Monte San Salvatore

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Stunning view of the Lago di Lugano (Lake Lugano) from the top of Monte San Salvatore.

Monte San Salvatore

Monte San Salvatore is one of the easy to reach panoramic viewing points in Lugano, similar to Monte Brè. It offers views of the city, most of the lake, and mountains such as Monte Brè and Monte Generoso.

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  • Attraction type: natural site, mountain top, by funicular
  • Escort: independent (no guide)
  • Region: Lugano (Ticino)
  • Duration: 1 day or less

What is Monte San Salvatore?

Monte (Mount) San Salvatore (Saint Saviour) is a mountain just outside the city of Lugano in the Swiss canton of Ticino. Its altitude is a bit more than 900 m. That's quite low in Switzerland, but enough for a wonderful panorama across this lake region with mid-sized mountains. A funicular takes you to the top.

The mountain has steep slopes, especially on the south-eastern side where it rises up from Lake Lugano. Nevertheless there are (limited) hiking options.

The historic funicular was inaugurated in 1890. Most of the route is in the forests on the slopes of the mountain. The mountain was frequently visited - on foot - well before the funicular, by pilgrims and people enjoying the 360° view.

Activities and things to see at Monte San Salvatore

  • A panoramic view of many peaks, most of the city of Lugano and Lake Lugano, including the Italian part. There are multiple viewing points, all at a few minutes on foot from the funicular station at the top;
  • There is a restaurant with a playground;
  • It takes less than 10 minutes to walk to the church ('Chiesa Vetta') at the actual top of the mountain (912 m), a bit above the funicular station. The church was built in 1722, but there already was a chapel here in the 13th century. People have been walking up the mountain for centuries. The roof of the church serves as an observation platform;
  • Another remarkable structure is the huge antenna of the broadcasting station, opened in 1957. The antenna is not accessible;
  • There are two hiking trails. There are two hiking trails. The first one starts at Paradiso (where the valley funicular station is) and ends at the top of Monte San Salvatore, which takes about two hours. The other trail leads from the village of Ciona to the top, which takes about an hour.

Preparation

Check the weather forecast the day before. The mountain is not extremely high, so it will not be covered in clouds very often. If it is, you will not be able to see the views. You'd better not go up if it rains either. Dress in multiple thinner layers so that you can adapt to the different temperatures in the valley and up the mountain. It can be windy at the top. Take along sun glasses. Hiking shoes are recommended if you plan to do the longer walks, like hiking down to the valley.

Allow at least an hour at the top. This does not include the time to get there.

More activities to fill the day

A visit to Monte San Salvatore can be combined with a Lugano city walk or a boat trip.

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