Ticino, the sunny south of Switzerland is the only Swiss region entirely located south of the Alps with Italian as official language. It boasts Mediterranean lifestyle and Swiss quality in a romantic setting of scenic mountains, gleaming lakes, charming stone-house villages, waterfalls, emerald green rivers and palm trees. In Ticino you’ll find an immense world enclosed in a small region rich of contrasts : trends and traditions, gourmet restaurants and grotti, cultural sights and architectural monuments, relaxation and entertainment.
Lugano > Morcote
From Zurich (2h30 trip), visit Lugano, Switzerland’s third financial centre, with its car-free historic district, Mediterranean-style squares, arcades, splendid buildings, Piazza Riforma and the renowned shopping street Via Nassa. Afterwards, take a cruise on Lake Lugano to discover Ticino’s traditional fishing villages : Gandria and Morcote. Hop-off in Morcote and have lunch on the veranda of a restaurant overlooking the lake. Then, visit the romantic village and its church. On your way back to Lugano, stop at Melide to visit Swissminiatur or, when back in Lugano, take the Mt. Brè funicular to the top for a breathtaking view overlooking the entire region. For a shopping treat, take the train from Lugano to Mendrisio (20 min trip) where you will discover the 160 stores and 250 international brands of FoxTown which is the biggest factory-store in southern Europe. Discounts vary between 30-70% year-round and visitors can get a tax refund.
Lugano > Bellinzona > Locarno > Ascona
Take a 22 minutes trip by train from Lugano to visit the quaint historic centre of Bellinzona, capital of Ticino, and its medieval castles (UNESCO sites). From there, take the train (19 minutes) to Locarno, Switzerland’s sunniest city, have lunch on the Piazza Grande, home of the Festival del film and visit the surrounding old town with its little handicrafts shops and historical buildings. Transfer by bus or boat from Locarno (13 minutes) to the village of Ascona, pearl of Lake Maggiore, stroll in the narrow streets of the Borgo and discover its ancient town-houses which alternates with boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. Rest on the lakefront and enjoy a local polenta with view on the Brissago Islands.
If you have more time to spare in Locarno, take the bus to Verzasca dam. It was the setting for the opening scene of the 1995 James Bond Film GoldenEye starring Pierce Brosnan. The dam offers the third highest bungee jumping in the world ! From Locarno you can also take a funicular ride to Orselina (5min) before taking the cable car to Cardada, which is found 1,340 m above sea level. It’s a little oasis of peace with an unforgettable 360° panorama over Lake Maggiore and the surrounding valleys.
Our tip : You can take a lake cruise on Lake Maggiore from Locarno to the Brissago Islands. The largest island hosts a botanical garden featuring exotic plants and subtropical flowers.
Lugano > Mt. Tamaro > Giornico > Airolo
On the third day reach Mt. Tamaro from Lugano (15min trip). When you are there, take the cable car to the top of Mt. Tamaro, 1,530 metres above sea level. Visit the Santa Maria degli Angeli chapel, designed by the renowned architect Mario Botta and enjoy the stunning view over the entire Region. Furthermore, Mt. Tamaro offers great hiking opportunities, an Adventure Park, an Alpine bob coaster and Switzerland’s longest Flying Fox. Afterwards, take the train and a bus to the village of Giornico (1h trip) for a hearty homemade meal at a Grotto, a tavern typical of Ticino where natives gather to enjoy local dishes. Visit the town and its Romanesque cultural heritage. For a mere 950 inhabitants it counts seven churches ! In the afternoon, go further north to Airolo (45 min trip). Step in the Gotthard cheese dairy, its museum and learn how to make cheese in a workshop. Before getting back to Lugano (1h30 trip), don’t miss to taste a local speciality at the dairy restaurant.