After a day out enjoying excursions, cultural visits or simply shopping, you surely deserve a spot of relaxation: head for Lugano’s buzzing nightlife and enjoy the city’s bars, bistros and discotheques.
Lugano is in southernmost Switzerland, minutes from the Italian border and overlooking Lake Lugano. Surrounded by beautiful hills and lakes, the town also has plenty of cultural offerings, from Romanesque churches to contemporary architecture. However, it’s worthwhile to save some of your sightseeing energy for the evening; for a small city set in an idyllic countryside, Lugano can party.
Lugano’s Casino Municipale (casinocampione.it) is just outside the city and county limits. It’s a 20-minute ferry ride to the casino, which is just over the Italian border, though the currency remains Swiss francs. Games range from blackjack to slot machines. Men must wear jackets and ties, and all patrons must show their passports. The Casino Lugano (casinolugano.ch) is right in town. Games include American and French roulette, blackjack, poker and slots. An exchange desk is available for changing foreign currencies to Swiss francs. You must show a passport to enter here, too. Both casinos are open late; closing isn’t until 4 to 6 a.m., depending on the casino and the day of the week.
For an Aperitif
Lugano’s cafe culture extends into the evening, and the best way to start the night is with pre-dinner drinks at one of the local cafe-bars. La Lanchetta (no website; Via Castagnola 16, Lugano; 41-091-971-55-51) is next to the lake, opposite the Hotel Cassarate Lago. The decor is stark and the lighting low. Café Time (no website; Via Canova 9, Lugano; 41-091-922-56-06) is as much a purveyor of cocktails as coffee. Tucked in a shopping arcade, the cafe offers a lengthy menu of wines, aperitifs and light fare.
Once the evening is under way, Lugano has plenty of places for a quiet drink or a lively scene. At Madai (no website; Via Ferruccio Pelli 13, Lugano; 41-091-922-56-37), the cocktail bar takes on a different character about 10 p.m., when the music intensifies and dancing begins. At Soho Café (no website; Corso Pestalozzi 3, Lugano; 41-091-922-60-80), the crowd is mostly local. Regular DJ sets provide chilled-out tunes.
The night really gets going later on, as Lugano locals move from the bars to the clubs. Privilege (privilegelugano.ch) is in the center of town, though its basement location conveniently hides it from tourists. Some nights bring live music; there are always go-go dancers. Expect to pay a cover charge. At the New Orleans Club (neworleansclublugano.com), the programming is eclectic, from Latin to hip-hop. Morandi (no website; Via Trevano 56, Lugano; 41-076-508-32-25) is the crown jewel of the Lugano clubbing scene, with dance floors spread over multiple rooms. House music predominates, and all ages attend. There is a cover charge.