In the south of the country near the Italian Alps, Lugano is the largest Italian-speaking city in Switzerland. Perched on the edge of Lake Lugano, it has a unique microclimate where palm trees grow in the shadow of the Alps and isn’t too far away from the Italian border. The city is often visited by people who want to see the mountains and other nearby attractions such as Lake Como. Visitors to Lugano are also likely to come across long boulevards which are reminiscent of many Italian cities, while the city also has plenty of museums and galleries where you can take in a little culture during your trip. However, the winters here can be a little on the chilly side, as you might expect from a Swiss city.
Providing that it has winter tyres, a family car is the best vehicle to drive in Lugano, although for some of the sharp corners on rural routes, a hatchback might be better.
Driving in Lugano
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Although the majority of residents speak Italian, some people in Lugano speak French or German as their first language.
If taking a ferry in Lake Lugano, you should bring your passport as part of the lake lies in Italy. If you do, you should be fine.
Most of the main roads are cleared of snow during the winter, but some minor routes are left alone. Try to take the main roads only if possible at this time of year.
Highlights & Hotspots
The Hermann Hesse Museum, despite being in the nearby small town of Montagnola, is well worth a look. It offers great insight into Hesse, a famous poet who lived here in his later years, offering exhibitions and films about his life.
Inside Lugano itself, there are plenty of museums and galleries worth a look. The Museum of Modern Art and Cantonal Art Museum show contemporary and older works, while the local university has its fair share of places open to the public.
Heading to Lake Lugano will provide plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration. You can rent a boat and sail, walk along its periphery or, if you want to go swimming, pay a visit to the Lido di Lugano, which has a bar and its own beach.
The premier music event in Lugano is the Blues to Bop Festival. Free of charge, the festival takes place in the city centre towards the end of August every year with acts playing on multiple stages throughout Lugano.
Lugano Airport is a regional airport, lying almost 1.5 miles west of the city centre. It mainly serves as a terminal for domestic flights, although some destinations further afield are catered for such as Ibiza and Rimini.
The airport is located alongside the 2 Motorway. Go south until the junction with the Svincolo Lugano Sud. Drive north up that road, as it takes you straight towards the city centre.