Next up in our new series of adventures where we focus on a particular city and things to do while visiting, we planned a tripped to Lugano. Lugano is a city in southern Switzerland in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino bordering Italy.
We were really excited to spend this long weekend in Lugano where the tourist office had invited us to explore the wonderful things to do in the area and organised an incredible itinerary for us.
We made the mistake of leaving on Wednesday evening thinking we would break our journey in Brig to help avoid some of the bank holiday traffic on Thursday morning. In fact the traffic was awful and it took us forever to arrive but we made it eventually and spent a terrible night in one room with all the children including Elio who shouted until 2am and Alba who kept scrambling from one bed to another.
We were up early the next morning and set off to Bellinzona where we were scheduled to explore the castle Castelgrande.
Next stop was our hotel. We had read that the Hotel Vezia is a biker friendly 1950’s themed hotel so we were a little unsure what to expect as it’s probably not somewhere we would have chosen if left to our own devices, but what a mistake it would have been to overlook it!!
The welcome we received was amazing and they had put us in interconnecting rooms (our new favourite thing!) which were spotlessly clean and had everything we needed. The rooms are in keeping with the theme of the hotel and ours were dedicated to Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn with photos and information about the stars and fun colourful walls and bathrooms.
Jean took Jude and Alba to explore the pool area and play ground while I got unpacked then we headed down for dinner in the hotel restaurant which is a 50’s style diner. This was a really entertaining experience as there was a play area in one corner for children which really helped keep them occupied while we tucked in to our dinner. There is a juke box so the children loved picking songs (0.20 CHF/song) at random and Alba even joined in with the singing too 🙉. Every single member of staff we met at the hotel went the extra mile to make sure our stay was beyond our expectations and the owner was one of the most genuine, charming people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
By the end of the first evening we were all really tired and fell into bed for the best sleep we have had in months.
We had to wake the children up the next morning (actually, I had to wake everyone up including Jean) and we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel for before heading into Lugano.
First on our agenda was to meet Romina in Lugano downtown for a family tour.
After we had cooked lunch, we ate the fruits of our labour we hopped back on the mini train for a little bit more of a tour of the town before we headed to the lido to meet Alessandra from Lugano tourism.
The lido is a vast place with something for everyone. We past a large swimming pool, lots of games, grassy areas, places to eat and a beach.
We had been speaking by email to Alessandra for several weeks to organise our trip so it was a real pleasure to meet her in person.
Next stop was the famous Swiss Miniature museum.
After another busy day we went back to the hotel to tidy ourselves up and headed to a restaurant which Alessandra recommended called Grotto Ticinese which wasn’t far from the hotel. You might easily drive past this place but it’s a real gem! When we arrived the waiter took us through a traditional looking dining room, past a huge outdoor grill which opened on to a lovely wooded area resplendent with fairy lights and large rustic tables everywhere. We’re always happy to eat outside with the children to dilute their noise a bit and they were excited by this novel location. We opted for food from the grill with pasta for the children and glasses of local wine and it was all great!! The staff were friendly and lovely with the children. Alba was in full clown mode and spent most of the evening trying to make us all laugh and we all agreed it was one of most entertaining evenings we had had for a long time.
After another great nights sleep we began the day I had been most excited about as it started with llama trekking!!
Back to the car and we brushed our hair (well, not Jean obviously 🤪) and changed our shoes before we set off to visit Caslano which is a lovely lakeside town located on the eastern side of the lake. We easily found somewhere to park and set off to explore the town. It was fairly quiet when we arrived so we had time to stroll around the pretty streets peacefully before we chose a nice spot by the lake to eat lunch. It’s a really lovely place and we were happy to spend an hour watching boats come and go and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
From there we walked down to the lido. We didn’t spend long there are the children were tired and we had another visit to make but it’s a great place to pass a sunny afternoon with a sandy beach leading onto a swimming area in the lake.
Next stop was the Alprose Chocolate museum which is also in Caslano. This immediately perked up Jude and Alba who were were able to taste some chocolate as soon as we walked through the doors! The next part gave us access to the factory from a viewing platform. Since it was Saturday and the factory was closed we watched the screens to learn about the process of making chocolate from start to finish. It must be impressive when the factory is in operation.
From there we went through to the exhibition space which is full of things to look at and interactive displays. It’s just one large room so it’s not too overwhelming for visitors and held the children’s interest. On leaving the exhibition we past through the shop and we couldn’t finish the visit without buying ourselves some treats to take home after sampling a few delicious creations.
Before we went back to the hotel we wanted to go back to Ciani park which was saw briefly with Romina on Monday but didn’t have time to explore properly. This is a beautiful place and full of people passing the time in the sun. It’s beautifully arranged, full of flowers and very pleasant. We found a nice playground and Jude and Alba were happy to run about and expend the last of their energy.
Back at the hotel we had a coupe of hours for a much needed rest before we got ourselves tidied up for dinner.
For our last night Alessandra had suggested we try the Ristorante Capo San Marino in Paradiso which is a short drive from Lugano. This is a nice smart restaurant with amazing views out over the lake and a live pianist. It’s hard to beat eating dinner on a sunny evening with a beautiful view before you and good food.
On our last morning we were scheduled to take the cable car up to Monte Tamaro. There was a lot of traffic on the road as the motorway seemed to be closed so it took us a while to get to Rivera which is the departure point for the cable car. We had been told we could manage Elio in the pushchair so we did that by putting him on our knees for the ascent and descent as you have to fold the pushchair to put it in the next cable car.
At the top it was relatively easily navigable apart from part of the The Santa Maria degli Angeli chapel where there were lots of steps. It’s an impressive structure with incredible views from the top. The restaurant is a decent self service spot for lunch on the terrace and they even had someone singing outside which was a nice touch and he earned Alba’s rapturous applause :-).
We took a nice long walk around after lunch to take some more photos and to give the children chance to enjoy the play area before we took the cable car down and brace ourselves for the car journey back to Vaud.
We have had such a wonderful time in the Lugano region. We had expected it to feel rather like Como but this part of the country really has its own identity combining strong Swiss influence with an Italian flavour.
It’s really the perfect blend of climate, people, culture, cuisine, breathtaking scenery and buckets of charm. Whenever we plan a trip we always want to leave having the feeling that we have exhausted all the things there are to visit but even after three jam-packed days, we still have the feeling that there is lots more to see.
Again, we have to say a huge thank you to Lugano tourism for putting together this amazing trip for us. It was great to discover that there is so much more to the area than the town of Lugano and the region is crammed full of incredible discoveries not far from the city centre.
If you are still unsure about where you want to go on holiday, add this to the shortlist. It’s got everything from mountains to beaches, from pretty towns and shopping to lakes. The traditional heart of the area is still beating strong but it coexists with the modern elements which make it such a joy to discover.
Discover all our videos made in Lugano
Piazza della Riforma - Palazzo Civico 6900 Lugano Tel +41 58 220 65 00 email@example.com
06.04.2019 - 20.10.2019 Mon - Fri: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sat: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sun + public holidays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
21.10.2019 - 28.03.2020 Mon - Fri: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. / 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Sat: 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. / 1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. Sun + public holidays: closed
32, San Gottardo Str. CH-6943 Vezia (Lugano)
Phone:+41 (0)91 966 36 31