3 Days in Lugano on a Budget: Best Things to Do in Lugano, Switzerland

Switzerland is not the first country that comes to mind when you think about budget travel. However, it doesn't mean you can't find anything affordable when traveling around Switzerland. 

Lugano is known best for the lake with the same name in Switzerland, and this Italian-speaking region of Switzerland offers so many budget-friendly things to do! 

Augusta from Mini Me Explorer will share how you can spend 3 days in Lugano without breaking the bank.

The city is easily accessible from other Swiss cities like Zurich or Basel, and there are so many great destinations you can visit on day trips from Lugano, Switzerland!

Best Places to Visit: Top 3 Day Trips from Lugano, Switzerland

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. Situated around 80 kilometers from Milan, you can find so many cruise trips from Milan to Lugano easily. Lugano is where you can see palm trees growing at the foot of mountains, and where you can have amazing adventures on a budget.

Not many people know that the local tourist office, Lugano Region, offers three tours with the best things to do in Lugano for just 10 CHF (about the same as $10 USD). The tours even include transportation either to nearby villages or mountains, which otherwise would cost way more than that!

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!

Gandria fishing village in Lugano, Switzerland.
Gandria fishing village in Lugano, Switzerland.

Day 1 – A Day Tour to Gandria

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 quaint old fishing village about an hour walk from Lugano, along with a panoramic path overlooking the lake.

From Gandria, you can return to Lugano by boat. Alternatively, you can also join this guided walking tour with boat cruise from Lugano.

Day 2 – Lugano-Monte San Salvatore Tour

The day tour from Lugano to Monte San Salvatore 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.

Gulf of Lugano in Switzerland.
Gulf of Lugano in Switzerland.

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.

Lugano, Switzerland.
Lugano, Switzerland.

Day 3 – Lugano-Monte Brè Tour

If you visit Lugano around mid-May to mid-October, it is best to spare some time to have the tour from Lugano to Monte Brè 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.

Monte Brè in Lugano, Switzerland.
Monte Brè in Lugano, Switzerland.

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.

Brè village in Lugano, Switzerland.
Brè village in Lugano, Switzerland.

Other Tours in Lugano, Switzerland

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.

Conclusion: More Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Lugano, Switzerland

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. 


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