THE LITTLE SCOOP: [THE BULLET POINTS]
EAT & drink:
For the first time ever, this was our lowest priority since we came with a stroller! Enjoy scores of Italian food and lots of aperol spritz! We ate in the main squares to enjoy the ambiance but also so we would be less disruptive if the baby screamed. Kitchens were a bit so-so but better than expected for being very much on the beaten path.
We stayed in a PERFECT studio Airbnb in Castagnola with an amazing deck. It was next to a bus stop and about a 20 minute (downhill) walk into the main part of town. The views were incredible and it was ideal for newborn travel. Those without a baby might want to stay in the center of town for convenience but this panoramic view was ideal for us.
You come to Lugano to relax! When you aren’t soaking up the views, take a ride up the San Salvatore cable car (James’ first!) for show stopping look at the lake, enjoy a beautiful walk through the main park, Parco Civico, and take a boat ride – making sure to stop in Gandria (a note that this spot is not stroller friendly and might be impossible if you don’t have the Babyzen YoYo+!) If you have time and a car (and possibly a rain day) consider a nearby visit 15 minute, 5 CHF ticket to the Alprose Chocolate Factory.
THE BIG SCOOP: [THE WHOLE STORY]
One of our big goals while living here was to ensure that we saw as much Switzerland as possible, as well as Europe! To date – we had done a pretty good job! Between our 14 Swiss destinations to date (check out the travel tracker for posts) from Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt to Lavaux – we had covered the German and French speaking parts of the country fairly well. But one elusive part kept calling our name – the Italian speaking region of Ticino and specifically, the lakeside town of Lugano. Because those pesky (and fantastic) Alps are in the way, there is no great way to get there by train or by car and there are very infrequent flights, so we knew it would have to be a trip for a long weekend – even though as the crow flies, is isn’t very far away from Geneva. When the long Easter weekend came about, eager to leave the newborn fog of our apartment, but not quite ready to get James on a plane, we decided to take our first family road trip!
One of the reasons we chose Lugano as well is because it is not exactly Rome – there is no laundry list of historical sites, museums, and cultural “musts” to check off.
We picked our gorgeous Airbnb and knew even if James wailed the whole time we could still sit on the deck with some wine and snacks and likely enjoy ourselves. But he didn’t! It was his first time in the car seat since coming home from the hospital and even with an enormous traffic jam in the Mont Blanc Tunnel and nearly seven hours in the car, he was quiet as a church mouse.
After settling in on Friday evening, we walked into town and loved strolling through the wisteria-filled Parco Civico – tulip season is a special one in Switzerland!
It was incredible to see Switzerland with palm trees!
On Saturday morning, we got up and gave James a test run on his first cable car ride at Monte San Salvatore . As always, the half-fare card proved it’s punch and the sights from the top were mind boggling.
When we came back down, we leisurely walked down the Lugano promenade (which features a small copycat Jet D’Eau!)
until we got to the pier for our boat ride to Gandria recommended by our pal Rick Steves, and again, it was we received a reduced rate with our half-fare cards!
It was an awe-inspiring little spot that felt so much like Italy (and in fact, Lake Como is just on the other side of the mountain!) but had Swiss pride with flags everywhere. There are a few little restaurants that give the most perfect view and are the best spot for an afternoon happy hour before boarding the boat back to Lugano.
On our last full day, we soaked up the town in the morning and spent the afternoon on our deck enjoying the most insane sunset (it rivaled some of our days in Santorini!)
The day before we were scheduled to leave for this trip, B realized his all-time favorite Bob Dylan (who he has seen nearly 40 times in multiple countries) would be playing in nearby Locarno, conveniently on our way home. So we extended our trip by a day to enjoy Lake Maggiore. On our way to Locarno, we popped into the Alprose Chocolate Factory (be warned, it is modest and no Callier!) and then had an afternoon walking the lake promenade and lounging at the Hotel Giardino Lago. Our room was a bit small but very modern and the hotel restaurant was amazing, as was their roofdeck. James and I enjoyed the amenities and were bummed to miss out on the concert.
On the way home, we drove Switzerland’s multiple climates – from palm trees we ended up in the snow for a good hour! It was a fantastic trip and one we will remember always as the perfect confidence booster for traveling with our little baby James.
Remember to follow along on Instagram to see more real-time updates! Blogging with a baby is proving to be tricky 😉. In a few weeks is our first night away from baby to Leukerbad, Switzerland to enjoy the thermal baths in the Alps for my birthday, and a group trip to Piedmont, Italy with friends! You can visit the travel tracker for our full archives of expat travels.
Thanks so much as always for reading!