5 best viewpoints of Lake Lugano

Last Updated on 11/09/2023

Let’s look at Lake Lugano from above – in this topic we will consider the 5 best viewpoints of Lake Lugano.

Lake Lugano, with its emerald water, is more intimate, cozy and beautiful than Lake Maggiore. Holiday here, of course, is more pleasant than on Maggiore, if only you manage to find a good place to stay. And this is even more difficult here.

If you look only highlights, you need at least 1-2 full days. And for a more detailed exploring of region – 3-4 days.

Other posts about Ticino
Lake Lugano attractions map
Ticino attractions map. Locarno, Bellinzona and valleys
Ticino guest cards and public transport Ticino

Lake Lugano:
2. Lugano, Gandria, Melide, Carona.
3. Morcote, Caslano

Lake Maggiore:
Locarno and Ascona, Island Brissago,
Verzasca, Centovalli Valley, Valle Maggia
Lake Maggiore Attractions of Italian part

Bellinzone, Gottard Pass
Viamala and Ruinaulta. Rhine gorges

Lake Lugano has a peculiar, winding shape. The shores are very different – in terms of population, views, transport accessibility.

From Mount San Salvatore, you can clearly see how densely populated the Swiss side is. In fact, this is one big city, stretching in an arc from one end of the lake to the other, around the mountain in the middle.

The lake can be viewed from above from different observation points. I chose for us one that promised the best views – Mount San Salvatore.

view points of lake Lugano
enlarge Maps Data ©OpenTopoMap, ©OpenStreetMap

Near Lugano

In Lugano itself, there are two observation points: Mount San Salvatore and Monte Bre. Both have the funiculars.

1. Monte Bre (1)

Funicular Monte Bre was built at the beginning of the 20th century. It lifts to a height of 933 m.

From there you can see Lugano and the lake from Lugano to Morcote. But you cannot see the side bays. A slightly more wide view can be seen from Monte Boglia. The round trip from Monte Bre to Monte Boglia will take almost 5 hours. As an additional entertainment, it is proposed to visit the village of Bre, which was popular with various artists of the 20th century. The city’s site claims that they are very famous. But, to my shame, I don’t know a single name.

View from Monte Bre

2. Monte San Salvatore (2)

Monte San Salvatore (912 м) located very well – very close to Lugano and in the central part of the lake. At the same time, nothing blocks the view. Therefore San Salvatore as an observation deck is out of competition.

5 minutes from Station Paradiso or bus stop ‘Paradiso, Stazione/Scuole’, ‘Paradiso, Geretta’.
From Lugano Station – bus Nr. 2 to ‚Paradiso, Geretta‘, bus Nr. 431/434 to ‚Paradiso, Stazione/Scuole‘
From Lugano City center bus Nr. 1 to ‚Paradiso, Stazione/Scuole‘
Official website

Almost the entire lake is visible, with the exception of only the section of the lake after Morcote, where it turns. The Swiss mountains, however, can be seen worse from it than from Monte Generoso. On the other hand in the summer months you can climb in the evening (the last descent at 23.00).

The funicular was opened in 1890. It consists of two parts. In the middle of the way you have to change to another car. Disabled people and those with folding strollers can also climb. But disabled people will have to end your journey at the restaurant at the upper station. And those with strollers have to leave the stroller and take the child in your arms.

We are climbing.

There are several observation points on the mountain.

The first one is at the restaurant right next to the station. But lingering there does not make a deep sense, since it is the same further, only better.

The second – after climbing the stairs, to the north side. You can see the Monte Tamaro and Lema mountains (about which below), a tiny piece of Lake Maggiore to the left behind the mountains and below a larger piece – the another end of Lake Lugano.

Monte San Salvatore

Then a little more stairs and a rocky serpentine road – and you go out to a small church, to the roof of which a staircase leads (entrance from the side).

The ascent to the church, and even more descent from it, will give those who are afraid of heights a lot of “pleasant” minutes. But the views are really worth it.

Stairs to climb to the roof.

best viewpoints of lake lugano

Another small view point – next to the tower, slightly below the church, there is also a small museum. However, view from the roof is the best. There is also other possibilities. For example, in the photo there is a red bench on a rock in the lower left corner.

View towards Lugano.

Monte Bre is lower than Monte Boglia and is lost against its background. On the ledge of the coast below Monte Boglia in the center of the photograph, Gandria – a picturesque village popular with tourists.

San Salvatore

View points on the southern shore

On the southern side of the lake there are also two possibilities for climbing: Mount Monte Generoso (cog railway) and Mount San Giorgio (cable car).

3. Monte Generoso

Mount Monte Generoso (1702 m, 3) is the highest point from which you can look at the lake. Nevertheless, judging by the photographs, it is seen worse than from Mount San Salvatore – lower mountains interfere. However, this is a view from the other side. And in good weather you can also see the mountains of Switzerland. A cogwheel railway built at the end of the 19th century rises upward. Most trains leave from Capolago FFS, but some leave from Capolago Lago. On the way, the train is 40 minutes, there are two intermediate stops. A steam train leaves once a day.

Monte Generozo right, in the background.

Luganersee San Salvatore Standseilbahn

As additional entertainment: a cave where the fossil of 50 cave bears were found (10 fr., From 10.30 to 16.00, June-September), and an observatory, where you can look at the sun through a special telescope (on Sun, see the exact time in current prospectus).

Monte Generoso from below – almost invisible

4. Serpiano and San Giorgio

A small cable car for 10 people lifts from Brusino Arsizio to Serpiano, to the hotel, at an altitude of 650 m (4 on the map at the beginning of the page).

You can come to Serpiano by bus (Linie 532) or by boat + cable car.
Website of cable car

Serpiano offers a view of that part of the lake, which is hidden behind Morcote and not visible from other points. An even better view of this part of the lake promises a walk from Serpiano to Mount Arzo (1 hour 30 minutes).

Arzo is the rightmost. San Giorgio to the left. And across the lake from it – Monte Generoso.

And from the top of the San Giorgio mountain itself (San Giorgio, 1097 m, 1 h 15 min from Serpiano) part of the lake towards Lugano and Morcote is clearly visible.

Mount San Giorgio is included in the UNESCO list. This is a unique place where many finds have been found from the Triassic period, when the sea lapped over the mountains. Most of the finds are exhibited in large museums (for example, in Zurich). A small part and copies are in the local museum in Merida (not to be confused with Melide). A fossil and geology educational trail has been created around the mountain.

San Giorgio from below.

5. Malcantone and Monte Tamaro

Another couple of cable cars are not near the lake.

This mountain range separates Lugano from Maggiore. To the right is covered with a cloud Monte Tamaro. To the left is Monte Lema.

The area from Caslano towards Locarno, with the villages on the side of the ridge separating Lake Maggiore and Lugano, is called Malcantone.

Monte Lema

The main attraction is Mount Lema (1624 m). It can be climbed using a cable car from the village of Miglieglia.

Ascent to the village itself by transport, however, does not promise to be a pleasant journey. Bus. 423 rises from Lamone (the train stops at Lamone) along a lovely serpentine road with 18 turns. There are also options to come by bus with a transfer from Lugano (train bis Magliaso + 423, 427).
Website of cable car

From Mount Lema a view opens not only towards Lake Lugano (visible in parts), but towards Lake Maggiore (part of the lake from Luino to Verbania is visible). A popular hiking route is along the ridge from Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema (13 km, about 5 hours).

Monte Tamaro

Monte Tamaro offers several entertainment options. The cable car rises to a height of 1530 m. To reach the very top, one has to climb even to an altitude of 1961 m.

How to get: near train station Rivera-Bironico

From the upper station of the cable car, you can ride the Flying Fox and on the coaster. There is a rope forest at the middle station of the cable car. At the bottom station there is a large water park.

Next – Lugano what to do part 2.
Other posts about Ticino – #Ticino.

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