Road cycling routes Lake Lugano: a playground for cyclists

Cycling is one of the best ways to discover this varied territory. Terrific routes over mountain passes lead you through vineyards and valleys on panoramic roads.
Lake Lugano is nestled between Lake Maggiore and Lake Como and lies partly in Switzerland and partly in Italy. It's surrounded by numerous villages, rolling routes and mountains offering splendid viewpoints and a true round cycling destination.
Cycle routes if you are a keen rider: Monte Arbostora, Malcantone, Marzio, Monte Generoso, Monte Sighignola, Monte Bar, Monte Brè.

Cycle routes Lake Lugano, Morcote

You can learn more by reading through the five points below:

  1. A flat ride,
  2. Cycling routes close to Lake Lugano
  3. Other cycling climbs around Lake Lugano,
  4. What’s Lake Lugano like,
  5. Villages around Lake Lugano.


The lake is footprint straddles the Swiss-Italian border with 67% of its surface area falling within the Canton of Ticino, Switzerland, and 33% of it in the Lombardy Region of Northern Italy.
The Melide causeway separates the Northern (27.5 square km, 10.6 square mi) and Southern (21.4 square km, 8.3 square mi) basins, although a bridge in the causeway permits water flow and navigation. You can cycle on a cycle path for crossing the Melide causeway.

Cycling routes Lake Lugano, Melide

Lake Lugano: a flat ride

You can cycle the route along the shores of lake. The Southern basin is a 50 km loop (31 mi) completly flat, part in Italy and part in Switzerland . You can ride through Porto Ceresio, Brusimpiano, Lavena Ponte Tresa. For a short time you can then leave the lake and cut across Caslano on back roads. You can carry on your route through Agno, Morcote, Melide, Bissone, Capolago, Riva San Vitale and Brusino.

Cycle routes Lake Lugano, Brusino

On the the shores of Lake Lugano lies Morcote at the foot Monte Arbostora: one of the most beautiful village of Switzerland. With its characteristic small alleys, the arcades of old patrician homes, valuable architectural monuments and its natural beauty, Morcote is considered the pearl of the lake. Of particular architectural interest, is the church of Santa Maria del Sasso, the terraced cemetery and the Tower of the Captain.

Cycle routes Lake Lugano, Arbostora

Cycling routes close to Lake Lugano for keen riders and cycling enthusiasts

If you are a keen rider you can climb up Monte Arbostora. The 6 km climb between Morcote and Carona offers a constant incentive to stop and enjoy an amazing panorama.
You can explore the area gently rolling and densely grown hilly of Malcantone.
The two panoramic climbs : Monte Bar (13 km) in Val Colla and Monte Brè (6 km) close to Lugano.
You can tackle Marzio climb via Ardena (3 km), Monte Generoso climb (10 km).
The tought climb called “Penudria” by the locals, about twenty hairpin bends along 3.3 km (avg.12%) between Gravesano and Arosio with gradients up to 20%.

Lake Lugano cycling holiday

The route that takes you to the top of the Sighignola (1,300 mt. a.s.l.) is challenging, but the top rewards you with a breathtaking view. On a clear day, you can see as far as Monte Rosa right through to the Swiss Alps whilst the lake of Lugano lies at the bottom like a pool of polished silver. But to enjoy the view from the top of Monte Sighignola which was not called the balcony of Italy without reason, you have to get there.
The climb starts from Lake Lugano via Maroggia (277 mt - 909 ft a.s.l.).It's a 16 km climb (10 mi), average 6,5%, sometimes 11%. The most challenging stretch is a 13% strectch for less than 1 km. (1.6 mi).
Or you can tackle it from Lake Lugano via Osteno and San Fedele. It's a 20 km climb (12 mi) average 5%.

Lake Lugano cycling experience

Here it's a selection:

  • Lake Lugano long (94 km – 54 mi, elevation 930 m. - 3,051 ft),
    Major climbs: San Fedele D'Intelvi from Claino (7.3 km m – 4.5 mi, avg. 6.2%), Pellio Intelvi climb (1.6 km - 1 mi, avg. 7%),
  • Lake Lugano North face (51 km– 32 mi, elevation 830 m. - 2,730 ft),
    Major climbs: San Fedele D'Intelvi from Claino (7.3 km m – 4.5 mi, avg. 6.2%), Pellio Intelvi climb (1.6 km - 1 mi, avg. 7%),
  • Lake Lugano up and down (109 km – 68 mi, elevation 2,000 m. - 6,560 ft),
    Major climbs: Ardena climb (3 km – 1.8 mi, avg.6%), Castelrotto-Banco climb (3.6 km - 2.2 mi, avg. 6%), Collina d'Oro climb (4.2 km - 2.6 mi, avg.5%), Morcote-Carona climb (5.4 km - 3.4 mi, avg.7%), Maroggia-Arogno (4 km – 2.4 mi, avg.7.5%),
  • Val di Muggio (44 km – 27 mi, elevation 1,000 m – 3,280 ft),
    Major climb: Valle di Muggio climb (25 km – 15 mi, avg.4%),
  • Malcantone (30 km – 19 mi, elevation 730 m. - 2,400 ft) or (42 km – 26 mi, elevation 1,230 m. - 4,040 ft),
    Major climbs: Vernate climb (4 km – 2.4 mi, avg.6%) and Aranno climb (6 km – 3.7 mi, avg.4%). Extra climb in challenging route: Bioggio-Cademario climb (7 km – 4.3 mi, avg.7.3%),
  • Lake Como Valle Intelvi - Mendrisio (65 km – 40 mi, elevation 1,000 m. - 3,280 ft),
    Major climbs: Schignano climb (6.1 km – 3.8 mi, avg.6.1%), Selve - San Rocco climb (3.4 km – 2.1 mi, avg. 6.2%), Pellio Intelvi climb (1.6 km – 1 mi, avg.7%),
  • Lugano - Tessetete - Gravesano (km 32 – 20 mi, elevation 500 m. - 1,640 ft) or (km 57 – 35.5 mi, elevation 1.450 m. - 4.757 ft),
    Major climbs in challenging route: Monte Bré climb (6.4 km – 4 mi, avg.6.7%), Cureggia climb (3.2 km – 2 mi, avg.8.6%).

Other cycling climbs around Lake Lugano

cycling climbs map


We've rounded up several climbs that the area close to Lake Lugano can offer. Their names are in native language. Take a look at:

  1. Melano – Arogno

  2. Maroggia-Sighignola

  3. Melano-balcone d'italia

  4. Lanzo – Sighignola

  5. Morcote - Carona

  6. Bré - Vetta Completo

  7. Tesserete-Cap.Monte Bar

  8. Bioggio – Cademario

  9. Bioggio-Aranno

  10. Vernate - Aranno di sopra

  11. Magliaso - Vernate (bivio Cimo)

  12. Via Cantonale 60 Climb

  13. The Great Wall of Arosio

  14. Monte Lema - Moschitos

  15. Monte Generoso (da rotonda)

  16. Sessa – Astano

  17. San Fedele D'Intelvi from Claino

  18. Osteno-San Fedele-Sighignola

  19. Vetta Sighignola via Verna

  20. Baita di Orimento da Casasco

  21. San Fedele - Baita Orimento

  22. Casasco capanna Bruno

  23. Casasco d'Intelvi Erbonne

  24. Val Rezzo from Carlazzo

  25. Passo della Clava Climb

  26. Cadepiano - Agra

  27. Viglio-Agra

  28. Paradiso - Baslona

What's Lake Lugano like

It's a glacial lake (270 mt - 885 ft a.s.l.). It's 48.7 square km (18.8 square mi) in size, has an average width of roughly 1 km (0.62 mi), a maximum depth of 288 m (945 ft).
The lake has a number of different branches and is surrounded by mountains: Monte Generoso (1,700 mt – 5,577 ft a.s.l.) and Monte Lema (1,600 mt - 5,249 ft a.s.l.) are the highest mountains.

Lake Lugano lacks for nothing in beauty, character or charm and its Mediterranean type climate ensures it remains popular all year. Thanks to the mild Mediterranean climate, there are even citrus fruit trees growing here, and visitors can sunbathe under palm trees.

Lake Lugano is unique in the sense that when viewed from above its shape takes on the form of a river that twists and turns its way through the Ticino(Tessin in French language) landscape. This is emphasised by the fact that even at its widest point the lake only manages to span a maximum distance of around 3 km (1.9 mi) from shore to shore.
But these characteristics and the myriad of picturesque Venetian-style villages found clinging to its rugged shoreline are some of the very things that make Lake Lugano the popular tourist destination that it is today.

The steep wooded mountainsides that form much of its vertiginous shore give a wild, untouched appearance to all but a few valleys where rivers flow in from the mountains. The mountains not only give Lake Lugano a stunning backdrop from nearly every angle, but they provide some of Europe's finest viewpoints to admire it from.

Villages around Lake Lugano

1. Caslano

The original village settlement lies on the shores of the lake and is off the main traffic artery. Characteristic are the narrow internal streets and its vast square on the lake. The area around Caslano is disseminated with panoramic paths between lake and mountains and the village is full of charming churches and ancient buildings.

2. Vico Morcote

Its pleasant position among woods and vineyards make Vico Morcote a small architectural jewel and a tourist attraction.The old town centre of Vico Morcote is very well preserved, with narrow streets and porticoes, houses dating to the 17th and 18th centuries and a magnificent baroque church in a panoramic position. On the top of the Mount Arbostora there is a castle dating back to 1450; it is in a dominant position jutting out over the lake, 200 m. above the village of Morcote, all this creating the most suggestive of scenarios. A historical vineyard that is accessible to the public grows on the terraces surrounding the castle.

3. Carona

The village of Carona has antique roots and is very picturesque as many architects, sculptors, painters and artists have left behind their masterpieces around town. Carona is located between the summit of Mount San Salvatore (close to Lugano) and Mount Arbostora. In the well preserved town centre that is characterised by its narrow streets and small squares, besides the brilliantly decorated residences.

4. Melide

You can visit Swissminiatur at Melide, the well-known park of 1 : 25 scale miniatures, permits you to get an idea of the most characteristic and suggestive places in Switzerland in little more than an hour.

5. Campione d'Italia

There is one interesting aspect to the Campione d'Italia story and that is the fact that thevillage is geographically located in the Swiss Canton of Ticino, however is completely surrounded on all sides by Switzerland. Campione d'Italia is mainly known for its Casino.

6. Ponte Tresa

A five-arched bridge over the River Tresa is also the border between Switzerland and Italy so there are actually two villages called Ponte Tresa. It's one of the few places in the world were visitors can stand with one foot in Italy and the other in Switzerland.

7. Porto Ceresio

This pretty little village on the Italian side of the lake is home to a lively harbour from where boats cross the lake to Switzerland. There are also great views across the lake to the village of Morcote, to the other shore of the lake, and the town itself, whilst not boasting any tourist attractions of note, has it's own charm.

8. Brusimpiano

The scenic road that winds its way from the village to Marzio and to Ardena makes a spectacular look out point. It provides beautiful views of the mountains around and the lake.

Tourist attractions around Lake Lugano

To help you make the most of your stay close to Lake Lugano we have put together a guide, packed full of information about all the tourist attractions to see during your cycling holiday.

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