If you have been blessed to visit the magnificent town of Lugano, grasp in all the fresh air, capture some pleasing pictures of the Lake Lucerne and lastly don’t forget to try some cheese here. Well, if you have done all the above then the only thing to do is venture to the nearby towns from Lugano on a day trip.
You will be surprised at some of the ravishing places you can see an hour away from Lugano. I feel extremely grateful to witness towns, villages and cities from my day trips from the Canton of Ticino.
Lake Como – If you just have a spare day and would like to choose the best city to visit from Lugano it has to be the exquisite Lake Como, you wouldn’t regret taking this trip. I drove to Bellagio which is rich in history and each corner of this town is absolutely spectacular, words are not enough to describe the beauty of this place. From here you can take a cruise which will take you along the shores of the Lago di Como, from here you can see various different houses and towns and if I did have the time I would have loved to get off at each station and stroll around the tiny towns of Como.
You will see the famous Villa Carlotta which has a marvellous botanical garden and a museum, from the cruise trip you can see the grandeur building standing in all its glory. Lake Como has steamers running across from most of its towns so if you wish to explore any of the neighbourhoods you can get off at any one of the stations. Some places you should not miss are Bellagio, Tremezzo, Varenna and Como.
Gotthard Panorama Express – This train journey from Lugano to Lucerne is breathtakingly beautiful, you can take the train from either Lugano or Lucerne and the journey also includes a boat ride. By taking this scenic panoramic train you get to see the south and north of Switzerland in the best way possible. You can also combine this trip with the popular Glacier Express train which will take you to the mountainous region of Zermatt. Whichever route you decide to take it will be magical. If you decide to embark on the Glacier Express your route will start at Lugano to Goschenen (Panorama Express), then Göschenen to Andermatt by a cogwheel followed by the Glacier Express train from Andermatt to Zermatt.
Bergamo – With Lugano being so close to the borders of Italy it is an ideal place to see some of Italy’s best town. One of the historical places which you can tick off from your bucket list should be Bergamo. Over an hour drive from Lugano, this delightful city of Italy is a must-visit. Situated in the Lombardy region, it has some fascinating history and architecture which will enchant you. The Citta Alta (upper old town) is where most of the attractions are located and the famed Piazza Vecchia square.
Citta Alta can be reached by a funicular and you can start your exploration from Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe which is the main square here. Over here you can see the Torre di Gombito which is a tower, and later make your way towards the Church of San Michele al Pozzo Bianco or San’tAndrea. There are abundant shops and restaurants around too, in case you want to take a break from sightseeing.
Plenty of museums and art galleries if you want to learn a thing or two, like the Natural Science Museum, Rocca Museum, Art Gallery of the Accademia Carrara and Museo Donizetti. You can even walk around the Venetian walls and shop your way through Via XX Settembre which is their famous shopping district in the Citta Bassa which is the lower city of Bergamo. Lastly don’t forget the prominent Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore chapel, Cappella Colleoni (chapel) and Bergamo Cathedral, it is one of their popular attractions here.
Milan – Known as the fashion capital of Italy, Milan is a popular place to visit either for a day trip or for over a few days. Last time I spent a week without getting bored, there is so much to do around this city that the day just flies by. Besides driving you can even take the train, it takes the same amount of time. Start your Milan day trip by seeing the most famous Duomo di Milano. You can visit the cathedral and the rooftop which has pleasing views of the city. Next to the cathedral is the infamous Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, this shopping mall has some of the best designer stores. Make your way to the restaurant district of the city ‘Naviglio’ this has so many restaurants lined up next to each other and the lovely canal makes the ambience a tiny bit romantic too.
If you are into history then take a tour of the Castello Sforzesco, it’s quite intriguing. For shopping check out these few streets Via Montenapoleone, Corso Buenos Aires and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. If you are into music and art you would be interested in Teatro Alla Scala (opera house) and Museo del Novecentro.
Another eccentric neighbourhood to check out is Brera, you can find cafes here, bakeries and shops. Probably an area you prefer if you want to be away from the touristy crowds.
Turin – A hub of culture, history and graceful architecture, Turin is all that I had imagined. I can aimlessly wander around the streets without boredom hitting me. Just about two hours from Lugano is another bewitching town of Italy, ‘Turin’, felt in love with this part of Italy. Some of the best museums, royal residences, churches, cathedral, cafes and shopping, it has it all. I feel it is such an underrated destination and deserves more exposure. You need to start your day at the Piazza Castello square where there are many iconic monuments around like First World War Memorial, Palazzo Madama (palace) and the start of Palazzo Reale which used to be a royal residence, do visit if you like to know how the royals lived.
When it comes to preserving its history Turin does it the best, that’s why you can find a number of museums here like The Carignan Palace, Egyptian Museum, Automobile Museum, and the National Museum of Cinema.
Apart from these, the famed Valentino park is admirable too, popular picnic spot for the locals. Don’t miss the medieval village of Turin, and the fortress located in this park. If you are hungry and want to try some typical Italian restaurants then make your way towards Quadrilatero Romano which is lined with restaurants. When it comes to places of worship Royal Church of San Lorenzo and the Turin Cathedral is an ideal place to visit. For the ones who are in search of a good skyline view of the city definitely check out Mole Antonelliana from where you can take the panoramic lift to see the stellar view.
I would ideally recommend a full day or two to experience Turin but if you are short on time you have the option to take free tours or guided tours around the city to know the best of Turin.
These are some of the easiest and famous day trips from Lugano, but if you have some interesting itineraries please do share here!