I first visited Lake Lugano in 2003, so I knew I could expect some incredibly beautiful scenery. Still, on my way to that same spot in southern Switzerland more than a decade later, I had my doubts. Maybe it wouldn’t be as beautiful as I remember. Maybe it has changed, become less idyllic, less charming, or quite simply just less.
When I finally reached my destination I was met with astonishing beauty in every direction. Everything was even more beautiful than I remembered. As soon as I set foot in Lugano, it felt like nothing had changed in the last 11 years; not the city and not the visitor.
Hidden behind misty mountains and lush valleys with cascading waterfalls, Lake Lugano is mesmerizingly beautiful, like a real world Shangri La. There’s also something very regal and refined to the region – it’s like a bit of riviera glamour flew over to Switzerland.
The city of Lugano is beautiful and quaint, by which I mean rather small and uneventful. To get to the best spots around Lago di Lugano, you need to venture outside the city limits. The lake is surrounded by idyllic little villages, sleepily awaiting new visitors to tread the narrow alleys. Ferries run frequently between Lugano and the villages, giving you an opportunity to explore some spots that aren’t even connected by roads.
The village of Gandria is located only a short boat trip away from Lugano, but the village has a distinctly different atmosphere of rural charm, with old ladies unhurriedly folding laundry on their small balconies and elderly gentleman playing cards on street corners.
Each “street” in Gandria is pretty much all steps. Located on a steep cliff, just at the edge of the lake, this village offers fantastic views if you climb all the way to the top. There you’ll also find a fantastic route through the olive groves, enjoying magnificent views all along the lake’s coastline while the endless shades of green soothe your mind.
An olive grove above the village of Gandria
The lake is circumvented by hiking routes, offering fantastic views from every possible direction
If you ask me, ferries and boats are still the best way to explore the region
I can’t wait for my third visit to Lake Lugano!