Hi MrandMrs D -
Welcome to the forum.
Lugano is a very nice part of Switzerland.....Italian in character but better organized. ;-)
One of the most spectacular feats of rail engineering is within easy reach -
The Gotthard Pass line over the Alps to Flüelen and return. Or, continue to Luzern or Zürich
Check it out in the timetable:
Check out the Wilhelm Tell Express:
It combines a train portion and a lake boat portion.
Due to time required, you might not want to take the entire route Wilhelm Tell route, as follows. You could probably fit in a portion of the a lake boat trip on Lake Luzern, continuing from Flüelen to Brunnen, then return to Lugano , easily in one day. (That might require some work with train schedules and local trains from Brunnen to get a good connection back to Lugano. Not actually that hard, but perhaps confusing if you are not used to the rail system.) So, you might simply go to Flüelen by train and return, or to Luzern by train and return. Lugano to Luzern by express train - 2 hours and 31 minutes to 2hrs 44 minutes, once per hour with additional trains between those. You could easily have lunch in Luzern and look around for a couple of hours before returning.
Lake boat schedules are running on a limited winter schedule in February...not sure about connections at Flüelen, but the boat schedules are in the time table along with the train schedules. From Brunnen to Luzern is also nice by boat, but it might make a long day for a return to Lugano if you include that section, too.
The train ride is by far the most enjoyable way to go if you do that trip....even still in May, the high alpine passes are still closed due to snow (unless it has been a very warm winter with little snow.) They usually open in early June. And, the auto tunnel through the Gotthard is smelly, ugly and not a scenic drive, for sure! What's more, the driver of an auto has to pay careful attention on those mountain roads -on the train, he or she can watch the spectacular scenery. And driving in February will be difficult on any mountain roads, if you take them.
If you have not already booked in Lugano, consider staying in Luzern.
5 or 6 hours from Malpensa, but beautiful, and centrally located to see some very attractive parts of Switzerland by train. Definitely Winter weather in late February - a lot colder than Lugano.
Shortest route in the timetable from Malpensa to Luzern is about 5 hours. Not a scenic route.
Others have used a bus connection from Malpensa to Lugano, then caught the train over the Gotthard from there. That bus might be useful for you to get to Lugano.
One hour and 15 minutes bus to Lugano from Malpensa+ Express train from Lugano to Luzern - 2 hrs 31 minutes once per hour at xx10, as well as some trains at intermediate times. Total about 4 hours if the connections at Lugano is timely.
Lugano itself is a small town and easily walked...The weather is usually not too cold in February, and the lake there has some nice boat rides.
and there are buses -
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Trasporti_Pubblici_Lug anesi
You won't need a car.