Entries in ‘Switzerland’ Journal

I Heart This City: Nancy D. Brown’s Lugano, Switzerland

Sunday May 10, 2009 at 8:08 PM | 3 Comments

"Mr. Gabbani"

Mr. Gabbani in front of his shop in Lugano, Switzerland

My San Francisco post was fortunate to be featured in National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog. Since then, I’ve decided to offer my favorite tips and locations for first-time visitors to select regions.

Here are my recommendations for a trip to Lugano, Switzerland in the canton of Ticino. The first place you’ll want to visit is downtown Lugano and the Parco Ciani.

To jump into nature in Lugano, go hike a nearby mountain.

If you love books, you’ll want to visit the Canton Library.

If you come to Lugano, get your picture taken at the top of a mountain.

Food in Lugano, Switzerland

Are you anxious to try the local food of Switzerland? Go to Grotto Ticinese in Cureglia, five minutes by car; or Grotto Rossi in Castelrotto in the Malcantone region west of Lugano or visit the Mendrisotto region south of Lugano to find easy paths among many vinyeards in Ticino where grottos as Grotto Fossati in Tremona offer traditional, affordable meals.

"Laderach Chocolate"

Laderach Chocolate, Lugano, Switzerland. Photo by Nancy D. Brown

If you have to select one thing off the menu at Restaurant Olimpia in Plazza Riforma, order the steak tartar.

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to the Grand Cafe Al Porto.

Lugano is one of the best places for shopping. Items are cheaper to buy here than in Italy. In Lugano there are chocolate shops, watches, of course, and fashionable clothes. Via Pessina is the gourmet street. Check out the five specialty shops of Lino Gabbani.

When watching your dining dollars, stretch them further at Migros or the Coop department store for food and clothes. For a huge splurge, I go to Cristallo Ristorante.

The Pearl Casino is the spot for late night dining, but be warned, Lugano is not the place to grab a meal after midnight.

Just outside of Lugano you can visit Morcote, Switzerland, have lunch at the Grotto del Parco and visit the Scherrer Garden.

Things to do in Lugano, Switzerland

Photo opportunities in Lugano include Lake Lugano and Mount San Salvatore.

The best vantage points are taken by riding a finicular to the top of Mount San Salvatore and going on the roof of the San Salvatore church.

If you want to join in with the locals, the most random thing about Lugano is the swim race in mid-August in the lake.

"Lake Lugano"

Take a boat ride on Lake Lugano in Switzerland.

In Lugano, an active day outdoors involves walking, hiking or biking. A favorite jogging or walking route is the Lugano Gandria Olive Tree Path.

Lugano’s best museum is the Museum of Cultures.

For a night of dancing, go to Madai Disco, Tito’s Place, Laroy or Al Lido.

To find out what’s going on at night or on weekends, read Corriere Del Ticino, but only if you can read Italian.

You can tell a lot about Lugano from visiting the rural valley like Monte Bre.

In the spring you’ll enjoy walking Lugano with all of the flowers in bloom.

In the summer you might like to experience August 1, it’s like our Fourth of July Independence celebration in the United States.

In the fall you might like the local harvest festivals. While in the winter time you should go to Piu Gusto in December.

An undiscovered gem in Lugano is Grotto Flora. And if you are traveling with children, you won’t want to miss Swiss Miniatur.

Where are your favorite places to visit in Lugano, Switzerland?

Thank you to Guide Marco Mastelli and Ticino Turismo for assistance with this post.

Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

Related Posts:

Things to Do in Entlebuch, Switzerland

Things to Do in Gruyere, Switzerland

Things to Do in Lucerne, Switzerland

Things to Do in Schwyz, Switzerland

What to Pack for a Trip to Switzerland

Sunday February 8, 2009 at 12:12 AM | 9 Comments

Gruyere, Switzerland

What to pack for a trip to Switzerland

I’ll be traveling to Switzerland in May for a ten day trip and have already started thinking about my packing list. My last European adventure was a trip via Eurail to Portugal and Spain. I decided to carry my duffle bag and laptop with me on that trip and the duffle bag was a mistake. A soft-sided duffle is ideal for stashing in the pontoons of an Alaskan float plane, but not so great when you are schlepping from train platform to platform. At the end of that ten day trip, I made a mental note to myself to bring a rolling suitcase on my next trip.


I’m open to your suitcase suggestions. I’ve read good reviews about Helen Rae Luggage,or perhaps I should consider the Delsey Helium Breeze 26″ Expandable Upright.

apple iPhone

Do you travel with your phone?


I’m not a professional photographer, but my Canon Power Shot SD 750 with 7.1 Megapixel takes great pictures for the money. Canon has since moved on to the SD850 with eight Megapixel. I bring along an extra camera battery and charger, as well as a cable so that I can download my pictures to my laptop computer each night. My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1520. Don’t forget to pack the AC Adapter and the Adaptor Plug. Of course, I can’t leave home without my iPhone. Not only will the iPhone’s camera work as a backup should anything happen to my Canon digital camera, I also like it as a back up for my laptop. This will be my first time taking the iPhone overseas, so I’ll need to remember to turn off network data roaming and turn on the airplane mode to stop text and phone messages or I could be hit with some huge service fees.

When it comes to sound isolating earphones, I’m considering the Shure earphones. I’ve heard that the Shure earphones block out more real-world noise (think droning jet engines and screaming babies) than noise cancelling headphones. The isolating earphones were originally developed as Personal Monitor Systems to allow musicians to hear their own performances in loud onstage environments. I don’t claim to be a rock star, but I don’t see any harm in traveling like one.


The joys and challenges of traveling to Switzerland in the spring time will be the weather. Being the California girl that I am, I tend to dress casual and wear cotton. I like to dress comfortably on the long plane ride. This May I’ll be wearing my Joe’s Jeans and a lot of clothes from Coldwater Creek. My 17 year-old daughter calls Coldwater Creek the old lady clothing store, but they fit my 5’4″ frame and I don’t have to spend a small fortune in alteration fees.

I was reading a fellow travel writer’s glowing review of Merrell’s Mary Jane shoe, but alas, they didn’t fit my wide foot. Same goes for the Keen shoes. I’m going to check out Clark’s Privo Floats. Anyone have suggestions for cute, comfortable yet durable shoes that can be worn in the Swiss Alps?

airplane engine, wing

Do you pack your own food when you fly?


The final question relates to food. Do I bring something on the plane to eat, eat at the SFO international airport food court or sample the food offered on the airplane? After a recent food extravaganza at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show, the folks at Pizza Hut asked me to try their new Natural Rustica Pizza. Once I gave up on the on-line ordering, I called directly to my closest Pizza Hut and ordered the Natural Rustica with sausage and one with pepperoni. Both pizzas featured a multi-grain crust, all-natural sauce from vine ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and meat without filler. The medium-sized pizzas retailed for $11.99 and were quite tasty. How would you feel if a fellow passenger walked on the plane carrying a fresh-baked pizza pie?

Article and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown

Swiss Family Vacation – What a Trip

Sunday October 12, 2008 at 2:02 AM | 0 Comments


Posted by Nancy D. Brown

A favorite European destination, I recently wrote about Switzerland in my What a Trip column for the Contra Costa Times. 

Imagine waking up to a view of Switzerland’s Klein Matterhorn and not having the hotel bill break the bank. Lafayette’s Kate and Christoph Nauer, along with their teens, Andrew, Brian and Maureen, traveled to Zermatt’s Youth hostel after spending six days in Italy and four in Switzerland’s Lake Lugano. A highlight of the trip was a visit to Zermatt’s Glacier Paradise, an ice palace dug out of the glacier. In Europe for a family wedding, the Nauer’s boarded a plane to Zurich, purchased a Eurail family pass and embarked on a 12 day tour of the catons of Zurich.

“We traveled by train with 12-15 family members to Lake Lugano,” remembers Kate. “We stayed at Hotel Elvezia al Lago, in a lake front grotto built 100 years ago as fisherman’s accommodations. What’s unique about the hotel is that it can only be reached by boat.” From Lugano, the family traveled the Centovalli train route to the city of Brig where they boarded a bus to the Valaisian village of Blatten.

Eurail is an easy and affordable way to travel around Europe.  Like their finely crafted Swiss watches, the Swiss Eurail train routes are beautiful and run on time. 

Before their journey came to a close, the Nauer family opted for some adventure travel.  Equipped with neoprene suits, helmets and climbing belts, the Nauer’s went deep into Blatten’s Massa Schlucht (Gorge of Masa) climbing over rocks left behind from the Aletsch Glacier in the last Ice Age.

For more information on planning your next Swiss vacation click here.

Matterhorn photo from icabro.  Hotel Elvezia photo courtesy of the website.  Nauer family photo contributed.