Sun-Kissed Switzerland: Where to Eat, Stay and Play in Ticino

Looking for the lowdown on Switzerland’s Italian-speaking south? From spectacular lakeside stays to slow food worth savouring, here’s your complete guide to exploring the canton of Ticino

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Calling all food-obsessed travellers: you need to get down to Ticino. Between jagged alpine peaks and shimmering, palm-fringed lakes that look positively Mediterranean, this Swiss canton packs in fertile valleys, chestnut forests and steeply terraced vineyards. Radically different from the rest of the country, Ticino occupies the sun-kissed southern foothills of the mountains, an Italian-speaking region that in its cuisine, architecture, culture and spirit resembles Milan more than Zurich. Here's how to get straight to the heart of this enigmatic destination. Spoiler: it's through your stomach.

A food lover's guide to Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton, Ticino


People by the lake at Castello del Sole, Ticino


Castello del Sole

Craving supreme luxury and otherworldly serenity? Make a beeline for this majestic 150-hectare estate, home to one of Switzerland's finest hotels, with its own vegetable farm, fruit orchard, vineyard and even Europe's northernmost rice plantation, for the true farm-to-table experience. If you can't make it for a stay or a memorable meal at one of the hotel's restaurants, you'll find all sorts of regional treats in the estate's farm shop, Terreni alla Maggia.


Via Muraccio 142, 6612 Ascona

A bedroom at Corippo Albergo Diffuso


Corippo Albergo Diffuso

In the heart of the Verzasca Valley, this unique hotel in the historic village of Corippo offers rooms in individual stone cottages, and a tavern serving southern alpine cuisine made from locally sourced produce. If you're travelling car-free, it's reachable by bus, and, as with all Ticino hotels, guests are issued with a Ticino Ticket on arrival, offering free public transport and discounts on attractions.


23 Bassa Corippo, Corippo, 6631, Svizzera

Seating at Art Hotel Riposo, Ascona


Art Hotel Riposo Ascona

The lakeside resort towns of Locarno and Ascona are not short of stylish stays, but this beautiful boutique property is perhaps the coolest. Tucked away on a picturesque street moments from Ascona's famed piazza on Lake Maggiore, the art-filled rooms (most with private terraces or balconies overlooking the water) draw on sleek Italian modernism, with playful touches such as bold statement wallpaper.


Scalinata della Ruga 4, 6612 Ascona


Pasta dish at La Fontana at the Hotel Belvedere


La Fontana at the Hotel Belvedere

Locarno's much-loved Hotel Belvedere occupies a sunny slope overlooking the town and lake, and the hotel's restaurant, La Fontana, is a favourite among local gourmands. Food is light, regional and sustainable, showcasing local produce such as the polenta, chestnuts and mushrooms that have kept this alpine region well fed for centuries. Diners can also expect contemporary takes on Mediterranean classics, like pumpkin carpaccio and aubergine tartare.


Via ai Monti 44, 6600 Locarno

Diners at BLU Restaurant, Ticino


BLU Restaurant

Adjacent to Locarno's lovely saltwater thermal baths, this linear, modern restaurant has a co-working space, a large terrace, unbeatable views of Lake Maggiore, and somehow manages to serve both the best pizza and the best sushi in town, alongside more sophisticated Mediterranean dishes.


Via Gioacchino Respini 9, 6600 Locarno

Grotto Ticinese


Grottino Ticinese

When you've had your fill of Michelin-starred fare (Ticino has eight starred restaurants, making it one of the regions with the highest concentration per population density in Europe), hunt down a grotto in which to experience a unique part of this canton's culinary heritage. Most grotti used to be stone storage pantries for cheese, cold meats and wine; today, they're informal taverns, serving classic Swiss dishes alongside carafes of local red and white merlot. Grottino Ticinese is one of the most traditional.


Via S. Materno 10, 6616 Losone


Termali Salini thermal baths


Termali Salini & Spa

Hiking and biking are a major draw in Ticino, with over 4,000km of trails around the city to explore. And when you're ready to soothe your aching muscles, this gleaming modern saltwater spa overlooking Lake Maggiore is a real treat, with beautifully designed multi-tiered baths, and an inviting bistro with healthy snacks.


Via Gioacchino Respini 7, 6600 Locarno

The Vigezzina-Centovalli railway


The Vigezzina-Centovalli railway

This beautiful, 52km rail journey is a must, and if you can time your trip to take place on a Sunday, there's the chance to ride a historic 1963-made electric train with two wagons dating back to 1923. It's as atmospheric as train rides come, starting with a send-off of live accordion music, traditional to the area. Feeling peckish? Vendors selling roast chestnuts and other local specialities populate the old depot before the Sunday departure, so snacks can be bought before you board.


Via Galli 9, 6600 Locarno

Lavertezzo Rock Pools


Rock-hopping in Lavertezzo

One of Ticino's most iconic sights is the double-arched Romanesque stone bridge Ponte dei Salti, crossing the Verzasca river in Lavertezzo. In the warmer months, bathers flock to these absurdly beautiful rock pools and channels; even in winter, we'd brave a quick dip, followed by a hearty meal back in Locarno, just a 15-minute drive away. Osteria Borghese is a local institution.


Oviga 9, 6633 Lavertezzo

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The Lowdown

How to Get There

Fly from London airports to Zurich Airport with SWISS. From the airport, Locarno is a three-hour train journey with Swiss Federal Railways.

Get unlimited travel on public transport across the canton with the Ticino Ticket, a free digital travel pass available to visitors staying overnight in hotels, youth hostels and campsites in the region.

Pick up more tips on exploring the Ticino region at

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