What I love most about Switzerland is that whenever you feel like you are in desperate need of a relaxed day by the lake or bathing in the sun then you can always plan a trip to Ticino. I mean, who doesn’t love a short escape once in a while to the ever sunny Canton of Ticino?
Lake Lugano is situated in the southeastern part of Switzerland, between Lake Como and Lago Maggiore. From Zurich, you can reach Lugano in about 3 hours by car. So if you get up really early in the morning you can enjoy a full day by the lake.
Even though there are tons of things to do and see in Canton Ticino, I’ll give you some inspiration on what you can visit on Lake Lugano in just a few hours.
This charming small village will certainly make you forget you are still in Switzerland, but you’re quickly brought back to reality by the prices in the lunch menu.
From the photos, Gandria resembles more to a touristy place from Cinque Terre: colorful houses, narrow streets, tons of stairs and smells of good Italian food everywhere.
At least 1 hour you can stroll around the streets, stopping for a drink at one of the lakeside bars or restaurants, admire the scenery and immerse yourself in tranquility.
Allocate at least 3 hours in Gandria, and the reason for that is the picturesque path of Olives which starts in Gandria and goes all the way to the city of Lugano.
Parking in Gandria can be found on the main road. It costs 1 CHF / hour and it gets pretty crowded quickly.
Sentiero dell’olivo (Olive trail)
The 3.5 kilometer-long “Sentiero dell’olivo” (Olive trail) starts in Gandria near the main road, above the village, and goes all the way to Lugano city. It takes you across the remains of old olive groves and also areas on which trees are being planted again.
From place to place there are information boards illustrating the history of the olive trees, its cultivation, and details about the products.
Along the way, you can stop for lunch at the beautiful hotel Elvezia al Lago which has a cute stylish terrace by the lake which offers spectacular panoramic views.
We didn’t reach the city center of Lugano, this will remain on our list for next time we visit Lake Lugano.
Just 10 km from Lugano (not the best road in my opinion), you reach Morcote, the hidden gem of Lake Lugano. Oh, how beautiful Morcote is! Until now Stein am Rhein stood on my top most beautiful village in Switzerland, but Morcote changed that quickly.
This small village with just over 700 inhabitants will charm you at once. With its small alleys, old royal homes, a beautiful promenade by the lake, and a lot of valuable architectural monuments, Morcote is called “the Pearl of Lake Lugano“.
Some of the places that are not to be missed in Morcote are the churches of Sant’Antonio Abate, Santa Maria del Sasso, the impressive cemetery, and the small chapel of Sant’Antonio da Padova.
Allocate at least 2 hours here, because there is plenty to see and you will want to stop at every corner to take photos.
On your way back home, you can make a quick stop at the beautiful Piumogna waterfall. Situated in Faido at about an hour from Lugano, the 43 meters high waterfall is considered one of the most spectacular in Ticino.
You can reach it easily from the parking lot nearby, and it can be a great stop to cool off a bit, especially if you took a lot of sun in Lugano. It’s also a great pick for nature lovers, as it offers several hiking trails in Leventina valley, nice picnic spots, and a playground for the children.
Canton of Ticino has a special place in my heart, simply because of the relaxed Mediterranean vibe, the cute Italian like villages, the colorful promenades, and you can find good gelato everywhere :))
Check out also our day trip to Lake Maggiore and a bit of Verzasca valley.
Have a nice day and in the end let me delight you with some more photos from Lake Lugano.