header photo

Lake Lugano

Your guide to Lago Di Lugano...

Monte San Salvatore to Morcote Hike

Monte San Salvatore is the unmistakable humped shaped mountain that you often see in the background of many of Lake Lugano's pictures. The mountain is situated just a short walk West of the city and its highest point towers 912m above the lake.

Because of its close proximity to Lugano, Monte San Salvatore makes an ideal place for those staying in the city to venture to its summit and take in the views, or perhaps explore the trails and walking paths on its densely-wooded slopes.

monte san salvatore

For convenience, Monte San Salvatore has a funicular railway which whisks passengers to the summit in a little over 10 minutes (runs from March to November), but for those feeling energetic there is a walking trail which gets you there in a little over 2 hours.

The walking trail starts on the outskirts of Lugano in Paradiso and forms part of a much longer walk that leads hikers to the summit and down the other side into the charming village of Morcote. Since this walk has always proved popular with visitors to the area we have included details of it in our list of things to do and see in Lugano.

  • Hike time: 5.5 hours
  • Approximate Distance: 16km
  • Heights: 280m to 912m
  • Difficulty: A few medium/tricky sections but mostly easy

To Start the The Walk

Leaving the train station in Lugano make your way down to the lakeshore and from there follow the tree lined path which takes you in the direction of Monte San Salvatore. In a matter of minutes you will find yourself in Paradiso where the Monte San Salvatore funicular railway is located. Trains leave this station approximately every 30 minutes and at this point you can decide whether you wish to do the entire walk, or have a little help by taking the funicular to the top and only doing the descent into Morcote.

To The Summit of Monte San Salvatore

If you are feeling energetic and decide to do the entire walk then you need to follow the signs marked "Parco Panoramico" which lead you off the road and onto the beginning of the trail. From here the path climbs up through the trees and at about the midway point it veers over to the right and runs parallel with the funicular for a while. At "Pazello", the funicular's intermediate station, the path veers away once again and takes you on the final leg of your climb to the summit. After approximately 2 hours of steady hiking you should finally reach the top of Monte San Salvatore where you are greeted by some wonderful panoramic views.

The church at the summit has a viewing platform and this is where most people head for to soak up the 360 degree panoramic views of the surrounding area. From here you can see right across into Northern Italy, the Mota Rosa Massif (Switzerland's highest point), and a large section of Ticino Canton plus nearly all of the sparkling waters of Lake Lugano over 900m below.

The Descent To Morcote

At the summit the path to Morcote is clearly signposted and once back on the trail you begin your descent down through the trees. The first section immediately after the summit can be a little tricky underfoot so a little caution is required at times. But before long the path levels out and eventually emerges from the trees as you approach the picturesque village of Carona.

In Carona the trail splits giving you a choice of two possible routes, both of which however will lead you into Morcote - the right hand fork signposted to Madonna d'Ongero and Torello is the better of the two choices though.

After continuing down a little further you are again met by another split in the trail and at this point you should once again take the right hand path - this is clearly marked as the most direct route to Morcote. Shortly after this you will find yourself entering the outskirts of the town having nearly completed the walk.


Although the village of Morcote is relatively small it does still offer a good choice of restaurants, tourist shops and places to see. The belltower of Santa Maria Del Sasso Church is probably the most noticeable landmark as it stands so prominently above the village. The church is well worth a visit, however, as it houses some remarkably well preserved 16th Century frescoes. Also its commanding position ensures it has some truly spectacular views across the lake and Morcote village below. To reach it, though, you have to climb several hundred steps so it might depend on how energetic you are still feeling after your long walk.

There is a regular ferry service that runs from Morcote to Lugano so you can either catch this back to the city or hop on one of the many buses that pull in opposite the ferry landing point.