Lugano: a Swiss city with an Italian touch

How to get from Turin to Lugano

We were in Turin, in the north west of Italy, when we planned a day trip to Switzerland. We had two options: going to Geneva or Lugano.

Lake Lugano

Geneva, Switzerland’s french capital, is the second largest city in the country. We found out that we would have to drive almost 12 km inside the Mont Blanc tunnel, be on the road around 3 hours and crossing different borders between Italy, France and Switzerland.

Lugano, an Italian-speaking city in southern Switzerland, seemed easier to reach. So, we decided to start our journey early in the morning and go back to Turin in the evening.

We had to drive in the motorway through Milan, Como and then to Lugano. Directions looked very straightforward and easy to follow.

Turin to Lugano

Reversing on a motorway!

Actually we didn’t have any particular issue until we arrived near Como, we switched motorway by following a sign pointing towards Como, but suddenly we found ourselves in front of a fork without any sign. We didn’t have much time since we were in a motorway and Google Maps couldn’t help us, so we took a right turn, but we ended up in front of the gate toll back to Turin. Damn it! We made the wrong choice. For few minutes we didn’t know what to do. We were shocked. We knew that we didn’t want to go back to Turin, and tolls in Italy are quite expensive!

We parked near the gate to check if there was any other way to get the hell out of where we were, but there was no other way to avoid having to go back towards Turin and then re-reverse at the first possible exit. We had the crazy idea of doing something really stupid and dangerous. Yes, we started reversing within a turn on a motorway. Please don’t look at me like that, we didn’t have any other choice and didn’t want to waste any more time.

It was very irritating, adrenaline was released and our heart rate was as fast as when we run. We could have received a huge fine, lost our driving licence or, even worse, had an accident. Anyway, we managed to successfully reach the fork and follow the right way without any incident, apart from receiving angry and annoyed looks from other drivers coming our way. We are definitely not proud of what we have done. I hope that if there is any chance that who was involved and distracted by our maneuver on that motorway is reading this post, could accept our apologies. Also, I hope you don’t expect me to have any photo or video of what we have done. We definitely didn’t take any, since you can imagine that taking picture was my least concern at that particular moment. Eventually, we got back on track, by following the signs we reached Como.

Lugano: luxury shops and a stunning lake

There are two different roads after Como to get to Lugano: the motorway or normal road. Getting the motorway means you should buy a 1-year-vignette, that costs around 40 euros. It can be purchased online or at the border. If you buy it, you are allowed to drive on all Swiss motorways for a whole year. It is valid from December to December. It is worth when you plan to visit the country more than once a year or go to other cities. If you only want visit Lugano, you can exit the motorway and take the normal road, where you can also access to the FoxTown Outlet. You shouldn’t worry about the time, because driving on the motorway would save you just 10 minutes, not more.

We went through the motorway, because we were exhausted about our little adventure (remember the reverse!). We bought the vignette at the border, where you can find food, snack, drinks and bathrooms. After crossing the border, we drove around 30 minutes more before we reached Lugano.

The beautiful lake was the first thing that caught our eyes. The lake is located in the centre of Lugano’s attractions and surrounded by magnificent mountains.

Undoubtedly, after the stressful drive, we needed to park our car and stroll around the city. There are plenty of car parks in Lugano, so it is not a hard job to find a parking spot.

Touristic car train

We walked around the lake, then went to the city centre to have lunch, which surprised us with the mediterranean flair. The language is not the only Italian impact on the swiss city, but the influence have been extended into the culture and food. Most of the restaurants serve almost the same Italian dishes you can get in Italy, with the main difference being the price of the dishes. You might get the sense of Italy when you visit Lugano, but the prices remind you that it is Switzerland with its own currency, Franc!

Lugano's city centre

After having lunch we walked through the city where we found a lot of luxury street brands. We were searching for some famous swiss chocolate, but honestly we can find more swiss chocolate back home in London than in Lugano’s shops.

The beauty of Lugano’s mountains caught our attentions. Our plan was to go to explore the closest one, but when we arrived at the foot of the mountain we found out we could not hike there, the only way to get to the top is getting a train. The ticket costs 26 Franc per person, it was quite expensive considering that we had only a couple of hours left. So, we skipped it. It could be worth doing it by going in the morning and have lunch at the peak and get back in the afternoon.

The train to get to the mountain's peak

Sightseeing, water sport and swimming (during summers) are the main activities in Lugano. We didn’t have enough time to do much, but we will definitely go back some day and explore more.

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