When I started following football years ago, it was the first time I started getting some interests in foreign currency. Like, I never really cared about how much $1 USD in my local currency IDR before then.
Back in the days, I remember that the most expensive football player was Zinedine Zidane when he got transferred from Juventus to Real Madrid. Then, I still relied on that kind of information through tabloid as the internet was still pricey around that time.
But one thing that I knew back then, it was the fact that the Swiss currency, Swiss Franc or CHF, is slightly higher than USD. I mean, FIFA as the football federation itself has the headquarter based in Zurich. So it’s no brainer to find out about this back then.
Now, now… I’m not going to talk about Zurich, as I connected to Augusta from Mini Me Explorer, because on this week’s $10 series, we’re going to cover another city in Switzerland: Lugano.
Also back when I occasionally watched sports news on TV, I was familiar with the name of the city as it’s quite popular for the cycling grand prix.
Did You Know that Not Everything in Switzerland is Expensive?
Everyone thinks that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Well, it is not true – at least not always.
You can visit Lugano, the main city in the Italian speaking area of Switzerland, without having to break the bank.
Lugano is where Switzerland meets Italy, palm trees grow at the foot of mountains, and where you can have amazing adventures for 10 CHF a day (about the same as $10 USD) or less!
Not many people know that the local tourist office, Lugano Region, offers three tours for just 10 CHF, including transportation (which otherwise would cost way more than 10 bucks) either to nearby villages or mountains.
For all the three tours as we spoke, you can go directly to Lugano Region tourist office in Piazza Riforma. Some tour options conduct in different days. So there they are!
Started from 10 AM to 2.30 PM, it is best to do the tour by the end of June to mid-October. Gandria is a qaint old fishing village about an hour walk from Lugano, along with a panoramic path overlooking the lake.
From Gandria, you can return to Logano by boat.
Wednesday – Lugano-Monte San Salvatore Tour
The tour will last for a few hours, approximately from 10 AM to 1 PM. The best time to do this tour is around mid-June to the end of October.
You will reach the top of Monte San Salvatore by funicular, and from there you can enjoy the most amazing view over the Gulf of Lugano.
The funicular itself leaves from the suburb of Paradiso, so on your way there, you will also pass two amazing places: the brand new LAC museum and concert hall, as well as the Santa Maria Degli Angeli Church, with its frescos by Bernardino Luini, a disciple of Leonardo.
Friday – Lugano-Monte Brè Tour
If you visit Lugano around mid-May to mid-October, it is best to spare some time to have this tour from 12.50 AM to 5.30.
This tour will take you to the quaint village of Monte Brè, first by boat to the suburb of Cassarate, and then you’ll continue the journey by funicular to the panoramic viewpoint of Monte Brè.
Views from the area are amazing, and by visiting this area, you will probably understand why people call Lugano “the Rio de Janeiro of Switzerland”.
The Gulf with the San Salvatore Mountain in the background looks like a miniature of Rio with its Sugarloaf Mountain. You will also stroll through the village, with its ancient buildings and modern works of art.
Just for your information, there’s also some free walking tour where you can join in from April to October. These tours will take you around the city, and last for only 2 hours from 10 AM to 12 PM.
If you join all these tours, your meeting point will be from Lugano Region tourist office in Piazza Riforma, except for the last tour mentioned as it starts from the railway station.
There are also some other tours conducted on the other days, like the “Unexpected Classic Tour” on Monday or “Lugano through the Eyes of An Architect Tour” on Thursday. On Saturday, you can also join the “Lugano Guided City Walk”.
For this, you need to make a reservation in advance for any tour chosen, be it for the paid one that costs only 10 CHF or for the free tour. To make a reservation, you can go directly through the Lugano Region website or also by phone on +41 58 220 65 05.
For the paid tours, you will also need to present your voucher. Just note that for kids from 6 to 16-year-old, they will pay half the price for only 5 CHF, while it’s free for the younger kids.
What Else Can You Do with 10 CHF?
Not much. 10 CHF will enable you to buy 3 bars of Swiss chocolate, or 3 scopes of ice cream, but definitely not a restaurant meal. Not even a starter or a salad.
However, you can have a sandwich and a soft drink (the best ones are from Brezelkonig at the station) or a large slice of delicious pizza at Gabbani, via Pessina.
Sports-wise, there are a few options. You can rent a bike for 75 minutes and cycle around the city, or an e-bike for 60 minutes.
First, you need to register on Publibike and download the app. In summer, you can also enjoy the swimming pool at Lido di Lugano for 5 CHF from 12 AM to 2 PM during the weekdays, or after 4 PM every day. If you opt the alternative, of course you’ve some 5 CHF left for a drink or ice cream.
If you are into yoga, Lido Riva Caccia also offers free lessons from 9 AM to 10 AM every Saturday morning in the summer. The entrance to the lido is only 6 CHF so you’ll have some spare change for coffee.
If you’re about to travel with kids, take note of the other two places that are recommended for your little ones: the Museum of Natural History (free and there’s a playground nearby in Parco Ciani) and the Museo in Erba, where kids can discover art through play for 5 CHF.
Contributor: Augusta from Mini Me Explorer
Behind minimeexplorer, there are three Swiss moms (Jenny, Alexandra and Augusta) with 8 kids aged from 2 to 8 years old. Their blog covers family travel as well as local attractions in Ticino and Switzerland in general.