Today “dad”, who was born and bred in Lugano, asked to go to the top of the San Salvatore Mountain, for the first time. He had never been to Monte San Salvatore with children, or as a child – therefore he wanted to fill this “geographical” gap and feel like a “true citizen”.
We made all preparations as if we were going to the mountains (as in the Alps). Monte San Salvatore belongs to the mountain range of the Leonine Alps, which are technically considered Pre-Alps, so we decided it is a real mountain. After all, it is 912 meters above sea level. In the morning we reached Paradiso, where we parked our car public multi-storey car park (as the San Salvatore cable railway parking lot was full!) . Then we headed to the quaint cottage where the cable railway leaves from.
Going up by cable-railway to Monte San Salvatore with children
The cable railway is wheelchair accessible and is divided in two sections with different inclines. The lower section (Lugano-Pazzallo) has a 37% incline, while the upper section a 61%. It’s very impressive, especially when you look down from the rear window during the uphill ride, which take less than a 15 minutes! My kids had their nose glued to the window and enjoyed themselves immensely. If you own a Raiffeisen Member Plus bank card you are entitled to a discounted ticket.
The top of Monte San Salvatore with children
When you reach the top, you will find the Restaurant Vetta, which we can’t review because we had opted for a real “mountain” esperience, so we were had taken a packed lunch with us. Next time, however, we will review it for you! From the terrace below the restaurant, you will have a wonderful view of Lake Lugano, especially over the side of the causeway bridge, but on a clear day you can see Milan, too.
After taking in the sights, we went further on. There is an area with pic-nic table and a little playground, but it was very crowded so we opted to walk to the little church, which overlooks the city of Lugano.
A staircase inside the church will get you on the roof … and theview from there is truly gorgeous… even those who are a bit scared of heights like me, will enjoy it.
We would have eaten our pic-nic there but it was crowded, too (it was a bright sunny day, so I guess many people had the same idea). There is also a museum, there, but we missed it because unfortunately it closes between 12.00 am and 13.00 (we will be back to review it, though!). At the end we started off for the nature trail that offers both breathtaking panoramic views and natural wonders. Every season is a good season to visit Monte San Salvatore with children.
Hiking all the way down to Paradiso
The trail was very nice, and if you decide to continue along it, you will find out that the route will take you down to the place where, coming up, you switched cable railway. This path is undoubtedly the most beautiful, as you walk through a very enchanting stretch of luscious and suggestive nature. However, the trail is a bit “sketchy”, so it is only suitable to those who have at least some basic experience of hiking in the mountains, and for kids used to walking.
Both parts of the path (using the intermediate cable railway station as a divider) are quite steep and in some places there are cliffs to one side. At times there are protective walls, but more often just railings which require some attention. If you go with children, you need to keep an eye at all time… and if you are a bit apprehensive, be prepared for some adrenaline rushing through your veins.
There are no fountains along the trail, or if there were, for sure we did not find any, so plan accordingly.
To sum it up: the trail in a nutshell
The upper part of the trail, mostly shaded, was very pleasant – albeit a bit steep. My advice for a Sunday outing is to walk only this part of trail (uphill, downhill or both ways). The lower part is a lot less suggestive in terms of views, much steeper and not shaded at all! Not fun in the scorching sun! Anyway, we had a lot of fun and the trip did not require neither too much effort nor too long a time. If you want to spend some hours enjoying the nature while not leaving the town, then go to Monte San Salvatore with children!
As usual, do let us know how it was if you decide to follow our advice.
Alexandra, our hiking expert-mum, recommends the Carona-San Salvatore route as an alternative, which is suited to kids of all ages. If you want to try it out, this is what you need to know:
Reach Carona (and maybe spend some time in Parco San Grato and from there walk the trail to the hamlet of Ciona (it is through woods and it is flat). After Ciona, follow the trail to San Salvatore. To reach the summit of Monte San Salvatore with children takes less than 2 kms away, with a height difference of 270 meters. It is all shaded and it will take you less than an hour to reach the top.
- For more information about Parco San Grato, read our article: Parco San Grato – perfumes and colours in Carona