The waters of Lake Lugano lap the shores of both Italy and Switzerland and here you will find a unique blend of the best of both countries. The northern Swiss shore, and the villages dotted along it, are all precision, order and picture postcard scenes, whilst the southern towns of Italy boast a more colourful and casual Mediterranean-style atmosphere.
The lake borders the Ticino region of Switzerland and the Lombardy region of Italy and is within easy access to both the fashionable holiday resort of Como and the fashion capital, Milan.
At just 36 kilometres long, it is possible to drive right around Lake Lugano in a day and this is an excellent outing for those that can't afford the time to stay by the lake. There are a number of charming villages situated around the lake and some of the ones you may consider visiting are outlined below.
A five-arched bridge over the River Tresa is also the border between Switzerland and Italy so there are actually two towns called Ponte Tresa. A chairlift up to the peak of Monte Lema at 1624 metres gives superb views of both Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore and it's one of the few places in the world were visitors can stand with one foot in Italy and the other in Switzerland!
This pretty little town on the Varese side of the lake is home to a lively harbour from where boats cross the lake to Switzerland. There are also great views across the lake to the village of Morcote, and the town itself, whilst not boasting any 'attractions' of note, has it's own charm.
The scenic road that winds its way from the village to Marzio makes a spectacular look out point.
Dominated by a medieval castle, Morcote sits on the tip of a large peninsula that juts into the lake. The fairytale-like old centre is a maze of alleyways, cobblestone streets and old townhouses. There's also a 15th Century Palazzo to visit and the sanctuary of Santa Maria del Sasso which is decorated with 16th Century frescoes. But be warned....you'll need to climb 400 steps to get to it!
The main city of the Swiss canton of Ticino, Lugano is favoured by a mild Mediterranean climate and has made it's name as a holiday spot for the well-to-do. With elegant streets full of luxury boutiques and art galleries, people-watching is a pleasant past time but it's also easy to while away the hours with the many watersports, lake trips or pleasant walks on offer. With churches and galleries housing famous art works by renowned painters including Salvadore Dali, and a world class Jazz Festival held every June, Lugano is a modern, elegant town but perhaps its most appealing feature is the lake itself.
Sitting on a plateau about 900 metres above sea level, Lanzo d'Intelvi is perfectly positioned for stunning views of the lake below. The old town is home to the San Siro church and in other smaller villages in the nearby valley you can see ancient architecture decorated with centuries-old frescoes and stone finishes. A twenty minute walk from Lanzo d'Intelvi takes you to the spectacular Belvedere look out for stunning views of Lake Lugano.
This unique Italian village is surrounded entirely by Switzerland and has been granted a special status that exempts it from customs duties. Mainly known for its Casino, the town also features the 14th Century Madonna of the Swallows church.
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