Lugano, Switzerland: Things to Do

This post is also available in: Italian

I’ve started this blog a little over one year ago and I realize that I’ve never dedicated a post to my  adopted city, Lugano.

I live here since 1994, a long time! During all these years, alone at first and then with my husband and my children, I’ve had the opportunity to know, appreciate and love Lugano more and more going on, and for so many reasons.

It’s undoubtedly an interesting town: despite its typically Swiss character, with its small size and its peaceful nature, unlike other Swiss cities Lugano has a Mediterranean flair. It also shows a variety of facets thanks to its particular position, along a very important North-South axis and also because of it’s role as a financial and economic center, located between two different countries and cultures. 

Christmas Tree on Piazza Riforma, Lugano

But what are the things you shouldn’t miss when visiting Lugano?

In this regard, I thought it would be useless to re-invent the wheel. Therefore, I invite you to consult the beautiful and  very polished page dedicated to the City of Lugano you can find on the Ticino Turismo website.

Here you find a complete guide to the classic attractions of Lugano and much more information about the city.

In today’s post, I would like to go more personal and suggest you some of my favorite places – shops, restaurants, cafes and beauty centers – I’ve learned to love and appreciate
during all these years. Join me on this very personal walk through my adopted town, Lugano!

And because this is also a style and fashion blog, why not start with some shopping?

Fashion, jewelry, and accessories: where to start your shopping trip in Lugano?


Gioielleria Rondina. Beautiful pieces with an ethnic touch. It’s by far my favorite jewelry store. I could buy every single piece!

Shop window at Rondina, my favorite jewelry in Lugano

Les Ambassadeurs. A traditional Jewelry store with an excellent choice. Here you can find all the classic jewelry and watch brands, like Pomellato or Rolex, but also some of the best niche designers.

Sweet Treats

Gran Caffè del Porto. Chic and elegant confectionery and bakery, this place offers fantastic and stylish, “design”  pastry. It’s also a beautiful, chic cafe. 

Caffè del Porto, for beautiful and  great pastry.

For the world famous Swiss chocolate go to Läderach: you’ll find chocolate and truffes for every taste in wonderful boxes.

Home Decor

Nordisk, for home decoration and pieces of Scandinavian or ethnic design.

Nordisk: one of the best places for home decoration


Libreria Voltapagina, beautiful books and great educational toys for kids

Libreria Il Segnalibro, a two-story shop full o f books. An airy place where you can walk around and find new and fascinating books to read. 


For a few years unfortunately for a series of reasons there are only few fashion stores left in Lugano. Several historical fashion stores closed during these last few years. 

But it’s still possible to find some great and interesting shops for some great quality shopping!

Monn . This store is a landmark in Lugano. Here you can find many classic, high-end fashion brands. The store also offers a personal shopping service. 

blanco. Maybe my favorite store in Lugano right now. It sells clothes from Liu Jo and some other lovely brands. A small shop, but with an excellent choice. 

Balmelli Sport. Everything you need for your  sport activities, but also tasteful casual clothes.

Brandy Melville. This store is part of a renowned international chain, and it’s also a real paradise for young girls… and not only for them! 

White. Designer clothes with guts.


When it comes to my hair, my needs are quite basic: i dye the roots every month and cut them a couple of times a year. For these treatments, I love to go to Salone Marlène, in the heart of Lugano.

For more complicated treatments I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews about Dessange Paris, in downtown Lugano.

Speaking of beauty treatmens, a couple of years ago I discovered MC Beauty Sisters, a little gem of a beauty center downtown, run by Stefi & Titti, two really nice sisters. Working also as a team, they can be really fast if you have some sort of beauty emergency!  

At MC Beauty Sisters customers are always spoiled!

In this same beauty center you can also find Valentina, a really great and very professional massage therapist who also  has an agreement with many Swiss health insurances. When I’m really stressed and my shoulders hurt, she is always able to make me feel better.

Where to eat

Grotto della Salute, in Massagno: despite his rustic name, this is a quite sophisticated restaurant in its simplicity. For a wonderful al fresco dinner in summer. In the winter, you can dine by the fire.

Osteria Pénel, in Lugano Besso: a hidden gem of a neighborhood restaurant. Located in a hidden position, it has only few tables and an excellent wine card. It’s the perfect location for a romantic dinner and for small groups as well. 

Osteria Convivio, in downtown Lugano: my favorite place  for lunch during the work week. At night, it’s a vibrant and trendy place for a fun dinner with friends.

Osteria Convivio a Lugano

Il Fermento, in downtown Lugano: divertente pub con un’infinita scelta di birre. La specialità sono i Flammkuchen, sorta di sottilissime “pizze” d’impronta germanica. Oltre al menù propone ogni giorno piatti sfiziosi di giornata.

Birreria Il Fermento a Lugano

Oyishi, a really good sushi restaurant located in Ponte Tresa, Italy: it’s well worth to cross the border to enjoy some great sushi dishes in this modern and fashionable Japanese restaurant.

… and where to go for a romantic dinner for two?

Ristorante Montalbano, located in the vineyards of Stabio, south of Lugano: for me, this is by far the best restaurant in the Canton of Ticino. This restaurant offers sophisticated, classy dishes. It’s the perfect place to celebrate anniversaries and other important occasions. 

The Montalbano in Stabio. For me, the best restaurant in this part of Switzerland.

Tabla, an Indian restaurant in Montagnola: here you can enjoy and excellent Indian cuisine. It’s beautiful to dine in the garden in the summer, but it’s romantic in the winter as well. A little expensive, maybe. 

And which are the best places in town for happy hour or a cup of coffee?

Mauri Concept, a restaurant and cafe with really nice employees. The espresso here is excellent and so are the little sweet treats you can find here. It’s also a perfect place for happy hour and a fun concept store full of particular items and a barber shop! 

Grotto Valletta: a beautiful, calm place for summer for a simple aperitivo (the restaurant has a great wine list) to enjoy under the trees. This restaurant also offers interesting seasonal dishes and great hamburgers, but also some vegetarian specialties.

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual walk through the city of Lugano with its many shops, restaurants and cafes. Maybe you’ll want to visit Lugano sometimes in the near future and also spend a couple of days here! 

Because Lugano is well worth a visit: not only it’s an extremely livable city, but it’s also located in a beautiful, world-famous cross-border region of great natural beauty and cultural richness that includes beautiful alpine landscapes, extended vineyards, beautiful little villages, a world-famous lake region (Lake Como, Ceresio and Maggiore) and a big city like Milan, in Italy. 


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