Best hikes in Ticino

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  • Post last modified:August 7, 2021
  • Post category:Switzerland / Ticino
  • Reading time:13 mins read

Ah, Ticino. Lakes, palm trees, long warm summers – definitely the Mediterranean canton of Switzerland! From Alpine hikes in the north to big valleys and lakes in the center and rolling hills in the south, there’s something here for pretty much everyone. 

With the Gotthard base tunnel finished several years ago and the Ceneri base tunnel now completed as well, journey times from northern Switzerland are shorter than ever, leaving much of Ticino open for day trips (the travel times below have been updated for the latest timetable update – so from 5 April 2021).

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of our favorite hikes in Ticino!

Tibetan Bridge hike

H0009 Tibetan Bridge Ticino Hike
Looking down into Bellinzona from the peak at Mornera.

Starting from the Ticino valley near Bellinzona, this hike takes you up through forests and past picturesque stone-roofed hamlets. The highlight of the walk is a crossing of the ‘Tibetan Bridge’, a huge pedestrian suspension bridge crossing a valley. 

After the Tibetan bridge, the hike continues up with views across the Ticino valley and down towards Bellinzona, before finishing at a restaurant with a huge terrace overlooking the valley. If you look carefully you might notice a wooden carving of one of those famous blue and yellow minions along the path up.

Getting there by public transport – From Bellinzona: 10 mins. Locarno: 30 mins. Lugano: 30 mins.
Getting there by car – From Bellinzona: 5 mins. Locarno: 20 mins. Lugano: 30 mins.
Start point – Monte Carasso, Cunvént Bus Stop
High point – Mornera cable car station (1350m)
Finish point – Mornera cable car station
Popularity – 3/5
Hiking time – 4-5 hours
Altitude difference – 1350m up, 250m down
Difficulty – T2

See here for our more detailed post about this hike.

Pizzo Zucchero

Lush valley view on the way up Pizzo Zucchero (Mount Sugar).

Just getting to the beginning of this hike is an adventure in itself. The only way in is a road (either by car or by bus) winding up the steep sides of the Onsernone valley from Locarno. The first bit of the road is relatively normal, but as you go further it gets impossibly windy and narrows to a single track, threading past cliffs and through tiny villages.

As for the hike, the first part heads steadily up through a mix of meadows and woodland. As you near the top the views open out across remote valleys, with steep tree-covered slopes and peaks all around.

Getting there by public transport – From Locarno: 1h 10 mins. Bellinzona: 1h 35 mins. Lugano: 1h 50 mins.
Getting there by car – From Locarno: 50 mins. Bellinzona: 1h 15 mins. Lugano: 1h 30 mins.
Start point – Spruga/Comologno
High point – Pizzo Zucchero (1898m)
Finish point – Spruga/Comologno
Popularity – 1/5
Hiking time – 5 hours
Altitude difference – 950m up, 950m down
Difficulty – T2 – medium but good fitness level needed

See here for our more detailed post about this hike.

Monte Caslano

onte Caslano Ticino Hiking
A casual walk around the Monte Caslano peninsula.

This is a small peak – just a hill really – right by the Italian border and surrounded on three sides by Lake Lugano. The starting point for the hike is the village of Caslano, which includes a picturesque old village center, and from there you follow a path nestled between the lake and the hill. 

You can actually walk the whole way around Monte Caslano along the lakeside if you want – with plenty of impressive views of the lake – or you can branch off up the hill halfway round and head back to Caslano via one of the paths past the summit of Monte Caslano. The hill is covered in sweet chestnut trees, so the floor will be carpeted with them if you go in the autumn!

Getting there by public transport – From Lugano: 30 mins. Bellinzona: 45 mins. Locarno: 1h 10 mins.
Getting there by car – From Lugano: 20 mins. Bellinzona: 35 mins. Locarno: 45 mins.
Start point – Caslano village
High point – Monte Caslano (525m)
Finish point – Caslano village
Popularity – 3/5 (mainly locals)
Hiking time – 1.5-2 hours
Altitude difference – 250m up, 250m down (or almost no altitude difference if you walk around Monte Caslano)
Difficulty – around the hill T1 (easy); over the hill T2 (medium)

See here for our more detailed post about this hike.

Monte San Giorgio 

Monte San Giorgio Ticino Hiking
A panoramic view of the snow capped alps from the top of dinosaur mountain: Monte San Giorgio.

This hike starts in another picturesque village, Meride. This is a nice hike up (partly up an old mule track) but the main selling point here is actually the view from the top, which is one of the best views we’ve seen in Switzerland – that’s quite an achievement considering what Switzerland has to offer!

This mountain is also a UNESCO world heritage site for having a wealth of dinosaur fossils, but there don’t seem to be any visible from the hike (check out Hasenmatt if you want to see dinosaur footprints…). There’s a dinosaur museum in Meride though if you’re interested in seeing some of the fossils they’ve dug up here over the years.

Getting there by public transport – From Chiasso: 35 mins. Lugano: 50 mins. Bellinzona: 1h 10 mins.
Getting there by car – From Chiasso: 15 mins. Lugano: 35 mins. Bellinzona: 45 mins.
Start point – Meride, Paese bus stop
High point – Monte San Giorgio (1096m)
Finish point – Meride, Paese bus stop
Popularity – 4/5
Hiking time – 2.5-3 hours
Altitude difference – 550m up, 550m down
Difficulty – T1/T2 (easy/medium)

For our post on climbing Monte San Giorgio, see here.

Monte Lema to Monte Tamaro ridge hike

Monte Tamaro Ticino Hiking
The path up to Monte Tamaro.

This hike follows a mountain ridge, starting and finishing at strategically placed cable car stations. With almost unbroken views along the entire hike, this is a great way to get above Ticino! You’ll get views down on lots of Ticino’s main cities and lakes, from Lugano and Lake Lugano in the south to Lake Maggiore and Locarno in the north.

Many of Ticino’s more spectacular valleys and peaks are visible as well, and on a clear day you’ll also have impressive views of some of the highest mountains in the Alps, including Monte Rosa.

Getting there by public transport (to start point – Monte Lema cable car) – From Lugano: 50 mins. Bellinzona: 1 h 10 mins. Chiasso: 1h 15 mins. Locarno: 1h 30 mins.
Getting home by public transport (from end point – Monte Tamaro cable car) – To Lugano: 25 mins. Bellinzona: 30 mins. Chiasso: 55 mins. Locarno: 40 mins.
Getting there by car (to start point – Monte Lema cable car) – Lugano: 35 mins. Bellinzona: 45 mins. Chiasso: 45 mins. Locarno: 1 h. Apparently in tourist season there’s a shuttle bus to get back to your car. Alternatively, it’s 1h 10 mins on public transport to get back to the start point from the end of the hike.
Start point – Monte Lema cable car station
High point – Monte Tamaro (1962m)
Finish point – Alpe Foppa gondola station
Popularity – 4/5
Hiking time – 5 hours
Altitude difference – 1000m up, 1000m down (a bit less if you skip Monte Tamaro itself)
Difficulty – T2/T3 (medium/difficult)

For our post on Monte Tamaro, check here.

Lago Ritom

Lago Ritom Ticino Hiking
Wild hiking in Ticino. We had too many nice photos of this lake.

To get a flavor of the northern part of Ticino, a walk around Lake Ritom is a good option. Up here it’s difficult to believe you’re actually still in Ticino at all, as you’re surrounded by towering mountains and there are no palm trees anywhere in sight.

One side of the lake has an easy dirt track with good views of the lake, and the other side has a nice path that winds and twists up and down the mountainside through the trees, frequently offering impressive views down onto Lake Ritom. If you want a bit more exercise, there are also several smaller lakes nestled further up the mountain.

Getting there by public transport – Lugano: 2h. Bellinzona: 1h 30 mins. Locarno: 1h 50 mins.
Getting there by car – (to Ritom-Piora funicular) – Lugano: 1h 5 mins. Bellinzona: 45 mins. Locarno: 1h 5 mins.
Start point – Piora funicular station
High point – shores overlooking Lago Ritom (1900m)
Finish point – Piora funicular station
Popularity – 3/5
Hiking time – 2.5 hours
Altitude difference – 250m up, 250m down
Difficulty – T1/T2 (easy/medium)

Honorable mentions

There are loads of other good hikes in Ticino that we didn’t mention above! Here’s a few of them… 

  • Monte Generoso – a popular option towards the south of Ticino, with big views in all directions.
  • Lago di Lucendro – if you want more of the Alpine side of Ticino, walking along this lake offers impressive views within striking distance of the Gotthard pass.
  • San Salvatore – a relatively small peak next to Lugano with lots of views over Lake Lugano.
  • Lago di Robiei, Lago Bianco and Lago dei Cavagnoo – three Alpine lakes on a loop hike all the way up the north end of Valle Maggia.
  • Monte Boglia – a nice walk up from Monte Bre, again next to Lugano.
  • Ponzione d’Arzo – hidden behind Monte San Giorgio, this is a slightly smaller, harder and more obscure version of Monte San Giorgio, also with beautiful views!