Switzerland: Top 10 Things to do in Locarno and Lugano

You may think of Switzerland as cold and mountainous, and to some extent you are correct, however, there is so much more to this Alpine haven!

All the reading and research you could do on this magnificent country cannot fully prepare you for what you’ll feel when you arrive in Switzerland. To truly be able to appreciate this country, you must take a trip there.

Once you begin to experience all Switzerland has to offer, you will soon discover, it offers a great deal! The Swiss Travel System is one of the greatest travel systems in the world. Combining train, postal buses and boats, you can travel in comfort, flawlessly throughout Switzerland. Plus, Swiss trains are known for their punctuality and services are frequent enough that if you were to miss your train, no worries, another will be leaving shortly. The best product to aid you in traveling on the Swiss Travel System is, of course, a Swiss Pass! This issue of Explorer will take you to Locarno and Lugano, two very scenic destinations to visit. What should you do once you get there? Well, you can check out our top ten list for some ideas!

Below you will find our top ten ideas to help you explore Lugano and Locarno. We hope these ideas will help you in creating lifelong memories of your trip to Switzerland!

10. Stroll down the long, tree-shaded promenade alongside Lake Lugano for an afternoon of relaxation. You will be graced with views of dominating peaks such as Mount Bre to the east and Mount San Salvatore to the south. A good idea would be to get some bread and authentic Swiss cheese, perhaps a nice bottle of wine and have a nice little picnic along the promenade.

9. For the museum enthusiasts, there are several interesting museums to visit in Lugano. The Cantonal Museum of Natural History houses collections of zoological, botanical and geological displays to educate and enlighten the visitor with. Another great museum to wander the halls of is the Cantonal Art Museum. This museum holds the works of many 19th and 20th century artists, Klee, Degas and Renoir just to name a few.

8. A fun day excursion is a trip by funicular up to the top of Mount San Salvatore. The ride up is a two-step process. Once you make it up the very steep second stage, you arrive at the top of the nearly 3,000ft peak. This is a great opportunity to walk around and explore. Visit the chapel which has an excellent viewing platform, be ready to take lots of pictures! Before returning back down, treat yourself to a nice meal in the restaurant at the Italian Villa.

7. Hop on a lake steamer and head to Gandria, one of the most picturesque villages in Lugano. Enjoy the scenery all around you, have a nice lunch and then you can walk along the promenade back to Lugano. Another option would be to visit Swiss Miniature in Melide. This is a fantastic outdoor museum with miniatures of many of the most scenic places in Switzerland.

6. Once you’ve gone up the funicular to Mount San Salvatore you can experience the journey up to the top of Mount Bre. To get to the aerial cable way you need to take a bus from Lugano to Cassarate. When you reach the top, you will be able to get a glimpse of the entire city of Lugano below. There are some terrific restaurants that have terraces offering spectacular views. On the descent, you can stop in the village of Bre, a well-preserved village in Ticino. In an effort to further enrich the atmosphere and ambiance of this village, works of art were added. Be sure to view the frescoes by Joseph Biro and Luigi Taddei. You can also see sculptures by Pasquale Gilardi and the Museum of Wilhelm Schmid.

5. If your trip to Switzerland happens to be in August, get to Locarno to be part of the International Film Festival. First founded in 1946, the aspect that makes this festival so notable is the open-air screening space. This allows for nearly 8,000 spectators to view various films. Exciting and fun, just grab some popcorn and you’re all set!

4. Take a walk around the town and pay a visit to the Castello Visconteo
. This medieval palace was once home to the ruling Visconti Family. Today, visitors can look around and explore. It’s always fun to throw a little history into one’s itinerary, let the palace fill up some space in your journal!

3. Speaking of history, be sure to pay a trip to San Vittore. This church proudly holds the title of being the town’s oldest church. It dates back to the 9th century. Stroll through the courtyard and just imagine how life was way back in the 9th century. You sort of get a nostalgic feeling just standing in the church. It seems amazing to see a structure that has lived through so much time.

2. Take a seat nearby the lake and watch those notable Swiss lake steamers sail along the lake. Take some bread and you can feed the ducks too! As you sit there, starring at your surroundings you’ll realize, yes, those are palm trees beside you and snow-capped mountains in the not-so-far distance. A warm, meditterranean climate without losing the prestigious snow-capped Alps, it truly doesn’t get more peaceful and serene than this!

1. Finishing off our top ten list for this issue is a ride on the Centovalli Railway (hundred valley). This is a most-scenic ride, you will not regret hopping aboard! You can take this train from Locarno to Domodossola (Italy) and return from there, or, continue on and end up in Brig. The total journey is roughly 2 hours. In that 2 hours you will watch diverse landscape pass by. You’ll see everything from canyons and gorges to crashing waterfalls, mixed in with vineyards, chestnut forests and fairytale looking villages. This is an amazing way to spend a day, a ride that you will definitely want to repeat on each visit to Switzerland. And the best part is, this route is covered with your Swiss Pass!

Switzerland is one of those destinations that is beyond words. The scenery, the people, food, transportation, it all will exceed any expectations you may have. Once you have traveled to Switzerland you truly understand the meaning of natural beauty, as this country is overflowing with it!

The best way to see Switzerland is using the Swiss Travel System and traveling with a Swiss Pass. You get to see much more of the dramatic landscape then you would if you were flying or driving. Plus, some things in Switzerland are appreciated more when you experience them using a train, postal bus, lake steamer, funicular or cable-car.

Come to Switzerland and see what we’re talking about. You’ll find yourself trying to come up with the perfect word to describe your surroundings, but, will discover that words simply cannot convey the feeling and emotion that fill you when you arrive.


  1. Costa

    Traveling in Europe by train is the only way to go.

    The Spanish system offers cleanliness, comfort and fabulous scenery,

    Anyone coming to the Costa Blanca must take a trip on the ‘Lemon Express’ which gently meanders through the glorious countryside passsing the seaside towns. Definitely worth a trip.

    | Reply
    • akoos

      I have not had the opportunity to take the Lemon Express yet, but perhaps I’ll put it in my plans for my next trip to Spain!

      I have done some research and discovered that in the summer, one of the stations along the route of the Lemon Express serves as not just the train station, but as a beach bar!

      Have you ever taken the Tren de la Fresa (Strawberry Train)? It got its name because it transports strawberries to the capital. And, if you take this train, you are treated to fresh strawberries along the route, it’s a pretty sweet ride!

      While I do enjoy the private narrow-gauge and steam lines in Spain, I do prefer the high-speed options like the AVE services, they are comfortable, clean and quick.

      | Reply
  2. chrisbryon

    Entire Switzerland Surroundings you will find beauty.. its very nice place…..

    | Reply
    • Betsy

      Hi Sonia, wow!! your mee hoon siam looks very mouth waeC.ing..rtan i have a plate with lots of sambal please?..:p I have bookmark this…^^Enjoy your Japan trip ya..^^

      | Reply

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