Living in Lugano?

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Living in Lugano

Have you decided that life in Lugano is the right choice for you? A popular celebrity resort, the city has a lot to offer, including a very high standard of life. Find out more about Lugano in general, its public transportation options, and education facilities, here in our InterNations Expat Guide.
Enjoy this gorgeous view of Lake Lugano in spring.

At a Glance:

  • Located to the south of the Alps, Lugano offers beautiful views of the lake as well as Monte Brè and Monte San Salvatore. It is a popular destination for expats, tourists, and even some A-list stars.
  • Inner-city buses are provided by Trasporti Pubblici Luganesi, while suburban bus routes are run by Autolinee Regionali Luganesi.
  • Trenitalia trains connect Lugano to Switzerland’s northern cities and Milan, while Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia connects Lugano to the rest of the Ticino canton.
  • Education in Lugano follows the same system as in the rest of the Ticino canton: mandatory kindergarten is followed by primary and lower-secondary school. Students then choose between either upper-secondary school (liceo), a vocational school (scuole professionali), or take up an apprenticeship (apprendistato).

Get to Know Lugano

Located in the Swiss canton of Ticino, Lugano is situated in the far south of the country and has embraced its border with Italy to the fullest. It is, in fact, the home of the largest Italian-speaking community outside of Italy. As a result, life in Lugano is a mix of two different cultures. With roughly 64,000 permanent residents (as of 2017), Lugano is also the eighth-largest city in Switzerland and offers all the perks of a bigger city within the confines of a smaller area, as well as the very high standard of living enjoyed by most of the Swiss population.

The city lies south of the Alps on Lake Lugano (Lago di Lugano), affording Lugano beautiful views of the lake and a stunning Alpine scenery: Lago di Lugano is framed by two mountains, Monte Brè, to the north, and Monte San Salvatore, to the south. The beautiful landscape of the area has led to the presence of not only tourists, but also many celebrities who choose to spend the summer in Lugano. With its stunning views and high-class tourists, it’s no surprise that Lugano has been nicknamed the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland”.

The climate is particularly pleasant as well: the winters are quite mild, and the summers — although they do often see some rain and thunderstorms — are usually warm.

Things to Do in and around the City

Lugano is the perfect destination for those who love outdoor activities: from cycling on some of Lugano’s 300 km of mountain-biking trails to trying out some watersports on the lake, there is something for everyone.

If you want to enjoy the scenery without so much exertion, take the funicular railways to the summits of Monte Brè and Monte San Salvatore — or alternatively, you can simply drive there by car. On top of the first mountain, you will find Switzerland’s (supposedly) sunniest spot and the old village of Brè. On top of the second, you will discover an ancient church and a museum.

If you decide to live in the center of Lugano, you will find yourself surrounded by historic points of interest: a number of sites across the town are nationally significant and part of the Swiss heritage sites. These sites range from libraries, churches, and museums to a cemetery and the Radiotelevisione Svizzera di Lingua Italia (the Italian broadcasting facility). And on days that Lugano feels just too small, you can always head over the border for a trip to Milan, which is roughly an hour away.

Common Payment Methods in Lugano

Living in Lugano means that you need to familiarize yourself with Swiss francs (CHF), or franco svizzero in Italian. Credit and debit cards are accepted across Lugano, and the Swiss railway, the airport, and highway tolls accept euros, too.

For more information about payment methods in Switzerland, check out our in-depth article on the topic.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Andrey Vasilyev

"I was able to connect with other expats in Zurich who enjoy cycling as much as I do and organize weekly rides."

Elin Gustavson

"At the first InterNations event that I attended, I met my wonderful partner. We now live together in a flat next to the Limmat."

Global Expat Guide