A few summers back, we found ourselves in Zurich, Switzerland for a business trip. The city itself is beautiful, with no shortage of old history-rich bridges, a bustling lake surrounded by mountains and a variety of restaurants. For those young professionals in finance, Zurich is increasingly a go-to for business trips. If you do find yourself in Zurich this summer, or decide to include the city as part of your European trip this year, we suggest taking the brilliantly scenic 2-3 hour train ride from Zurich to Lugano. Make sure you do this during the day as the train ventures through some of the most scenic parts of Switzerland, through Central Switzerland, Gotthard. Surrounded by mountains and passing through valleys, from quaint fishing villages to crystal clear lakes, rivers and cascading waterfalls, we guarantee the trip will take your breath away.
Lugano is located in the southern part of Switzerland, not far away from the Italian border and Milan, at the edge of the beautiful Lake Lugano. The lake is situated between the lakes Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como, south of the Alps and the city is located between the Brè and the San Salvatore mountains. If you find yourself in Milan this summer, you could take one of the frequent trains to Lugano, which is less than an hour from Milan’s main station. Lugano is not as much as of a secret as it once was, attracting a growing number of celebrity visitors and earning a nickname as the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland.”
The lake is clear and as turquoise as the Carribean and the surrounding mountains sparkle with lights at night. The city of Lugano itself is small enough to get around on foot, and many of the streets are pedestrian only. Lugano and the surrounding area boasts a selection of restaurants, some with breathtaking views from up the mountains. In the warm summer months, we suggest simply wandering along the lakeside promenade and open-air bars and cafes. Boat trips and rentals are plentiful, but remember that while much of Lake Lugano is in Switzerland, a large portion of it is in Italy so a passport may be necessary when boating. We also had quite the evening at the Casino Lugano and even learned a little Italian in the process.
For a little activity, hiking and mountain biking is plentiful through 300km of rustic trails, with trail maps available from the local tourist information. Lugano also features a selection of golf clubs, bathing facilities on the lake and beaches. Although not a typical “beach town” there is a beach, swimming pool and lakeside restaurant at Lugano Lido swimming resort. For a little culture, there is an assortment of museums, including the Cantonal Art Museum, which we highly recommend. The shopping is great, with many major labels and designer boutiques (Versace, Hermes, Paul & Shark, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier) in addition to the usual Swiss and Italian knick-knacks and jewellery stands.
We were fortunate enough to stay at the spectacular Swiss Diamond Hotel (top photo). It is located just outside of the city in a town called Marcote, a short drive (with cabs and cars readily available) into Lugano. The Swiss Diamond is stunning, with a top-notch spa, impeccable service and rooms with sliding walls that offer a breezy and spectacular view of the turquoise lake. A refreshing pool overlooks the lake, or you can opt to swim in the lake off of one of the docks. It features the Mediterranean-inspired Lago Restaurant, Restaurant Des Artistes that features a delicious buffet or a la carte breakfast, Restaurant Panorama and its amazing view and Bar Brasserie Orient (which serves unforgettable mojitos) and the Pool Bar. We loved starting our evening off in the Brasserie with a cocktail before venturing out, a perfect end to the day, complete with live grand piano music. It features over two hundred labels of rare scotch and a selection of wines from the hotel’s cellars, which contain thousands of bottles.
The hotel features a full wellness centre with a broad range of medical and aesthetic services, from beauty and anti-aging, dental care and hygiene, immunofunctional nutrition and individual nutritional consulting. The full spa is one of the best we’ve been to and includes a full list of services, a swimming pool where you can swim against the current, a “jet waterfall” for treating back pains, sauna, hammam, Turkish steam baths, a fitness room, a solarium (both classic and anti-claustrophobic), a jacuzzi and massage service.
A less pricey and more central option is the Villa Sassa Hotel, Residence and Spa (pictured above). It is surrounded by a 16,000 square metre park and offers panoramic views over Lugano, Lake Lugano and the surrounding mountains and is within walking distance to the city’s core. The hotel’s Health and Spa Club includes heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a hot tub, a sauna, a Turkish bath and a fitness centre, as well as a wide range of beauty treatments and massages.
The Villa Sassa Hotel offers a gourmet restaurant, bar and a disco club on site. Overlooking the lake and the mountains, Ai Giardini di Sassa serves Swiss, Italian, and international cuisine, with a lovely terrace for those hot summer nights.
Start checking flights now…
Top image courtesy Swiss Diamond Hotel