If you are going to Ponte Tresa, then you have to catch a smiling train at Lugano FLP station which is sort of across the SBB station. Trains to Ponte Tresa run frequently and take 26 minutes, but if they are a bit late, then they will be late all day, as it is mostly single track. If you need to go to the Luganese airport Agno by public transport, then you can also take this train.
The railways website is in Italian only, but you can check timetable also on www.sbb.ch.
Coming from the north a very pleasant option is the train compared to the car in which you have to sit in traffic jams - sometimes for several hours depending on the popularity of the day - and cross the tunnel, lets keep fingers crossed that there will be no more accidents.
The train from Zurich takes about 3 hours and on the way you will see one little church from 3 sides because the train takes a almost circular tunnel in the mountain. You may also see a huge rock sitting by itself, which is the devil's rock.
I recommend that you take this journey before the Gotthard basis tunnel is finished as it is much more scenic now.
This funicular takes you from the railway station which is up the hill down to the city center in a few minutes. The funicular was opened in 1886 and was originally a bit longer. Today it is 220 m.
It is actually easy to walk down the hill and there is San Lorenzo Cathedral on the way too.
Lugano's airport is in Agno. It's an international airport but only planes up to a certain size can land because of the surrounding hills.
You can take the FLP train to Agno and walk for 15 minutes or alternatively take the shuttle bus from Piazza Manzoni or the railway station. For more information check the website below in English.
While I was visiting northern Italy I made a daytrip to Lugano and Bellinzona. There are frequent trains from Milan to Lugano (takes 1 - 2 hours) and from Como (takes just over half an hour). I got a ride to Chiasso and took a train from there to Lugano. The trains are leaving every half an hour and the ride between Chiasso and Lugano takes almost half an hour. The return ticket was 13.30 Euro (February 2009). I had not changed money jet, but in Chiasso it was fine to use Euros.
The train station in Lugano is situated above the city and you can either walk down towards the lake or take the funicular. Before leaving the station I changed money at an exchange office.
When I had spent some time in Lugano I decided to go to Bellinzona. So I went back to the train station. I didn’t have to wait many minutes for the train (which leaves every half an hour). I bought a return ticket Bellinzona - Lugano for 23.60 CHF (February 2009). In Bellinzona the station is not far from the town centre.
The landscape between Chiasso - Lugano - Bellinzona is very beautiful, and the train goes very smooth and quiet.
The old saying goes, "getting there is half the fun". Well, in this case it may be true. The funicolare to Monte Brè has been fully restore to its original 1912 design and beautifully maintained. There is a departure every 30 minutes. The views on the way up vary from scenic vistas of the City of Lugano, to nature views of the surrounding forest to sneak peaks inside private homes built nearly against the railway. All and all a fascinating ride.
Switzerland has a well organized public transport system.
For trips by train check this page:
For places the train doesn't reach usually you can get by postbus:
Lugano has a central big railway station.
From Lugano you can go everywhere in Switzerland by train.
You can even easily go to Italy, for example Milan if you like to.
Daily connections are available to main cities like Zurich and also from outside directly to Lugano.
For those who are landing with the airplane at Milano Malpensa airport (Italy), there's a great connection with Lugano using a bus.
This bus service goes from Lugano to Malpensa airport and vice versa every hour.
Prices aren't expensive and it' a very helpful service to come to Lugano, or even if your flight departs from Milano and you are spending your time in Lugano.
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:
When we went to Lugano from Milan, we just went to Stazione Centrale and bought a ticket at a ticket machine. This was an EC train and the ticket was around 20€ per person. This was more expensive than the regional train, but the journey was very comfortable. The EC train is very fast and has very nice compartments.
On our way back, we bought tickets at the ticket machine in Lugano and this time took the regional train, the cost was only about 12 or 13CHF (unfortunately I forgot to write down the exact price). The journey was not as convenient, though. Although the regional train was very comfortable and clean as well, it was much slower and did a lot more stops, and moreover, we had to change trains in Chiasso. This train does not go to Stazione Centrale, but to Milano Porta Garibaldi. I still think that if you are on a budget, the regional train is a good option!
The train station in Lugano was nice and clean, but on this sunday in August, it was very crowded. We firstly had decided to go to the information office and ask a question about our train back to Milan, but the crowd was so unbelievably long that we decided to take a chance and just risk the regional train without any knowledge of the exact route. I believe otherwise we would have queued for more than an hour! So my advice is that if you are going to Lugano in high season, you should get all your train information in advance to avoid wasting time in a queue.
There are ticket machines, and although they only display the prices in Swiss Francs, they take Euros. Change is only in Swiss Francs, though.
There is a funicular running from the train station down to the town centre. However, I think that it is not necessary to take this funicular, unless you have walking difficulties or are travelling with small children.
We found a way which led us down past some nice green trees, and then you can follow the pretty streets and see the architecture and a few shops on the way. To walk right to the waterfront does not take longer than fifteen minutes.
Walking in Lugano was both good and not so good!
On the one hand, it was nice because everything was much closer together than we had expected. All the distances were really short, and with the help of our map, we found all the sights easily. The houses in Lugano are so pretty with their bright colours that it was a real joy to walk around and admire them, and to take in all the beautiful things.
On the other hand, Lugano is located within the mountains, and thus the streets are STEEP. Really, really steep. I am quite a fit person, but on such a hot and humid day I really had problems and after some time it was just not funny anymore. It will probably be better when it is not such a hot day, but still, I think walking around Lugano is not good for people with walking difficulties or travellers with children. And you really should wear some good shoes, not high heels or flip-flops!
A scenic way to get to or from Ticino is the Centovalli Railway. This private railway runs from Locarno to Domodossola, Italy. In Domodossola, there are connections to Brig through the Simplon Tunnel to the north, or to Stresa/Milan to the south. From Locarno, you can get to Bellinzona by direct train. To get to Lugano, take the S2 towards Bellinzona, changing in Giubiasco for the S1 in the direction of Chiasso.
While the scenery on the Centovalli isn't jaw-dropping by Swiss standards, it's pleasant enough. It's also the quickest way to get from Ticino to Valais or the Bernese Oberland. It's also handy that Swisspass is valid for the entire trip from Locarno to Brig, including the Italian sections. For others, 1-way fare is CHF39 or EUR 19.80 second class.
If you accidentally need a car or motorbike technician in Lugano, i really suggest to call K-Moto.
Professional and really kind technicians are available to help you with your motorbike or car problems, no matter which model it is.
And in case you have a KTM motorbike... Well you have found an official dealer and technical center.