The Olive Grove Trail

The Olive Grove Trail, Lugano: Address, The Olive Grove Trail Reviews: 4.5/5

The Olive Grove Trail
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168 reviews
Very good

London, UK1,134 contributions
Aug 2020 • Solo
This is a easy hiking walk around 1 hour. There is a few spots where you can shot a photo/ selfie with the lake. And I have seen probably 2, 3 spots to relax when you feel tired. A summer walk is a pleasure. I do recommend take a ferry boat to/ from Gandria and see a lake from a different perspective. A must do activity when in Ticino!
Written August 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Port Macquarie, Australia37 contributions
Jul 2016 • Friends
Highly recommended. It's relatively flat most of the way, with a few short steep climbs. I was able to do it easily in sandals. We walked from Paradiso, along the lakefront to Lugano itself, through the Botanical Gardens, skirted the large municipal pool then carried on along Viale Castagnola, up Via Riviera and into Via Cortivo. You follow this to the very end. You will pass the very picturesque Museo dell Culture (unfortunately closed for renovations while we were there but the formal gardens right on the lakefront are very pretty and were open to explore for free). At the end of Via Cortivo, at a car park, there's an archway and the road thins to a footpath. On Google maps it's Sentiero di Gandria. Fabulous views all along, with a couple of cafes dotted anolong the route and in Gandhi itself to provide a cooling beer. Though you can return on the higher path, this is right next to the busy road so it's best to return the same way and enjoy different views as you walk towards Lugano. Allow a couple of hours for the return walk from Lugano itself (this can be shortened by taking the #2 bus)
Written October 17, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Zurich, Switzerland202 contributions
Mar 2015 • Couples
We took the BAT boat from Lugano Centrale to Gandria and walked back, following the route in the posted direction (see a map, bring a map).

Let's be clear here - it's a HIKING trail. Don't try to take your kids on it, unless they can HIKE. (It's not a difficult trail, though - fit kids with hiking experience would have no trouble!) :p I can't believe people gave this a negative review because it didn't accommodate strollers/push-chairs!

- it's not built as a tourist attraction: it exists for hiking purposes for locals and visitors alike ("accessible" is not a word that applies to such things!)
- you require proper footwear
- you're toting water and wearing sunscreen and are prepared for rock-slides, inclement weather, injuries and accidents (at the very least, you are mentally prepared for these situations!)
- the trail most likely includes dirt paths, inclines, stairs, steps, gravel, narrow sections
- if you're grossly out of shape / can barely manage a few flights of stairs for other reasons, you might wish to take a cruise around the lake instead (also nice, similar views!). We did this too. We loved it. :)

For those that enjoy the great outdoors: the Olive Trail was lovely. :) Gandria is a very cute ghost-town in March (!), I suppose before the start of tourist season. There's not many amenities, though the trail website seemed to suggest them (NONE in March on a Saturday afternoon, anyway - the few that existed were closed). There was one operating water fountain towards the end (and toilets - I didn't check to see if they were open). Not much else, though (less than I expected from the official descriptions).

There were some great spots for photography along the way (mostly of the lake and the scenery), and I really liked looking out through the old olive trees near Gandria (YES, there are olive trees - if you don't know what they look like, you might not see them! And trees have a seasonal cycle, so NO, you're not necessarily going to SEE olives. And no, you can't pick them. It's not an orchard - I'm sure you could visit somewhere nearby Lugano where you could wander in a grove, if that's what you want). There's certainly chestnut orchards in the region!

The best thing about this trail is that it's a little secluded: you can wander about mostly by yourself, just taking in the view (spectacular!). Some of the waterfront properties nearing Castagnola (towards the end of the trail) were really beautiful. There's even a small hotel there with its own funicular - would love to look into that next time!

We really enjoyed our walk. If you like walking and hiking (for real - you actually do these things on a regular basis, not just tell people that you do!), this is a marked, leisurely trail that hugs either the cliffs above the lake or the narrow 'beach' at the lake edge. There is no public beach access (I don't think. If there is, it's not very wide!). I saw a few locals running along the trail for training, though I'm not sure I'd enjoy it or recommend that. But it would be possible.

There are lots of uneven STAIRS, both roughly cut into dirt trails and those made of stone (in Gandria itself), and I would strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with a map ahead of time, and then having a map to refer to on the way, just so you don't get too turned around at the start and end of the trail (it's windy and convoluted with backtracking in the village at times. Not so big that you'd get lost, but I'd still bring a map along for your own enjoyment).

One downside: the trail just STOPS once you reach the suburbs of Lugano (Castagnola) at a car parking lot, and it's not immediately clear which road(s) are available to walk back along (you could also wait and catch a bus - but we walked back to Lugano proper).

The waterfront ceases to be accessible to public thoroughfare at the very end of the trail (there is a museum at the water - its grounds are lovely and worth a look, but the path along the water's edge terminates, resulting in backtracking). The main road up and over the hill is the only option, and we just stayed on this, bearing towards Lugano to return. There isn't always sidewalks, and you have to deal with traffic speeding through. That part of the walk wasn't particularly enchanting in itself, though the expensive properties there were nice to peep at.

So, on the whole - a good way to spend most of the day / an afternoon and work up an appetite for dinner. Don't be daft and try to take a stroller. Accept that having small children means that the rugged options are not for you (for now)!

If you do have kids (especially stroller-bound kids), stay along the lakeside in Lugano, or take the funicular up to Monte San Salvatore. If you want a longish walk, you can walk all the way along the lakeside from Centrale to Lugano Paradiso, and then up the roads to the base of the San Salvatore funicular. That should wear out little legs safely and easily (and, really, it's a gorgeous view all along there. You don't need to go farther afield!).
Written April 23, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Meghan J
Lugano, Switzerland69 contributions
Aug 2016 • Friends
This is a classic "nice day" activity that I do occasionally, particularly with out-of-town guests.

Depending on how much of a walk you want to do, you can either start from the Cassarate area along the lungolago (near the Bar "Lanchetta"/viale Castagnola) and walk up the hill, or you can take the #2 bus and get off at "San Dominico."

Basically you'll start your trek from Via Cortivo. Just follow that! You'll be on a road for awhile, and then it will turn into a gravel path -- the actual Olive Grove Trail.

Overall, it's a very easy and picturesque trail; however, about half way through there is a steep set of stairs. (Though the scenery is so wonderful, that you'll likely be distracted...or can stop and take photos to give yourself a rest.)

The path goes all the way to nearby Gandria. A lovely, small lakeside town with ice-cream shops and restaurants open in the warmer "tourist" months.

In the summer months, for those who want to make a day of it, there's Lido San Domenico along the path. A lawn (for sunbathing) with bar and access to the lake. (Adults 6CHF, Children 4CHF).

A nice option back to town is to take one of the lake boats. Again, availability is better in the summer. Check out the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano site for timetables/prices.

(Distance from start of Via Cortivo to Gandria is about 2km.)
Written August 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

London43 contributions
Aug 2015 • Couples
We walked along the trail from Lungano to Gandria and back again.
On our way there, we took the main, lower walk and stopped at the lido at San Domenico for a drink which was nice.
At Gandria, which is a tiny little village with a myriad of steps in all directions, we went back up to the road level, avoiding the lakeside restaurants, to Le Bucce di Gandria (see separate review, defintely worth the extra steps up!).
You can get the ferry back to Lugano but we decided to walk back and take the higher olive trail which is actually through the olive groves (and is still marked on the map on the Lugano website that you can pre-print off). The trail up to this portion is quite long and steep and just when we thought it was flattening off we found the trail was totally blocked by a large building site for what looked like a large apartment block, so that is no longer passable. The tourist office could do with updating their map!
Hence, why people are saying that they haven't seen many olive trees as that portion of the trail is no longer accessible.
Better signage all along would be helpful.
Written August 21, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Vevey, Switzerland434 contributions
Sep 2014 • Couples
We had an excellent couple of hours doing the walk from Lugano and took the boat back.

Starting in Lugano we walked through the lanes with the antique bric-a-brac stalls. Then through the Parco Civico. Cross over the bridge across the canal. Turn right and go by the side of the road, by the lake up a small hill. You then walk past some terraced apartments then look for a little pedestrian sign saying Gandria 35 minutes down the road to the car park in Castagnola.

From here you have a pleasant 3 kilometre walk on a path by the lake. The views are superb and the route peaceful and tranquil. Along the way there are cafe restaurants and toilets. It finishes down into the fishing village of Gandria where we had lunch. You can take a bus back but the best is to take the boat. About six times a day it comes to Gandria then goes across the lake to several stops before returning to Lugano after 45 minutes.
Written September 22, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

California83 contributions
Jul 2014 • Solo
We asked several locals and walked for miles looking for this path described as a gentle 3k walk. We ended up meandering through private neighborhoods, steep stairs and even a museum! There were a couple signs - but they led no where.
Written July 15, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Miranda S
Carbondale, IL25 contributions
Nov 2015 • Friends
We drove to Switzerland from Italy pretty much exclusively to see this trail. The pics looked fabulous and I'm sure the views are spectacular on a clear day. If it's not a clear day, don't bother- you can't see squat. You can make out the mountains but they are not picture worthy. Also, someone said they walked the whole thing in an hour and a half. I'm not sure what they were on when they did this but I half ran/half walked it for an hour and never reached the end. When driving, note that there is public parking at the top of the mountain before you reach Via Cortivo. You will feel the need to park there as Via Cortivo is too narrow to drive down. Don't do that. It's a two hour parking maximum and you'll feel rushed the whole time. Also, you'll spend the majority of your time just getting to the olive trail, which btw, is VERY far from those parking lots. INSTEAD, drive down Via Cortivo. I know, very narrow and you'll think you're not supposed to go down that way (take the right fork at the split- this is via cortivo). There's a policeman guarding the road so you think you can't pass but you absolutely can. Drive down there about half of a mile past the culture museum and you'll find a parking lot with three to four rows of parking. THIS is the closest parking lot to get to the trail.
Written November 5, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Houston, TX2,817 contributions
This is probably the cheapest thing you can do in this expensive country. Take the olive trail either in the morning hours or evening so you do not catch the sun because it's about an hour and a half walk. Beautiful trails with pretty houses around, at the end where you catch the boat you will have a beautiful church where you can meditate for a couple of minutes and if you enter the church you got to be very quiet and appreciate silence. Also at the end of the trail you can take pictures in those little cobbled streets and use the restrooms which are free and very clean, there's a fountain in the middle if the whole journey with spring water and it is safe to drink or if you bring your bottles you must refill because a bottle if water at the end will cost you 3.40 euros.
You must catch the boat which runs every 30 minutes back to Lugano and it's about 16 euros, if you catch the boat sit where you face the side of the bias where you got in from because all the beautiful houses are on that side. Enjoy this beautiful trail.
Written May 25, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Chicago, IL170 contributions
Apr 2013 • Solo
I read about the OliveTrail and was curious to explore the area. Nothing like a fun little hike in the Swiss country side! I decided to drive to Gandria and leave the car there...parking is right off the main road, right away you can locate the signs for the Olive Trail. The trail is about 4 km through the town of Gandria and along the coast of Lake Lugano. It is simply stunning! Beautiful scenery and relaxing hike. There are public bathrooms along the way but make sure to bring water because there are not too many places where you can purchase snacks or drinks (or they were not yet open because I went in early April).

The town of Gandria has old world Italian charm and there are a plethora of restaurants to relax at. You can get lost in the town for a while because it has so much character and charm to adore. I think the whole hike took me about 3 hours...I was taking my time and hiked from point 4 to 16 on the map. Here is a link to a helpful PDF guide of the hike in English:

Awesome experience! If I was staying in Lugano longer I would be hiking that path at least once a week. Simply stunning!
Written April 5, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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