Common knowledge says that Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world, that it didn’t participate in the two world wars, that most of its surface is covered by the majestic Alps (where Milka the purple cow comes from – the Swiss are skilled chocolate masters!), that the Red Cross was founded here, and when things go well, we say that everything works “like a Swiss watch.”
Everything sounds absolutely awesome, there are no bad news about Switzerland on TV, and with a simple search on the internet with the name of the country, pictures of fairy-tale landscapes come up.
So, being in Milan, Italy and just about 50 kilometers from the border with Switzerland, we simply couldn’t help but go see the wonder. 😊
So we looked at the map and our eyes were caught by the Lake Lugano and the small town with the same name, then we searched for ways to get there and were happy to find a Flixbus for less than 10 euros, and… we had a plan!
A plan that wasn’t quite complete, as we needed accommodation as well. Because life and, implicitly, hotels in Switzerland are super expensive, we found an apartment on Booking at a more than decent price, where we also had a kitchen so we could cook meals, saving a lot of money on restaurants. If you want to make a reservation for your next vacation, use this discount link, and at the end of the trip, the site will refund 10% of the value of your booking directly on your credit card.
The Flixbus left from Milano Lampugnano station, which we reached easily by subway, and the trip to Lugano took less than an hour and a half.
As we approached the destination, the landscapes were becoming more and more wonderful and our impatience more and more difficult to contain!
There is no customs office between Italy and Switzerland, both countries being in the Schengen area, but be aware: Switzerland is neither a member of the European Union nor of the European Economic Area, so roaming packages of the most EU mobile networks do not work there – all mobile services will be charged at extra cost!!
After we arrived in Lugano and checked-in at the apartment, very excited, we went to discover on foot the central area of the city. The first thing that surprised us was the climate – being surrounded by the Alps, we were expecting mountain temperatures, but the weather was very pleasant, and in people’s courtyards and on the streets, there were palm trees, flowers and even bamboo trees – all these in February!
Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, Lugano being the largest city in the canton of Ticino and the ninth largest city in the country. It is situated on the shore of the lake with the same name, surrounded by the impressive Alps, which watch over the city and offer extraordinary landscapes.
Although it is a relatively small city, with a surface of only 48 square kilometers and a population of just over 63,000, Lugano is Switzerland’s third financial market, with numerous banks and financial institutions, but also faculties and numerous companies from the tourism industry.
Being very close to the Italian border, the city is mostly populated by Italian speakers, which is one of the official languages in Switzerland, alongside German, French and Romansh.
Long walks along the lake shore and on the chic streets of the city are a delight, the historical buildings blend with the modern ones in a harmonious dance, and the cleanliness and coziness are at home here.
Stylish traditional shops attract even more visitors than those of famous luxury brands, with clothes and accessories at prices by far exceeding our entire holiday budget. 😊
There are many carefully maintained historical buildings that add to the charm of the city, bringing the beauty of old times in the middle of the modern city.
Roman Catholic St. Lawrence Cathedral is a landmark of the city and can be admired in the present form for nearly 500 years now.
Ciani Park, extending along the waterfront, invites locals and tourists alike to relax amongst the centuries-old trees, on the flower-lined alleys, and gifts visitors with delightful views of the lake.
Numerous aquatic birds like ducks and swans have found a home here, and the passers-by treat them with seeds and lettuce.
The park stretches from the city center towards the place where Cassarate River flows into Lake Lugano, near a mini-port for the locals’ boats.
The name of the park comes from Villa Ciani, a peach-colored building with beautiful architecture, built in the mid-1800s, which today hosts exhibitions, cultural events, conferences and can be rented in part or in full.
Even though one of our days in Lugano was rainy, the fog that covered the lake and the mountains did nothing but add mystery and beauty to the surroundings.
A tourist train carries the city guests through the most picturesque areas, when they get tired from long walks on the charming streets.
There are many boat trips available on Lake Lugano, connecting the city to other localities in the area, and many services such as water taxi or boat rental are at the disposal of visitors to explore the beauty of the place.
From Lugano train station there are plenty of routes operated by several railway companies, so the city is very well connected with numerous places in Switzerland and Italy.
Finally, here are 7 interesting facts about Lugano:
- On May 24, 1956, Lugano hosted the first edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.
- In 2018, in the center of the Israeli city of Yehud, a replica of the old town square of Lugano was inaugurated.
- On one shore of the lake is the municipality of Paradiso, which, although surrounded by the city of Lugano, is totally independent in terms of administration.
- Although surrounded by mountains, the city of Lugano has a humid subtropical climate, with specific vegetation, which is a rarity in the area and offers the city a special charm.
- Lugano is one of the sunniest cities in Switzerland.
- Over a third of the city’s population does not hold Swiss citizenship, and more than a quarter of its inhabitants were born in Italy.
- Lake Lugano is located in two countries: 63% in Switzerland and 37% in Italy.