Lugano is a lakeside city in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of southern Switzerland. Part of a temperate micro-climate, Lugano offers palm trees, picturesque boulevards, stunning views of the lake and the Alps, and plenty of opportunity for outdoor and indoor activities. Lugano also makes a good base for visiting other cities and sites in the area. The city is a pleasant place to relax in the summertime and is only half an hour away from the italian cities of Como and Varese.
Lugano has a small international airport  with flights arriving from many European cities especially Italy, England, France and Germany. Milan's airports are 1 1/2 hours away by bus or train and are served by easyJet and Ryanair. Swiss International Airline , Flybaboo  and Darwin Airline  offer discount web special prices to Lugano from many parts of Europe.
Trains leave for Zurich (3hr), Basel (3:34) and Milan (40min-1hour) as well as Geneva (via Zurich or Locarno-Domodossola: 5h30' with 1 or 2 train-change, 6h30' via Milan with 1 train-change). Note that getting to Geneva or points west it is faster to go via Zurich or Locarno as the trains are more frequent and faster.
Lugano is small enough to get around on foot, and many of the streets are pedestrian-only, but the hills above the lakefront are very steep so the bus or the funicular from the center of town might be a better option on the way up to the train station if you have a lot of bags. Taxis can be found on the main roads. Ferries and Funiculars are great options for seeing the views.
For more information:
Funicolare Lugano Citta - Stazione (telephone +41 91 800 72 28/29, you'll never need to call!). This funicular links the old center of the town on the lake shore to the railway station higher up the hill. Starting 05.20 till 23.50, always, there is one every 5-10 minutes.
Funicolare Lugano Paradiso - Monte San Salvatore, telephone +41 91 985 28 28. A funicular which runs from Lugano to the top of the Monte San Salvatore, with spectacular views of the Lake of Lugano, the isthmus of Melide, the Monte Generoso and the Italian enclave of Campione d'Italia on the other side of the lake. 
Funicolare Monte Brè - Monte Brè, A funicular which runs from Lugano to the top of the Monte Brè for 14 fr. one way and 20 fr. round trip. 
There are ferries which travel between the towns on Lake Lugano at regular intervals. Daily rates are available.
While much of Lake Lugano is in Switzerland, a large portion of it is in Italy so take your passport when on a boat.
Monte San Salvatore (San Salvatore funicular) 
Hermann Hesse museum. The museum is in Montagnola and you can get there in fifteen minutes from the Lugano railway station by a bus number 36 (direction Agra). Check the time tables, the bus frequence isn't very high. Get off at bus stop Bellevue. The museum also offers an audio guide for a walk in the steps of Hesse, which is a extremely good choice on a beautiful day. Besides the exhibition there is also a film on Hesse shown, duration approximately 50 minutes. In the summer season (March-October) opened daily from 10.00 to 18.30, in the winter season only on weekends from 10.00 to 17.30. Tickets: CHF 7.50/CHF 6.00, discounts for families and groups. Friendly and helpful staff. English, German and Italian spoken.
Gandria, (Walk, boat or bus), . Gandria is an unspoiled, picturesque lakeside village at the foot of Monte Brè. Perched on the steep mountainside it is a community of narrow streets, inaccessible to cars, with a delightful surprise round every corner.edit
Lido di Lugano is a great place to swim right in the city center: beach, 3 swimming pools & bar.
Boat rental options include paddle boats and speed boats.
There are numerous rustic trails that lead up from towns surrounding Mount Brè to its apex and the Funicolare Monte Brè.
A trail map is available from the local tourist information.
Olive Tree Trail
Path along the streets from Gandria to Castagnola which is marking with signs that describe the history of olive trees in the region.
Trekking Lugano and Malcantone region
SFR Railway Station Lugano, Tel. +41-512-215642
Balmelli Sport, Via Pioda 12, Tel. +41-91-9235867
Casinò Lugano, via Stauffacher 1, Tel. +41-91-9737111, Fax +41-91-9737149, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open every day from 12AM-4AM (Fridays and Saturdays closing time at 5AM). Tables open at 2PM.
Blues to Bop Festival - Free open air music festival with multiple stages throughout the heart of Lugano in late August. Starts at 9:00 PM and goes until 1:00 AM to 2:30 AM depending on the evening.
Many major labels and designer boutiques (Versace, Hermes, Paul & Shark, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier) can be found here, as well as the usual Swiss and Italian knick-knacks. Via Nassa in the city center is the main place for shopping high street brands.
Foxtown, Mendrisio, Via A. Maspoli 18 (Can be reached by train from the Central Station (direction Mendrisio-Chiasso)), . 11-19. Huge designer outlet in just 20 km from Lugano. edit
The cafeteria in the Manor Department (Piazza Dante 2) store offers a wide variety of tempting International dishes, ranging from sushi to pasta. Fresh fruits and vegetables arrayed in stylish displays are almost a painting themselves. Wine and beer are available as are a wide range of other beverages.
In the summer your best bet is just to wander along the lakeside promenade and open air bar/cafes. Check local listings for clubs and shows as venues come and go with the seasons. Spring-Autumn, Bar Mojito (p.za Manzoni, directly at the lakeside)
There are clubs in the city (discos). Nix (under the Casinò), Privilege (near Manor, a department store), Tito's Place (quartiere Maghetti), Club One and The Cube are all located in the downtown.
Oops (via Maderno 24) and Bibliocafè Tra (Salita dei Frati, Piazza Molino Nuovo) are a great place to have beer in the evening. Near University . Another hint:
Arte, Lungolago. Amazing decor, (also an art gallery), great food and views of the Lake!edit
There are a wide range of hotel options right in town, from atmospheric B&Bs to posh four stars to comfy and communal hostels. Be sure to book ahead in the summer, but the rest of the year it's possible to just show up and find something as long as your budget is flexible.
Montarina Hotel & Hostel, Via Montarina 1, ☎ +41 (91) 966 72 72 (email@example.com, fax: +41 (91) 966 00 17), . The hostel would cost you CHF 25 per night whereas a single room in the hotel starts at CHF 70. Breakfast at CHF 12 per person. edit
Hotel Pestalozzi, Piazza Indipendenza 9, ☎ +41 (91) 921 46 46 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +41 (91) 922 20 45), . A very clean, family-run hotel with some en-suite rooms. English and German are spoken.Prices start at CHF 64 for a single room without shower and toilet. edit
Hotel International au Lac, Via Nassa 68, 6901 Lugano, ☎ +41 (91) 922 75 41 (email@example.com, fax: +41 (91) 922 75 44), . checkin: 14:00-onwards; checkout: 6:30-12:00. . Family tradition since 1906, it is the right hotel for holidays or for business stays and the only one on the lake promenade in the centre of Lugano, with own indoor parking, restaurant, meeting room, garden with swimming-pool and terrace. W-Lan Internet Hot-Spot, an Internet workstation and an "Ethernet" connection for notebook computers are available free of charge at the Internet corner. “Historic hotel with honor”: the ICOMOS jury has granted the hotel this eminent UNESCO award.CHF 115-310. edit
Hotel Villa Marita, Via Lucino 49, 6932 Breganzona, ☎ +41 (91) 966 05 61 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +41 (91) 968 11 18), . checkin: 14:00-23:00; checkout: 10:00-11:00. CHF 80-190. edit
Lugano Dante Center Swiss Quality Hotel, Piazza Cioccaro 5. CH-6900, ☎ +41 (91) 910 57 00 (email@example.com, fax: +41 (91) 910 57 77), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Located 1 minute from station, 200m from the lake. WIFI access and meeting facilities. Multistore car park. CHF 139 to 425 per night per room. edit
Villa Sassa Hotel, Residence & SPA, Via Tesserete 10, ☎ +41 (91) 911 41 11 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +41 (91) 922 05 45), . On the hills overlooking Lugano, yet just a few minutes walk from the centre of town. Single room in the hotel starts at CHF 240. Double room starts at CHF 240.. edit
Acquarello (Swiss Quality Hotels), Piazza Cioccaro, CH-6900, ☎ 0041(0)91 911 68 68 (email@example.com, fax: +41 (91) 911 68 69), . checkin: 15:00-23:00; checkout: 07:00-11:00. The Swiss Quality Hotel Acquarello has a direct connection to the station with the cable car and is situated in the city center. Single room from 116.25 CHF, double room from 157.50 CHF (season from October 2011, all included). edit
Villa Principe Leopoldo Hotel & SPA, Via Montalbano 5, ☎ +41 (91) 985 88 55 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Villa Principe Leopoldo is located at only 2 Km from the city of Lugano. The historical main building – the Villa – is, together with the nearby Residence (of more recent construction), one of the most refined luxury hotel establishments in Lugano.Prices range from CHF 450 to CHF 1,950 per room per night. edit
Lugano is as safe as most cities in Switzerland, but the density of expensive purses, watches, and sunglasses may make pickpockets more of a problem. The usual cautions apply to walking alone late at night, especially after bars and clubs close before dawn.