BUDGET NOTES: Switzerland is expensive, they say. And yes, it can be. But some careful planning in advance, and some comparison shopping on the spot, may save you a lot of money. For example, we stayed in two lake-front hotels, one in Lugano and one in Locarno. The second was about one-third the price of the first --120 Swiss francs per night, including a more than ample breakfast (the Swiss franc is roughly at par with the Canadian dollar) -- and although the room was slightly smaller, it was comfortable, clean and the staff brought a large bowl of fresh fruit each day.
DINING OUT: It is easy to spend 100 Swiss francs on a meal for two, with some wine. Again, watch the menus -- we found one restaurant where a large salad was 15 Swiss francs, but a tomato-and-basil pizza large enough for two was only 12.5 Swiss francs.
MORE INFO: The comfortable weather -- as early as March -- encourages outdoor dining, so buying fruit, pastry and some juice at the markets can allow for adventurous and inexpensive noon-time dining. Travel is easy -- don't bother with a car, use train and bus (they are frequent and on time), and buy a Swiss Rail Pass in Canada before you go -- they are available in a number of flexible formats. For more information, visit http://www.myswitzerland.com or call 011-800-100-200-30. MORE INFO: The comfortable weather -- as early as March -- encourages outdoor dining, so buying fruit, pastry and some juice at the markets can allow for adventurous and inexpensive noon-time dining. Travel is easy -- don't bother with a car, use train and bus (they are frequent and on time), and buy a Swiss Rail Pass in Canada before you go -- they are available in a number of flexible formats. For more information, visit http://www.myswitzerland.com or call 011-800-100-200-30.
HIKING and BIKING
Hiking and biking . . . Summer and autumn are ideal for a biking along the cantonal road from Airolo down to Biasca (at the junction of the Leventina and Blenio valleys). As for hiking the famous ``Strada Alta,'' check with the Upper Ticino tourist office at Biasca.
International Film Festival . . . Locarno's celebrated annual movie festival -- nearing its fourth decade -- attracts thousands of filmgoers every August (5th to the 15th) in the Piazza Grande. The piazza, surrounded by mansions and arcades, is also the site of concerts.
Jazz festival . . . Lugano's ``biggest little jazz festival in Europe'' is usually held in July at Piazza Reforma.
Kino . . . This may be a German word but throughout Switzerland and most of Europe it means cinema or movie house. Opposite the Hotel Admiral in the Paradiso section of Lugano, there actually is a Cinema Paradiso!
Hike a part of the Ticino Sun...
Hike a part of the Ticino Sun Trail from Monte San Salvatore to Morcote via the mountain villages of Ciona and Carona. Note: I believe the Ticino Sun Trail is a 6 or 7 day hike and this is just one of those days. The hike also begins at the base of Monte San Salvatore but you can cheat as I did, and take the funicular up. In the summer, it can be hot here (We had it hot!), so it would be best to bring a hat and sunscreen. Water would be good too, although you can buy drinks along the way on Monte San Salvatore, Ciona (I think), Carona, and Morcote. www.lugano-tourism.com/new/Parchi/walk/default.htm
has a map of this hike. This link doesn't take you directly to the map. Also click on Carona: a village of the past and that will take you to the map. I really don't remember how long it took to hike from Monte San Salvatore to Morcote, but I would guess 3 - 4 hours.
Even if small, Lugano has his own airport, located a little bit outside (Agno).
The airport is served by 2 main airlines, with available flights to Zurich, Geneva, etc... with some direct flights to some locations in Italy with Darwin Airline.
Airlines serving Lugano:
Swiss International Airline:
Go to the top of Monte Generoso
You can take the cogwheel that leaves from Capolago and it will take you to the top of the mountain (1704m) in about 40 minutes. We missed it, so not wanting to wait for the next, we decided to drive up. We parked about half a mile from Bellavista (1224 m). The path is fairly easy to walk, just make sure you wear good hiking shoes. Believe it or not, I saw some women wearing heels! I kid you not. Fashionistas, put the fashion aside and have fun in the outdoors!!!
There are difficult paths you can take as well.
On our hike up we encountered a herd of goats. That was interesting because they blocked the narrow path we were walking. So we had to be patient and let them move when they felt like it. It was an overcast sky, so it made it nice to hike, but I was still working up a sweat. Make sure you have plenty of water with you, especially if it's hot! The views as you ascend are beautiful. Make sure you have a camera and the battery is charged. I loved seeing the stone houses on the mountainside.
There is a restaurant up there and terrace with chairs you can lounge on. The bear grotto is also open May and October for groups and for the public June 1st to September 30.
The website has a lot of helpful information, so make sure you visit it before heading off to Monte Generoso.