Morcote is a tiny village sitting on the shores of Lake Lugano in the Ticino canton of Italian-speaking Switzerland. The beautiful village of Morcote sits on the Ceresio peninsula right across from the border of Northern Italy.
Once a fishing village, Morcote was voted the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2016 thanks to its beautiful views across Lake Lugano, stunning architecture, and quaint small village charm.
If you are planning a visit to the Lugano area, dropping in to see the stunning village of Morcote is a day-trip must.
Join me as I run through everything you need to know about visiting the village of Morcote from how to get there and the great things to do while you’re in the pretty village.
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How to Get to Morcote
There are no major airports that service the village of Morcote and therefore you should first fly to either Zurich or Milan and then hop on some public transport or hire a car and drive.
Here are your options when it comes to getting to the village of Morcote from both Zurich and Milan.
From Zurich Airport, first, make your way to Zurich HB Station and change onto the train to Bellinzona where you change again. At Bellinzona, take the train to Melide, and then grab a short bus ride to Morcote.
The journey takes around 2.5 hours and the train ride is pretty incredible as it takes you through the heart of the alps. You will have stunning views along the entire journey.
Driving from Zurich takes around 3.5 hours, and unless you are planning on visiting remote areas of Ticino, I would suggest taking public transportation to the village of Morcote.
From Milan Airport take the train to Busto Arsizio. Change at Busto Arsizio to Mendrisio, and then on to Melide. At Melide take the bus to the village of Morcote.
The journey takes 1 hour and 45 minutes, so it won’t take long to get to one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland having gotten off the plane in Milan. The views along the way are also beautiful.
If you want to drive from Milan the journey is about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Again, I would suggest sticking with public transport unless you want to go on some remote adventures in Ticino.
Things to Do in Morcote
Once you have made it to the fishing village of Morcote there are some great things to do and explore, apart from simply enjoying one of the most beautiful villages in the country. Let’s take a look at them now.
Take In Views And Architecture At Santa Maria del Sasso Church
If there is one thing you shouldn’t miss when in the village of Morcote, it is the Santa Maria del Sasso Church. While the Santa Maria del Sasso Church is beautiful in itself, it is the location of the church of Santa Maria Del Sasso that makes it so special.
To get to the Church Santa Maria del Sasso you will have to climb some 400 steps from the Morcote Promenade. While the steps are quite arduous, the increasing elevation gives you better and better views across Lake Lugano.
On arrival at Santa Maria Del Sasso Church, take in the beautiful views of Lake Lugano and go inside the church to see the beautiful frescoes.
Parco Scherrer – Experience Landscaping At Its Best
Parco Scherrer is named after its creator Arthur Scherrer who bought 15 square kilometers of land in 1930. Arthur was a traveling merchant and over time he curated this stunning park with pieces of art and plants from across the world.
In 1965, Arthur Scherrer gave the park to the village of Morcote and visitors can explore the gardens today for free. The Scherrer Park is closed in the winter and is open from mid-March until early November.
A stroll around Scherrer Park is a walk in paradise. You will find a plethora of plant species from bamboo to magnolias all landscaped together beautifully with statues, sculptures, and more.
Throw in the views of Lake Lugano and you might just think you are in the most beautiful park in the world.
See The Charming Village Of Vico Morcote
Sitting above the village of Morcote is the smaller village of Vico Morcote and it is well worth strolling around as it is a beautiful place.
You can either hike up the hill to Vico Morcote or you can get the bus if the hike seems a little bit too arduous.
Vico Morcote is packed full of beautiful Mediterranean architecture and has a different feel to it from Morcote. Being higher on the hill, Vico Morcote has some of the best views around and as you explore you will stumble upon Swiss heritage sites, parks, cemeteries, and more.
Exploring Vico Morcote won’t take you very long, maybe 1-2 hours max and you can combine it easily with other things to do in Morcote.
Get Lost In Art At The Cimitero Monumentale
Something you simply can not miss in the village of Morcote is taking a walk around the Cimitero Monumentale.
You will find the Cimitero Monumentale above the church of Santa Maria Del Sasso, meaning an additional climb up the hill is required, but it is not a long one.
When you arrive at the Cimitero Monumentale, you will find a ton of excellent works of art along with stunning tombstones and more. Some of the most impressive works include the bronze sculpture by Henry Spencer Moore at Carlo Bombieri’s tomb.
Other pieces of art that can’t be missed include sculptures by Leonardo Maspoli and Raati plus Andreoletti’s stunning musical angle.
The list of incredible pieces of art is long, and when you combine this with the views from the cemetery of the lake and Morcote, it is well worth the hike.
Church of Sant’Antonio Abate
On your way up the hill to Santa Maria Del Sasso and the cemetery, you will walk past the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate.
This is another beautiful church in Morcote and a great place to take a break on your hike up.
The Church of Sant’Antonio Abate was built in the early 14th century and features a mixture of architectural styles but it is mainly Romanic. It was used for a lot of things over the centuries from a school to a hospital and was finally restored to its full glory in 2009 by architect Tita Carloni.
Inside, you will find priceless Quattrocento paintings as well as amazing frescoes depicting scenes from the bible.
Do The Stunning San Salvatore – Morcote Hike
The mountain of San Salvatore is THE local mountain overlooking Lake Lugano and while a trip to the peak is a must, hiking from the peak to Morcote is something you have to do too.
To get to the peak, take a bus to Paradiso station near Lugano and hop on the funicular San Salvatore to get to the peak. Once you are at the top, take in the stunning views across the lake and the alps, as it doesn’t get much better than this.
From the peak, it is a 2.5-hour hike across the ridge line, through forests, and never-ending views across the lake. It is quite an easy hike and at the end, before you descend down into Morcote, you can stop for lunch or a drink at the Ristorante Vicania which has epic views too!
Note: If you are catching the funicular you can get a 20% discount if your accommodation has given you a Ticino Ticket.
Swing the World At the Top Of Morcote
Once you have hiked up past the church and the cemetery you will arrive at a swing that is a part of the Swing The World Project.
There are a number of swings around Ticino which are located in stunning places and are designed to get more people to spend time outdoors.
The swing above Morcote offers incredible views and it feels like you are swinging into the lake while looking over the village of Morcote below.
What languages do they speak in Morcote?
Since the village of Morcote sits in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, most of the people in Morcote speak Italian, around 65%. But, being in Switzerland, it is not the only language spoken in Morcote.
Around 20% of the locals in Morcote speak German and 5% speak French. A lot of the locals will also be bilingual or even trilingual.
English is also spoken by most people who work in the tourism industry in and around the village of Morcote. It shouldn’t be hard to get around as long as you speak one of these four languages.
Is Morcote Worth Visiting?
The village of Morcote is, without a doubt, worth a visit.
The location along the shores of Lake Lugano alone is worth seeing and when you add in the architecture of Morcote, the stunning churches, and everything else it has to offer, you are guaranteed to have an awesome experience.
I wouldn’t spend a whole week in the village of Morcote. I’d suggest splitting your time with Morcote, Lugano (also on Lake Lugano), and Locarno on Lake Maggiore. But by doing so, you will see the best of the Ticino region and enjoy the magic of Morcote too.