The tiny village of Morcote - on the shores of Lake Lugano - is truly fascinating and - not surprisingly - is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland. The small town can be visited in a short time, walking along its narrow streets and stairways and losing yourself among the colourful buildings and flowering creepers. We chose to reach this enchanting village via a hiking trail that starts at the top of Monte San Salvatore, the mountain that overlooks the lake and offers a stunning panoramic view of Lake Lugano.
We love... Morcote!
Walk overview & map
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Cima San Salvatore
From San Salvatore to Carona
After about one and a half kilometres of sloping terrain, the path becomes steadier and flatter, with only slight differences in altitude. Along the path, we almost immediately encounter the small village of Ciona, little more than a cluster of really picturesque houses. Here we also encounter the small Oratory of Santa Maria delle Grazie and a large car park, perfect for those who want to start the hike from here or take the path in the opposite direction to reach the summit of San Salvatore on foot. From Ciona, the path proceeds into the forest on mostly beaten earth and without difficulty. After a couple of kilometres, we reach Carona. Here you can take a break for lunch at the characteristic Grotto Pan Perdü or continue in the direction of Morcote. However, we suggest a small diversions to visit the surprising Church of Santa Marta, which dates back to the 1400s but was modified during the 1600s. The church is still fascinating today and has recently been restored. During our visit, we met a volunteer who told us the history of the church and explained the ancient frescoes. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find the church open, but give it a try! It is worth it!
From Carona to Morcote: San Grato Park
Once we have visited the church, we continue our route in the direction of Morcote. After Carona, the path meets the San Grato Botanical Park, a natural park of over 200,000 square metres characterised by azaleas, rhododendrons and conifers. The park is truly picturesque and the scents – even in high summer – are inebriating. We just took a small diversions to cross part of it. However, the park has many trails. You will find a detailed description of them on a sign at the entrance. Also inside the park is Swing the World, a panoramic swing that offers a magnificent view of the lake. We reached it with a small diversions of about 10 minutes, but in all honesty we had no WOW effect. If you are curious, you can easily reach it! From the San Grato park, about 3 kilometres along a comfortable path lead to the start of the long staircase to Morcote.
Morcote is truly fascinating. Its best-known visitor attraction is certainly the view of the bell tower of the church of Santa Maria del Sasso standing out against the blue of the lake and the green of the mountains in the background. But Morcote is much more: a small, colourful, flower-filled coastal village with a delightfully Mediterranean atmosphere! Following the steps, we first reach the Church of Santa Maria del Sasso. Built in 1400, here you can admire well-preserved frescoes from various eras, a beautiful dome and an ancient organ from 1700. Leaving through the door opposite the one we entered through, we then reach the Oratory of Sant’Antonio da Padova. Built in 1600, it is equally fascinating and rich in stuccos and decorations. Finally, we continue along the stairs to the lake and the historic centre of the village of Morcote. Here we advise you to lose yourself along the alleys and narrow streets and not to miss a walk under the characteristic arcades leading to the Piazza Granda, where you can have an ice cream or an aperitif.
From Morcote, you can return to Lugano by bus from Piazza Granda or by the more characteristic boat that sails the lake and also stops at Lugano-Paradiso in case you have to pick up your car at the valley station of the San Salvatore funicular.
Arriving by public transport
Arriving by car
See the location in Google Maps. The starting point of this excursion – the valley station of the San Salvatore funicular – can also be reached by car. To find the best travel option for you, as always we suggest you use Google Maps. A car park is available opposite the station for a fee (CHF 6.00). However, the number of slots is limited, so as always our advice is to prefer public transport.
San Salvatore is a popular tourist destination. Although most travellers simply explore the peak and return to the valley, the queue at the funicular ticket office can be exhausting, especially on public holidays. Our advice is to pre-purchase your tickets online. This way, you can skip the line and go directly to the turnstiles and bring the QR-code directly to the scanner.
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