Planning a Trip
The airline Swiss, Aeroporto Lugano (tel. 0848/700-700), provides air links between Lugano and Zurich. Taxis await visitors at the Lugano airport for the 10-minute ride to the center of Lugano.
Lugano is a major stop along the rail lines that connect Milan with Zurich. As such, trains from all parts of Switzerland arrive throughout the day and night. For rail information and schedules, call tel. 0900/300-300. Rail passengers arrive at the Lugano railroad station, piazzale della Stazione, which is in the center of the city, west of piazza Indipendenza. If your luggage is light, you can walk to many of the hotels; if not, you can take one of the taxis waiting outside the station.
Lugano is linked by bus to dozens of hamlets in the Ticino that lack rail connections. There are also long-range trains that come from Italian cities: Como (trip time: 45 min.), Venice (trip time: 5 hr.), and Milan (trip time: 90 min.).
If you're driving, pass through the St. Gotthard Tunnel and continue south along N2, via Bellinzona, all the way to Lugano.
An explanation of fares and ticket machines can be found in a brochure distributed by the tourist office and the Public Transport Board, Trasporti Pubblici Luganesi, via Carducci (tel. 058/866-72-24).
You must purchase a ticket before boarding a bus or a train. If you're caught without one, you may have to pay a 55F ($45/£23) fine. You can purchase a 1-day ticket from automatic ticket machines for 5F ($4.10/£2.15). This ticket allows you unlimited travel for 24 hours from the moment you purchase it. It includes the Funicular Lugano-Main Street SBBM, but not line 12, Lugano-Brè.
For taxi service, call tel. 091/922-88-33.
The town of Lugano and the lakefront itself are ideal for bikers. You can rent a bike at the railway station in Lugano (tel. 051/221-56-42), at ticket window no. 1. Prices begin at 32F ($26/£14) per day, depending on the type of bicycle.
The Lugano Tourist Office is at riva Albertolli 5 (tel. 091/913-32-32; www.lugano-tourism.ch). From April to October hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm; Saturday 9am to 5:30pm, Sunday 10am to 5pm. November to March Monday to Friday 9am to noon and 2 to 5:30pm, Saturday 10am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 5pm.
The center of town is piazza Riforma, dominated by a neoclassical city hall constructed in 1844. From here you can explore the ancient streets of the Old Town on foot.
Lugano is built along several lakeside quays, of which riva Albertolli, riva Vincenzo Vela, and riva Antonio Caccia are the most important. They are ideal for long, leisurely walks. They run from piazza Cassarate to piazza Paradiso.
Other major squares of Lugano, also by the lake, are piazza Riziero Rezzonico and piazza Alessandro Manzioni, the latter with gardens.
The biggest park of Lugano, also opening onto the lake, is the Parco Civico, site of the Casino, the Palazzo dei Congressi, and the town's large swimming pool.
Directly east of the center is Castagnola, a suburb and site of the Villa Favorita, with its celebrated collection of art.
Towering over Lugano are two hills, Monte San Salvatore, at 898m (2,945 ft.), and Monte Brè, at 918m (3,011 ft.). They're ideal for full- or half-day excursions.