Lugano’s magical setting surrounded by lush, medium-sized mountains makes for ample opportunities for sport or pleasure hiking. The surrounding mountains have more than 300 km of well-kept mountain biking trails and hiking trails and route maps are available from the local tourism office. For the quicker route up the mountains, take one of the many funiculars. Monte San Salvatore just outside the city has a funicular that will take you up 912 meters for spectacular views of the city and the lake. Monte Brè is slightly taller (925 meters), home to the old village of Brè, and claims to be the sunniest spot in Switzerland. You could easily spend a week hiking and biking through all the surrounding mountains.
The crystal-clear blue Lake Lugano is one of the city’s top draws. Its small size and relatively shallow depth (279 meters at its deepest) helps keep the water generally quite warm, making it a swimmer’s paradise. There are 50 public beaches on the Swiss side of the lake and it’s easy to rent boats to cruise the lake for the day.
The Museo Cantonale d'Arte (Cantonal Art Museum) aims to conserve and study the art from the canton of Ticino. It has rotating exhibits of working local artists as well as a collection of works from the last 200 years. It’s a great way to experience the local culture.
Locarno, an easy train ride from Lugano, is another Italian-speaking lakeside town, known for palm trees and the warmest climate in Switzerland. From the banks of Lake Maggiore at the foot of the Alps, the funicular railway can take you up to the old monastery and cable car station. From here the cable car continues to an altitude of almost 5,000 feet above this medieval town for great views. From the monastery it's a 30 minute walk down the path back into town.
The Moon and Stars Festival takes place here July 4-14, 2013, in Piazza Grande Locarno, with top international rock and popular music acts on stage.
The 66th Locarno Film Festival takes place August 7-17, 2013, making this one of the world capitals of auteur cinema, with thousands of film fans and industry professionals converging here.
Max Way (via B. Rusca) is a pleasant gay-friendly cafe and bar with Wi-Fi, fruits drinks, light food fare, wine and beverages.