Monte Brè is a small mountain (925 m altitude, in Switzerland that is considered very small) located in the eastern region of Lugano and is considered as one of the sunniest areas in Switzerland, so hiking Monte Bre can be a pretty sweet experience. When you are at this point you can view the Pennine alps and the bay of Lugano with all other peaks around it. It reminds me a bit of pictures I saw of Thailand or China 🙂 The mountain range if you are lucky offers a wonderful scenic view of Monte Rosa (highest mountain in Switzerland, sitting at 4364 meters altitude!) and the Alps (Swiss, French and Italian) with many white peaks.
The summit of Monte Brè is 925 meters above sea level and it is accessible by the funicular railway via the Lugano-Cassarate route. It is one of the ideal places for excursion and view of nature. The charming village on the mountain is 15-20 minutes from the funicular arrival station. It is really nice, with many red roofs, narrow streets and lots of old architecture. It is necessary to note that the area is residence to many artists who have left for the interesting heritage and want to add traditional culture to the Swiss alps.
How to get to Mont Brè hiking trail
Lugano can be easily accessed by a car or train, I discuss details a bit later (info below). It is important to note that there is limited parking space near the funicular stations of Suvigliana and Cassarate, but you can simply park in Lugano city, in the center of it or any other place if parking in Suvigliana or Cassarate is a problem. Here is how you can reach the mountain Bre trails:
Part 1: train station to Cassarate
Take a bus at the Cassarate (Cassarate is seemingly connect to Lugano, you won’t feel difference exiting Lugano into Cassarate, it’s one part of city Lugano) in Mont Brè. The bus ride usually takes around 15 minutes. After this walk for 3 minutes to the funicular station. Alternatively, you can walk from the train station to the funicular station and this will take you about 30 minutes. You can check all the information about Lugano public transport right here: Lugano Public Transport. The end station for you should be Cassarate.
Part 2: Cassarate to Suvigliana
Here you will take a funicular to the Suvigliana station and the ride takes only a few minutes.
Part 3: Suvigliana to Monte Bre
Once you have arrived at the Suvigliana station cross the street and board a funicular for 10 minutes ride to the peak of Monte Brè.
Operation dates of Monte Bre Funicolare
The first part is operational throughout the year. The second and third section operates from first Sunday in March 2019 to January 6, 2020. You must check regular updates on the operational dates of the different sections to avoid any inconveniences. The official information about all the operational dates, prices and departures you can find here: Monte Bre Funicolare.
As well, if you go up there by funicolare, it’s a perfect place to go down by a mountain bike. All the way down with a wind 🙂 You can rent bikes right on the top, it’s pretty common in Switzerland that they rent bikes on summits or next to the end station of cable cars. So if you don’t have your own bike, rent it and enjoy the ride 🙂 All info here: Monte Bre biking.
Zürich to Lugano: by train, the journey will take you around 2 hours 40 minutes. Check all the latest information regarding schedules and prices right here: Swiss trains.
Driving from Zürich: 2 hours 30 minutes. Be aware that you will have to cross Gotthard Tunnel and that can prolong your trip A LOOOT. If I were you, I would drive there late Friday (if you go there on weekday, less problems should occur). But if you drive there on Saturday, especially around noon, the traffic jam can be up to two hours. That can kill all the good vibes.
Scenic views from Monte Bre
In about 20 minutes the funicular will bring to from Lugano-Cassarate to the summit of the mountain and you will enjoy views of the villages along the route. These include Albonago, Aldesago, Suvigliana, and Brè. These are some of the most loved after panoramic residential areas because of their location and the traffic that the area usually because of their privileged location (just all the views are worth millions). The departure station is connected to Lugano city center by public bus. At the summit, you will enjoy breathtaking views and panoramic views of the region. There are two restaurants and a little church Ristorante Vetta and Osteria Della Funnicolare. Both of these two have terraces that offer a beautiful view of the area. A short walk of about 15 minutes will get you to the center of Brè. The area was once a simple farming village but currently, it has turned out to be one of the most amazing places to visit near Lugano. It is well appreciated because of its richness in arts, architecture and culture.
Some of the famous artists such as Wilhelm Schmid (right in that village next to the peag is his museum in his house, check it out: Wilhelm Schmid museum), Luigi Taddei (self taught great artist), and Pasqual Gilardi (great bohemian artist who overcome his struggles) all lived here, isn’t that fascinating? On one small mountain, three great artists have lived:) It’s not Paris or Vienna. You can admire ancient artists’ work along the Crucis. A tangible sign of interest in the little village arouses artistic sense through the décor it embellishes. One of the best ways to embrace natural beauty and the Italian influence is by hiking in Monte Brè. Do not forget to say Boun Giorno! up there as it is italian side of Switzerland.
Monte Brè and Lugano
Monte Brè is one of the mountains that forms the major landscape in the lakeside city of Lugano. From the top of Monte Brè, you can get to witness the marvelous views of the city below, Lake Lugano and white peaks of the Swiss Alps. You can enjoy hiking down the artistic little village and peaceful forest in the area. Monte Bre and Lugano has very tight relationship, it’s a beloved location of locals and historical importance is huge as well.
Hiking on Monte Brè
The summit is the starting point of many hiking routes in the mountain. You can choose a hike based on its difficulty and length. You can enjoy the breeze and an amazing view of the Swiss Alps. The easiest way to reach the location is by taking the funicular to the top of the mountain, thereafter hiking down to Lake Lugano. You can take the route focused on culture, arts, and landscapes. This will give you a comprehensive view of the city and enjoy the amazing views of Lugano.
I would consider three options which are related to Hiking Monte Bre:
- Hike to Monte Boglia and touch the Italian soil.
- Hike down from Monte Bre to Lugano.
- Hike from Lugano to Monte Bre.
Let’s discuss them all 🙂
Looking for a bit of more a challenge? Hike to Monte Boglia! You will add 600 meters more, it sits at 1516 meters and offers even wider views than Monte Bre. But once you reach Monte Boglia you will be right on the border of Italy. So actually in 1h30minutes – 2 hours hike from Monte Bre you can get into Italy.
If you are not ready to hit the big boys (bigger mountains) it is easier to hike down the hill unlike climbing it because of the difficulty level. So if you want – just go up by funicular, enjoy the views, the village, the restaurant and still have some hiking activities and spent time in nature: go up and hike down to Lugano. The easy walk won’t take you longer than 2 hours. BUT you can of course earn the views hiking it all from Lugano. Do all the hiking Monte Bre experience 🙂
If you would start the hike right in the city center, the hike would take you around 2 hours, 7 kilometers and 585 meters of elevation gain. I would be better prepared with hiking clothes and at least 2 liters of water as the hike from the base of the mountain to the top is pretty steep, not an easy walk in the park. 585 meters of elevation is not that much, but better do it comfortably.
Hiking from Monte Brè to Gandria
Gandria is a small village right below Monte Bre. On the opposite side of Monte Bre is San Salvatore (it is a bit bit smaller than Monte Bre, 912 meters in elevation) which is a neighboring mountain which comfortably rests next to the lake. You can take your time to embrace nature and enjoy the laid-back Mediterranean vibe. Breath in the mountain air. And let’s go down to Gandria.
Once you start hiking down from Monte Bre from time to time you are lucky to see the lake as trees open up, but Monte Bre is pretty dense with trees. It is such a lovely vista as the path leads to a small bunch of small buildings backed up by mountains framed lake (it is very beautiful as those lakes are full of trees, full of nature). The cozy path of narrow alleys leads to medieval fountains, hidden courtyards, very old stone buildings (mostly in Italian architecture style) and contemporary work of art (remember those artists I mentioned before?:) ). What was long time ago a simple and traditional Swiss farming village has become to be an open air art gallery and a great location to explore three things at once: art, old architecture, Monte Bre (nature wonders).
Tips on hiking Monte Brè
It is known by Lugano people and almost all the Swiss people that Monte Bre is the most sunny mountain in the region. So it gets really hot. It doesn’t matter that you get higher than 900 meters, it is going to be very hot in winter. Such altitude almost does not influence the weather. We need to get at around 2000 meters to get more breeze and colder temperatures 🙂
If you decide to hike it from Lugano, take longer hikes from it I would suggest you to take:
- At least 2 liters of water each. If you find any stations or shops to refill, do it.
- A sunscreen. Sun in Lugano is no joke. Better protect your skin.
- A cap and even better a cap which cover your neck. I am always with my cap, but many times I forgot my neck cover and my oh my that hurts in the evening. Don’t let sunshine to ruin your Monte Bre experience.
- The hike, especially down to Gandria or back to Lugano can be hurtful as it’s steep and rocky. So take good hiking shoes. For short hikes up to 2 hours running shoes would suffice, but for longer – take shoes with robust sole.
- Check out all the funicolare (funicular) time schedules. You may get tired on Monte Bre, so better not to be late for the latest funicular down.
- Have cash. Some small shops, restaurants, farmers stands don’t accept cards, so it’s always safe to have at least 5-10 CHF in your pocket.
- Hike in the morning or late evening. In the evening the views are even better than then sun is in it’s zenit. It hot there and the hottest is at noon and till around 5-6 PM. Sometimes even till 8 PM temperatures do not drop in Monte Bre.
- Take maps which you can get in Monte Bre funicular station or in Lugano tourism center. It’s better to be safe and not lost. In those maps usually you find something very interesting where you can hike.
If you happen to be in Lugano, it’s a great opportunity to spend more time there and see the most of it. A hike to Monte Bre can be the highlight of your day, especially the views from the top.
As well, it’s a great place to practice your italian skills if you speak or are learning it. Such a crazy thing, you ride a bit more than 200 kilometers from german speaking Zürich and here it is: all speaks italian. La vita e bella!
Hiking Monte Bre is definitely a thing I offer you to do in Lugano and in overall Ticino canton.
One note: if you are feeling lazy or have very limited time, you can drive up to Monte Bre with your car 🙂 Parking places can be tricky to find, but there are some. So just 20 minutes ride from Lugano and here you are, on the top of Monte bre!
If you have any questions about hiking Monte Bre, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
Maybe you love it and look for more adventures? Why not to visit the highest village in Switzerland and all Europe?! It’s right there, just 131 kilometers from Lugano is JUF, the highest village in Europe. Isn’t that cool? So pack your hiking shoes and clothes and explore more of Switzerland!
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