Swiss customs museum


Free entry

In a charming corner of Lake Lugano, a few steps from Italy, the Customs Museum illustrates past and present of border management and surveillance (special exhibitions cover topics such as illegal trade, smuggling, counterfeiting and much more) and tells stories about a region whose identity has always been defined by the border.

The Swiss Customs Museum is to be found in an old border guard post, directly on the banks of the lake only a few metres away from the Swiss-Italian border. The museum can be reached by ferry from Lugano. A visit to the museum may be ideally combined with a walk through the picturesque surroundings or a meal in one of the nearby caves where you can enjoy the best Ticino fare. There are also picnic areas alongside the museum.

In the past, life and work for the border guards living in the building was very hard because there was no electricity or running water. The exhibition on the ground floor of the museum reconstructs the daily routine of the border guards who lead lives in Cantine di Gandria which were not without danger.

The upper floors are dedicated to temporary exhibitions which, on the one hand, highlight the present-day tasks and activities of customs personnel and, on the other hand, also focus on the history and cultural heritage of the border area. Illegal trade, smuggling, counterfeiting and much more is the subject of changing special exhibitions.

Smuggling has always fascinated people. Moreover, in the border regions where poverty was rampant, smuggling provided the opportunity to supplement one's meagre income for many years. The illegal transport of goods and foodstuffs such as tobacco, sugar, salt, rice, meat and alcohol via the "green" border was particularly prevalent between the canton of Ticino and Italy. Part of the exhibition in the Swiss Customs Museum, which is also referred to in the vernacular as the "Smugglers' Museum", is devoted to this fascinating topic.

Today, smuggling is a business worth billions that does immense damage to the public, the economy and the state. With its work, customs contributes to the protection of the economy. At the same time, it is committed to the safety and health of citizens.

A visit to the Swiss-Italian border is a complete experience that will broaden your horizons.


In front of Gandria, to reach by boat.

Stops: Museo Doganale or Cantine di Gandria


Monday: chiuso - closed - geschlossen - fermé
Tuesday: 12.00 - 17.00
Wednesday: 12.00 - 17.00
Thursday: 12.00 - 17.00
Friday: 12.00 - 17.00
Saturday: 12.00 - 17.00
Sunday: 12.00 - 17.00

31.03 - 20.10

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