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This post will share all the details of my Milan to Lugano day trip.

For my Easter getaway, I decided to head back to Italy for my mandatory annual visit.

This time through Milan.

Given the holiday period, Milan was the cheapest destination for my selected dates.

As a rule of thumb and to also save costs, I avoid travelling during the holidays.

So I either go before or after the holiday.

This time I went before, so I would have to work during the Easter weekend.

I honestly don’t mind if I can avoid the craziness in the airports during this period.

After visiting Italy on three separate occasions last year, the country has become one of my top three go-to destinations in Europe.

Belgium and Portugal closely follow this. Yes, despite the racism, I love the country.

After visiting most of the major cities in Italy, it was time to take the less travelled road.

So far, I’ve visited Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Lake Como and Milan.

So, I whipped out my Italian Map to find where to visit from Milan since it was the cheapest ticket I could find.

While Milan may not be my favourite Italian city, I love how accessible and convenient it is.

It is the perfect gateway city to other cities and bordering countries.

Speaking of bordering countries, since I had cancelled my first trip to Switzerland in February, I was estatic to finally visit the country for the first time.

Imagine my joy when I learned I could take a train to Switzerland from Milan in under two hours.

I’ve always said that taking a train into a new country is much better than flying in.

Quite frankly, that moment on the train when the location changes is a fantastic feeling.

So, I took a day trip from Milan, Italy, to Lugano, Switzerland, and I have many details to share.

Getting To Lugano From Milan

Cost: CHF15.2/€15.39 – one way

In case you didn’t know, Lugano is a city in the southern Ticino region of Switzerland which shares a border with the northern Lombardy region of Italy.

Since Milan is in the Lombardy region, it is super quick and easy to take a direct train to Lugano.

Fun Fact: The same train you take to Lugano from Milan Central Station stops at Lake Como, and the immediate next stop is Chiasso, a municipality in Switzerland.

I took the Swizz Railways line, which runs every hour, and the total journey from Milano Centrale to Lugano Station was around 1hr 15mins each way.

The journey was super smooth, especially as you rode along the coast from Mendrisio.

I went during off-peak hours, so the train wasn’t too crowded, as most people stopped at Lake Como.

But coming back was a different story as I was returning during rush hour, so it was much more crowded.

Make sure you’re paying attention to the train times if you want to get a seat.

You can get train tickets on Trainline or directly from the Swizz Railways website.

Moving Around Lugano

You might be wondering what is so special about Lugano.

You’ll be happy to know that it is a coastal city that stands on the northern shore of Lake Lugano.

Yes, it is pretty similar to Lake Como and Lake Garda.

For obvious reasons, my primary goal was to take a ferry around the lake like I did in Como.

But before we get into that, it is essential to know that it is very easy to get around Lugano.

From the train station, you can take the bus that will bring you to the ferry terminal.

You can take the Funicular (which costs 1.30 chf/1.32 euros for one way) down to the middle of the city centre, which is great because the city is hilly.

You can also go on foot, like me. The city centre is pretty small and easy to navigate.

I must warn you.

Lugano isn’t very diverse, so expect some stares.

Walking from the train station to the ferry terminal will take 20 – 25 minutes, so don’t fret.

Instead, take your time to bask in this picturesque city.

Navigating Lake Lugano

The highlight of my trip was taking a ferry around the lake, but first, I had to research the best routes and prices.

I’ve learned that ferries and boat rides can be pricey if you don’t choose the best option.

It is an excellent adventure, but you don’t want to waste money on non-scenic routes.

I had done some research beforehand, but I was still slightly confused about what route to take.

So I chose the Scenic Route from Lugano to Porlezza and back. It costs a whopping 41.40 chf/41.92 euros.

I went for the Classic Route from Lugano to Gandria, which was the cheapest and cost 27.40 chf/27.75 euros.

The journey took about 90 minutes back and forth.

In hindsight, I’m glad I took this route instead of the longer scenic route.

It was super windy, and I wasn’t wearing an appropriate coat.

I was scared that I would fall sick that night due to the wind I was exposed to.

If you decide to take a day trip from Milan to Lugano, start your research by visiting the Lake Lugano website, searching for an affordable route and checking the updated ferry timetable.

I went during the off-peak season, so it was calm without crowds.

At some point, I had the ferry’s top deck entirely.

If you prefer a much more seamless journey from Milan on an exclusive boat cruise with a small group, here are two tours you can book:

Is Lake Lugano Worth Visiting?

If you visit Lake Lugano with your exact expectations from Lake Como, I’m sad to say that you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Is the lake scenic? Absolutely

But is it stunning or aesthetically pleasing to the eyes? Debateable.

Based on my experience, you won’t see stunning lakeside towns like Bellagio or Verona on Lake Lugano. But the mountains are gorgeous.

Sailing in between mountains immediately transports you into a fairytale. It feels unreal and unbelievable, especially since you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Regarding the prices, Lake Como is worth the € 27-day pass, which allows you to hop on and off. However, the ferry rides are much longer.

All in all, Lake Lugano is worth no more than a day trip.


I’m glad I got to step foot in Switzerland through Italy. I’m looking forward to visiting Geneva, Zurich and Basel soon.