Visiting Lugano truly feels like stepping into Italy. From the architecture, the food and of course the language, everything feels very much Italian. As the inner city of Lugano is a popular tourist destination and can get quite busy, it is hard to believe that quaint and idyllic villages are just a stone’s throw away. But it is true! Gandria is a small community on the shore of Lago Lugano where it feels like stepping back in time. I highly recommend visiting this lovely fishers village when you are in Lugano!
The olive grove trail
Going for walks by lake Lugano never gets old. The palm trees, the crystal blue water and the impressive mountains as a backdrop, it feels like anything but Switzerland. A lovely walk is the so called olive grove trail, where a path leads you through an area with hundreds of old (and newer) olive trees. The trail starts (or ends, depending how you look at it) in Gandria and is a perfect day out. The trail is easy to walk for anyone that is able to walk and deal with some elevation. Bring some water!
Gandria – maze of quaint little streets
If walking towards Gandria isn’t your thing, you can also take a bus from Lugano to Gandria. Bus 490 for example takes you to Gandria in under 15 minutes. Once you arrive at the top of the town (it slopes down towards the lakeside), it is time to enter the maze of quaint little cobblestone streets and alleys. Some of the streets truly do look like those cheesy Italian pasta commercials, and its lovely to wander around in them.
Be mindful though, Gandria is not a museum – it is home to around 200 people. Be respectful when visiting the village, don’t touch anything that isn’t yours and don’t be too loud. Make sure that people in the town enjoy having tourists like you over!
The village has some small restaurants where you can enjoy lunch or dinner.
Swiss customs museum & Cantine di Gandria
Do you want to visit the Swiss customs museum? This museum can be visited free of charge during the summer months and a trip there can be easily combined with exploring Gandria. The cruise ships heading for the museum make a stop at Gandria.
Before hopping on a boat, have a drink at La Bottega di Gandria! This is a tiny bar with a small terrace overlooking the harbour of the village. Wave the boats goodbye as you sip your coffee or Aperol Spritz!
Even if you don’t plan on visiting the Swiss customs museum, it is still worth taking a trip over the water. Here, you find restaurants housed in old storage cellars, called grottos. Visit them for a drink on a hot day, or a simple lunch. After, you can hop on the next boat back into downtown Lugano