Three mountains trips from Lugano

May 31, 2019, 1 Comment

The little slice of paradise that is Lake Lugano has more than gentle boat rides to offer: there are three wonderful mountain trips that are easy excursions from Lugano. I did all three recently and loved each for its views and the ride up there. Two in one day is manageable but three is a bit too much. Take your time and relish the lake-meets-mountains scenery that makes Lugano so special.

But which should you choose? Here’s a handy guide:

Monte San Salvatore: best lake views

This conical mountain sits across the water from the city and is the obvious one to start with, especially if you’re staying at the Paradiso end of Lugano. The funicular is a few metres away from the lake so you can get up to the top early before the crowds. And it does get crowded as this is the easiest mountain trip to the city.

But it’s worth it. A short ride in modern carriages but on an old line (opened in 1890) and you’re up at 912m with a choice of various viewpoints a short walk away. My favourite was from the roof of the chapel on the hill, giving you a view of the lake almost wrapping around in every direction, plus the mountains and much of the city centre.

Monte Brè: best city views

Slightly higher (at 925m) and a little further from the centre, the journey up this mountain is very similar to San Salvatore. A historic funicular, from 1908, with old-fashioned carriages that trundle up the hillside. At the top it’s a short walk to the cafe and main viewpoint.

And it is a view to remember, especially if you want to see Lugano itself as the angle here is better. You get less of an idea of the shape of the lake but more of an impression of how the city merges with the surrounding countryside. But it can be rather windy on top!

Monte Genoroso: best mountain views

Furthest away and much higher up (1701m), Monte Generoso is in a different league altogether. It warrants a good five hours, rather than the two that the other two need, and the best way to get there is by boat to Capolago. There you board the little railway that chugs you up to the top in about 45 minutes, where you are welcomed by a striking Mario Botta building, the Fiore di Pietra.

What a panorama! The lake is still there, though Lugano barely at all, but it’s outshone by one of the best views of the Alps you’ll find in Switzerland. Although you’re not right in the heart of the mountains, the skyline is full of them. From Dufourspitze (Switzerland’s highest) to the Jungfrau, the jagged horizon includes more than 20 peaks over 4000 metres.

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