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Lugano is a lakeside city in the Ticino region of Switzerland, just south of the Alps. It's close to the border with Italy, and the city has an eclectic Swiss-Mediterranean feel, with Italian being spoken by most of the locals. The pedestrianised streets of the city centre are right on the shore of Lake Lugano, and you'll be surrounded by picture-postcard mountain scenery.
Stay at a Lugano hostel that's housed in a historic villa decorated with antiques, or cool off at one with a pool that's set within a park dotted with palm trees. Somewhere with free Wi-Fi makes translating your Italian a little easier, while Lugano hostels with washing machines mean you can freshen up before your next stop. Look out for hostels in Lugano that offer bike hire so you can easily navigate the city's streets.
The Centro Storico (the old centre) is a pleasant blend of pastel houses, sunny squares and waterfront promenades. Here, you'll be spoilt for choice when choosing somewhere for an evening meal after an afternoon wandering the historic streets lined with upscale shops. The municipality of Vico Morcote is just outside of the town and well known for its formidable 17th and 18th-century architecture and mountain scenery. If you feel like going off grid, head to the sleepy village of Gandria at the foot of Monte Brè, where most of the buildings have retained their character from centuries past.
To be at one with nature, spend a day at Parco Civico-Ciani, which looks out onto the lake. Here, you can relax amongst the flowers and fountains or visit the Natural History Museum. If you're feeling active, hire a mountain bike and head up to Monte Brè, which has several trails to explore. Alternatively, you could take a leisurely 2-hour stroll along the Olive Grove Trail on the hillsides between Castagnola and Gandria. At night, Piazza della Riforma, Lugano's main square, comes alive with bars, restaurants and entertainment.
Lugano Airport is a 15-minute journey from town. Shuttle buses run regularly throughout the day between the arrivals terminal and Lugano Railway Station in the city centre. This is also where you can get a train out of the city if you're planning to explore the wider region. Most of Lugano's streets are pedestrianised so getting around town is best done on foot, although taxis are available.