The Western Lakes: Part 2 Lago Lugano and Lago di Como

Published on:  | Last updated: 25 December 2019

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Luino to Ponte Tresa 12 kms
Ponte Tresa to Porto Ceresio 10 kms
Porto Ceresio to Lugano 25 kms
Lugano to Porlezza 15 kms
Porlezza to Menaggio 12 kms

The next section of the route starts with a vaporetto (boat) ride from Cannobio to Luino. From Luino there’s a short sharp climb and then a descent down into Ponte Tresa on the border with Switzerland - having briefly crossed over into Switzerland, the route cross back again. From Ponte Tresa it follows the southern edge of the lake via Porto Ceresio. 

During the war, the lake was an important route for people escaping into neutral Switzerland. At Porto Ceresio look out for the memorial (in pink granite on the right) to two members of the Guardia di Finanza (customs officers), Domenico Amato and Tullo Centurioni. During the second world war, they helped hundreds of Jewish refugees to escape into Switzerland. Both were captured and died in the Mauthausen concen­tration camp.

Crossing over the border again, there’s the station for the mountain railway to the top of the Monte Generoso. The next stretch along the eastern shore of the lake is less inspiring (the road shadows the motorway) but you are soon onto the causeway across the lake and into Lugano. The lakeside road continues on from Lugano back into Italy. Note there are some short tunnels on this stretch but nothing too problematic. 

At Porlezza there’s a short traffic-free cycleway to the Lago di Piano. The cycleway follows the old railway line that once linked Porlezza with Menaggio. At the moment, it ends at Bene Lario, but when I rode the route (2012) there was work going on building new stretches of cycleway. The road itself, however, was fine.


You could ride north via Ascona and Locarno (stick to the lakeside to avoid the tunnel at Ascona.

There is an altern­ative, but longer, route via the Lago di Ghirla, that uses a couple of cycleways. There’s more inform­ation and gps files on (here and here).


There’s a lovely day ride that you can do from Cannobio to Santa Maria Maggiore and then through the Valle dei Pittori (see my article here).


The route connects with the Swiss national cycle network (Route 3 - Basel - Chiasso) just outside Lugano. 

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

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If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.


There’s a choice of hostels:


There are plenty of campsites along the route, however, when I looked, the on the Swiss side looked pretty steep. There’s an excellent site at Cannobio and I’d also recommend the Camping Ranocchio at Piano Porlezza.

  Campsites map:  WL-campsites-map-show map in overlay    |    WL-campsites-map-show map in new window 

Transport and services


There’s a rail station at Lugano.

Articles in this series

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