Lugano, Switzerland

Photo: Kurhaus Cademario Hotel & SPA
Photo: Kurhaus Cademario Hotel & SPA

You’re thinking Italy. The pasta, the wine, the gelato, and the sunshine. But Switzerland is on your mind, too. The mountains, the lakes, the cheese, and the chocolate. It’s just so hard to decide where to go. Unless you could find a nice combination of the two.

Lugano sounds like the perfect place for you. This Italian-speaking city is located in Ticino, Switzerland’s southernmost canton. The financial center sits on Lake Lugano, which is surrounded by the Lugano Prealps. But Lake Como and Bellagio are just across the border. The architecture—from the villas to the churches—the artwork, and the Vespas are all Italian. Plus there’s warm weather and palm trees. Add cobblestone streets, overflowing cafés, and a flower-lined lakefront promenade, and it no longer matters what country this little paradise is in.

The train from Milan to southern Switzerland takes less than two hours. With the sparkling lakes, the jagged mountains, and the picturesque villages on either side of the train, you’re alert the entire time. When you arrive, walk along the lungolago. The waterfront promenade is lined with chestnut and linden trees, pink camellias and white tulips. Visit the churches. Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angioli has two Bernardino Luini frescoes from the early 1500s, while the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo has a picture-perfect view over the terra-cotta roofs in Old Town. Browse the shops, specifically the ones with chocolate, on Piazza della Riforma. Then sit at an outdoor table along Parco Civico to eat a panini, drink vino bianco, and people watch.

Photo: Kurhaus Cademario Hotel & SPA
Photo: Kurhaus Cademario Hotel & SPA

Spend the afternoon on a boat touring the lake. Enjoy the breeze off the water. Visit Gandria, a little fishing town with a trail through olive groves. And dream about buying one of the villas with a sunrise view. Then ride a funicular to the top of Monte Brè for sweeping views over the lake, the waterfront villages, and the surrounding mountains.

The only reason you ultimately give up that view is because your hotel has a similar one. Kurhaus Cademario is just outside of Lugano. The hotel is known for its spa and its restaurants. The spa has a salt cave, a cave-like indoor pool, and a tea bar. The gourmet restaurants serve seafood, homemade pasta, and Ticino wine. But you can barely tear yourself away from the view from your balcony: Lake Lugano, Monte San Salvatore, Monte Brè, and a little park that looks like the sunniest spot in Switzerland. Seems like the best of both worlds.

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