How to Spend 48h in Lugano Switzerland – Lugano City Guide

lugano, switzerland, travel-5140967.jpg

Lugano is a city in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. The city sits next to a beautiful lake Lugano and is surrounded by picturesque mountains with vineyards. Being in Lugano gives you a mix between that Swiss feel and the Mediterranean. The mix is nicely visible in the city’s architecture and cuisine.

Lugano is a great travel destination or weekend getaway if you live in northern Italy. Read all about Switzerland, how to reach Lugano, and what to do in Lugano in 48h below.

Note: this post includes affiliate links. I gain a small commission from the provider each time you click the link and book a service through it. That comes at no extra cost to you. Every little commission would help me run this blog and provide better content for you.


1.  Switzerland is known for its high standard of life, so know that your trip to Switzerland and Lugano will not be one of the cheapest. Below are some examples of how much you can expect to pay in Lugano:

  • Pizza Margherita in a restaurant: 25CHF (26€)
  • Pasta Barilla 1kg: 3-4CHF (4€)
  • A full meal at McDonald’s: 16CHF (17€)
  • A night in a 3-star hotel: 170-215CHF (180-220€)

2. Switzerland is not part of the European Union and doesn’t have Euros. Instead, the Swiss use Swiss Francs (CHF). Currently, the conversion rate is 1 CHF = 1.02 EUR.

You can pay in Euros in Switzerland but I do not recommend it. You will receive the money back in CHF, likewise, you will be charged a high commission or high exchange rate.

My best suggestion is to have a debit card to avoid exchanging bank notes. I use Revolut and I could not be happier with them. Revolut offers instant online currency exchanges at fair rates. What I love even more about them is the option to use the disposable virtual card (super safe!) and the latest cashback options (you can get up to 30% cashback from brands like Omio, Adidas, Amazon, About You or even luxury brands like Ralph Lauren).

Sign up for Revolut for FREE

3. You can not use mobile data in Switzerland. Well, technically you can, but it will cost you a fortune. Most of the cities, including Lugano, offer free WiFi in many areas, though, in my experience, it doesn’t always work (and you always need to provide data in order to log in). Check with your mobile provider whether you can purchase an extra EU sim card for the few days.

Lake Lugano / Lago di Lugano

Lake Lugano


We have booked our stay through at Ibis Budget Lugano Paradiso. Ibis Budget is a modern, on-budget hotel in a safe, business area, right by lake Lugano. I recommend their delicious continental breakfast and good comfort for the price (cca 80eur/night per person).

If you’re looking for a slightly higher standard, the neighbouring hotel Ibis Lugano Paradiso offers upgraded services to its on-budget brother. Both hotels are about 1.5km from the city center and within 5min walk to Lugano Paradiso train station, so super convenient.

how to reach lugano from milan?

We have taken the direct train from Milano Centrale to Lugano on Saturday, early morning, and returned Sunday in the evening. The train ride from Milano to Lugano is short (1h 30min) with panoramic views starting from Lake Como. The train tickets cost 22€ one way, therefore you will pay around 40€ for a return ticket. Choose either Lugano or Lugano Paradiso as your final train station.

Omio currently has a coupon for a 12% spring discount on tickets up to 150€. The code is automatically applied at the checkout – valid for all new customers!

As you will be crossing the border, do not forget to bring your ID or passport. The train stops at the Italian-Swiss border for passenger control.

If you’re not into solo traveling – GetYourGuide offers a cool group trip to Lugano!



Lugano is quite small and perfect for a 48-hour trip. Below is my list of recommendations of things to do and see in Lugano, but you can also find the full list by clicking the button below.


Lugano’s historical City Center

The historical city center of Lugano is small and mostly closed to traffic. Take your time to enjoy the architecture and small streets full of boutiques and designer stores. Put the following attractions on your to-do list:

  • Cathedral of Saint Lawrence
  • Piazza della Reforma – main town square
  • Via Nassa – a pedestrian street full of famous brand stores
  • Chiesa Santa Maria degli Angioli
  • LAC Lugano Arte e Culture – art museum

If you’re in the city on Sunday, you will quickly note most of the stores being closed. Make sure to explore the city center of Lugano before the stores close!

Tip: An antique market takes place on Sundays behind Piazza della Reforma


I love Lugano sign - Lugano, Switzerland

I love Lugano sign

Enjoy a walk along Lugano Lake and don’t forget to take a photo by the I Love Lugano sign. You can walk all the way to Paradiso. The walk will take about 20min one way.

If you want to experience Lugano slightly differently – rent a boat! There are several boat centers along the lake where you can rent a small boat and you don’t even need a boat license to do so. The prices range from 45€-55€ for a 30min rental (or 65€-75€ for 60min).


Parco Ciani - Lugano, Switzerland
Parco Ciani - Lugano, Switzerland

Parco Ciani Lugano

Just minutes walk from the city lies Parco Ciani, a tourist attraction on the lakefront which is also considered one of the most beautiful Swiss parks. Locals come to the park to relax and enjoy the views. At the end of the park, you will find a sandy beach (Parco Ciani Beach) where you can swim in the crystal clear lake!

Parco Ciani is home to several historic buildings:

  • Villa Ciani
  • The Natural History Museum
  • The Convention Center
  • The Cantonal Library


Parco Panoramico Paradiso - What to see in Lugano

Parco Panoramico Paradiso

Parco Panoramico Paradiso is a beautiful park on a hill across the lake from Lugano – right above Paradiso. Being on a hill, the park offers stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains. The park is open 24h hours and the entrance to it is completely free. The only downside – the hill is steep, but the climb is short and worth the view!


Mount Brè

For dashing panoramic views, head to Monte Brè (Mount Brè). You can reach the top by taking two funicular trains – all about which you can read HERE. Mount Brè is not just a popular viewpoint, but also a starting point for many hiking trails.

Walk the Olive Grove Trail

Right below the Mount Brè winds the Olive Grove Trail, a fun 3.5km walk between the remains of old olive groves with scenic views of the lake. 

Lugano city center view


Hi, it's Neja

I am an expat from Slovenia,
 living in Milan since 2021 and writing a travel blog for all of you who are curious about life in Italy or traveling in Europe.

Follow me on my journey and learn everything about Italy and the European destinations.

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