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

In partnership withSwiss Tourism Logo

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

Stay

Seating at Art Hotel Riposo, Ascona

hotel

Art Hotel Riposo Ascona

The lakeside resort towns of Lugano, 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.

Address

Scalinata della Ruga 4, 6612 Ascona

A bedroom at Corippo Albergo Diffuso

hotel

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.

Address

48 Warwick St

People by the lake at Castello del Sole, Ticino

hotel

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.

Address

Via Muraccio 142, 6612 Ascona

Eat

Pasta dish at La Fontana at the Hotel Belvedere

restaurant

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.

Address

Via ai Monti 44, 6600 Locarno

Diners at BLU Restaurant, Ticino

restaurant

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.

Address

Via Gioacchino Respini 9, 6600 Locarno

Grotto Ticinese

restaurant

Grotto 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 white merlot. At 150 years old, Grotto Ticinese is one of the most traditional.

Address

Via Grotti 2, 6944 Cureglia

Do

Termali Salini thermal baths

thingstodo

Termali Salini thermal baths

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 natural saltwater spa overlooking Lake Maggiore is a real treat, with beautifully designed multi-tiered baths, and an inviting bistro with healthy snacks.

Address

Via Gioacchino Respini 7, 6600 Locarno

The Vigezzina-Centovalli railway

thingstodo

The Vigezzina-Centovalli railway

This beautiful, 52km 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. Feeling peckish? Vendors selling roast chestnuts, Swiss rösti and other local specialities populate the old depot before the Sunday departure, so snacks can be bought before you board.

Address

Via Galli 9, 6600 Locarno

Lavertezzo Rock Pools

thingstodo

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.

Address

Oviga 9, 6633 Lavertezzo

Swiss Tourism Logo

The Lowdown

How to Get There

Fly direct from London Heathrow to Milan Malpensa Airport with SWISS. From the airport, Ticino city centre is just a three-hour train journey with Swiss Federal Railways.

The Swiss Travel System covers more than 29,000km with its extensive public transport network of trains, buses, cable cars and boats. Book your tailored Swiss city package and get unlimited travel on public transport with a Swiss Travel Pass at switzerlandtravelcentre.com.


Pick up more tips on exploring the Ticino region at myswitzerland.com.

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