Italian-speaking locals, palm-lined promenades and sultry weather give Canton of Ticino a unique flavour. While it’s technically part of Switzerland, this region feels like a slice of Italy. Relax in postcard-perfect lakeside towns, visit world-class art museums and enjoy some of the best cuisine Switzerland has to offer.
Things to do in Ticino
Bellinzona is the captivating capital and a great base for your trip to Canton of Ticino. The city is alive with history and filled with handsome neoclassical architecture. A trio of medieval castles overlook the city and add to the postcard-perfect feel. All three are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with Castelgrande considered the most impressive of the group. On Saturdays, a lively market pops up in the historic centre.
Lugano is set on an ice-blue glacier lake and is a gateway to the mountains. Admire the beautiful neoclassical buildings in Piazza della Riforma and stroll along the lakefront promenade. Upscale boutiques and flashy restaurants have earned Lugano its “Monte Carlo of Switzerland” nickname. Visit the enormous MASI Lugano modern art museum to see works by masters like Giovanni Giacometti and Paul Klee. By the lakeshore, Parco Civico-Ciani is dotted with outdoor art installations.
Locarno is set on the banks of Lake Maggiore and boasts one of the sunniest climates in Switzerland. The rugged peaks of the Swiss Alps create a dramatic backdrop. Wander along cobblestoned streets lined with camelias and sip espresso at an al fresco café in Piazza Grande.
Ascona is one of the prettiest towns in Switzerland and features a maze of narrow cobblestone streets. The historic old town is car-free and feels like stepping back in time. All roads lead to Piazza Motta, a beautiful square overlooking the lake. Brightly painted cafes and palm trees give the town a Mediterranean feel.
The food in Canton of Ticino is incredible and heavily influenced by its Italian neighbour. Across the region, you’ll find restaurants and “trattorias” serving authentic pizza and pasta. Wash down your meal with a glass of white Merlot, a specialty of the Ticino region.
Getting around Ticino
All towns and cities in Canton of Ticino are pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot. Trains are a fast and affordable way to travel around Canton of Ticino. Remote towns and villages can be accessed by bus or rental car.