Best Places to Visit in Ticino - Switzerland
There are many places to visit in Ticino Switzerland, in the south part of the country. Therefore, to help you when you are travelling to Ticino, I have put together the Best Places to visit in Ticino, for you and your family right here.
Ticino is often the forgotten part of Switzerland, or should I more say the part that is often counted as Italy already. Why? Because it has a milder climate maybe. Or is it the palm trees along the piazza in Locarno which gives the whole place a more Mediterranean feeling?
Fact is, Ticino belongs to us, Switzerland, and we’re proud of it. The outstanding beauty, variable nature and good food heavily influenced from its neighbours in Italy, are not to be missed when visiting Switzerland. A trip to Ticino Switzerland, simply has to be on your Swiss bucket list destination.
- How to get to Ticino Switzerland?
- Driving over the Swiss Mountain Passes to Ticino
- Driving Through the Road Tunnels to Ticino
- Visit Ticino by Train & Public Transport
- When to Travel to Ticino Switzerland?
- Our 11 Best Places to Visit in Ticino Switzerland
- Best Places in Verzasca Valley / La Valle Verzasca
- Best Places in Maggia Valley / La Valle Maggia
- Best Places in Ascona-Locarno
- More Best Places to Visit in Ticino - Switzerland
- Tips & Suggestions when visiting Ticino – Switzerland
How to get to Ticino - Switzerland?
If you are choosing to drive down to Ticino, you are in for a treat.
My suggestion right away, when possible, is to take the scenic route over one of the Swiss mountain passes. You will thank me for it. 🙂
Depending on where your travel to Ticino will start, these following mountain routes will add some jaw dropping vistas to your scenic road trip on the way to Ticino - Switzerland.
Check out our Ticino - Switzerland Map below. The car sign indicates the summit of a mountain pass. This way you should be able to plot your route accordingly.
These are our Best Places to Visit in Ticino – Switzerland Driving over the Swiss Mountain Passes to Ticino
From the western part of Switzerland there are 2 great mountain passes to chose from. The Simplon and the Nufenen Pass. If driving over the Simplon Pass Switzerland, you will leave Switzerland and travel a short time on the Italian roads before re-entering Switzerland.
The incredibly scenic Nufenen Pass with all its switch backs keeps your route entirely within Switzerland.
Alternative, if the passes are closed due to bad weather at Simplon you would put your car on the train. Check the time table.
If you are starting your journey from the central part of Switzerland you most probably would choose to drive over the San Gottardo Pass passing via Andermatt.
And the scenic San Bernardino Pass will be on your route itinerary to Ticino - Switzerland, if departing from the east part of Switzerland, like Canton of Graubünden/Grison.
Both of these mountain passes can be bypassed via a tunnel.
Driving Through the Road Tunnels to Ticino
For those of you who need to make up some time and feel that driving over these epic Swiss mountain passes is not an option, the faster route may be to drive via the Gotthard Tunnel via Andermatt. And same for the east side, the tunnel at San Bernardino is taking you through the mountain rather than over it.
But be prepared if you are travelling at busy peak times, the traffic can get horrendous.
Visit Ticino by Train & Public Transport
Whether you have a special Swiss Railway Ticket or not, travel to Ticino by train is super easy. Hop on a train and exit a few hours later either in Bellinzona - the capital of Ticino, or further south in Lugano – which is the largest town in Ticino - Switzerland.
NEWLY inaugurated in late 2020 was the new 15.4 kilometre long Ceneri Base Tunnel. Believe it or not, but from Zürich train station it now takes as little as 2h to travel to Ticino.
Which makes Ticino perfectly assessable for day trips when you are based near or close to Zürich.
Once in Ticino, the public transport system offers an easy way to explore the area. Trains run to all major towns, and buses take you to the most remote villages.
And if you are spending the night in one of Ticino’s beautiful villages, then you qualify for the Ticino Pass, which means you’ll travel for free on all public transportation within this area. Check with your accommodation provider.
When to Travel to Ticino - Switzerland?
Most of the year, Ticino has a milder climate than the rest of Switzerland. Therefore, Ticino can be visited during all the seasons. Yes, you might get snow during the winter months and these days must just be absolutely magical. Imagine a palm tree in Lugano covered in snow dust. Or when the Verzasca River flows past snow pillows left and right on the river beds. Something not everyone will see when they travel to Ticino.
But there is a time I would recommend to avoid, and this is peak summer time. This starts around the end of June through to August.
Ticino is a popular holiday destination for the Swiss and you will see and hear them all over.
Whenever possible, we as a family travel to Ticino during the off-peak season, and we have found that the best time to travel to Ticino was end of October. An empty Valle Verzasca or Verzasca Valley, and the famous Maggia Tal we had nearly to ourselves. Compared to an earlier summer visit we made, when the queue to the bus line was very long, and there were people everywhere.
Verzasca Valley - Valle Verzasca
Without a doubt you will have heard of the Verzasca Valley or known locally as La Valle Verzasca. Or maybe you have seen beautiful pictures of the roman stone bridge, Pontei dei Salti. The Verzasca Valley is located in the Locarno district of the Canton of Ticino - Switzerland.
When visiting make this a full day, because we will recommend many places to stop and marvel.
❊ High Dam of the Verzasca Valley
Your 1st stop will be the James Bond 007 filming location of the movie GoldenEye, at the high dam of the Verzasca Valley. The dam is also known as one of the highest dams in Europe.
❊ Lavertezzo - Verzasca Valley
As you approach this beautiful old alpine village Lavertezzo take a moment and pull over just before the village bridge. The view on the photo below will be in front of you. Simply beautiful.
❊ Ponte dei Salti - Lavertezzo - Verzasca Valley
Probably the most famous spot is the Ponte dei Salti in Lavertezzo. “The Roman Bridge”. If you find parking nearby great, if not just take the 1st free place you will find and head to the double-arched medieval stone bridge which crosses over the clear water of the Verzasca River.
You will see many people scattered all over the rocks and some may even be swimming in the crystal clear and cold pools. Some brave ones will even jump from the Ponte dei Salti.
This is not what we recommend. If you like to swim, make sure you are in a safe place where the water is preferably still. The Verzasca River has strong currents and it can be dangerous in places.
❊ The BoBosco Trail – Verzasca Valley
If you are visiting with kids and would like a bit more than just sightseeing, then I definitely recommend to do the trail along the Verzasca river. We loved it and the kids walked with their wooden ball seeking the amazing wooden interaction stations. Read all about this trail including a VIDEO here.
Maggia Valley - Ticino Switzerland
Another beauty spot when visiting the best places in Ticino – Switzerland, is the Maggia Valley also known as the sun kissed Magic Valley. Some say it is less famous and crowded than Valle Verzasca, but I think both as equally famous and busy during peak season.
The valley is formed by the river Maggia and is situated between the Centovalli and Lake Maggiore.
❊ Beaches and Swimming-pools
Whilst driving along the Maggia Valley, you will see cars parked in many places along the road, but why? These are all people that have found beautiful places along the Maggia river for a summer picnic or a swim. The water is equally crystal clear like the Verzasca River in the nearby Valle Verzasca.
❊ The Cascata del Salto – Maggia
If you are a waterfall lover then do not miss the Cascata del Salto. It is a gorgeous waterfall in Maggia and part of a circle hike in the Valle del Salto.
However, if you are not up for a long hike, you don’t have to. An easy stroll to the water fall is all you need to do and it is well worth it.
It was not that easy for us to find the waterfall and we came in from a different path which is not recommended with kids. Therefore, I have found this description online for you. “To get to the waterfall, take the asphalt road on the right of the San Maurizio Church in Maggia, then cross a vineyard and meet the path on the right that reaches the waterfall, Cascata del Salto” I hope this helps and you can add it to the list of the best places to visit in Ticino, Switzerland.
❊ Foroglio Waterfall & "Swing the World" Swing – Maggia Valley
Deep inside the Maggia Valley you will reach Foroglio with its powerful cascading water.
A bridge is connecting the road with the village and on the other side is a path that guides you down to the river and foot of the waterfall where you will be able to Swing the World on the giant swing. Great photo opportunity although better during the morning or early afternoon when the sun is not direct above the waterfall. There is another viewpoint of the waterfall which is higher up. To reach this you need to walk through the village of Foroflio and follow a yellow hiking sign.
❊ Foroglio Village – Maggia Valley
At the same time, you are visiting the Foroglio Waterfall take some time and walk around the village. A film set waiting for its stars to perform. Beautiful old stone houses, lots of character and all decorated with pretty summer flowers. A stunning place.
TIP: The 2nd time we visited was late October, the village was empty, not a single person living there anymore but it was equally beautiful and obviously not crowded. But be careful if this is a photography trip in late October there was only sun from 11:30 to 14h00.
❊ Val Calnègia & Puntid Bridge – Foroglio Maggia Valley
This is our favourite place. Not sure if it was because we were alone up there. Or because the autumn colours transformed this place into a magical painting. But it could also be simply because we hit the right time. The only 2 hours the sun was shining in the valley before it passes behind the mountains.
All was just perfect. You hike from the Village Foroglio up to the top of the cascading waters. Depending on the time of the year you will visit Ticino, the path may be a bit slippery especially when you walk up the stone stairs. Before you reach the top, you have a nice view down the magic Maggia Valley. But for us, the real magic revealed itself in front of us when we got to the hamlet of stone houses and shelters right above the Foroglio water fall.
Gosh I am so happy we have hiked up here. Just like an imaginary hobbits village. The “Puntid” (arched stone bridge) was definitely an eye catcher and made my photographers heart nearly skip a beat. Just wonderful. Do yourself a favour and add this stunning place to your list of the Best places to visit in Ticino, Switzerland
❊ The Views from Cardada - Ascona - Locarno
Another place to visit in Ticino - Switzerland is just a few minutes from the city of Locarno. You will be stepping into nature and away from the city life. Although Locarno is more a laid back place 🙂 and different to many cities.
You reach the top by a funicular leaving Locarno city and riding up the mountain to the cable car station. From there the view gets wider and Lake Maggiore lays beautifully in front of you.
A play area, restaurants, a bare foot path and another “Swing the World” giant swing are all waiting to be discovered amongst the breathtaking views of course. And if you are collecting all the photo opportunities of the Grand Tour of Switzerland, then you will find one up at Cardada as well.
TIP; you can ride up another chairlift to Mount Cimetta where the view is even more stunning and opens up into the Swiss Alpine region of Ticino. We couldn't to go up as the chairlift was broken.
❊ The Lake Shore in Ascona & Locarno
❊ Splash e Spa Tamaro – Rivera
If you do have a rainy day, why not visit the Splash e Spa. An epic swimming centre with several slides, wave pool & terrace, plus a stylish spa. Oh, and loud music and blinking lights. The kids keep telling me we’re at someone’s party. 🙂 Definitely the Italian style, if you know what I mean by this. We had a great time.
TIP: if the kids are too young to use the slides you can pay just for the pool area. Which is great.
More Best Places to Visit in Ticino – Switzerland
We have not visited the following places in Ticino, but they are on our list for our next visit.
Bellinzona the Capital of Ticino
The capital city Bellinzona known for its 3 UNESCO World Heritage medieval castles, including the hilltop Castelgrande and Sasso Corbaro. Enjoy beautiful views of the city and the surrounding alps from both of them. The 3rd castle, The Museo Villa dei Cedri features regional art from the 19th century to the present day.
Swiss Miniature - Melide
Enter a small version of Switzerland and discover a network of 3’560 meters of miniature railways and 128 models of the most famous buildings and monuments in Switzerland.
Monte Tamaro - Rivera-Monteceneri
I cannot wait to discover this place in Ticino, and it looks like one day is nearly not enough. Known as the adventure and fun mountain with all its epic facilities. Definitely needs to be on your list of the best places to visit in Ticino – Switzerland
Lugano – Last but not least
Lugano should have its own blog for sure as here there are many “Best Places to visit in Ticino” Overlooked by two mountain peaks, a lake shore decorated with palm trees and other tropical flora gives this place a taste of Mediterranean culture with a view of the Swiss Alps. We cannot wait to fully discover Lugano.
Since writing this post we have NOW a comprehensive 4 Days in Lugano Itinerary post, which covers many best places to visit in Ticino in the Lugano Region!
Make sure to check it out al well so you have a massive collection for your Ticino Trip
Tips & Suggestions when Visiting Ticino – Switzerland
- Whenever possible do not visit during summer peak season (mid July to mid August)
- If you visit in the autumn months, find out when the sun is shining in the 2 valleys, Maggia and Verzasca. Especially when you want to make some photography. We visited late October and it was 2 hours maximum sunshine. Whereas the Maggia Valley had the sun from 12.30 to about 14.00 and the Verzasca in the morning until 12h.
Whichever of the best places to visit in Ticino - Switzerland you decide to pick, and whatever season it will be, I am sure your journey to Ticino - Switzerland will leave you in awe and wanting to return.
You May Also Like These Related Posts from Ticino
- La Via Del Ceneri - NEW Theme Path in Ticino
- The BoBosco Trail - Verzasca Valley - Family Theme Trail
- Monte Generoso - Viewpoint reachable with ease
Find some useful Tips in How Best to Travel in Switzerland & Itineraries
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when planning your Best Places to Visit in Ticino - Switzerland!
If I have left anything out, please ask your questions in the comments below and share your experience, so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries and stories as well.