelatos in the main square, having a picnic, and getting some sun near the lake during the summer months.
During the wintertime, it’s quiet. While there aren’t many people walking about, it’s still a lovely winter destination. It’s nice that it isn’t crowded, and the town is incredibly peaceful. I loved walking by the lake. Stores were still open, so that wasn’t an issue!
Things to do in Lugano during Winter
Skip the Funicular, but still go up to Monte Brè!
The funicular up to Monte Brè, a great lookout point over Lugano, is closed all throughout January and February, as well as Christmas day. If you’re visiting in December, this is no problem, take the funicular! But if you’re visiting during January or February, there’s still another way to head up. You can either walk up or take the bus up to Brè Paese, then walk up to the top. The bus is included in the Coop Day Pass.
In the summertime, there are restaurants open at the top, where you can have a tea or coffee and food while looking at the view, but during the winter, they’re closed. Visiting during winter, when everything is closed, is still worth it – we didn’t see one other person around and the view was great (though it would be even prettier on a less cloudy day).
It’s good to know that during the winter, buses only run once an hour from the top. It’s also good to know that the walking route is NOT along the road, it’s a trail… a proper hiking trail. We weren’t prepared for it, but we powered through, figuring it was better than waiting for the bus in the cold! About halfway down the trail, it links with the road, so you can still catch the bus into Lugano.
To sum up this section:
- December: funicular open
- Jan & Feb: funicular closed
- Also closed Christmas day
- If it is closed, walk or take the bus up to the top
- The path down is a hiking trail so be careful and don’t go in heeled booties like I did
Visit San Lorenzo Cathedral
This Cathedral is well-seen from all of Lugano with it’s giant tower. It was founded in the middle ages, and reconstructed in the 15th century.
The Old Town of Lugano is filled with amazing shops and sweet eateries. I liked window-shopping at the speciality formaggeria (cheese shop) and salumeria (cured meats shop), but there were also clothing stores and typical touristy shops as well. The Centro Storico isn’t huge, which makes it the perfect size for a Lugano day trip.
Lake Lugano Day Trip & Promenade Walk
Lake Lugano is the main attraction in Lugano (as the name suggests). In the early winter, there might be a few boats doing Lake Lugano day trips, but I wouldn’t count on it.
While boats don’t really run in the months of January and February, there’s a lovely promenade on the lakefront that I recommend walking on. I would grab a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate (with CREAM of course) and stroll around here. On a nice day, this is absolute bliss.
A Hidden Gem: Cheap Eats!
After my mother and I went up to Monte Bre, we were starving! Although you’re in an Italian area, you’re still in Switzerland, so food is still pricey. We found a GREAT pasta place that isn’t too pricey, and the pasta is all handmade and delicious. It’s called pasta e pesto, and it’s a quick 6-minute walk from the main square of town, or about 10 from the train station. This is a great option if you’re in Lugano on a budget.
Lugano is the perfect size for a day trip. You won’t get bored and you’ll feel like you saw a good portion of the city.
Where should I head next? Let me know!
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