The small village of Gandria - near Lugano - is certainly fascinating because of its location on the shores of the lake and its mild, Mediterranean climate. The small town centre can be visited in a short time, walking through its narrow streets and stairways between colourful buildings and flowering creepers and indulging in an ice cream or an excellent lunch at one of the many panoramic terraces or restaurants in the area. However, to make our excursion even more beautiful, we decided to start from the top: the summit of Monte Brè, the mountain that watches over the village and offers a splendid panoramic view of Lake Ceresio. Also not to be missed is the famous 'Gandria Path', a hiking trail that runs along the lakeshore and reaches the city of Lugano in a short time.
We love... Monte Brè and Gandria!
The small village of Gandria – near Lugano – is certainly one of the best known and most popular destinations among travellers to Ticino because it allows visitors to taste an authentic sample of the Swiss Dolce Vita, landscape, culture and traditions in a short time. The small village perched on the shores of the lake is definitely charming! You will love getting lost in its narrow streets, passageways and stairways! And you won’t be able to resist taking pictures of its colorful buildings and flowery corners, the result of a mild and decidedly Mediterranean climate. Discovering this magnificent corner of the world does not take long, but if you want to extend your stay, we suggest you arrive in Gandria from above: the top of Monte Brè, the mountain that watches over the village. In Gandria, you can enjoy an afternoon snack, have lunch or dinner, and then walk back to Lugano following the “Gandria path”, a short hiking trail suitable for everyone that connects the village with the big city of Lugano and runs along the shores of the lake. So here is our itinerary and some useful tips!
Arriving by public transport
Lugano is located along the Gotthard railway line, which makes travelling by train quick and easy. Once in the city, you should reach the starting point of this excursion – the summit of Monte Brè – by funicular from Lugano-Cassarate. The departure station is connected to the centre of Lugano and the train station by the bus line number 2. The funicular journey is divided into two sections, the first one – from Lugano / Cassarate to Suvigliana – is covered by an automatic funicular. The second section, instead, departs from Suvigliana and reaches Monte Bré. The entire journey takes about 20 minutes. You can find the operating times at this link. However, the capacity of the vehicles is rather limited, and on busy days the ascent may require a longer and more nerve-wracking wait than expected. Train and funicular tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB App and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options. However, for the funicular, pre-purchasing does not allow you to skip the queue at the ticket office. Therefore, our advice is to purchase tickets directly on site.
Arriving by car
Lugano is also easy to reach by car via the excellent motorway network connecting the city to the main Swiss cities. But the starting point of this excursion – the summit of Monte Brè – can only be reached by funicular. For those who cannot do without a car, our advice is to reach the small mountain village of Brè, leave your car in the large pay parking area near the Church of Saints Simone and Fedele, not far from the historic centre, and start your walk from here. However, as always, our suggestion is to choose public transport: the proposed itinerary is in fact a linear route and therefore at the end of your walk – in Lugano – you will still have to return to Brè by bus or by funicular. Please consider this and don’t forget to plan your return journey, taking into account the operating times of the funicular, which you can find at this link.
Hike overview & map
The hike we propose is a linear route that starts at the top of Monte Brè and follows a forest path along the mountainside, first reaching the small mountain village of Brè, then the lakeside village of Gandria and finally Lugano, where it ends.
During the route, you will have the chance to admire the amazing view of Lake Ceresio, to visit the historic centre of Brè and discover its art works (the itinerary of “Presenze d’arte”) and to taste a pinch of Swiss Dolce Vita on the lakeshore.
The total itinerary is about 8.5 km, which can be covered in about two hours and 45 minutes. It is an easy route, although almost entirely downhill, running on a well-maintained mountain path. After heavy rain, it is possible that some sections may be more slippery, and although there are no excessively exposed sections, our advice is to wear good trekking shoes* and use trekking sticks*. Along the route, you will find several restaurants – on the summit of Monte Brè, in the village of Brè and in Gandria – as well as toilets.
From the top of the mountain to the village of Brè
Our excursion starts from the mountain station of the historic Monte Brè funicular. Here we are welcomed by a very warm day: today is in fact sunny – perhaps too much – and we are glad to have chosen a route that runs mostly along the forest, in the shade. If you reach Monte Brè at lunchtime, here you will find two restaurants with panoramic terraces: the Osteria Funicolare right opposite the mountain station and the Ristorante Vetta Monte Brè, a little further away but with a wonderful view towards Lugano. Near the Osteria Funicolare also begins the hiking trail that first leads to the village of Brè and then down to the lake. The first section of the trail runs through the shade of a small forest and reaches a long stairway from which you can admire a nice view of the village of Brè. Here you will also find a picnic area and a viewpoint. Take a few seconds to look around: it is really worth it. From here, Brè is not far away and is easily reached by continuing along the steps. The historic centre of the village lies just beyond the Church of Saints Simone and Fedele. Today, this charming little town is predominantly a place of village life, but it has developed a strong connection over the years with the world of modern art and some of its leading Swiss exponents. A clear sign of this strong connection is its artistic decor, a veritable thematic itinerary that embellishes the alleys, historic buildings and small squares of the town with some 20 works by contemporary artists.
An explanatory brochure can be found at this link. For a relaxed visit and a few photos, you only need about twenty minutes.
From Bre to Gandria
At Brè, near the Church of Saints Simone and Fedele, the forest path which leads to Gandria begins. This section of the hike, just under 3 km long, descends about 430 metres towards the shores of the lake. With the exception of a short stretch on asphalt, the itinerary runs almost entirely along a path through the woods, narrow in places but not exposed and fairly well maintained. Although the gradient puts a strain on the knees, the route is easy and has no risks, with the exception of a few stretches that may be more slippery after heavy rain. For extra caution, we recommend good hiking shoes* and trekking sticks*. Along this section of the trail – which will take you no more than an hour – you will find no facilities of any kind, just a couple of benches. However, at the end of the forest path – just above Gandria and the coastal road – you will find a fountain of fresh, drinkable water, truly a gift on hot days!
Along the Gandria path to Lugano
Gandria is truly fascinating. It is certainly the little coastal village we expected: colorful, full of flowers and deliciously Mediterranean: a perfect example of Ticino’s Swiss Dolce Vita! We walked the length and breadth of it, discovering hidden and characteristic corners and taking a million photos. And of course we didn’t miss a mega ice cream on the terrace of the Bottega di Gandria, right next to the ferry terminal for Lugano. Just think that until the 1930s, the village could only be reached by lake or via mountain trails! The need to be self-sufficient and a decidedly mild climate developed horticulture and viticulture, and it seems that until the 1700s olive oil was also produced here, at least until a particularly cold winter decimated the ancient trees. Today, several experimental projects aim to revive olive cultivation in the area and the production of olive oil. The new olive groves can be visited with a short diversions – clearly signposted – from the path. Gandria is also the starting point of the famous ‘Gandria Path’, a hiking trail of about 1.5 km, which can be walked in about 30 minutes and runs along the mountainside and the edge of the lake towards Lugano. Along it you will reach the Lugano – Castagnola area and there, if you are tired, you can take a bus back to the city centre. However, we chose to walk a little further on, along the paved road and the residential area, to reach the Lugano – Cassarate bus stop and take the direct bus to the train station.
For a short Sunday walk and if you are already in Lugano, you can opt to walk only along the Gandria path, from Lugano-Castagnola. Do this way: reach Castagnola by car or bus (line 2 or 12) and follow the coastal path to Gandria. Here, visit the town and have lunch in one of the many small restaurants with a terrace. After lunch, follow the path again and go back to Lugano.