Lake Lugano is at the southernmost tip of the Tessin, the holiday region south of the ridge of the Alps, and it reaches its arms out into Italy. Thanks to the mild Mediterranean climate, there are even citrus fruit trees growing here, and visitors can sunbathe under palm trees.
The lake has a number of different branches and is surrounded by mountains: Monte Generoso is the highest mountain by Lake Lugano, at about 1700 m. A rack railway takes you from the lakeside resort of Capolago to the top of the mountain, with its panoramic views. There are two funicular railways scaling Lugano’s mountains: the Monte San Salvatore – from where a beautiful alpine footpath leads to the little village of Carona and on to Morcote – and the Monte Brè. And a cable-car takes you up to the sunny plateau of Serpiano, ideally located for visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Monte San Giorgio. The densely wooded mountain with its many rare plants is one of the main locations where fossils can be found dating from a prehistoric subtropical lake.
Take a boat ride to discover the diversity of the region: Morcote, with its grand mansions and the church of Santa Maria del Sasso, an important Renaissance building with a late-Romanesque bell-tower offering outstanding views, or Gandria, a perfect example of a little fishing village by Lake Lugano.
Round the lake, the numerous parks are tempting places to wander. Take, for example, the Parco Scherrer in Morcote, where sculpture and architecture from countless different countries and eras are combined with cedar trees, Mexican pines, camphor trees, eucalyptus, azaleas, palms, bamboo etc, or the Park Belvedere, right beside the lakeside promenade in Lugano. In the spring, visitors love to see the magnolias and camellias in full bloom in the parks.
You can discover Swiss history and culture in the holiday paradise of Lake Lugano: the Swiss Customs Museum in Gandria, for example, shows how smugglers used to pursue their “trade” at great risk in this formerly poverty-stricken area, while the famous “Swissminiature” Park shows you the country’s main sights on a scale of 1:25. For literature fans, it’s worth a visit to the Hermann Hesse Museum in Montagnola where the writer spent half his life.