Mon. Jul 15th, 2024
Ticino is easily one of the most beautiful destinations in Switzerland. While most of Switzerland is comprised of structured cities, snowy mountains and cows, Ticino is a refreshing burst of sunshine, color and culture.

It really does feel like you have crossed the border into Italy, in an otherwise very German and French influenced country.

I’ve been to Ticino in almost every season, and have compiled a list on the places you must visit in Ticino, that are amazing year round!

Here are 9 of the most beautiful places in Ticino Switzerland!

Girl in front of a church tower overlooking Lake Lugano in Morcote village in Ticino, Switzerland

Where is Ticino?

Ticino is a canton located in southern Switzerland, sometimes also called Tessin Switzerland. It straddles the border between a very lush, lake area of Switzerland and the infamous Lake Como region of Italy.

As a Canton, rather than a city or single destination, Ticino is home to many points of interest. The most famous of which is likely Lake Lugano, the largest lake in the canton.

History of Ticino

The history of Ticino dates back to the days of the Roman Empire. It remained under Italian rule up until the 1500s, when the Swiss confederate eventually captured it from the Lombards of Milan.

The region was eventually split between the Lugano and Bellizona cantons, until it was formally united as Ticino in 1803. Soon after, it became officially incorporated as part of Switzerland.

Today, Ticino makes up the largest Italian speaking canton in Switzerland and still retains a majority of its Italian roots in the culture.

From the cuisine, to architectural styles, and even religion (most residents identify as Roman-Catholic, most aspects of Ticino culture is in line with its Italian heritage.

Getting to Ticino

Ticino is an entire Canton rather than a city. You should choose your starting point within Ticino first, then find the best route.

Many travelers may choose to start or base themselves in Lugano, as it’s the most lively city in the canton. It also has the advantage of being alongside the stunning Lugano Lake, a jumping point into visiting the other beautiful villages and towns lining its shores.

Ticino, Switzerland by Car

If you have the option to visit Ticino by car, it will be much more convenient for getting around. Some of the best destinations are quite rural and take long to reach by public trasnportation.

If you are coming from Zurich or even Geneva, the highway is very modern and well maintained throughout. Just follow your GPS and you should arrive without any issues.

The only issue in Ticino is going to be the parking. In summer, parking can be a challenge especially in the cities, like Lugano and Locarno.

As the rest of Switzerland, parking is almost always paid.

Looking for day trips from Zurich? Check out: Guide to Alpstein

Ticino, Switzerland by Train

Ticino is well connected by the train network in Switzerland. You can reach most cities and larger towns using the trains. For the more rural destinations like Foroglio or Lavertezzo, you’ll have to switch onto a bus at some point.

Some cities you can reach by train in Ticino are: Lugano, Lucarno, and Bellinzona.

To book trains in Switzerland, I always recommend using Trainline. You can compare train times and price, then book directly online.

Where to Stay in Ticino

There are many beautiful places to stay while in Ticino.

Many travelers will choose to base themselves in Lugano and do day trips to the other points of interest. It is the biggest and most beautiful city, so choosing Lugano as your base in Ticino is a pretty safe bet.

The best hotels in Lugano are SKY for the best views, and Al Ciani Balcony Suite for location and value.

For budget traveler or solo travelers, Casa Nico is a great option.

Hotel Lago Maggiore in Locarno is a great place to spend a night or two as well, especially if you want more time in this city. You’ll be treated to waking up next to the lake each day.

If you want to experience a stay in one of the smaller villages, Rustico Luchessa in Lavertezzo is a great option, while Albergo Ristorante della Posta in Morcote will surely be an unforgetable stay.

1. Lavertezzo

Lavertezzo, one of the most beautiful places in Ticino in Switzerland

Lavertezzo is a small village located in the Locarno region in Ticino.

Its gained quite the popularity in recent years thanks to the iconic instagram scene of the village from the river. The village itself is located in Valle Verzasca, a lush valley found between tall mountainous peaks.

Valle Verzasca itself is worthy of a full day or two to explore, with its ample hiking trails, cute villages, plenty of waterfalls, and scenic points all around. But the star of this valley is definitely Lavertezzo.

Lavertezzo Village

view across the river of Lavertezzo village in Ticino, Switzerland

As a once tiny, unknown village of less than 1,300 inhabitants, the village itself can be explored in a mater of minutes on foot.

It’s unknown exactly when Lavertezzo was founded, but it’s believed to be some time in the 1300s. Historically, it was used as a summer village for farmers and their cattle, and honestly not a whole lot has changed since then.

Today, people still live in the original stone houses from these early settlements.

The village is located in a grotto, with its own small waterfall flowing right into the river.

Lavertezzo River

The highlight of Lavertezzo may not be the village, but the river nearby. This river shows off the most pristine, clear turquoise waters year round which attracts huge numbers of visitors.

Despite its aesthetic beauty, the water stays pretty cold even in the summer. This doesn’t stop anyone from jumping in though.

In peak season, you’ll find lot’s of people lounging around on the large rocks, sunbathing and swimming.

Ponte dei Salti

girl in the river at Lavertezzo, with the ponti dei Salti stone birdges behind

This is a historic double arched rock bridge overlooking the river and village that makes a beautiful photo backdrop.

The bridge was built in the 17th century, and is still fully intact today and safe to walk across.

While here you may also encounter adventurous travelers jumping off the bridge into the river! Its usually daring enough to gather a crowd off onlookers, but I don’t recommend anyone try this.

When you do have a moment on the bridge to yourself, take in the views as they are fantastic from this viewpoint.

2. Forroglio

Foroglio is a tiny village located in Val Bavona, a narrow, dramatic valley in the northwest of Ticino. Val Bavona valley itself is home to numerous historic villages, most of which feature the iconic stone houses known as rustici.

To get to Foroglio, you’ll have to drive about an hour through Val Balvona, all the while passing many of these rustici villages on the way. It’s a gorgeous drive, and do feel free to stop many times to explore these other the villages, too.

Val Bavona Villages

Honestly, all of these villages are beautiful, and some may even be more impressive than Foroglio! We passed by so many stone arches bridges over beautiful streams. We also came across another village with wonderfully colorful houses set right on the banks of the river.

Val Bavona Waterfalls

Forolgio’s waterfall is not the only one in the valley either. You’ll drive by a handful of unnamed waterfalls throughout the valley so be sure to stop by to admrie those as well.

One of the biggest waterfalls in the valley is known as Cascata del Salto, which in summer is deep enough for taking a dip.

Foroglio

If I’m being honest, Foroglio is probably most famous because of social media. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pure heaven upon first sight, but as I said earlier all the vilages are pretty damn cool.

Foroglio is unique in the aspect that it has one of the tallest waterfalls in the valley, and it appears to flow from right over the village. Despite its fame, it never gets too crowds, likely due to the remote location.

Foroglio itself is very small, and you can explore it within 10 minutes on foot. If you really want to get a feel for the village life here, some of the stone houses are now used for accommodation. Opt to stay for a night and soak in the village vibes.

3. Bosco Gurin

Bosco Gurin in Ticino in winter

Bosco Gurin is a charming village in the snowy mountains of Ticino.

It was founded as early as 1253, by the first settlers who emigrated here from the nearby canton of Valais. Today, much of the historic village remains in tact, and you can explore it all on foot.

The houses are characterized by stone and wood, and are made to withstand the heavy snowfall they receive each winter. That’s why you’ll see thick, slanted roofs and many houses raised high above the ground on wooden beams.

The village itself is very cute and maintains much of it’s old world charm.

The 60 or so village residents retain a lot of their traditions, and even have their own local language still in use.

a llama and any sheep in front of a snowy mountain near Bosco Gurin in Ticino, Switzerland

Bosco Gurin Museum

When exploring the village, be sure to check out the museum which is normally free for visitors. The museum is located in the Guriner Walserhaus, one of the oldest houses left standing in the village, and believed to be over 600 years old.

Here, you can learn about the history of Bosco Gurin, as well as gain insight into the unique customs and traditions of this village.

Skiing in Bosco Gurin

Bosco Gurin is one of the best villages to visit in winter in Switzerland.

Many visitors end up in Bosco Gurin to hit the slopes, as there is literally a ski lift right at the foot of the village. This skiing area offers 30 kiometers of ski runs, good for both beginners and experts.

There are also trails for snowshoeing, snow-hiking, and other winter sports

Want more Swiss Ski Destinations? Read: Guide to Grindelwald Ski Resort

Bosco Gurin in Summer

In summer, the mountain thaws and Bosco Gurin becomes the ideal playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

In the peak of summer you’ll have access to many hiking trails, amongst stunning mountain scenery and blooming alpine flowers. A popular hiking trail is the Great Walser Trail.

4. Locarno

Locarno, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ticino Switzerland

Locarno is the third largest city in Ticino. With a population of around 43,000 people, Locarno has the all the perks of a city, but still retains a rural feel in some ways.

Locarno is located in an area known as the sunniest area within Switzerland. You won’t find snowy mountain peaks and pine trees here.

Instead you’ll be welcomed by palm trees, brightly colored Italian style buildings, lively city squares, and a beautiful lake reflecting the beaming sunshine.

Locarno Old Town

Locarno really captures the essence of an old Italian city.

While here be sure to wander the old town, where you’ll find cute corners with each turn and lots of picturesque alleyways to get lost in.

You can start your exploration in the Piazza Grande, the largest square in the city, lined with beautiful buildings, shops, restaurants and more. It’s a great place for people watching, and in summer there is usually live music in the afternoon.

Lago Maggiore

Before sunset, head towards the water and go for a walk along Lago Maggiore. The views here are impressive and you’ll see yacht after yacht cruising by.

In summer, you can swim or tan by the lake, but keep in mind this lake is a bit cold year round. For swimming, head to Lago di Lugano instead (more on that later).

For those that prefer to be on the water, there are boats that tour the lake leaving from the Locarno ferry terminal located here.

Madonna del Sasso

View of Madonna del Sasso church in Locarno at sunrise, with the sun and lake behind

This church is easily the highlight of Locarno. Once you arrive you’ll likely spot it as it dominates the sky on a hill high above the city.

It was established in 1487 and was historically used as a pilgrimage church.

To get here you can either drive up the hill and park nearby, or do a short hike up the stairs from the old town. These stairs follow the traditional pilgrimage route used by worshippers.

The walk is quite pleasant as it takes you through a forested area, and will allow you to pass by many Virgin Mary shrines along the way.

Once you reach the top the views are spectacular, as you can see the entire city, lake and mountains below you.

Be sure to visit the inside of the church, which is free. Inside, you’ll find the church painted with very impressive frescos all along the ceilings, and beautiful carvings on the columns.

5. Morcote

morcote the most beautiful village in switzerland

Morcote is often touted as being the most beautiful village in Switzerland, and surely one of the most beautiful places in Ticino.

A visit here will often have you feeling like you’re in a vintage Italian film, shot in some upscale village along Lake Como.

This village is perched on a hill, right along the lake’s edge about 30 minutes south of Lugano.

Once you arrive, you will find beautiful mansions along the lake built in the most lavish Italian styles, lot’s of pasta and pizza restaurants, and many charming alleyways to wander.

Santa Maria del Sasso

This church dominates the skyline over Morcote from its position on a high hill. If you are coming by boat from Lugano, it’ll be one of the tallest things you see over the village.

From the village, you can often see its tower peaking out above the buildings, or hear its church bells echoing loudly through the narrow alleys.

To get to the actual church, you can walk from the bottom of the village up the steep hill.

Once you arrive, you’ll be rewarded with a full panoramic view of the tower and lake below, and all the mountains surrounding it.

Archway with view of Lake Lugano beyond in Morcote, Ticino Switzerland

Chapel of San Antonio

On the way up to Santa Maria del Sassio, you’ll pass through some gardens and the Chapel of San Antonio. The views from here are beautiful as well, and they are a peaceful place to admire the lake views.

In the chapel gardens you’ll find some status and frescos all the way up to the church.

Scherrer Gardens

This garden features exotic plants, sculptures, and architectural designs drawn from different cultures and styles. It does somewhat resemble a royal garden you may find in a chateau or some wealthy nobles mansion.

Keep in mind it closes around 5 PM, so do plan your visit earlier to have enough time to see it all. It’s a huge garden, not to be missed!

old cobbled alleyway and Italian style house in Morcote Ticino Switzerland

Walk the Lakefront Promenade

The walk along the lake’s edge is my favorite place to be in Morcote.

You’ll pass lot’s of cute restaurants and cafes where you can take a coffee break or have lunch outside with the full view of the lake. Don’t forget to stop by the gelato shops, especially in summer!

Once you pass the area with restaurants, the road will lead you to an area with some very impressive houses along the lake.

It’s a nice place to “housedream” (daydreaming about your future mansion) and if it’s warm enough, stop off somewhere to swim in the lake.

This lake is one of the warmest I found in my 2 years in Switzerland, and it’s a great way to see the village from the water.

6. Gandria

Gandria one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ticino Switzerland

Gandria is another idyllic village, located just 10 minutes from Lugano. This village can also be found on the lakes edge, right below the impressive peaks of Mt. Bre.

Gandria is popular due to its very nostalgic aesthetic, as it really looks and feels like stepping into an Italian village of the past.

Gandria Village

The highlight of visiting Gandria is enjoying the village itself. Although Morcote takes the title as Switzerland’s most beautiful village, Gandria is a close contender in my opinion.

A visit here often starts by walking down to the village from the road.

If you are coming from the parking lot or bus, you may walk along the upper hill of the village and get the view in the photo above.

An old arch in Gandria, Ticino Switzerland with the lake behind

Once in the village, you will find the most charming buildings and views. There are ivy covered archways with the lake peaking through from the other side, old rustic doorways, and boats passing by all the while from the lake.

The main draw here is to just wander. Some things to see along the way are the churches, cute cafes and a lakeside restaurant located here.

Gandria Port

Gandria is a great place to embark on a boat ride. There are scheduled passenger boats that take you to various places around Lake Lugano. Popular routes are from Gandria to Lugano, or to Morcote, my personal top pick.

If you choose to take the boat ride to Morcote, you’ll have beautiful views of the villages and mountains from the water. It takes about 30 minutes and is a very enjoyable ride on a sunny day.

boats alongside Lugano lake in Gandria Ticino, Switzerland

Sentiero dell’Olivio

There is also a flat walking trail along the edge of the lake connecting Gandria to Lugano, known in English as the Walk of Olive Trees.

As the name suggests, you will be walking among the planted olive trees alongside the lake.

It’s easy enough to be considered a leisurely walk, and takes more or less 30 minutes.

On the way you’ll pass another cute village, Castagnola. You’ll also pass Villa Favorita, a former residence to a Baron, which has since been converted into park and gallery.

7. St. Georgio

Monte San Georgio peak in winter in Switzerland

This mountain is a UNESCO world heritage site, and one of the best views from above in all of Ticino.

Despite the breathtaking views, St. Gerogio actually got its UNESCO title due to its significance towards the scientific community.

Millions of years ago, Monte San Georgio was underwater in a tropical lagoon. Today, it remains an important place for scientists to study the ancient fossils of prehistoric marine animals since from the Triassic Period.

Fossil Museum

For those interested in natural history, there is a fossil museum at the base of the mountain in the town of Meride, located here. Here, you can get a glimpse at the ancient creatures who used to roam the waters of this region.

The fossil collection here is diverse, and show case all types of animals from reptiles, fish, crustaceans, plants and insects.

Monte San Georgio Peak

You can reach Monte San Georgio by embarking on a moderate hike.

It takes on average about 3.5 hours to complete the entire hike. It’s a rather easy hike, but good shoes are needed since a lot of the path is made up of large uneven stones.

At the summit you have amazing views of the mountains and lakes below. Here is a nice place to set up a picnic and spend some time soaking it all in.

8. Lugano

view of Lugano from above with the church tower and lake in view

Of course no list of most beautiful places in Ticino is complete without visiting Lugano.

This is the biggest city in Ticino, and you could easily spend a few days here shopping, dining, lounging in the parks or exploring the lakeside.

It has all the perks of a major city, and boasts the title as Switzerland’s third most important financial hub.

Still, Lugano also retains some village charm elements as home to lot’s of flower gardens, cute parks, and narrow cobbled streets.

If I could live in any city in Switzerland, I’d choose Lugano.

Parco Civico

large gate in front of Lake lugano in Ticino Switzerland

A highlight of Lugano is definitely this park, which sits conveniently right at the edge of the lake.

The best time of day to visit, is an hour before sunset. You can stroll through this lively park which is always full of tourists and locals alike, sitting in the grass or benches and hanging out.

You have amazing views of the lake and mountains, some floral gardens, and grassy areas for picnics. There are also some quirky art installation you’ll find as you explore the park.

Cattedrale di San Lorenzo

Another must see while in Lugano is the San Lorenzo Church. The church tower is one of the most prominent features within the city, and the interior is worth a visit as well.

But it’s from just outside the church on the plaza, where you have the best view over the city of Lugano.

two men sitting on the plaza outside cathedral san lorezno in Lugano ticino switzerland

Piazza del Riforma

This huge square is another exciting place to be in Lugano.

It’s always full of life and action, as it’s bursting with restaurants and bars. Come here to grab some gelato and people watch, or have dinner in one of the many restaurants.

Surrounding the square are lots of side streets with yet more cute cafes, bars and restaurants to discover. If you like shopping while you travel, here is where you’ll have all the major name brand shops.

9. Bellinzona

castles in Bellinzona the capital of ticino switzerland

Bellinzona is the the current capital of Ticino.

Despite being the capital, it’s not really the most beautiful city in Ticino. That title definitely goes to Lugano and Locarno.

While a lot of Bellinzona is kind of grey and unremarkable, the main draw of visiting are the 3 major medieval fortified churches from the Middle Ages situated right within this city.

Each of these castles are a UNESCO site. The history of these castles vary, but all date back to the Roman Empire.

Historically, they were used as a means of protection on a critical section on the route connecting Italy to the north.

A medieval castle turret and wall in Bellinzona, Ticino Switzerland

The three castles are called Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro.

You can visit all three castles, which are free to explore from the outside. Two of the castles also have museums you can visit for a fee to learn more about the history.

The three castles are somewhat similar, but still worthwhile to visit all if you can. They are close enough together to be visited on foot by doing a little self guided walking tour for a day.

Alternatively, you can join a guided tour to visit all castles, and get some backstory behind each.

old stone castle walls and towers in Belliznona, Ticino Switzerland

FAQ about Ticino

When is the best time to visit Ticino?

Ticino is the sunniest and warmest region in Switzerland. It stays warm even in winter, so any time of year is good to visit. Shoulder season (late spring and autumn) are best for optimal weather and less crowds.

What language is used in Ticino?

Italian is the official language of the Ticino canton. Most people in Switzerland are multilingual, and often can speak English. I’d say the level of English spoken in Ticino is only slightly less than the rest of Switzerland.

What is Ticino Switzerland known for?

Most visitors choose Ticino to see a different aspect of Swiss/ Italian culture. It’s known for stunning lakes, beautiful rivers, historic villages and great cuisine. Ticino is also known as a major wine producing region in Switzerland.

Source: https://yourtravelflamingo.com/

By Lala