What to see in Lugano in one day

Who I am
Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

It is one of the favorite destinations for Italians who go abroad since it is close to Italy and very similar to some countries in northern Italy. But Lugano is much more: not only work, streets and shops, but also a lot of nature and history: all this makes it aexcellent destination for a short trip out of town.
Here is what to absolutely see in Lugano in 24 hours.


  1. One day itinerary in Lugano: Morning
  2. One day itinerary in Lugano: Afternoon
  3. One day itinerary in Lugano: Evening
  4. User questions and comments

One day itinerary in Lugano: Morning

1 - Cathedral of San Lorenzo

Start your journey with a nice breakfast at Vanni Dolce e Caffè, just 10 minutes from the central station. Here you can get the right boost with a sweet or savory breakfast. The price is perhaps a bit high, around 7 francs (around € 6,10), but in line with the prices in the city.

From here, just go back for 5 min. to get to the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, the main place of worship in Lugano. Inside you can admire works by Giovanni Antonio Torricelli, Stefano Salterio and Giovanni Battota Carlone.

2 - Church of San Carlo and Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli

Continuing on via Nassa for 5 min. on foot you will arrive at the Church of San Carlo. Inside the building, dating back to 1640, you can see a pipe organ built by Gaspare Mascioni, a polychrome marble altar by Giovanni Battista Adami, eighteenth-century paintings and much more.

From the Church of San Carlo you will arrive on foot to the Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli, one of the most important places of worship (and artistic) in Lugano thanks to the works contained within it. Dating back to 1500, this church is in fact rich in frescoes among which the "Passion and Crucifixion" by Bernardino Luini, a famous Italian Renaissance artist, stands out.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 1,1 km / 15 min
  • Places visited: Church of San Carlo (free), Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli (free)
  • Tour of Lugano, Bellagio and Lake Como
  • Where to have breakfast: Vanini Dolce e Caffè, Piazza della Riforma 1

One day itinerary in Lugano: Afternoon

1 - Civic park

For lunch you could eat from Ciani Lugano. The restaurant is located right inside the Civic Park and guarantees you an unforgettable meal with an average of 20 francs (about € 17,50). Inside the park you can also visit the Cantonal Museum of Natural History, as well as enjoying a splendid view of the lake. To reach it, starting from the church of Santa Maria degli Angioli, you just have to take bus 2 or 3 and proceed for about 10 min.

2 - Funicular, Monte Brè and Battelli

From the Civic Park, taking bus 11 you will arrive in about 20 minutes at Monte Brè. This mountain is famous for its 360 ° panoramic view over the whole of Lugano. In addition, the funicular that crosses the city also departs from there, allowing you to see the main attractions of Lugano from above.

Thanks to the funicular you can return to the center, where one trip on a boat on the lake is a must. Find these "stations" all over the coast and, through the proposed tours, you can visit every corner of the lake according to your needs.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 1,3 km / 16 min
  • Places visited: Civic Park (28 francs - approximately € 24,50), Cantonal Museum of Natural History (free), Funicular railway (1,30 francs - approximately € 1,10), Boat (from 2 francs upwards - approximately € 1,75 )
  • Electric bike tour of the lake
  • Where to have lunch: Ciani Lugano, Piazza Indipendenza 4

One day itinerary in Lugano: Evening

1 - Dinner and lakefront

Once back in the center (by funicular or other means of transport), it's time for dinner, perhaps by the lake. The Seven, in Via Stauffacher 1, with an average cost of 25 francs (€ 22,00 approximately), seems the ideal choice since it is located a stone's throw from the lake.
From here, a few meters separate you from via Nassa, Lugano's "shopping street". On one side you can see the shop windows and the city lights, on the other the spectacle of the lake in the evening.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 850 m / 12 min
  • Places visited: via Nassa (free)
  • Where to dine: Seven, Via Stauffacher 1

Before leaving: useful tips

Although very close to Italy, Lugano also has its "cons", which is why you should keep in mind some useful advice before going into its streets.

  • Travel by train: Lugano is in fact easily reachable in just one hour from Milan.
  • Pay attention to expenses. the city is very expensive, so plan your expenses in advance by taking advantage of the discounts available
  • Book tours in advance. if you plan to go hiking on the lake, use the funicular, etc., book your tickets in advance so that you can plan the rest of your trips.
  • Possibility of stay: if you decide to extend your stay and enjoy Lugano by night, you can consult our accommodation offers in Lugano.

What not to see: the attractions that are better to give up

There are many trips to do to visit Lugano, so some things must be left aside, at least for the moment. Here are some ideas on what not to see if you're short on time:

  1. Casino: inside, you lose track of time, so it's best to avoid it if you're running out of time.
  2. Monte San Salvatore: from its top you can enjoy a splendid view, but visiting it and Monte Brè in one day is a bit of a waste of time.
  3. Museums: the beauty of Lugano is above all in the open air. For once, you can leave the museums alone, unless the weather is bad.

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