Visiting Towns on Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano towns by Monica Goslin

Small towns along Lake Lugano to visit

If you have a car, and don’t mind traveling on windy narrow roads, getting to some small towns along Lake Lugano is easy. There are also ferryboats, however the schedules are a bit spaced out which can leave you in one place for longer than you might want. There is also the Olive Path that runs from Lugano to Gandria, however it would take a couple of hours walking to reach Gandria from Lugano (make sure to bring plenty of water if taking this route).

Important Note: If decide to drive around Lake Lugano, make sure to bring your passport as the lake passes in and out of Swiss and Italian borders. One time I did drive around the entire lake in a day with a friend, stopping ina few towns along the way, and crossed the borders four times!

*Like the photos above? You can purchase photos of Lake Lugano as canvas prints, framed photos, and prints at The Monica Store by clicking here.


GANDRIA is a small town on the Swiss side of Lake Lugano. A small town built on a steep mountainside that plunges right into the lake, Gandria is a unique and picturesque little village. The history of Gandria’s settlement and development dates as far back as the Iron Age. Their church, the Church of Saint Vigilio, was completed in the late 15th century.

As with most small towns, the main thing to see in Gandria is the church, the small narrow streets, and the views, best seen from a waterfront café or restaurant.


CASTELLO is a small town in the hills above Lake Lugano and it is in Italy. The town of Castello is actually built on the remains of a castle; some of the castle walls are visible in parts of this small town. If you like medieval towns, cobblestone streets, and unique little villages this is a great find!

From Castello you can walk down to the towns below, or drive. Parking can be a bit challenging along Lake Lugano, and I would recommend driving up to Castello and parking and then walking down to a couple of towns from there. Oria is a nice town with a few churches to visit. Oria is also a very steep town with many stairways, so wear good walking shoes!


MORCOTE is on the Swiss side of Lake Lugano and is probably one of the most visited towns on the lake as it is very picturesque. Walking along the waterfront in Morcote you will get nice view of the lake, see beautiful houses with faded frescos, and have the chance to shop and sit at an outdoor café. It is said that some of the arcades along the waterfront date to the Middle Ages.

The main site to see in Morcote is the Church of Santa Maria del Sasso, it sits above the town and is accessible from two different paths. The walk up to the church in Morcote probably takes twenty minutes. The Church of Santa Maria del Sasso dates back to the 13th century, with Baroque renovations in the mid 18th century. The Church of Santa Maria del Sasso church tower was built in the Middle Ages. Inside the church you will find frescoes from the 16th and 17th centuries and a large painting on one wall that is dated 1513, the date is on one of the men’s shields in the painting (this particular painting reminds me of Maxfield Parish’s work).

Outside of the church is a small chapel, Chapel Sant’ Antonio do Padova, that was built in the late 17th century.

Also a walk through the cemetery is a must. The cemetery was built in 1750 and scales a bit of the mountain with its many terraces. You will find beautiful sculptures in the Morcote cemetery and find that many artists are buried there.


**Like the photos above? You can purchase photos of Lake Lugano as canvas prints, framed photos, and prints at The Monica Store by clicking here.