Lugano in 10 virtues

Those on the lookout for a chic holiday destination or a new place to call home would be wise to turn to the Lugano region. The Swiss city, and its surrounding region in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, is brimming with lively lidos, verdant streetscapes and evergreen cultural gems. Monocle rounds up the Lugano region in 10 virtues for you to discover (or rediscover) when you visit. 


Italian influence, Swiss skill


Nestled north of the Italian frontier, 60 minutes from Milan, the Lugano region combines Italian flair with Swiss efficiency. The pedestrianised old town is an architectural delight, with its arcades and the Piazza della Riforma, where people can be found enjoying an afternoon espresso.


The heart of arts

Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana (MASI) hosts rich exhibitions and cultural events alongside its permanent collections. The institution’s lakeside outpost, LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura, has a culture centre designed by architect Ivano Gianola, where you’ll find gems by Paul Klee, Alexej von Jawlensky, Claude Monet and more. MASI’s second seat, Sede Palazzo Reali, is home to art from the 15th to 20th centuries. For design, the Lugano region’s modernist roots can be seen in the striped awnings of its office and apartment blocks by Ticino school architects Luigi Snozzi and Mario Botta.


Regional refreshment

The Lugano region offers plenty of fine-dining options for epicureans, with four Michelin-starred restaurants and authentic local delicacies served in rustic grotti. The cuisine of Ticino reflects its northern Italian influences; try the salumi (cold cuts), risotto with luganighetta (sausage) and polenta.


Walks in the wilderness


With Alpine peaks such as Monte Tamaro and Monte Lema nearby, panoramic views of the lake and mountains are just a short hike away. The Lugano region has an extensive 940km network of hiking trails and the great Alpine tradition of funiculars is also an option. From Monte Brè, we recommend wandering down to the village of Brè with its charming town centre. Or, if you find yourself on Monte San Salvatore, make your way down through the vines to lakeside Morcote. For sailors, a boating day trip to the fishing village of Gandria is the perfect way to discover the glacial lake’s nooks and crannies. 



Taking care of business

The Lugano region is Switzerland’s third-biggest financial centre. Many businesses choose this small but world-class hub for its service providers, infrastructure and political stability. With easy access to Milan and Zürich, it’s also popular for conferences and research facilities. So why not set up here?



Retail done right

Independent shops and top retailers are plentiful in the Lugano region’s ancient streets. Swiss watches and an emphasis on craftsmanship ensures high-quality and unique finds, while delis and a market that takes place in Lugano two days a week offer a trove of fresh and fragrant produce. 



Canton of corkers

As Switzerland’s southernmost canton, Ticino is perfectly placed for viniculture, so wine lovers will have plenty to enjoy. We recommend the excellent bottles of Tenuta Castello di Morcote and Moncucchetto, which is best enjoyed alongside a hearty polenta-based meal.



Laid-back living

Residents of the Lugano region enjoy an exceptionally high quality of life. The pace here is less gruelling than in other cities but it isn’t quiet. With a full calendar of events, lakeside lidos in summer, a bustling Christmas market or just a walk along the Foce del Cassarate, there is plenty to do.


Green around the hills


The subtropical climate and Mediterranean mild temperatures allow for palm and olive trees to thrive in the long and often sunny afternoons. The Lugano region boasts some verdant and pristinely kept parks and magnolia trees can be found throughout the hillside city, sometimes in unexpected spots. A walk alongside the Parco Ciani is the perfect excuse to admire the mountain views and elegant villas overlooking the northern side of Lake Lugano, while the lakeside Belvedere Garden has a refined croisette that’s perfect for morning runners or those seeking a spot for a post-dinner stroll. 



Call to action

Water sports, tennis, running routes and 415km of mountain biking trails – the Lugano region will keep you on your toes, and keep you fit. Residents can be found windsurfing or sailing at weekends. If you’re more of a spectator, the football, hockey and rugby clubs are welcoming.


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