Self-Guided Hiking Tours

Switzerland | Ticino: Swiss Lakes District

Quintessential Swiss landscapes infused with Italian Culture.

Switzerland flag
  • Ascona, Switzerland in the region of Ticino

Trip Highlights:

  • Settle into a cozy trattoria. Sample delicious food, fine wines and the infinite charms of a sunny Italian inspired region of Switzerland.
  • Overnight in the famous resort towns of Locarno and Lugano.
  • Wide sweeping views of the region's prominent lakes, Maggiore and Lugano.
  • Tranquil villages and trails that time forgot.

Ancient villages of stone construction are strung along steep-sided valleys in this Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland: the Ticino. Although once ruled by the Dukes of Milan, the Ticino region still offers quintessential Swiss landscapes. Deeply enfolded pre-Alpine landscapes with many valleys, centuries-old stone villages, and historic mountain pastoral life make Ticino an outstanding hiking destination. Enjoy unspoiled walking along river valleys with cobalt-blue and emerald-green water, through cool chestnut forests, to high rocky peaks; and, situated amongst the landscapes, encounter charming, antique villages with medieval churches and ruins.

Our hiking route through the Ticino starts in the middle of the region near the Verzasca Valley, and heads to the southern part of Ticino. With multiple summits to bag, your trek encounters the most spectacular mountain scenery, including numerous lake view sightings as well as snow-dusted peak backdrops. Hiking days are moderate; six to eight miles with up to 2,800 feet of elevation gain. To hike between some of the villages, you walk both along valley floors and through forests to gain summits. You use funicular and cable cars to reserve energy to climb to reach the peaks for spectacular views over the summits and lakes, or to access the most atmospheric ancient villages.

One of the great charms of the Ticino is the region’s culture: a blend of Italian passion with a hint of Germanic influence. You begin in the bustling, yet charming lake resort town of Locarno, with its lake front promenade, arcaded shops, Piazza Grande, and winding cobbled streets, home to many artisan shops and ateliers. Following a quick transfer into a remote valley with numerous ruins, active herding hamlets, and intriguing stone architecture, you arrive into Val Verzasca to visit the charming villages of Corippo and Lavertezzo, known for their intense green river water, before returning to Locarno.

A ridge line hike takes you from the top of Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema, if legs permit. Next you head south to summit Monte Brè. Enjoy a historic cog railway ride above the lake and hike into Italy to have lunch, then return to Switzerland and the amazing vistas provided by Monte Generoso. Continue on to the southern tip of the Ticino region, hiking through the lovely shaded forest of Monte San Salvatore where you descend to the ancient village of Meride using an old trading route to overnight in Morcote. Finally, with a short boat transfer to Brusino, the goal of your last hike is to summit Monte Giorgio.

Trip Itinerary

Choose from our standard itinerary or customize the trek by adding or subtracting days.

Transfer independently to Locarno and relax in your lovely boutique hotel.

Start the day with a quick bus transfer to the trailhead in Mergoscia. Follow the historic Sentiero Verzasca to the fairytale hillside village of Corippo, the smallest municipality in Switzerland. Continue along the riverbanks of the emerald-colored waters of the Verzasca River to the ancient village of Lavertezzo. Enjoy a picturesque ride down valley back to Locarno.

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1425/2000 ft.

Transfer via train to Rivera Bironico and continue on a small tram ride to Alpe Foppa, which sits at 5019 feet. Continue to climb to the summit of Monte Tamaro and on to Monte Lema (5000 ft). After refreshments, utilize another cableway to eliminate two hours of downhill hiking and arrive in Miglieglia for transport to Lugano.

Distance: 8 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2100 ft.

Start with a quick bus ride to your trailhead in Cadro. Climb up for a coffee at Alpe Bolla and continue on and descend to the lovely village of Brè, then another short climb allows you to finish on Monte Brè. Overnight in Lugano.

Distance: 6.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2800/1300 ft.

A quick train ride to Capolago and an ascent of the historic cog railway of Monte Generoso brings you to the border with Italy. Make a quick ascent to the summit of Monte Generoso before continuing on a lovely loop hike into Italy and back into Switzerland.

Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1500 ft.

A quick train ride to Lugano-Paradiso begins the day.Ascend to the summit of Monte San Salvatore and continue on the Sentiero Lago di Lugano to Morcote.

Distance: 6.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 700/2550 ft.

Travel by boat to the small lakeside resort Brusino-Arsizio. Ascend Monte San Giorgio, a pyramid-shaped mountain and UNESCO World Heritage Site designated for the fossils that remain from dinosaurs that roamed Ticino during the Triassic Period. The descent towards Meride, a lovely hamlet surrounded by terracing vineyards, follows an historic and skillfully laid stone trading trail dating back to the 12th century. For the last section, return by cable car and bus or boat to Morcote.

Distance: 7.5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1900 ft.

Ticino: Swiss Lakes District | Switzerland

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