Ticino is a very interesting part of Switzerland; it's the wedge of warm country that's almost completely surrounded by Italy. The culture here is decidedly Italian, and you'll hear Italian spoken just about everywhere, yet the Ticino has been controlled by the Swiss since the early 1500s.
The climate is mild and the plants sub-tropical, the canton of Ticino is stunningly beautiful. The Ticino is a great place for a walking, bicycle, or driving tour.
Getting to Ticino
The Ticino is well-served by trains along the main route as indicated by the thick gold line on the map. The Swiss national railroad, or SBB, services most of the Ticino. Locarno to Domodossola is served by the Centovalli Railway.
The journey starts from Locarno and with the Centovalli Railway taking you to Domodossola. The State Railway takes over to Stresa and from there you can take the boat, to return to Locarno. You can also start the trip from Arona, Stresa or Domodossola.
The toll roads A2 Milano-Basel - A13 Locarno-Chur can get you swiftly into the Ticino.
There is a small International airport at Lugano, but close by is Milan's Malpensa, just south of Varese on the map.
The Best of Ticino
For walking, try the region north of Biasca, where the trail called Sentiero Basso will take you on the west bank of the river from Biasca to Acquarossa (just south of Torre on the map) in around 4 hours time.
Taking the road over the pass from Olivone is said to be the most scenic way out of the Ticino. [more on walking in the Val Bleno]
The folks at the Lugano Tourist Office have put together 5 great mountain biking itineraries. Bikers will also want to visit Biking in Switzerland. A great print reference for cycling in the Ticino is Ticino Bike, featuring detailed maps of cycling itineraries in the Ticino.
Ask for it at a tourist office; it's published by Fondazione La Svizzera in Bici.
Bellinzona is overlooked by most tourists in favor of the glitzier Lake cities to the south and west. But the hills of Bellinzona offer three castles, and the city dominates a central, often fought for valley. The old town is nice; Bellinzona is worth a relaxing day. If you're around in February, don't miss Bellinzona's February carnival, known as Rabadan. A huge masked parade and festivities around the Old Town start on the Thursday before Mardi Gras and continue all weekend. At the end of June, Bellinzona hosts Piazza Blues, which attracts many top blues musicians. Bellinzona's Office of Tourism is in the Palazzo Civico, the web site is a good one to consult, as is Ticino Tourism's page on Bellinzona, so check out our Bellinzona Travel Directory or our short virtual tour of Bellinzona.
Locarno is the principle Swiss resort on Lago Maggiore. The cobbled streets of the old town are full of day trippers on weekends, but quieter during the week.The Locarno tourist office is in the Casino complex on Via Largo Zorzi, 100m southwest of the train station. You can get PDF maps and brochures from the Locarno tourist office web site as well.
Locarno hosts a Camellia Festival in march.
Lugano is probably the most bustling of Swiss lakeside resorts. You can get to Lugano from Milan's Malpensa airport via the the Bus Express. Lugano's tourist office is in the Palazzo Civico on Riva Albertolli, directly opposite the main landing stage [Lugano pictures]
Ascona, near Lugano, hosts the JazzAscona festival in late June.
All of the above cities are served by rail service. The Swiss national railroad is SBB.
For more on the Ticino, see the detailed Switzerland is Yours Ticino Guide or Ticino in Switzerland.